Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Marriage in the Modern Society

Patrick O'Hannigan, better known as the Paragraphfarmer, described my view of marriage as "oversimplified to the point of unworkability." He may be right, but let's talk about it a bit. When I said I favored gay marriage, I was talking only about civil marriage and it's important to distinguish that from religious marriage. Not being religious myself, I would not presume to tell any religious organizations what restrictions to put on their marriages (except to note I'm a bit puzzled how any organization that believes in a holy scripture that calls for all gay people to be stoned to death can justify accepting gay marriages). But what role does marriage play in modern society? The question used to be easy to answer. Marriage was a way of controlling procreation and ensuring, as much as possible, that the children would be raised in a stable, two-parent family that would pass along the knowledge and social principles of the society. The connection between marriage and children has long since been broken, however. I once had a friend tell me that gay marriage was a "wedge" issue that would galvanize the right and cause revolution in our society. I disagreed, largely because if anything would have done that it would have been gay adoption. After all, gay marriage only effects the two getting married. Gay adoption deeply effects the adopted child. Yet that battle was fought and decided without sparking a revolution. Single parents & gays can adopt. Massive numbers of children are born out of wedlock or raised out of wedlock because of divorces. Americans routinely marry with no intention of having children and have children with no intention of marrying. Of course, anyone who believes (as I do) that it is healthier for children to be raised in a stable two-parent home is free to marry )as I've done) and raise their children in just such a home (as I have done). By why force that model on others? So if marriage is no longer about raising our children, what is the point of marriage? Well, it unquestionably provides financial benefits to the married. It returns some benefit to the society as the marriage partners can help each other, especially in their old age and are less likely to become dependent on the state. These financial considerations apply regardless of the gender of the married couple. Extensive same-gender marriages would likely reduce the birth rate, which, at least for now, is more a plus than a minus. Many governmental (and private) organizations have extended marriage benefits to domestic partners. What is the point in banning civil same-gender marriages? Unless one is determined to impose religious views that disapprove of homosexuality, what rational basis is there for giving heterosexuals rights that you deny to homosexuals? I have not found that question easy to answer. As always, I look forward to your responses.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What next in Iraq?

I hesitate to talk about Iraq in this forum. It is a subject that both Bookworm and her readers know considerably much more about than I do. But I'm going to dip my toe in these shark-infested waters to make a point & ask you for your ideas. Before we invaded Iraq, Bookworm and I disagreed about the issue. She favored the invasion and I opposed it for two reasons: First, I didn't see any great urgency about the situation. Whether or not Saddam had WMD, he wasn't on the verge of using them against the United States or even Israel. There was time to firm up the best coalition we could and at least show the world we had fully explored every possibility short of war. We did not do that. The Coalition of the Willing looked to me more like the Coalition of the Impatient. Second, it was clear before we ever got in, that we had no idea how we were going to get out. Iraq looked to me more like three countries joined by terror than one country joinable by democracy. It just seemed unlikely that factions who loathed each other would somehow learn to live together in any kind of a democratic state, much less one friendly to the U.S. Both Bookworm and I still think we were right all along. She can point to the downfall of Saddam, the fact that there have been no more 9/11 type attacks on U.S. soil (sorry Spain & Great Britain), the events in Libya, and the better lives that some, if not most, Iraqis are leading now. I can point to the continued bombings, the failure of the Iraqis to agree on how to govern themselves, the extraordinary expense (I deeply resent that my children will pay for Iraq's rebuilding and Iraq's children will not), and the fact that we still have no idea how to get out. My point is that it is possible to discuss these issues, even disagree on them strongly, without name-calling and without the conviction that the person on the other side is immoral, evil or just plain stupid. Bookworm and I do it all the time. The blogger's world is a great forum to do this, and we should use it constructively, to learn from each other, not just to throw rocks at each other. My request is for ideas on where the United States goes from here. Personally, I have no idea how we get out without Iraq either falling into civil war or reverting to dictatorship. And I don't support staying there forever. For someone who is normally full of ideas, some quite unconventional, this one has me stumped. I'd welcome your solutions.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Political Correctness Is Alive and Well and Living on Sports Talk Radio

