Monday, February 28, 2005

Interesting Times

How crazy is this? Varifrank's on the case and has a great related post here about the rest of the Middle East. There's a great post from Captain Ed here (hat tip Instapundit), and a seriously optimistic post from Dailypundit (hat tip: Wizbang), which includes a great comment from retired blog superstar Steven Den Beste:

This is the payoff. This was always the most important reason for the invasion of Iraq. I am a bit surprised by how fast it's beginning to happen, but I never doubted that any of this would eventually take place. It was always the goal of what we did.

But it is not really the Iraqi election that set this off. It was, in fact, the US election that did it. The entire region held its breath because it needed an answer to this question: Will the Americans see this through? When Bush won, the answer was "yes". Now they know that there will be four more years of American pressure, and they know that 4 years is a long time and a lot can be accomplished in that time.

If Kerry had won in November, turnout in the Iraqi election would have been low and none of the rest of this would have happened. A Kerry victory would have been treated in the region as an indication that the Americans had given up.

Amen brother. Even this, a dog that didn't bark, seems encouraging as hell. Let's hope Lebanon gets what it deserves after decades of pain and destruction, and the Palestinians figure out who the real enemies are. As Varifrank says, I knew it was going to be a crazy century, but I thought it would take a little longer . . .

There's a Cure for That, You Know

LGF points out yet another "why I stopped being a liberal" story, by Cinnamon Stillwell, a San Francisco Gate columnist. Good stuff:

Having been indoctrinated in the postcolonialist, self-loathing school of multiculturalism, I thought America was the root of all evil in the world. Its democratic form of government and capitalist economic system was nothing more than a machine in which citizens were forced to be cogs. I put aside the nagging question of why so many people all over the world risk their lives to come to the United States. Freedom of speech, religious freedom, women's rights, gay rights (yes, even without same-sex marriage), social and economic mobility, relative racial harmony and democracy itself were all taken for granted in my narrow, insulated world view.

So, what happened to change all that? In a nutshell, 9/11. The terrorist attacks on this country were not only an act of war but also a crime against humanity. It seemed glaringly obvious to me at the time, and it still does today. But the reaction of my former comrades on the left bespoke a different perspective. The day after the attacks, I dragged myself into work, still in a state of shock, and the first thing I heard was one of my co-workers bellowing triumphantly, "Bush got his war!" There was little sympathy for the victims of this horrific attack, only an irrational hatred for their own country.

As I spent months grieving the losses, others around me wrapped themselves in the comfortable shell of cynicism and acted as if nothing had changed. I soon began to recognize in them an inability to view America or its people as victims, born of years of indoctrination in which we were always presented as the bad guys.

Never mind that every country in the world acts in its own self-interest, forms alliances with unsavory countries -- some of which change later -- and are forced to act militarily at times. America was singled out as the sole guilty party on the globe. I, on the other hand, for the first time in my life, had come to truly appreciate my country and all that it encompassed, as well as the bravery and sacrifices of those who fight to protect it.

Thoroughly disgusted by the behavior of those on the left, I began to look elsewhere for support. To my astonishment, I found that the only voices that seemed to me to be intellectually and morally honest were on the right. Suddenly, I was listening to conservative talk-show hosts on the radio and reading conservative columnists, and they were making sense. When I actually met conservatives, I discovered that they did not at all embody the stereotypes with which I'd been inculcated as a liberal.

My experience is that few far-left liberals, once confronted, will stay and battle you ideologically if you refuse to allow logical fallacies. If they can't move the goalposts, change the subject, or otherwise avoid conceding defeat on even the smallest points, they're not interested in continuing the debate. What that tells me is that there isn't enough solid ground to make a genuinely convincing argument in the average liberal's mind. And these aren't stupid people, just unwilling to concede that they have hitched their wagon to a dead ox. Humans are like that; too proud for their own good at times. Maybe if more people like Cinnamon tell their stories, it will make it easier for others to do the same.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

There He Is

Steyn's back, finally, and churning out great stuff. He has some good comments in an Austin Bay post, which he claims are his first blog comments ever:

First, it’s true that the Central and Eastern European nations are markedly more America-friendly than the western ones. However, their long-term prognosis is not significantly different: they face the same deathbed demographics - right now, the only European country breeding at replacement rate is Muslim Albania.

Declining population isn’t necessarily a problem - my own New Hampshire town, for example, survived a 130-year population decline from 1820 to 1950, caused by the opening up of the west, the collapse of the sheep industry and the big mill towns down south. But New Hampshire’s entire social structure wasn’t founded on a welfarist model dependent on continuous population growth to sustain state benefits. For the states of Eastern Europe, one of the consequences of joining the EU, adopting the Euro and ratifying the European Constitution is that they’re also assuming collective responsibility for the cost of the unsustainable welfare burdens of Greece, France, etc.

There are two ways you could deal with this - either reform of the welfare states or massive immigration higher than America at its pre-World War One immigration peak. No European politicians have the courage to address the former (openly), so they’ve signed on to the latter (silently). In the end, the idea of using the Third World as your surrogate mother isn’t a long-term solution either: in 2020, a skilled educated Indian, Chilean, Chinaman, Singaporean will be able to write his own emigration ticket anywhere on the planet. Is it likely he’ll want to choose a part of the world where the basic tax rate will be 60%?

That means Europe will be almost wholly dependent on the Muslim world for immigration - and one of the features of super-tolerant anything-goes post-Christian Europe is that it radicalises hitherto moderate Muslims. Look at the number of Islamist terrorists who are creatures of the Euro-Canadian welfare systems - Richard Reid the shoe bomber, Zac Moussaoui, Ahmed Ressam, even Mohammed Atta’s political character was formed in large part by his time in Germany. A senior Dutch cabinet minister told me in 2003 that what really scared him was that young Dutch Muslims were more Islamist and less assimilated than the grandparents who’d arrived in the early Seventies.

UPDATE: Good stuff from Beldar on the topic of Old Europe's fate.

God I Hope Not

Wizbang links to a great John Leo column titled "Liberalism: Can It Survive?" My answer to that is in the title of this post. I can't remember the last time I didn't think liberals in this country, in government and otherwise, weren't part of the problem. I think there was a time liberalism was necessary, and that time has passed. The good, and the damage, are done, and liberalism has nothing more to offer. I don't equate liberalism and communism, but they are equally vestigial to human progress. If nothing else, they aren't serious about being part of the solution, and in my world that's as bad as malicious interference. Good riddance.

And a great column. Go and read now.

UPDATE: I didn't want to excerpt because it's all so good, but one section is so great I must:

Liberals have been slow to grasp the mainstream reaction to the no-values culture, chalking it up to Karl Rove, sinister fundamentalists, racism, or the stupidity of the American voter. Since November 2, the withering contempt of liberals for ordinary Americans has been astonishing. Voting for Bush gave "quite average Americans a chance to feel superior," said Andrew Hacker, a prominent liberal professor at Queens College. We are seeing the bitterness of elites who wish to lead, confronted by multitudes who do not wish to follow. Liberals might one day conclude that while most Americans value autonomy, they do not want a procedural republic in which patriotism, religion, socialization, and traditional values are politically declared out of bounds. Many Americans notice that liberalism nowadays lacks a vocabulary of right and wrong, declines to discuss virtue except in snickering terms, and seems increasingly hostile to prevailing moral sentiment.

This is my big beef with the left these days: if you can't sell copiers, or houses, or your band's CDs, you can't blame your failure to close on the stupidity of your prospective customers without being labeled a whiny loser. But it's mainstream liberal thought these days that the American people are too dumb to know what's best for them and the rest of the world. How can anyone stand to be associated with such disgusting, self-deluding hatred for their fellow man and woman?

I think more and more once-proud liberals will leave the sinking ship, as many of the truest, smartest liberals I know have. When only the fringe dwellers remain, the Democratic Party will just fade away. Again, good riddance.

Color Photos from WWI

Vodkapundit points to some fascinating pics from World War One that are the first I've ever seen in color. Very cool.

UPDATE: After looking at the pics for a while and rereading Vodkapundit's post, I am reminded of a film I saw recently about the continuing costs of war. There are men called Demineurs in France who search for unexploded ordnance from both wars at a rate that will allow them to finish in another 700 years. Hundreds of them have died doing this job, and men and women do the same in many other places, and will continue to do so for centuries.

Thoroughly Disgusting Feminist Behavior

Heather MacDonald, a fine columnist, has written a new one on the unbelievably bad behavior of prominent feminists in the last month or so:

Harvard President Larry Summers had had the temerity to suggest that the continuing preponderance of men in scientific fields, despite decades of vigorous gender equity initiatives in schools and universities, may reflect something other than sexism. It might reflect the fact, Summers hypothesized, that the male population has a higher percentage of mathematical geniuses (and mathematical dolts) than the female population, in which mathematical reasoning skills may be more evenly distributed.

A feminist gadfly in the audience, MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins, infamously reported that she avoided fainting or vomiting at Summers' remarks only by running from the room. And with that remarkable expression of science-phobia, a great feminist vendetta was launched. It has reduced Summers to a toadying appeaser who has promised to atone for his sins with ever more unforgiving diversity initiatives (read: gender quotas) in the sciences. But the damage will not be limited to Harvard. Summers' scourging means that, from now on, no one in power will stray from official propaganda to explain why women are not proportionally represented in every profession.

The Harvard rationality rout was a mere warm-up, however, to the spectacle unfolding in Los Angeles, brought to light by the upstart newspaper, the D.C. Examiner. USC law professor, Fox News commentator, and former Dukakis presidential campaign chairman Susan Estrich has come out as a snarling bitch in response to L.A. Times's editor Michael Kinsley's unwillingness to be blackmailed. Estrich had demanded that Kinsley run a manifesto signed by several dozen women preposterously accusing him of refusing to publish females. When Kinsley declined, while offering Estrich the opportunity to write a critique of the Times in a few weeks, Estrich sunk to the lowest rung imaginable: playing Kinsley's struggle with Parkinson's disease against him. Said Estrich: Your refusal to bend to my demands "underscores the question I've been asked repeatedly in recent days, and that does worry me, and should worry you: people are beginning to think that your illness may have affected your brain, your judgment, and your ability to do this job."

It is curious how feminists, when crossed, turn into shrill, hysterical harpies (or, in the case of MIT's Nancy Hopkins, delicate flowers who collapse at the slightest provocation) precisely the images of women that they claim patriarchal sexists have fabricated to keep them down.

Thanks to Power Line for the tip and a fine reader comment:

This is what the Kos-sacks have left. They were enraged by the "stolen election" of 2000. Many of 'em opposed war in Afghanistan. Lost. They campaigned hard for the Democrats in 2002. Lost. Opposed war in Iraq. That happened anyway. They hoped for a quagmire. The statue came down in three weeks. They celebrated the hard times in Iraq. But they didn't last forever. They bet all their chips and threw every last bit of effort into The Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes (TM)...and lost. And lost pretty resoundingly -- the Left had to resort to hyping and celebrating Obama's victory over Unmedicated Alan Keyes.

And now they see Iraqis happily voting.

Their entire worldview has collapsed. They've been left with nothing. No sign that the House or Senate will get any closer anytime soon. They've been shown evidence that they don't have a majority of the American people; the great revolution just isn't going to happen. And so they're bitter. All they've got is hate.

And they're looking for somebody to hit. Larry Summers is one. Susan Estrich's explosion at Mike Kinsley is another example of this phenomenon. Jeff Gannon.

Amen, sister.

Bad News for Europe

Instapundit points out a fine, if disturbing, column by Mark Steyn, who thinks Europe will implode in our lifetime, and that they've done it to themselves. I agree, but I don't relish the event as Steyn seems to do. Great column as usual, though.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Monastery at Monte Cassino

Monte Cassino
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
People have a tendency to overdramatize the War on Terror, not because it's not dramatic and tragic in many ways, but because they don't have anything to compare it to, and expect life to be easier and more pleasant than it historically has been for most people. The story of the Monastery of Monte Cassino is the kind that brings Iraq and Afghanistan into sharper focus.

An author* once referred to the Order of Benedictine Monks, established in the Sixth Century by Saint Benedict in Cassino, Italy, as having "set in motion one of the great civilizing movements in human history." The massive and fortified Monastery of Monte Cassino sits above in a perfect spot to observe all of the valley below, which is where Allied forces were bound to come on their way to Rome. There was an ugly battle there, taking far too much time and far too many lives, and during that battle, the decision was made to destroy the monastery. Air Force heavy and medium bombers levelled the monastery on February 15th, 1944, the fourth time it had suffered that fate.

I've been reading The Battle of Cassino by Fred Majdalany, who fought in the battle as an infantry officer. He's a good writer and has a nice grasp of the issues surrounding Cassino, Anzio, the Rapido River crossing, and some of the other difficult bits of Allied battle history from the largely ignored Italian theater during WWII. People are still mad about some of this stuff, and I've always wanted to understand it more fully.

So far it's a pretty grim book, with the 34th and 36th Infantry Divisions taking brutal maulings right out of the gate crossing the Rapido in mid-January 1944 (Majdalany refers bitterly to the tragicomedy of landsmen being asked to maneuver boats in a difficult river under fire, which seems to be a recurring theme in WWII memoirs), and the 4th Indian Division and 2nd New Zealand Corps are being butchered in the chapter I'm on now. Weather is miserable, digging in an impossibility in some locations. Supply is a disaster: everything must be packed in by man or mule, under fire most of the way. One unit makes it to their holes with everything but their grenades and spare ammunition, which pretty much sentences many of them to death. And every single one of the soldiers on the Allied side speaks in revulsion of the feeling of the goddamn Monastery looking down on them the whole time.

After being in combat for a while, one begins to pay attention to places that might hide a man with a rifle, or worse, a radio. Church steeples and other tall structures are routinely blown to pieces just to deny the enemy such a vantage point. As Majdalany says, you fight from one good observation point to the next. Overlooking the entire approach and built to withstand serious attack, the Monastery is a natural place to put artillery observers and reinforcements. The decision is made to reduce it with heavy bombers.

There's a lot of disagreement on whether or not it was necessary, or even helpful. One could successfully argue against both. But I personally believe it was one of those godawful necessities of war that make it so senseless and disgusting. I don't think that the Allied commanders would have done otherwise even if they had known the Germans weren't keeping men inside it. It was tragic and a bit morally suspect but that was the deal so it was done, which is the story of much of WWII. People endured the unendurable because they had to.

The story of the Battle of Cassino is one of great tragedy for the order of monks who still inhabit the Monastery, but they draw inspiration from one part of the tale. Unlike the rest of the enormous, fortress-like monastery, neither the cell where founder St. Benedict spent most of his life nor his crypt were disturbed by the bombings and artillery assaults, even though an unexploded American artillery shell was discovered two feet from the crypt many years after the war. I'd like to think that gave the surviving monks some kind of comfort. Imagine spending your days, months and years in near-constant silence, prayer and contemplation, and then WWII comes through town and kills most of the people you know. Nice to have a miracle to hold on to when your faith is tested so thoroughly. And it's nice to realize that however worried you may be about the future, it wasn't always peaches and cream back in the good old days, and the likelihood that you will suffer as so many millions did in the 20th Century is pretty small.

* Just realized the author is none other than Fred Majdalany. Quelle coincidence . . .

Ward Churchill: Fraud

Michelle Malkin has been all over the Ward Churchill story for a long time now, and now he's being unmasked again, this time as an art plagiarist. Seems old Ward has been copying original indian art and modifying it slightly (for the worse, as far as I can tell) and selling it. Michelle has posted the "art" in question and the source material for comparison.

Churchill should not be fired for his statements about 9/11, he should be fired for being a lying asshole who was never any part Native American. And yes, this is only the beginning. The world of American Academia is going to be examined as the worlds of politics and business routinely have been, and rightly so. It's as important to get that right as anything else, and the last thing we need is unqualified blowhards filling our kids minds with Marxist bullshit masquerading as relevant social commentary.

Hello, Skynet, I've Been Waiting for You

Sure, it's the next step toward Terminators roaming the earth and extinguishing the human race. But it's so damned cool! I mean, killer robot helicopters, who could say no? I want one, and I'm willing to deal with the occasional rogue unit strafing dogs and dumping little cluster munitions on 7-11 parking lots. Go killer robots!

Thanks to Ace for the tip.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Enlarging the Picture

Interesting post over at Beautiful Atrocities about the Middleman Minority phenomenon, in the form of a response to a black reporter's allegations of racism in the beauty supply business. I really like it when bloggers, and with a lesser frequency journalists, delve into the cultural context of an issue as large and unwieldy as this one, and Jeff has done a really nice job with this one. Links galore, check it out.

Amen, Brother

Vodkapundit points out a fine column by Orin Judd on Tech Central Station about the relative stupidity of the two major political parties in the US:

If you're like me, you've long since grown tired of the idea that smart people do one thing or another, or believe one thing or another, and that dumb people do otherwise. Judging a person's intelligence via political litmus test is ignorant nonsense, but some of the smartest people I know still do it. One guy in particular that I'm thinking about is one of the sharpest minds I'll ever encounter, but he still carries these silly biases about political party and (hilariously, to me at least) what computer system a person embraces (he's one of the OG Mac-haters, which I think is just sad for someone who purports to be a logical guy). I guess it's a hard thing to stop doing even when you know it's dumb as hell.