Recently, San Francisco Bay Area sports talk radio station KNBR fired their evening talk show host, Larry Krueger. Krueger's sin? In a rant about the San Francisco Giants baseball team's poor play, he complained about "brain-dead Caribbean" players swinging at too many bad pitches. When the firestorm hit the next day, Krueger apologized and asked to meet with Giants' manager Felipe Alou. Mr. Alou not only refused the apology & refused to meet with Krueger, he described Krueger as a "messenger of Satan." Startled by this reaction, KNBR, which had originally suspended Krueger, fired him. While they were at it, they also fired Tony Rhein, a morning show producer who had mocked Alou's overreaction, and Manager Bob Agnew, for unspecified crimes. Now, to my knowledge, no one has seriously contended that Krueger is actually a racist or did anything more than make an unfortunate and insensitive remark. But that remark was enough to lose him his job. To fully understand the horror of this, one should know two things. First, it is so well-known and commonly acknowledged that Caribbean players are free-swingers that there is a well known phrase to describe it -- "You don't walk off the island." The saying means simply that you are more likely to get noticed by a major league scout and make it to the big leagues, hence "off the island," by hitting away than by taking a walk. Second, the Bay Area has another team, the Oakland A's. Early this season, when the A's were losing, there was a spirited debate in the media here about whether the team had too many white players who were taking too many pitches! I know of no one who was accused of racism or who lost their job over that controversy (which, by the way, didn't last long; folks tended to shut up when the A's started winning and went from last place to first). Now, I know the comment was insensitive, perhaps even racist. And I know KNBR has an absolute right to kick off their air any one for any reason. This really isn't a free speech issue. But it is sad that we have reached the point that a single, heat-of-the-moment apologized-for comment that did no worse than feed into existing stereotypes can cost a man his job. I wrote to KNBR in protest and never received so much as an automatically generated reply. I know there are now limits on what anyone can say in public, but I can't imagine such limits are healthy for our society. Felipe Alou is 70 years old and knows what real racism is like -- he lived through the real thing. He ought to be able to tell the difference between the real thing and Krueger's comment. Which leads to a whole other blog entry on hyper-sensitivity and how the definition of racism has changed over the years. But that's another entry for another time.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

So what's "illegal" about them?

My wife, who works for the IRS, was telling me the other day that many of her customers are "illegal" aliens, asking for taxpayer identification numbers (essentially as substitutes for social security numbers). It set me to thinking about the concept of illegality. Usually, when people do something illegal (and are caught) they suffer some sort of consequence for their actions. The logical consequence for being in this country illegally would, you would think, be deportation, or, as an alternative, the chance to apply to be here legally. Instead, we have illegal aliens so unconcerned about deportation that they are appearing, voluntarily, at government offices, to obtain a number to allow the government to better identify them! Does anyone else see anything odd in this picture? Personally, I would vastly increase the ease with which one could become a legal alien. We need migrant workers, doing jobs too few Americans want to do, and there is no reason they should be forced to come here illegally. And, as a matter of course, I would give illegals the chance to become legal before deporting them. But they couldn't simply stay here illegally. Once identified, they would have to become legal or leave. Of course, here in California, we don't debate whether to deport illegal aliens; we debate whether to give them drivers licenses. And, of course, as the otherwise useful link demonstrates, our politically correct educational system refers to them not as "illegal" but as "undocumented". Shades of Steve's ConLaw professor (see the comments on the previous article). No answer here, and maybe even no real question, but I hope you'll add your comments to the conversation anyway.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Bridging the abortion gap

The Supreme Court vacancy has brought the abortion debate front and center again. If ever there was an issue ripe for compromise it's the abortion issue, but nobody seems much interested in compromising. I understand this is an issue about which people disagree strongly and fundamentally. Still, a healthy society can reach solutions that, while they are not completely satisfactory to everyone (perhaps to anyone) allow the society to continue to function with respect for all points of view. Let's see if we can make any progress on this issue. First let's dispose of the labels: Right to choose -- Well, of course, but the right to choose what? An abortion, of course. But if abortion is murder, then there is no right to choose. No one has the right to choose murder. And if abortion is acceptable, why is there any need for the euphemism? Why not just say right to abort? Right to life -- Well, of course, no one disputes that human beings have a right to life. But when does one become sufficiently human to asserts such a right, especially when that right may only be asserted at discomfort, perhaps even danger, to another person's health or life? The question is whether, and under what circumstances, a pregnant woman may legally pursue an abortion, and the labels just get in the way. The beliefs they represent, on the other hand, are worthy of respect. Decent people, people of high moral standards, hold beliefs that both labels represent. As with all issues, we should be able to discuss this one civilly and with understanding. Let's try it. We can start by looking at the issue of murder generally. Some believe any killing, even by a soldier in war or anyone in self-defense, is murder. Others believe than many forms of killing -- not just those above, but capital punishment and euthanasia, maybe even some forms of mercy killings -- are entirely acceptable. The society draws the line somewhere in between and, while the line shifts over time, most people are reasonably satisfied, even if they disagree with the exact line at any given moment. Abortion differs from the general rule only in that more people stand at either extreme (the society should permit no abortions at all or, on the other hand, should permit abortions with very few limits). Thus, any compromise that draws the line somewhere in the middle will leave most people dissatisfied. Still, the line must be drawn somewhere, and it is healthier for the society as a whole that it be drawn in a place that at least takes into account all beliefs and points of view. To reach a compromise that society can live we, we have to start with the acknowledgment that pregnant woman must have some ability to choose abortions under some circumstances. On the other hand, there must be realistic limits that respect the human potential of the fetus. Interestingly, Justice Blackmun tried to strike a balance in Roe v. Wade. His conclusion is worth quoting at some length:

(a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician. (b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health. (c) For the stage subsequent to viability, the State in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life [410 U.S. 113, 165] may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.
This noble effort has been obscured by the abortion advocates' insistence that any restrictions at all on abortion somehow represent a violation of Roe and the first step down a slippery slope to the 1950's. However, its emphasis on viability presents problems, since the miracle of modern medicine keeps pushing the line of viability (at least in the sense of being able to live outside the womb with proper medical support) earlier and earlier. So, are any other objective criteria available? Heartbeat suggests itself, but the fetal heartbeat begins 22 days or so after conception, probably an impractically short time to allow a woman to decide. It would be possible to justify prohibiting abortion after the brain begins to function, but it turns out there is a hornet's nest of controversy as to when this happens. Compare Pro Life America's Facts on Fetal Development to this pro-choice rebuttal that appeared at the top of my Google search. Apparently, meaningful brain activity begins somewhere between 40 days and 7 months and I personally simply don't have the expertise to settle the dispute. While, personally, this is my favorite solution, the society would have to come to a far better concensus on when brain activity starts for this to be a workable standard. There seems to be no generally accepted, reasonable point before which the rights of the mother should so trump the rights of the fetus as to allow abortion, but after which the society may assert on behalf of the fetus a right to a chance at life. Have we made any progress? I don't know. We certainly haven't solved the problem. But it seems to me that we badly need to quit shouting at each other and demanding total victory and, instead, look for ways to find a solution that everyone can live with. When I asked you to join the conversation yesterday, this is one of the topics I had in mind. I'm not much intersted in hearing why one side or the other is right and should get its way completely. But I'd be very interested in hearing from anyone who has constructive ideas on how society can fashion a rule that will, insofar as is possible, accommodate all points of view.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Welcome!