Entire political parties, on the other hand, can be accurately characterized as stupid or out of it if they can't do simple things like find a candidate who can be George W. Bush, or hire a DNC chair who won't alienate the only reasonable people left in the party. The Democrats have decided, in the face of disastrous failure after disastrous failure, that they just didn't get their message out effectively, and that Howard Dean will somehow improve that transmission. Liberals had better hope this is one of those "so crazy it might just work" things. They have the crazy part right.

Best TV Theme Songs

Ace links to a list of the 100 best TV theme songs, which contains my favorite kids show of all time, Ultra Man. I don't remember the theme song being so weird, but it most certainly is.

Good Stuff from V.D. Hanson

This one's about the distinctly American tendency to see ourselves as the root of the world's problems. It's that old "shame and honor" versus "guilt and utility" thing, and contrary to what I tend to believe about this country, it's a good thing, even if it seems to be otherwise at times. Good stuff, read it now.

Happy Kitchen Fun

Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Boingboing posted this lovely knife rack from Viceversa, which I love but seems like a fine way to inadvertently stab yourself or your loved ones. As someone who just recently almost cut his finger off rummaging around in a tool drawer, this may not be for me. But I still want one.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Safety Fourth

I Love Jet Noise has a fun safety pictorial today.

Still pretty ruined with the neck pain, better than yesterday for sure but still nasty as hell. Not much blogging today if any. Any more, that is.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Down for the Count

Doctor says I've either torn a muscle in my neck or kicked my disc out, and loaded me up with Lidocaine and steroids. May not blog for days.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Good Things in Iraq, and Elsewhere

This and this are too good to not mention, no matter how crappy I feel. Thanks to Belmont Club for all the great work.

Do I qualify as whiny yet? I'm getting there, that's for sure. Back to bed.

Still Ruined

My upper body is completely locked up, making me feel, move and act like a 300-year-old arthritic man with an arrow in his neck. It's a huge, extremely sensitive muscle knot just below my earlobe where my shoulder and neck come together, and it radiates pain under my shoulder blade and along my spine up and down. Nothing I do makes it better, and I have to suppress the nasty cough that I've ended up with from the accursed flu because it kills me to cough even a little bit.

Blogging may be light or nonexistent today, dammit.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Ouchy Poo

In the process of hacking my lungs out after this flu, I have aggravated my injured neck greatly and will probably not blog much today. I can barely turn my head and may report to an ER or my neck doctor. Damn this hurts . . .

I have yet to post pics from the Iwo Jima reenactment some friends and I saw in Doss, TX, but hope to get to that today. The parade in Fredricksburg was very moving, literally hundreds of Iwo veterans moving by while the crowd applauded and thanked them. Some teary eyes among the vets and in the crowd as well.

The reenactment was the largest in history, hundreds of men (even 60+ from Japan) and a bunch of flamethrowers, not to mention several tanks, jeeps, half-tracks, a 105mm howitzer, and lots of fast-firing weapons shooting blanks (my favorite were the two quad-.50-cal antiaircraft halftracks, one of which shot blanks while the other was propane-operated). I can barely sit in this chair right now, so it may be tomorrow before I get to posting pics.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Hell of an Idea

I could get behind this. Most definitely. Dr. King, your dream is coming true!

Hospital Blues

Instapundit's wife is in the hospital with a heart issue, and he wonders why patients are so often subjected to care at odd hours when that care is not time-dependent (they woke her up at 5 a.m. to get a weight reading, and he wonders why they couldn't have waited a few hours). I wrote him this in an email:

Having spent some time around hospitals and especially emergency rooms, I can tell you that the one thing that rarely occurs to employees thereof is time of day. Medical people have many things to do and a short time in which to do them, and even if some see both the forest and the trees, they can't exactly stop the others to explain it all. There are rarely enough hands on deck to give any one person the job of coordinating the whole mess from a patient-satisfaction standpoint, and burnout is common, as is incompetence. In ERs and critical care wards in particular, everyone is traumatized to one degree or another, often by things that happened days or weeks ago.

Not that I know this for sure, but I suspect it's like combat. The number of people who can handle it for a long time without being affected is pretty small. The others do the best they can under the circumstances, often by constructing a protective shell of brusqueness or regimented routine. They depersonalize patients not out of malice but necessity. And again, that's not everyone; some 20-year ER veterans are as kind and compassionate as first-day candy stripers. But that's the exception.

Sad to say, I think most hospitals and emergency rooms are operating as well as they can manage. Attempts to encourage change or improvement are not always appreciated . . . but you can sometimes get individuals to see you and/or your loved ones as people, not tasks to be performed. That usually helps.

My friend Shay J. was born with a rare blood disease, and has spent as much as two weeks in the ER at a time, often in miserable pain. He can attest to the truth of the old saw, "the nurse woke me up at 3 a.m. to give me a sleeping pill," and other such silliness. That sort of thing can seem malicious if you forget what else is going on in the building, and what those people go through every day.

UPDATE: Sounds like good things are happening for the Instawife, and welcome Instapundit readers! My first Instalanche . . . wow!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Do the Math

Gerard at American Digest gets to the point, as usual, with a link to a simple table that calculates the difference between civilian casualties in Iraq since US troops showed up and the number of civilians Saddam and company would normally have offed during the same time. Big difference as you can see, and guess what, human shields? The coalition did your f%cking jobs for you.

Friday, February 18, 2005

A Humiliating Kick in the Crotch, from Within

Wizbang and Drudge link to a fine Martin Peretz column in The New Republic that eviscerates the left, deservedly:

Ask yourself: Who is a truly influential liberal mind in our culture? Whose ideas challenge and whose ideals inspire? Whose books and articles are read and passed around? There's no one, really. What's left is the laundry list: the catalogue of programs (some dubious, some not) that Republicans aren't funding, and the blogs, with their daily panic dose about how the Bush administration is ruining the country.

He's just getting warmed up:

It is more than interesting that liberals have so much trouble recontextualizing race in the United States. It is, to move to the point, pathetic. And it leaves work undone. In Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's majority opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger (the Michigan affirmative action case), she wrote that the Court assumed that, in 25 years, there will no longer be a need for affirmative action. Unless things change quickly, she will be completely off the mark. Nearly two years have passed since that ruling and virtually nothing has been done to make sure that children of color--and other children, too, since the crisis in our educational system cuts across race and class--are receiving a different and better type of schooling, in science and in literacy, than those now coming into our colleges. This is not about Head Start. This is about a wholesale revamping of teaching and learning. The conservatives have their ideas, and many of them are good, such as charter schools and even vouchers. But give me a single liberal idea with some currency, even a structural notion, for transforming the elucidation of knowledge and thinking to the young. You can't.

I'm almost starting to feel sorry for lefties about now. But there's more, and it's deserved:

Peter Beinart has argued, also in these pages ("A Fighting Faith," December 13, 2004), the case for a vast national and international mobilization against Islamic fanaticism and Arab terrorism. It is typologically the same people who wanted the United States to let communism triumph--in postwar Italy and Greece, in mid-cold war France and late-cold war Portugal--who object to U.S. efforts right now in the Middle East. You hear the schadenfreude in their voices--you read it in their words--at our troubles in Iraq. For months, liberals have been peddling one disaster scenario after another, one contradictory fact somehow reinforcing another, hoping now against hope that their gloomy visions will come true.

I happen to believe that they won't. This will not curb the liberal complaint. That complaint is not a matter of circumstance. It is a permanent affliction of the liberal mind. It is not a symptom; it is a condition. And it is a condition related to the desperate hopes liberals have vested in the United Nations. That is their lodestone. But the lodestone does not perform. It is not a magnet for the good. It performs the magic of the wicked. It is corrupt, it is pompous, it is shackled to tyrants and cynics. It does not recognize a genocide when the genocide is seen and understood by all. Liberalism now needs to be liberated from many of its own illusions and delusions.

Help them, Obi-Martin, you're their only hope. But I'm guessing you'll be ignored and Howard "I hate the Repubicans and everything they stand for" Dean will stay on the mic. I sure hope so.

Big Frickin' Surprise

Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector who spoke out against the Iraq war so long and loud, now works for Al Jazeera. Really.

Amen, Sassypants

Finally, an outsider seems to get the whole blog thing. That only took a couple of years.

From Lileks, who is awesome lately.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

You Had Me at F#ck

Arthur Chrenkoff, your one-stop source of actual Iraq news, not party line dispensed from Baghdad hotels, links to more Kid Rock wisdom. That's right, I said it. I'm not much of a KR fan either, but dammit the Kid at least understands the basics, like you don't accuse others of being stupid when you've never had an education yourself.

Every time I want to hate the guy, he does something like this. Damn you, Bob Ritchie!


Pejman links to one of the most interesting news stories I've ever read:

Research in young volunteers points to some kind of "sixth sense" -- a mechanism in the brain that picks up on subtle clues, then sends out subconscious signals of trouble ahead.

The finding could help explain certain intuitive phenomena seen among humans. For example, in the recent Asian tsunami, aboriginal people sought out higher ground in the moments before the disaster, as did many wild animals. Could subtle changes in weather or the environment have warned them early on?

Ever get that feeling? You must be wild and free. Maybe we should all go live in the woods naked so we can get in touch with our sixth senses.

UPDATE: Right after I posted this I thought about magic, and how people say children are more in touch with the spirit world until they learn not to be from adults. Hmmmmm.

That's a Damn Good Question

What is wrong with the media? Iraq successes should be the top story of the century, much less this year, month or week. For shame.

Enormous, Shocking Surprise

Skinny Bean from Denver sends this bolt from the blue about Ward Churchill. I am scandalized and may never trust anyone about anything ever again. The horror!

Tom Sowell for President

Why don't people like Thomas Sowell run for office? Well, I know the answer to that; they've suffered enough. But when you write like this, it's hard to imagine a better candidate for public office:

However symptomatic Professor Churchill may be of what is wrong with academia today, his situation has nothing to do with academic freedom. His remarks that provoked so much controversy were not made in a classroom or even on campus.

There are no real grounds for firing him under current rules and practices -- which tells you what is wrong with those rules and practices. Professor Churchill is protected by tenure rules that are a much bigger problem than this one man or this one episode.

In this era of dumbed-down education, when rhetoric has replaced both logic and evidence for many people, some think the issue is "freedom of speech." Indeed, some critics of Professor Churchill have been shouted down by his supporters, in the name of freedom of speech.

Too many people -- some of them judges -- seem to think that freedom of speech means freedom from consequences for what you have said. If you believe that, try insulting your boss when you go to work tomorrow. Better yet, try insulting your spouse before going to bed tonight.

Elementary, my dear readers, he seems to be saying. And he's right. So why aren't there more of him? Thanks to Beautiful Atrocities for reminding me to stay caught up with Sowell here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Deeply Satisfying Dose of Steyn

Just when I think I'm ready to move off the planet for fear that any offspring I have will be irreparably warped by the nuttiness that passes for political opinion on American campuses, I realize that people like Mark Steyn still lay it down, and I realize that goddamn it, we're winning actually and morally:

The child sex racket is only the most extreme example of what's wrong with the UN approach to the world. Developed peoples value resilience: when disaster strikes, you bounce back. A hurricane flattens Florida, you patch things up and reopen. As the New Colonial Class, the UN doesn't look at it like that: when disaster strikes, it just proves you and your countrymen are children who need to be taken under the transnational wing.

The folks that have been under the UN wing the longest - indeed, the only ones with their own permanent UN agency and semi-centenarian "refugee camps" - are the most comprehensively wrecked people on the face of the earth: the Palestinians. UN territories like Kosovo are the global equivalent of inner-city council estates with the blue helmets as local enforcers for the absentee slum landlord. By contrast, a couple of years after imperialist warmonger Bush showed up, Afghanistan and Iraq have elections, presidents and prime ministers.

When the tsunami hit, hundreds of thousands of people died within minutes. The Australians and Americans arrived within hours. The UN was unable to get to Banda Aceh within weeks.

Instead, the humanitarian fat cats were back in New York and Geneva holding press conferences warning about post-tsunami health consequences - dysentery, cholera, BSE from water-logged cattle, etc - that, they assured us, would kill as many people as the original disaster. But it never happened, any more than did their predictions of disaster for Iraq ("The head of the World Food Programme has warned that Iraq could spiral into a massive humanitarian disaster") or Afghanistan ("The UN Children's Fund has estimated that as many as 100,000 Afghan children could die of cold, disease and hunger").

It's one thing to invent humanitarian disasters to disparage Bush's unilateralist warmongering, but a month ago the UN was reduced to inventing a humanitarian disaster in order to distract attention from the existing humanitarian disaster it wasn't doing anything about.

Reading Steyn is one of the things that keeps me from going all Complicity on some people who richly deserve it.

Thanks to Vodkapundit for the link.

The Poopwagon that is Our Congress

Ugh. I've been shying away from hard news for months, partly from time constraints and partly because I've been kind of burnt out on the whole serious blogging thing. But this American Digest post is good stuff, important stuff. I'm ready to blog about important things again, I guess.

Gerard's writing about Joe Scarborough's new book, Rome Wasn't Burnt in a Day: The Real Deal on How Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Other Washington Barbarians are Bankrupting America. I wish I could say it seemed like there are good guys in this story, but it sure doesn't seem like it. Read it and weep.

Announcement: I'm an Idiot

Scarred for Life
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
I adore this Boingboing post about a blog called Hanzi Smatter, where someone who can actually read the characters people get tattooed with or wear on clothing. The one in the picture means "Crazy Diahrrea." Loves it.

Dickheads on Parade, or What Happens when Rabid Lefties Get Tenure

Robert Jensen, University of Texas 'journalism' professor, has made it his business since 9/12/01 to inform his countrymen and -women that it's our fault. All of it. 9/11, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, global warming, frizzy hair on humid days, and pre-menstrual bloating are all products of American imperialism, according to Bob Jensen. Here's some of his incoherent bullshit.

My friend Phillip F. and I first encountered his sorry ass at a post 9/11 rally on the UT campus South Mall, just beneath the infamous Tower. We showed up expecting, well, I don't really know what I expected, but it sure wasn't every single one of the speakers lamenting the inevitable evil that would be the American response to that tragedy. All of them. The president of the university, student leaders, the girl who sang the national anthem, everyone. Protesters all around us just preloaded to blame America first, last, and exclusively. I'm not sure about the numbers, but the South Mall was packed. Tens of thousands at least.

Phillip, a Gulf War veteran who has a low tolerance for such nonsense, spotted Jensen immediately after the proceeding, and we vectored over there pretty quick. Looking like every other sad, self-loathing loser this town seems to attract in droves in his Commie John Lennon glasses (what exactly is the point of having tiny little lenses if you need glasses all the time?) and dirty T-shirt, Jensen put forth his moronic worldview with a dirty bullhorn. Phillip and I took positions right in front of him, elbowing through pink-cheeked protesters who could be forgiven for their ignorance and credulousness because they were young and had been subjected to people like Jensen for years. Not that we forgave them, but we could have.

Then Jensen starts spouting his idiocy, and for a while Phillip and I just laughed and rolled our eyes. Then I realized that we were the only ones doing so, and we started challenging him. I have a pretty loud voice, so it wasn't hard. Unsurprisingly, the student protester ninnies were all over us with "why won't you let him speak" and "stop censoring him, you fascists!" They never do get that whole free speech concept when some of the speech is distasteful to them, do they? Guy's got a bullhorn, and two other guys up front occasionally challenge his idiotic premises without bullhorns, and we're oppressing him.

After a few minutes of this, Jensen turned tail and ran. The crowd surrounded us immediately and started frothing about politics and history in such an incoherent and pathetic way that it made us both laugh, and then we started filleting the dumb arguments one by one. Each red-faced kid would push to the front, bellowing nonsense, and we'd chop 'em to bits and watch them slink away. Pretty soon there was no one left but three kids who seemed to understand that they didn't actually understand much of anything at all, and at least wanted to hear a dissenting voice for once. They didn't exactly agree, but you could tell they were thinking about it. You know, like they're supposed to be teaching you how to do at a major university.

Now Jensen's thrown his lot in with fellow delusional, self-loathing dickhead Ward Churchill, the sweetheart at Colorado University who called the 9/11 victims "little Eichmans," which apparently refers to his feeling that anyone who works in an office building is a Nazi who wants to destroy the world for profit. Horsewhipping is too good for such people.

UPDATE: Upon further review, I have changed the headline by adding "rabid" between "when" and "lefties." To say such a thing about just any lefty is not cool. Sorry. Must be the viruses that are liquifying my skull and making it run out of my nose and into my lungs. Wheeeee!

Too Interesting to Adequately Describe in One Sentence

This story posted on Boingboing, which is on a roll the last couple of days, is utterly fascinating; an autistic mathematical savant who can describe how his amazing mind works:

Daniel Tammet is talking. As he talks, he studies my shirt and counts the stitches. Ever since the age of three, when he suffered an epileptic fit, Tammet has been obsessed with counting. Now he is 26, and a mathematical genius who can figure out cube roots quicker than a calculator and recall pi to 22,514 decimal places. He also happens to be autistic, which is why he can't drive a car, wire a plug, or tell right from left. He lives with extraordinary ability and disability.

Tammet is calculating 377 multiplied by 795. Actually, he isn't "calculating": there is nothing conscious about what he is doing. He arrives at the answer instantly. Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. "When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That's the answer. It's mental imagery. It's like maths without having to think."