Bookworm has turned over the keys to the Bookwormroom to me for a week or so and suggested I take it for a spin. I'll never live up to her over-generous introduction, but I'm happy to spend some time here with you. I should introduce myself and give you some idea of who I am and what I believe. First off, I'm a 50+, white male heterosexual married 30+ years to the world's best wife (no, not Bookworm). I'm new to blogging (so please forgive my rookie mistakes), but not to the on-line exchange of ideas, dating back to Prodigy bulletin boards years ago. Bookworm described me as a conservative, but I actually believe the liberal and conservative viewpoints are both internally inconsistent. My actual beliefs approach, but do not touch at all points, libertarianism and, while I'm far more comfortable with the "conservative" label than the "liberal" one, I've got views that will startle and, perhaps, offend folks on both sides of the isle. I believe my views are, for the most part, internally consistent and correct, but I am always open to new ideas. Let me share some of those views with you. Generally, I'm against big government and for individual freedom. I believe all victimless crimes should be repealed. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, how many adults, of what genders and performing what acts is none of the government's business. Neither is what they put in their bodies while there or whether money changes hands in the process. People do make unfortunate choices, but it does not follow that government should take it upon itself to restrict those choices. There must be limits of course: they must actually be adults, they must actually be consenting, etc., but only these broad limits should apply. I believe in gay marriage. If gays are to claim the benefits of marriage, they should be required to take on the official title and responsibilities of marriage. Marriage used to be about procreation and raising children, but it is both more and less than that today. There's probably a separate blog in here somewhere. I believe we should not have invaded Iraq, at least not when we did and not without a clear idea of how we were going to get out. On this Bookworm and I disagree and there is definitely a separate blog here. I believe the national debt is a national disgrace, proof positive that we as a society are willing to live beyond out means and leave the bill for our children to pay. Few things give me less hope for our nation than that realization. I believe the ballooning trade deficit is a grave threat to our society, though I admit I have little proof that this is so. I believe in freedom of speech, not political correctness. I believe in equality, not government-sponsored discrimination (read: affirmative action). I believe the government should be neutral toward religion, not hostile to it. I believe the government is neither Robin Hood, our national nanny or our Big Brother. I believe that the government should keep the peace and preserve our freedoms and not much else. However, I must admit I have a weakness for large government projects. Hoover Dam is spectacular and the national highway system is an impressive accomplishment. You can imagine how conflicted I am over the space program! I believe that when people declare a holy war against American and kill thousands of our citizens we should accept that we are at war, not rally for peace at any price. I believe that the fact that our enemy is not embodied in a particular state makes the fight more difficult but is not a reason to abandon the fight. I believe it is deeply ironic that a blog supposedly dedicated to peace is named after the acronym for Kill-On-Sight. Did I mention I'm not to fond of hypocrites? I believe that relatives of those who are killed in war have no particular wisdom to share and no particular moral authority. However, insofar as the MSM is going to pay attention to such people anyway I believe they should give at least as much time to the majority who support the effort their family member died for as they do the minority who do not. I believe the truth matters. I believe no person is all-good or all-bad, but most are mostly good most of the time. I believe that a person can honestly disagree with me and still be a fine, decent human being (though that makes them no less wrong, of course!). I believe that politics brings out the absolute worst in people, though I have no idea why that is so. I believe we should be able to discuss our differences without fear of name-calling or derision. I invite you to pull up a chair, put your feet up and join the conversation. Perhaps we can learn a bit from each other.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Okay, I just had to do one more thing before I left

Sorry, but I just discovered an Israeli comic strip, and thought this was so good, I had to post it:

Things around here are only going to get better

I'm signing off for 10 days of vacation, but don't stop visiting here. Don Quixote is going to be blogging while I'm away, and those of you who have read his stuff know that you're going to get some incredibly intelligent, thoughtful, and often funny, posts during the next week and some. He's not quite as prolific as I am, but whatever you'll miss in quantity, you'll more than make up in quality. Have a good week!

NYTimes again caught with its honesty pants down

Must read. I won't say more.

Good news/bad news

Here is a really excellent newspaper column telling about the good job that the American military is doing in Iraq, both tactically and strategically; and about the exceptionally bad job the American media is doing in reporting about the war (especially to the extent that it is utterly blind to strategy and tactics, and sees only bodies). Since the whole article is compelling, I won't bother to quote bits and pieces. I do urge you to link over and read the whole thing. Hat tip: Power Line

Unions on the ropes

How do you spin the fact that 11,000 people in Oakland, California, applied for 300 jobs at non-union Wal-Mart, despite the fact that the Left has been attacking Wal-Mart for years. This is a good, short NPR story about the employees' delight in the store, and the unions' distress.

Sharon is nobody's fool

As part of a longer article, Victor Davis Hanson spells out all the reasons why Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza is a good thing:

Once Israel is out of Gaza and has fenced off slivers of the West Bank near Jerusalem deemed vital for its security, Sharon can bide his time until a responsible Palestinian government emerges as a serious interlocutor. Then any lingering disagreements over disputed land can be relegated to the status of a Tibet, northern Cyprus, Kashmir or the Sakhalin and Kurile Islands — all postbellum "contested" territories that do not prompt commensurate attention from the Muslim world, Europe or the United Nations. Palestine as a sovereign state rather than a perpetually "occupied " territory also inherits the responsibility of all mature nations to police its own. So when Hamas and co. press on with their killing — most likely through rocket attacks over the fence — they do so as representatives of a new Palestinian nation. In response, Israel can strike back at an aggressor without worry about the blowback on isolated vulnerable Israeli settlements. Sharon's withdrawal policy from Gaza is thus a critical first step of turning the struggle from an asymmetrical war of terror back into a conventional standoff between delineated sovereign states. And that can only help a militarily superior Israel. Politically, Gaza plays well. If the once right-wing Sharon can harness his own zealots, the world wonders why Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas cannot muzzle Hamas and Hezbollah? From their creepy rhetoric so far, Palestinian militias have proclaimed that Gaza is the first step toward the eventual destruction of Israel proper. But once again that only plays into Israel's complaint that withdrawal is seen by Palestinians as something to be manipulated rather than as an opportunity upon which to build a just society. While there probably won't be a single Jew in the new Palestinian nation, there are over 1 million Arabs inside Israel. Even more bizarrely, over 100,000 illegal aliens have left Arab lands to reside in the "Zionist entity." Politically correct Arabs will not even employ the word "Israel" in their lexicon , but tens of thousands of Arabs seem to want into it nonetheless. In a reciprocal world, why couldn't the Jewish settlers stay on in Gaza as resident aliens, adjudicating their property claims with the new government and freely abiding by Palestinian law and protocol? Sharon is reminding us that, unlike the Arabs inside Israel, they would be ethnically cleansed in hours in the same manner that nearly a million Jews were run out of Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus and Tripoli in the decades following 1947. The pullout from Gaza is bringing long-needed moral clarity to a fuzzy crisis. Heretofore the Palestinians have counted on foreign support through fear of terrorism, influence with oil producers, unspoken anti-Semitism and carefully crafted victim status accorded savvy anti-Western zealots. But now they are increasingly on their own, and what transpires may soon end their romance of the perpetually oppressed. So Ariel Sharon leaves, with a "Hasta la vista, Gaza — and be careful what you wish for."

Demo hack

Read this and then ask yourself whether Loven's articles shouldn't come with a warning, a la the Surgeon General's warning, stating that her husband drafts press releases (or something) for the Democratic party. This is just mean. Of course, there's always Drudge with a reality check.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Creating a true citizen army

Two things have been floating around lately that are coming together in my mind. The first is that the Left is again trying to turn the War against Islamic terrorism into a class war by demanding the draft. The second is the images of Israel's incredibly brave, humane soldiers during this entire Gaza episode. These two thoughts collided in my brain and made me think that we should in fact have a draft -- but not the type that the Left so desperately wants as a way to sow dissension in America. We should have the type of draft they have in Israel and Switzerland, where every single healthy young person, at age 18, begins a two to three year period of service in the military. I know little about Switzerland's efforts in this regard, but I do know something about how it has worked in Israel. First of all, this mandatory service cuts across all races, classes and economic levels, and it functions in war and peace. It is purely egalitarian, and it is not simply to create cannon fodder. Second, it's been a huge help in assimilating immigrants and making friends across Israel's different cultures. Many of our family friends in Israel (and their children and grandchildren) met their spouses in the military. Significantly, these spouses were not the people they would normally have met in the neighborhood, town, moshav or kibbutz in which they grew up. Third, military service helps kids grow up. When Israeli kids hit college at 20, they're not binge drinking partiers who drift through their years of college, bouncing from one major to another. They're young people who have had two or more years to grow up, who have experienced military discipline, and who have had real responsiblities -- not just the responsibility of turning a term paper in on time. The result is that they make the most, not the least, of their college years. Fourth, military service binds these young people to their country. Patriotism is a real thing, and the country's defense needs are obvious to them. So, peace time or war, I think it would be an excellent thing if America would institute a true citizen's army, with every member of every generation, every race, every ethnic group, every religion, every economic class (that's you too, Paris Hilton) spending two years serving the military of this country.

What can we do about Africa's troubles?