Wow. There's much more:

Scans of the brains of autistic savants suggest that the right hemisphere might be compensating for damage in the left hemisphere. While many savants struggle with language and comprehension (skills associated primarily with the left hemisphere), they often have amazing skills in mathematics and memory (primarily right hemisphere skills). Typically, savants have a limited vocabulary, but there is nothing limited about Tammet's vocabulary.

Tammet is creating his own language, strongly influenced by the vowel and image-rich languages of northern Europe. (He already speaks French, German, Spanish, Lithuanian, Icelandic and Esperanto.) The vocabulary of his language - "Mänti", meaning a type of tree - reflects the relationships between different things. The word "ema", for instance, translates as "mother", and "ela" is what a mother creates: "life". "Päike" is "sun", and "päive" is what the sun creates: "day". Tammet hopes to launch Mänti in academic circles later this year, his own personal exploration of the power of words and their inter-relationship.

We're getting close to understanding a lot more about the human mind than we ever have, and I think it all ties in to what the guy who posted this on Boingboing, Cory Doctorow, calls the "singularity," a moment in human history when information, technology and the manipulative power of science will change the world utterly and permanently into something so different from our current one that we may not be able to imagine it.

Consider what endless cheap power supplies, infinite computing power and speed, or for that matter precise and all-encompassing technological control of matter, time and space would do to the world. Imagine what understanding exactly what's going on in Daniel Tammet's brain and being able to reproduce some of it in others would do to the world. A bit more than 100 years ago, no one had ever flown in a powered airplane, and now we take 550 mph travel for granted. In another 100 years, who knows what's possible? At this stage of the game, progress only accelerates.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Or, to Put it Another Way

Blamebush's version of the North Korea story is frickin' priceless:

In 1994, it came to President Bill Clinton's attention that North Korea was pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Knowing that a show of strength would earn the North Koreans' respect, he sent Jimmy Carter to negotiate. Using his vast experience in appeasing the Soviets, Iron Balls Carter quickly persuaded North Korea to abandon their nuclear ambitions. In return for scrapping their nuclear weapons programs, the U.S. would provide them with the means to build nuclear weapons, along with millions of dollars in humanitarian aid so they wouldn't have to divert any resources from their nuclear weapons programs in order to feed the people. He further convinced North Korea that should they ever break their promise and continue their nuclear weapons programs, neither side should acknowledge it.

Although Jimmy Carter deserves most of the credit, this monumental pact was the defining moment in Clinton's presidency, and along with his Roadmap to Peace in the Middle East, it's main the reason he's known as "The Great Diplomat".

Fast forward to 2002. Instead of rewarding our new friends with a big check for not building nuclear weapons, Secretary of State Colin Powell sends his lackey, James Kelly, to confront the North Koreans with evidence that they have been using the nuclear weapons technology we gave them to build nuclear weapons. The North Koreans are understandably outraged at this blatant breach of the Agreed Framework, but afford Powell the opportunity to redeem himself by dancing a jig and singing "I'm a Little Teapot". Powell, however, is no Madeline Albright, and rudely declines. Insulted, the North Koreans withdraw from the Nonproliferation Treaty, vowing to continue their nuclear weapons program just to teach us a lesson. So like the Gipper before him, Bush's stubborn pride and cowboy diplomacy throws millions of people under the cloud of nook-ular annihilation.

It's funny 'cause it's true.

When Glorious Maximum Leaders Attack

The new idiotic anti-Bush concept being floated by the mainstream media this week is that North Korea, after more than a decade of nuclear weapons development they said they weren't doing and weren't going to do, is being provoked by the US into bringing their program online. This is literally the dumbest thing I've ever heard anyone say, and I lived in Berkeley for more than two years.

I've heard a lot of moronic shit about how to deal with dictatorships who aspire to nukes, for example the UN/EU psychobabble about how if we just give Iran nuclear capability they won't want to use it against us, but it takes either an ignorant and stupid news anchor or a lying one to allege that NKorea is bellicose because George W. Bush has made it so.

Varifrank has this whole thing mapped out here, here and here. Read and be wise.

Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

Australian Uber-blogger Tim Blair posts a good tool for people like me, who have gotten really tired of painstakingly responding to ridiculous emails about how the Pentagon wasn't hit by a plane, and other such nonsense.

Low Talkers are Evil

Noreen at Emerald Bile has a point. I don't know that I would have put it the same way, but my sentiments are very similar.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Regrets, but not Apologies

From Varifrank, a fine interview of an author of a new book on the Dresden bombing raid that many have since termed a war crime. The logical fallacies inherent in that view are many, and this guy explains them all pretty well. Good stuff.

Miles of Instapundit on What's Wrong with the Left

Still sicker than death, and unbelievably miserable, but this Insty post is a good one. Keep scrolling.

Personally, I think people like Oliver Willis are sad, self-loathing jackasses who do in fact wish for American failure worldwide. If their party isn't in power, it's down with everything American. How pathetic and self-defeating of them.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Why is There Still a UN?

I wish it weren't. The UN has been a thorn in the world's side for decades. Corruption, theft, rape, pedophilia sex rings, and not a fucking word about Darfur. If the 9/11 hijackers had been thinking straight about who, outside of themselves, is responsible for their problems, they would have targeted a different building.

It's about Goddamn Time

The wicked son of a bitch is dead. Finally. Maybe he will stop being part of the problem now, but something tells me we haven't seen all the damage Eason Jordan is going to do to, yes, I said it, world peace.

As far as I can tell Jordan is one of those "journalists" who thinks they should play a part in global relations. That means he only missed the single most important rule for journalism: stay the fuck out of the story. The Fourth Estate in this country has abused its power from day fucking one. Let's not stand for it any more, mmkay? For once there is a powerful machine that can fact-check and expose journalists when they lie, or as Jordan has done repeatedly, when they commit treason. So far the score is something like Blogosphere 40, Big Journalism 0. Let's keep running it up.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Sick as a dog

I slept about 15 minutes last night, coughing and blowing my nose every 30 seconds and generally praying for quick death. Probably no blogging today.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Another fine post from Belmont Club about the Left's death spiral:

Although Ascher describes the hatred of the Left as the sole surviving ember in the ashes, he left out the one other emotion which has still survived: conceit. If the Western Left is convinced of anything it is it can bend the Islamic world to its will once America has been cleared away. Samuel Huntington wrote that Islam was "convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power." But he might have been describing the Left, for whom recent history has been an unaccountable theft of their birthright; a little detail they will put right when America is vanquished. But there is the additional complication of Islam and the idea that they are the Wave of the Future is so ingrained the possibility that Islam will eventually dominate is unthinkable.

Good stuff.

Do It

You know you want to.

Thanks to Blackfive for the link.

Words of Wisdom from the Past

Varifrank has posted what I believe is the best blog post of 2005, and it's the best thing I've read in six months. Thanks to Beautiful Atrocities for the heads up. Go and read, you won't regret it.

Required Reading

Instapundit has a fine post on two must-read essays that address real "root causes" of the current Clash of Civilizations, and I can't excerpt them any better than he has. Go and read, and become wise.

Monday, February 07, 2005

And Another Lovely Sentiment

For some reason I like this one too. I even enjoy the name of this fellow's blog, Chase Me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry.

Tee Hee

I should be embarrassed to post something like this, but I'm not. So there.

The New England Patriots: Evil, Or Just Boring?

Can it be that the New England Patriots are the only team professional enough to win the Super Bowl any more? How do you not go into no huddle down 10 with less than six minutes left in the game? How in Bill Bergey's name can Donovan McNabb not know to have two plays called when you're under a minute with no timeouts and need to drive the length of the field? And how do you not try to field a punt when there's less than a minute to go, no matter where the other team is when they punt? Why would you leave your field position entirely to the other team?

This may explain a lot, but not enough. Football's an emotional sport, and that's part of what's unique and interesting about it. People go crazy around an active football game, on and off the field, especially in a championship game like the Super Bowl. It's the pinnacle of any player's career, and many former participants attest to the difficulty with which a newcomer or even a veteran manages his emotional state in order to make effective decisions. Players are human and have lots of time to imagine the Super Bowl experience and worry about it, and often something is lost in the heat of the moment, a certain thougthfulness. With HDTV, you can see that lost look on a QB's face better than ever.

I guess I'm still astounded when players making $10 million a year do dumb things that even a high school athlete should know to avoid. I'm not talking about fumbles, or missed tackles, or even throwing interceptions when there's not a teammate within 20 yards. Those are human mistakes and can be influenced by many factors not obvious to the viewer. But clock management mistakes late in any game, much less the goddamn Super Bowl, are unforgivable. None of the other Eagle players thought it was a good idea to huddle up with the clock ticking away after just one play, a pass complete for a yard that should never have been thrown, but McNabb insisted, and they complied. The pass was bad enough; even a Pop Warner QB knows you don't throw to the middle of the field for a one-yard completion with no timeouts and less than a minute to go. But not having a second play called is criminal negligence.

Philly fans are bound to be ruthless about this, and they should be. McNabb is the highest-paid player in the league, and he should damn well have mastered the basics by now. That's what he's paid for, not to make commercials and do ghastly Michael Jackson impressions in the end zone.

I have been deeply annoyed by the Freddie Mitchell/Rodney Harrison flap, Mitchell was joshing with reporters like he did the week before, but now everyone's decided that when you're playing the no-nonsense Patriots, it's not funny. Harrison has been holding court ever since, acting like he's the humble steward of a once-proud game that has been ruined by people who "just don't get it." Not that that isn't the case, but enough with the "If you ain't channeling Butkus, you ain't a real player" crap. There is not one single way to play a sport, or appreciate music, or any of the things absolutists are contantly trying to define for us. Holding things sacred is a good way to snuff them out entirely, I think, and

I've never been a fan football true believers, all those frothing, spitting assistant coaches on the sidelines, bellowing football platitudes at the players on the bench because they have no other outlet for their madness. Such silliness extends to the world of fandom, making people who root for one team their whole lives somehow superior to those who change their minds as coaches and personnel change. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, if you've been a Packer fan religiously since the first game they ever played, you're just rooting for the color scheme. Everything else is different.

It's some kind of weird true-believer mob mentality, and I remember it unfondly from my own high school football experience, but I guess I dislike watching players who have their end zone dance all planned out but can't remember not to throw the ball to a guy in the middle of the field for no gain with no time on the clock and no time outs even more than watching frothing zealots freak out over every little thing. The Patsies are a great advertisement for establishing a Pod People culture and demanding full compliance, even to the point of sacrificing salary to play there. Can't drink the Kool-Aid much more willingly than that.

Boingboing Goodness

First, a great bluegrass version of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades." Then, a strange MSNBC story about people who run sweat shops where kids play massive role playing video games like Everquest frantically in order to generate in-game gold and weapons to sell for real on Ebay. MAN people are weird.

Exactly What Kind of Guy Michael Moore Is

A portly, paranoid jerk whose own employees can't find a nice word to describe him:

“I can’t accept [Moore] as a political person,” another TV Nation employee told MacFarquhar. “I can’t buy into this thing of Michael Moore is on your side – it’s like trying to believe that Justin Timberlake is a soulful guy. It’s a media product: he’s just selling me something. For the preservation of my own soul I have to consider him just an entertainer, because otherwise he’s a huge a--hole. If you consider him an entertainer, then his acting like a selfish, self-absorbed, pouty, deeply conflicted, easily wounded child is run-of-the-mill, standard behavior. But if he’s a political force, then he’s a jerk and a hypocrite and he didn’t treat us right and he was false in all his dealings.”

“I can’t go to his movies, and I can’t hold his books for very long,” Chris Kelly, who worked on TV Nation and Canadian Bacon told MacFarquhar. “When he started writing his column for The Nation, I cancelled my subscription. He broke my heart. That’s what he does to people.” Other employees have described Moore as a boss who created working conditions that resembled a “sweatshop” and “indentured servitude.”

You shouldn't need to read this to know what a crapsack Moore is, but it does help.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

God Has a Sense of Humor, I Hope

Hoy Story posts a bible verse in response to DNC Chair hopeful Howard Dean's comment that "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for . . ."

No matter what the but after that is (and it's "but I admire their discipline and their organization"), it's the dumbest thing he's said yet. Why is it reasonable for top-rank liberals to say such things? You could easily substitute "Nazis" for "Republicans" without changing the context a bit, and I think that's exactly the point. That's what they see in the Bush administration: Nazi Germany. And no, I am not comforted by the understanding that such an attitude is an indication of either an incomplete education or outright insanity.

On one hand, I can't wait to see this guy in action. He should destroy the Dems in a month. On the other hand, this kind of rhetoric is not without consequences and is bound to make reasonable progress more, not less, difficult. We certainly don't need more delusion on the Left, and especially not from a leader of the party. Either Dean truly represents the Left or he doesn't, but either way he's a disastrous choice for DNC Chair. MacAuliffe was a stiff and a loser, but this guy's a blind drunk driver at the wheel of a leaky gas truck.

So here he comes, the ticking time bomb. Who will suffer from the explosion?

Best Blog Post Ever

I was screwing around on Internet Explorer, which I haven't done for months, and came across this, which I still believe is the single best blog post ever made. I don't know how long it took to get this together, but it's just about perfect. Korlapundit should be in your bookmarks.

My New Favorite Blog

It's hateful, mean-spirited and kind of gross. And I love it.

Thanks to Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Democratic Party: One Big America's Funniest Videos Episode After Another

From Vodkapundit, just how many ways can the Democrats screw themselves over? Hiring Howard Dean as DNC Chair might just be something they won't recover from, according to Jonathan Chait, who's no Republican:

A few weeks ago, when former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean declared his intention to run for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, news reports had the general tone of "Get this, that crazy scream guy is back and he wants to run the party." Now, a week before the vote, his victory is a fait accompli. How did this happen? Are Democrats suicidally crazy?

Wait. That's too easy. Let me rephrase the question. Why are Democrats suicidally crazy?

The conventional rap against Dean as DNC chairman is essentially the same as the conventional rap against him as presidential candidate a year ago. Namely, he reinforces all the party's weaknesses. Democrats need to appeal to culturally traditional voters in the Midwest and border states who worry about the party's commitment to national security. Dean, with his intense secularism, arrogant style, throngs of high-profile counterculture supporters and association with the peace movement, is the precise opposite of the image Democrats want to send out.

The conventional rap is completely right. But, in a way, Dean is even less suited to run the DNC than he is to run for president.

I can't wait to watch the deathblossom. Just about the entire party deserves it richly.

More Straight-Talk Goodness from VDH

Reading Victor Davis Hanson's work is like showering off days of filth, grit and sweat from a long slosh through the swamp. He cuts through the crap, all right:

What explains this automatic censure of the United States, Israel, and to a lesser extent the Anglo-democracies of the United Kingdom and Australia? Westernization, coupled with globalization, has created an affluent and leisured elite that now gravitates to universities, the media, bureaucracies, and world organizations, all places where wealth is not created, but analyzed, critiqued, and lavishly spent.

Thus we now expect that the New York Times, Harper's, Le Monde, U.N. functionaries who call us "stingy," French diplomats, American writers and actors will all (1) live a pretty privileged life; (2) in recompense "feel" pretty worried and guilty about it; (3) somehow connect their unease over their comfort with a pathology of the world's hyperpower, the United States; and (4) thus be willing to risk their elite status, power, or wealth by very brave acts such as writing anguished essays, giving pained interviews, issuing apologetic communiqués, braving the rails to Davos, and barking off-the-cuff furious remarks about their angst over themes (1) through (3) above. What a sad contrast they make with far better Iraqis dancing in the street to celebrate their voting.

There is something else to this shrillness of the global throng besides the obvious fact of hypocrisy — that very few of the world's Westernized cynical echelon ever move to the ghetto to tutor those they champion in the abstract, reside in central Africa to feed the poor, give up tenure to ensure employment for the exploited lecturer, or pass on the Washington or New York A-list party to eat in the lunch hall with the unwashed. Davos after all, is not quite central Bolivia or the Sudan.

I am inclined to have the lowest opinion possible of such people. What to do with those who obstruct justice in the name of justice? I mean, other than slapping them with a belt like Pootie Tang?

The Worm Turns in Iraq

This is the best news I've heard from Iraq, and it's a product of Coalition sacrifice, American commitment, and the opportunity to vote for the first time in 50 years. We should all be deeply humbled and grateful for the patience and faith of average Iraqis, they have had the hardest path, and have taken it willingly.

Friday, February 04, 2005

I Can't Believe I Ever Laughed at her Act

But now all I can say is Janeane Garofalo is a deranged, ignorant, logic-despising, self-loathing moron. That is indeed the word for someone who would do and say this.

I understand being bitter because your side lost again (and were on the wrong side of history, decency and morality) but this is beyond offensive. Don't listen to, watch or even look at a picture of this haggard wench. She's the enemy of all Iraqis who wish for freedom and a say in their government, a smelly ball of incoherent rage who has no greater goal in life than to impede George W. Bush for being the kind of guy who hurt her so deeply in high school. Frankly she's pathetic, but I still care enough to hate her. I guess I think she's smart enough to know better. Not educated, clearly, but smart. Heavy, drawn-out sigh.