A few days ago, I posted about my own view of compassion fatigue -- which I'd call "futility syndrome" -- regarding Western aid to Africa. One of my points was that widespread African government corruption makes all foreign aid ultimately pointless. If I needed any confirmation for my theory, I didn't have to look any further than this story today:

The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria has suspended its grants to Uganda because of "serious mismanagement" of funds. An investigation carried out for the Global Fund said it found a shortfall when grants in dollars were converted into Ugandan shillings. *** Uganda has received some $45m out of $201m it had been allocated in a two-year programme. The problems allegedly centred on the Project Management Unit (PMU) at the health ministry, the Global Fund said. "The Global Fund is gravely concerned that this mismanagement has reduced the effectiveness of the programme," the fund wrote in a letter to the Ugandan finance ministry, seen by London's Financial Times newspaper.
UPDATE: I still hold to my belief that Africa's troubles seem so insurmountable that the West is simply too frustrated to keep being hold responsible for its needs. However, the story I cited above may not be a good example of this principle. At Cheat Seeking Missiles, Laer examined the story much more closely and reveals that the real problem may not be financial mismanagement, which is Africa's scourge, but the fact that Uganda opted to use an abstinence-based program, which has been quite successful, but which has Christian roots. Read the whole thing here.

A little perspective, people

The press is tremendously excited about Robertson's idiotic statements, and Venezuela, of course, is capitalizing on the publicity:

The already-icy relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela chilled further Tuesday in the wake of religious broadcaster Pat Robertson's suggestion that the United States assassinate President Hugo Chavez.
Excuse me, but when was Robertson last a spokesman for the U.S. government, or for anyone but himself? I seem to recall that, when he attempted to become part of the body politic, voters roundly rejected him. I mean, he's so politically meaningless he's practically a fictional character. I can see the next news headline:
Bond, James Bond, a well-known fictional character created during the Cold War, recently announced that he thought that it would substantially aid U.S. foreign policy if he were hired to assassinate Fidel Castro. As word of Bond, James Bond's statement began circulating, Fidel Castro immediately responded: "It is shocking that a Western fictional character would advocate assassinating a foreign head of state. However, this is what we've come to expect from the decadent, capitalist West, that only recently saw another fictional character threaten to assassinate my comrade, Hugo Chavez."
Okay, I'm being silly, but so is the exquisitely easy-to-excite MSM, and the entire Venezuelan government.

It's just a day for belly laughter

Go to this Little Green Football post, and click on the Bob Hope clip. Be prepared for a really, really funny moment.

A real belly laugh

I'm too technologically inept to get day by day to display nicely on my blog, so all I can do is urge you over to the day by day website today, because I found today's cartoon even more then usually fun.

Would the Left care more if they realized that Hamas is KKK in Arabic?

Okay, Hamas isn't really KKK in Arabic, but I was struck by this photo: Which made me think of this photo: The Left is able to recognize how evil the KKK is, because the Left (in a really grand moment in its history) took the KKK down during the Civil Rights movement. They get that the KKK is an evil, violent organization. If only we could get the Left to understand that Hamas, with its members draped appropriate in sheets, is nothing more than the KKK with modern weaponry and a different geographic venue.

Boys have feelings, too. But who cares?

The caption to this article was one I saw on a girl tween's t-shirt about four years ago. At the time, I was holding in my arms my darling, sweet, living two year old son, and I was livid. It was not the first time, but it was one of the most vivid times, I had modern feminism stuffed in my face. It's not about equality, it's about whining and denigration. Apparently you can get large doses of that horrible, divisive mindset (plus a lot of obscenities) over at feministing.com. But why go there and get angry and depressed at the state of modern feminism? Much better to go to feministing.org, a parody website which has this as its stated goal:

Young, middle-class, college-educated white women are rarely given the opportunity to speak on our own behalf on issues that affect our lives and futures because we're so horribly and obviously oppressed. Feministing.org provides a platform for us to comment, analyze, whine about our unending victimization, and (best of all) COMPLAIN CEASELESSLY! And if you're a non-white visitor, then we're DESPERATE for you to post in our Comments section. If we don't obsessively conflate our lives with those of disadvantaged ethnic minorities, then readers might start to think we're a bunch of overindulged, priggish nutjobs who wouldn't recognize real hardship if it were to ever bite our sheltered little white-girl asses.
The humor is a little crude and a little rude (the parody complaining about the gender discrimination against the bad, bawdy female camp guards at Auschwitz is incredibly funny at a feminist-baiting level, but uncomfortable if you're Jewish), but is so pointed and aware, that it's really worth checking out. Hat tip: Independent Women's Forum

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"Patriotism is not enough."

If you'd like to read a really thoughtful post about what constitutes patriotism, and about how the idea is being perverted on both sides of the political aisle, take a few minutes to visit The Deep Freeze.

I needed that laugh

Where does Gina find such good stuff? You ask, what good stuff? Check out this cartoon over at her blog, Gee Dubya.

Profiling: It's a good thing

If you've been having any doubts about how terrible (and dangerous) is the PC aversion to profiling for terrorists, and if you want to be amused in a sad, ironic way, check out this questionnaire at Cheat Seeking Missiles.

The sweet and fuzzy side of animal rights

I love animals, I really do, but I still think they're animals. We owe it to them to treat them humanely, but we owe it to ourselves not to confuse them with humans. Unfortunately, animal rights activists continue to cloud this message and, while trying to conflate animals and humans, drop to such bestial behavior, even animals wouldn't engage in it. Case in point:

A farm that has been breeding guinea pigs for medical research for more than 30 years is to stop after intimidation by animal rights activists. The family-run Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire, has been hit by a six-year campaign of abuse. The owners and people connected with the firm have received death threats. The family said they hoped the decision would prompt the return of the body of their relative Gladys Hammond, whose remains were stolen from a churchyard. The remains were taken from her grave in nearby Yoxall in October. Mrs Hammond, who was buried in St Peter's churchyard seven years ago, was the mother-in-law of Christopher Hall, part-owner of the farm. In a statement, a close relative of Mrs Hammond, who declined to be named, said there was now no reason why her body could not be returned. "Gladys was a relative of the Halls by marriage only and had no involvement in guinea pig breeding. "She was a kind, gentle country lady who loved animals. She was also friendly, generous and loving and always put her family first." [Me: Please note that this friend doesn't think it was wrong to steal the lady's body per se; it was just wrong because she was merely a relative by marriage.]
Stealing bodies was not the extent of the animal terrorist's activities:
The Hall family have been subjected to hate mail, malicious phone calls, hoax bombs and arson attacks.
And that's in addition to people who have enough time on their hands (England is, after all, a nation on the dole) to picket that poor family full time. The terror also extended to those who had the temerity to do business with the Hall family:
Rod Harvey supplied fuel to the farm and endured four years of abuse from activists before he was forced to cease trading with the Halls. The 63-year-old businessman said he received threatening letters, including one accusing him of being a paedophile which was then sent to a number of people he knew. "In December 2003 a brick came through the window of my front door, hitting my foot and cutting my hand," he said. "In view of what they (the Hall family) and their staff have had to put up with I'm not surprised that they have stopped breeding guinea pigs. "I just feel so angry that these animal rights activists have won."
While the animal right's terrorist's battle may have been won, these people have made it clear that their war against this poor family is not over:
Campaigners who have legitimately picketed the farm over recent years said they would continue their protest until the guinea pig breeding operation officially closed at the end of the year. *** In a statement, the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI ) expressed its best wishes to the family and said their decision was "regrettable but understandable". Director of the ABPI Philip Wright said guinea pigs had been essential in research into respiratory disease resulting in breakthroughs in the development of new medicines. "The activities of a few animal rights extremists have placed impossible pressure on those going about their legitimate business," he said. "While animal rights extremists are likely to be only one factor in the final decision, it does underline the need for greater protection of those individuals and companies targeted."
By the way, as a proud owner of a guinea pig, I can tell you a few things about them. They're cute, they recognize the person who is primarily responsible for food, they have short life spans, and they are manifestly incapable of higher thought and existential anxiety (aside from a highly developed, reactive, survival instinct).

Piece of Cake

Ever have the feeling you can't win for losing? Having brought intelligence, compassion and efficiency to one of the most heart-wrenching policies in its country's history, Israel is "rewarded" with this kind of al-Reuters garbage:

Israel shows moving settlements is not so hard JERUSALEM (Reuters) - In a few long days, Israeli forces have buried any idea that giving up settlements on land Palestinians want for a state would be impossibly traumatic.
The message: it's a piece of cake to uproot entire communities, destroy lives, and rip apart a country -- so this effort should be repeated, often, perhaps so as to include the entire country. Look, it's easy. Just relocate to, say, Uganda or somewhere else that al-Reuters just can't think of right now. I'm not saying the move was ultimately a bad idea. (As I've blogged a few times lately, it may be a strategically wise move, and I know that many Israelis have come to resent the enormous economic burdens the settlements impose on the whole country.) Nevertheless, a more crude piece of writing I don't ever remember seeing. Hat tip: Little Green Footballs UPDATE: If you want an antidote to that foul-minded al-Reuters article, read this.