I sure am glad I don't live in New York. Restraining yourself from crushing her skull with your elbow as she walks by must be just about impossible.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

History Repeats, Usually

Go read this masterful post at Belmont Club, which is beautifully written and encompasses the clash of Islam and the West, Charles George "Chinese" Gordon, The Four Feathers (both movie and book), Winston Churchill's recollections of cavalry charges as a young lancer in the Sudan,

As always the comments are fantastic, and here's part of one I particularly liked, by fred, on the nature of the American fighting man and woman:

Our young people will, if they have to, lay down their lives because they love life. Our enemies hate life and love death. Our enemies see death as the portal to a pornographic reward. The glory we seek is another’s elevation, because our God wills that His creatures be free to love and serve one’s fellow human beings, thus knowing and loving Him. Our enemies’ view of salvation is radically opposite: the humiliation and degradation of life and of those who are not faithful co-religionists; then, in the afterlife, the continued servitude and humiliation of one half of humanity.

Our secularist opponents on the Left do not understand this, since it is considered irrelevant to plumb the depths and differences of these competing spiritualities. As far as these p.c. multiculturalists are concerned, all religions are equal and none should be judged by fairly adjudicated ethical standards

Can I get a why certainly sir?

Left vs. Right

Eloquent moderate blogger Ann Althouse, of the University of Wisconsin (in deeply radical Madison, WI) faculty, posts a truly fascinating essay on bloggers on the left and right, and their respective tactics and strategy. Read:

In the year that I've been blogging I've taken a lot of different positions, some left and some right. What I've noticed, over and over, is that the bloggers on the right link to you when they agree and ignore the disagreements, and the bloggers on the left link only for the things they disagree with, to denounce you with short posts saying you're evil/stupid/crazy, and don't even seem to notice all the times you've written posts that take their side.

That does indeed seem to be the pattern. There's more:

I'm just saying that I'm struck by the way the right perceives me as a potential ally and uses positive reinforcement and the left doesn't see me as anything but an opponent -- doesn't even try to engage me with reasoned argument. Maybe the left feels beleaguered these days, but how do they expect to make any progress if they don't see the ways they can include the people in the middle? If you look around and only see opponents and curl up with your little group of insiders, you are putting your efforts into insuring that you remain a political minority.

Well, not much the left does these days makes sense to me, so I don't know what the point of pissing off those you would convert is. But there's more, from an Althouse reader who emailed this in:

I think that certain there is a certain type of "leftishness" that predicates its view of the world on some special insight into reality which one can only share or not. I think, for example, this was the principle informing such sixties talk as "raising one's consciousness," or such notions that one is "good" by virtue of mere sincerity or proper beliefs, regardless of one's actions. If one shares the insight or subscribes to it, one is part of the virtuous elect; if not, one is evil. Civil discourse by contrast, presupposes that one can communicate, persuade, and, importantly,be persuaded, which in turn requires at least some degree of modesty in insisting that one is right, that there is a possibility that one is wrong. This of course can appear on the right, but does not do so as much because, I believe, the presuppositions of civil discourse accord more closely with "rightish" values.

Others chime in, first Poliblog:

As someone who made the move from liberal to conservative in his mid to late twenties, what I found is that conservatives were much more tolerant of me as a liberal, than liberals are now tolerant of me as a conservative. I'm speaking as a whole not to a person. Conservatives always wanted to reason with me, talk me out of it. Liberals question my intentions and decency. Out here in Hollywood when I would come out of the conservative closet, liberals were shocked because "I'm such a sweet guy" they had no idea. Those people remain nice to me but something changes. It's like having sex with a friend. You can't go back. And it's all awkward now. A shame really. Never had that problem with conservatives.

I once heard Bill Maher say the dumbest thing I've ever heard on television, that Conservatives are feelers and liberals are thinkers. I think it's exactly the other way around. I just don't get the impression liberals are serious about getting any particular job done, and this may be part of the problem, from Baseball Crank:

I think a lot of liberals, particularly the more vocal ones on the internet who grew up in blue-state cities and went to blue-state colleges and got into blue-state occupations like the law or academia, just don't have the same formative experience of having had to reconcile themselves to political disagreements with people they otherwise like or respect, and it shows.

Sounds reasonable. There must be some point to that kind of behavior. It's certainly not about being part of the solution, but maybe that's what the left thinks it's doing.

Oliver Stone, Conservative?

From Dean's World, an interesting argument from Arthur Chrenkoff that Oliver Stone is a neocon, based on Chrenkoff's interpretation of "Alexander." I haven't seen it, but the argument makes perfect sense. Interesting stuff:

Macedonia (the United States) is considered by the Greeks (the Europeans) to be a rather barbarian, unsophisticated, uncouth and violent place on the periphery of their glorious civilization, yet the Macedonians strongly feel themselves to be a part of the Hellenic world (the West). More than that, the Macedonians are staking the claim to the leadership of all the Greeks to lead this motley coalition in the fight against the oriental tyranny of Persia (that one is pretty easy to guess). The Greeks, however, while having faced the Persians many times in the past, now seem oblivious to the continuing danger and are far more concerned about the Macedonian hegemony. Persia, meanwhile, is happy to keep the Greek world divided with skillful use of propaganda and gold (the Wahabbi money and the Oil for Food scheme). They even go as far as to assassinate Alexander's father Philip (the shades of the Iraqi assassination attempt against Bush Sr in Kuwait in 1993?) in order to thwart the imminent Macedonian/Greek invasion.

Alexander understands that while an uneasy peace exists at the moment, Persia has to be pre-emptively attacked and defeated once and for all, if it's to never threaten the Greek world again. But there is another aspect to Alexander's military adventure - the desire to liberate the peoples of the East from under the Oriental despotism and tyranny [as discussed extensively throughout the movie by Alexander and his pal Hephaistion. The dialogue sounded so contemporary that my jaw, if didn't exactly drop, it certainly descended slightly. What the hell was Stone thinking?]. For this ambition, Alexander faces constant criticism from those (the realists) who think his vision too utopian; the Easterners, after all, are barbarians only accustomed to slavery, they don't know what freedom is and certainly wouldn't know how to handle it.

But despite such disdainful Macedonian criticisms as well as continuing rebellious grumblings from the Greeks, Alexander presses ahead and with a well-disciplined and well-trained military force, considered by many to be far too small for the task, he conquers the Persian empire in a series of land engagements in Mesopotamia and after a guerilla campaign in Afghanistan. At the height of his victories he is accused by many of his own of engaging in a never-ending war with no "exit strategy" that would allow his overstretched and exhausted military machine to return to civilian life and enjoy the spoils of victory.

Makes sense to me. Strange that Stone, who must have noticed the parallels, didn't spin away from this interpretation of "Alexander." Then again, if I were a closet neocon, I wouldn't come out, ever. Not even Scorcese would survive the fallout from such an act.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention the funniest part of the essay:

Virtually everyone is miscast (including Colin Farrell in the main role, who starts off looking like a very young Steve "the Crocodile Hunter" Irwin and ends up an ancient David Lee Roth after a particularly tiring tour), and virtually everyone misacts (and why does Babylon look like Las Vegas?).

Loves it.

CNN Hits Bottom

You won't read or hear about this in mainstream media news, but CNN's Eason Jordan has claimed at an international conference that the US military targeted journalists in Iraq and killed them. A number of journalists have died in Iraq, and some of them have been killed by US forces. I don't know the particulars in many of those cases, but I expect it's Pat Tillman stuff, people being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now Jordan is saying that by "targeted" he meant that they were shot or launched at deliberately but that those who shot at them didn't know they were journalists. As if that makes alleging US war crimes in front of Arab diplomats and reporters OK.

You may remember Jordan as the guy who confessed that although CNN knew about a lot of Saddam Hussein's bad behavior, they covered it up because they didn't want to lose "access." Which may be the sleaziest thing I've ever heard of in journalism. CNN is the worst of the worst, lower than CBS and The National Enquirer put together. Stop watching it; everyone else has.

Mike's Cobra, the Sexiest Car in Austin

Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
I wish I could say I was the Mike who built such a gorgeous car in his garage, but really it was my friend Mike S. from North Austin who made this sexy beast. I wish I could say I did more than turn a couple of screws and pop in a couple of rivets, but that would be lying. Mostly I just gazed adoringly at the machine that slowly took shape over a period of months, trying to imagine the finished product. And here it is, worth every penny and minute of toil.

Mike is literally the one person I know who, when he told me he was making a Cobra in his garage, I utterly believed he would achieve it in a timely fashion. He has been an exotic metals machinist (some of my favorite metal objects are the medical prosthetics Mike has made, which invariably look like HR Giger torture devices made from titanium) for some time now and has functioned as chief mechanic and Radio Control sports director for me and five or six others for at least a decade, keeping a stable fragile and exotic R/C cars and their respective parts and control devices, and an equivalent number of R/C planes, in perfect working order the whole time, not to mention inventing and constantly improving machines and devices all around him. People like him make the world go around, literally, and when Mike made what may or may not have been the world's first R/C robot truck, with a camera, microphone, speaker, and water cannon, so you could drive the thing up to a stranger on the other side of a building, communicate with the stranger, and spray him or her with water and race away, I knew he was ready for a larger project. The water cannon later became a fire cannon when Mike figured out he could fill the large reservoir with Bacardi 151 and get reliable ignition from a trick birthday candle, but a malfunction dumped the rum all over it and almost melted before Mike could put it out. Of course, it works perfectly now.

And now he's done with the Beast, and it is the most beautiful car I've ever seen in person. Is it a genuine Shelby Cobra? No, but it's probably better in many respects considering the advances in technology since they made the last genuine Cobra. The motor and running gear came from a '90s Mustang GT, and the Cobra weighs much, much less. Everything that happens in this car is a loud, violent act: acceleration, braking, and cornering are all accompanied by a shredding of the tires and the feeling that you might just break up with gravity at any moment. It's truly exhilarating, like riding a motorcycle on four wheels; you're in the car, but you feel a little bit like you're on it instead, and there is not much between you and the world around you.

Mike has to watch the weather a little bit, no top on the thing to speak of, but he's that kind of guy too, so it's not a problem. His car will be beautiful and correct as long as he owns it, and that is a truly wonderful thing. Excellent job Mike!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

You Got That Right, Homey

LGF links to a lovely Dennnis Prager column appropriately titled, "The Left is Worth Nothing" and it's a good one. When Robert Downey Jr. meets George W. Bush and tells him, "I'm between parties right now" because "the Democratic Party couldn't find its ass with both hands" as he related on Conan O'Brien last night (or maybe one of the others, I can't tell talk shows apart any more) then you know it's over for the Left. Well, that's not really how you know it, but it's still true. It's painful to watch Dean and Kerry thrashing weakly as the water runs out of their tank, and they did it to themselves. The election in Iraq, and what happens after, are going to change the world permanently, and already have to some degree. Those who stood in the way of that progress will be remembered for what they are now that nobody in particular controls the information flow. It won't matter who writes the history books this time. Thank God.

Some Pragerosity:

Since I was an adolescent, I have been preoccupied with evil: specifically, why people engage in it and why other people refuse to acknowledge its existence. As I have gotten older, I often find the latter group more infuriating. Somehow, as much as I don't want to, I can understand why a Muslim raised in a world permeated with hate-filled lies about America and Israel, and taught from childhood that God loves death, will blow himself up and joyfully maim and murder children. As evil as the Muslim terrorist is, given the Islamic world in which he was raised, he has some excuse.

But the non-Muslims who fail to acknowledge and confront the evil of Muslim terror and the evil of those monsters who cut innocent people's throats and murder those trying to make a democracy -- these people are truly worth nothing. Unlike the Muslims raised in a religious totalitarian society, they have no excuse. And in my lifetime, these people have overwhelmingly congregated on the political Left.

Since the 1960s, with few exceptions, on the greatest questions of good and evil, the Left has either been neutral toward or actively supported evil. The Left could not identify communism as evil; has been neutral toward or actually supported the anti-democratic pro-terrorist Palestinians against the liberal democracy called Israel; and has found it impossible to support the war for democracy and against an Arab/Muslim enemy in Iraq as evil as any fascist the Left ever claimed to hate.

I agree wholeheartedly. Sean Penn and Tim Robbins aren't bad people, per se, they just don't have a reliable moral compass. I can forgive a suicide bomber for being insulated to the point of not being aware that his ideology is worthless, but given access to all the information they could want, Penn and Robbins have chosen the wrong side, again. And for them, it's not a lesser of two evils thing, it's a "we're not perfect and until we are I'm against us, for what others think of us is more important than what we actually do" thing. And that's worthless.

What Technology is Really For

To help people make things like an Xbox modified to look like the Millenium Falcon. Seriously, this is the best and highest use of human progress.

From Boingboing

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Tolerable, No Make That Delicious, Cruelty

I think I would read Mark Steyn with relish even if I was a liberal. He's just too good to miss. Today's column is about the Iraqi election:

Just as "the brutal Afghan winter" that was supposed to mire shivering US forces in the graveyard of empire is now one-third of a decade behind schedule, so Iraq has now been "teetering on the brink of civil war" for coming up for two years. Brink-wise, that's quite a leisurely teeter. There's no danger of a "long-running civil war in Iraq". Instead, we've had a long-running hysteria about impending civil war in Iraq.

Indeed, as long runs go, predictions of Iraqi civil war are the Cats of doomsday scenarios -- except that, unlike Cats, it's all previews and no opening night. Tom Clark of Canada's CTV network was warning that "Iraq could be teetering on the brink of civil war" in August 2003. Graydon Carter, editor of the perfumed glossy Vanity Fair, was warning that Iraq was "on the brink of civil war" a month earlier.

To their credit, both men teetered on the brink of making a laughably inaccurate prediction and then plunged right in.

Lots of good punditry in the last week or so. Read the whole thing, I may have excerpted the least interesting part.

From Mudville Gazette

Elementary, My Dear Nimrod

Ol' Drunkenstein over at Vodkapundit links to a new Christopher Hitchens piece that walks us through it because some of us need it:

Where it is not augmented by depraved Bin Ladenist imports, the leadership and structure of the Iraqi "insurgency" is formed from the elements of an already fallen regime, extensively discredited and detested in its own country and universally condemned. This could not be said of Ho Chin Minh or of the leaders and cadres of the National Liberation Front.

The option of accepting a unified and Communist Vietnam, which would have evolved toward some form of market liberalism even faster than China has since done, always existed. It was not until President Kennedy decided to make a stand there, in revenge for the reverses he had suffered in Cuba and Berlin, that quagmire became inevitable. The option of leaving Iraq to whatever successor regime might arise or be imposed does not look half so appetizing. One cannot quite see a round-table negotiation in Paris with Bin Laden or Zarqawi or Moqtada Sadr, nor a gradually negotiated hand-over to such people after a decent interval.

In Vietnam, the most appalling excesses were committed by U.S. forces. Not all of these can be blamed on the conduct of bored, resentful, frightened conscripts. The worst atrocities—free-fire zones, carpet-bombing, forced relocation, and chemical defoliation—were committed as a direct consequence of orders from above. In Iraq, the crimes of mass killing, aerial bombardment, ethnic deportation, and scorched earth had already been committed by the ruling Baath Party, everywhere from northern Kurdistan to the drained and burned-out wetlands of the southern marshes. Coalition forces in Iraq have done what they can to repair some of this state-sponsored vandalism.

In Vietnam, the United States relied too much on a pre-existing military caste that often changed the local administration by means of a few tanks around the presidential palace. In the instance of Iraq, the provisional government was criticized, perhaps more than for any other decision, for disbanding the armed forces of the ancien regime, and for declining to use a proxy army as the United States had previously done in Indonesia, Chile, El Salvador, and Greece. Unlike the South Vietnamese, the Iraqi forces are being recruited from scratch.

In Vietnam, the policy of the United States was—especially during the Kennedy years—a sectarian one that favored the Roman Catholic minority. In Iraq, it is obvious even to the coldest eye that the administration is if anything too anxious to compose religious differences without any reference to confessional bias.

I suppose it's obvious that I was not a supporter of the Vietnam War. Indeed, the principles of the antiwar movement of that epoch still mean a good deal to me. That's why I retch every time I hear these principles recycled, by narrow minds or in a shallow manner, in order to pass off third-rate excuses for Baathism or jihadism. But one must also be capable of being offended objectively. The Vietnam/Iraq babble is, from any point of view, a busted flush. It's no good. It's a stiff. It's passed on. It has ceased to be. It's joined the choir invisible. It's turned up its toes. It's gone. It's an ex-analogy.

Indeed. It's all great, read the whole thingy.

Something to Be Proud Of

Instapundit posts a nice essay by Jeff Simmermon from And I Am Not Lying, For Real, who has changed his mind about Iraq and democracy:

You may think that you have felt dumb before, but let me tell you something: until you have stood in front of a man who knows real pain and told him that you are against your country's alleviation of his country's state-sponsored murderous suffering, you have not felt truly, deeply, like a total fucking moron.

I still am no Bush fan, and I know that America got lied to. I know we shouldn't have gone, and I think Rove is as evil as they come. But through all this deception and lying, through all this dismemberment and pain, America has wrought a beautiful, fantastic side effect: joy, freedom and a hope for peace. Does it take lies and misdirection to do this?? Is this what the other side of justice is? I feel like such a whiner and I don't know what to think anymore. Ultimately, in total defiance of my mother and grandmother’s teachings, two wrongs have made a right and my moral compass is tired and busted.

I can't tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, and I want a clear cut mandate, some lines to believe along. But there aren't any. There's just right and wrong and following your heart of hearts. And for the first time in my life, I can say that I was wrong to be compulsively critical of the current administration without seeking my own truth.

Good for him. And courtesy of Ace of Spades, there's more of that sort of thing from Johnny Dollar.