I so did not want to know that....

I'm not going to repeat it here, but if you want to see the kind of mind driving much of the political discourse in the country today, check out the first paragraph in Sean Penn's story of life in Iran. Of course, he moves in the same circles as Whitney Houston, so I perhaps shouldn't be surprised. At least, though, she was talking about her own vulgar life, and not parading as political commentary.

The silver lining

If you've been distressed at the thought of your daughter wearing a burka in the Muslim dream of Eurabia and Amerabia, Daniel Pipes says that there is a silver lining to the cloud of Islamist terrorism: by focusing a strong spotlight on the extreme Islam -- its goals and its tactics -- the terrorists have put a spanner in the works of nonviolent Islamic organizations that have, so far, been working very successfully towards the imposition of a radical worldwide caliphate:

terrorism obstructs the quiet work of political Islamism. In tranquil times, organizations like the Muslim Council of Britain and the Council on American-Islamic Relations effectively go about their business, promoting their agenda to make Islam "dominant" and imposing dhimmitude (whereby non-Muslims accept Islamic superiority and Muslim privilege). Westerners generally respond like slowly boiled frogs are supposed to, not noticing a thing. Thus does the Muslim Council of Britain delight in a knighthood from the queen, enthusiastic support from Prime Minister Blair, influence within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and £250,000 in taxpayer money from the Department of Trade and Industry. Across the Atlantic, CAIR insinuates itself into an array of important North American institutions, including the FBI, NASA, and Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. It has won endorsements from high-ranking politicians, both Republican (Florida's governor, Jeb Bush) and Democrat (the House Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi). It has organized a meeting of Muslims with Canada's prime minister Paul Martin. It has gotten a Hollywood studio to change a feature film plot and a television network to run a public service announcement. It has goaded a radio station to fire a talk-show host. Terrorism impedes these advances, stimulating hostility to Islam and Muslims. It brings Islamic organizations under unwanted scrutiny by the media, the government, and law enforcement. CAIR and MCB then have to fight rearguard battles. The July 7 bombings dramatically (if temporarily) disrupted the progress of "Londonistan," Britain's decline into multicultural lassitude and counterterrorist ineptitude. Some Islamists recognize this problem. One British writer admonished fellow Muslims on a Web site: "Don't you know that Islam is growing in Europe??? What the heck are you doing mingling things up???" Likewise, a Muslim watch repairer in London observed, "We don't need to fight. We are taking over!" Soumayya Ghannoushi of the University of London bitterly points out that Al-Qaeda's major achievements consist of shedding innocent blood and "fanning the flames of hostility to Islam and Muslims." Things are not as they seem. Terrorism hurts radical Islam and helps its opponents. The violence and victims' agony make this hard to see, but without education by murder, the lawful Islamist movement would make greater gains. [Emphasis mine.]
I should note that the Pipes' article is heavily peppered with hyperlinks, which I've been too lazy to reproduce here. If you'd like to see all of Pipes' sources, you'll have to go to his website, where you'll get to read the whole article from which this quotation is drawn.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Keeping some of your money for yourself

I'm a nincompoop when it comes to taxes (a level of ignorance not helped by the fact that my tax teacher at law school was something of a recreational drug user), but Steve Forbes certainly makes a compelling argument for implementing a simple flat tax. Indeed, if nothing else, the fact that it is simple is tremendously attractive. Hat tip: Suitable for Mixed Company

Maybe Sharon isn't at foolish as some who love Israel have thought

I've mostly kept my mouth shut (or my typing fingers still) about the withdrawal from Gaza but, when I've thought about it, I've been hoping (a) that it was a tactically wise decision to withdraw from a militarily indefensible position; (b) that it will demonstrate to the world that the Palestinians have no interest in their own state and no ability to govern; and (c) that it will provide Israel, if necessary, with a legitimate military target at some point in the future. I'm now feeling extraordinarily brilliant, since Mark Steyn has said much the same thing, only way better:

Sharon has come to understand, as Bush did after September 11th, that the glorification of “stability” invariably favours the bad guys. Under cover of “stability”, the situation always deteriorates. The world’s embrace of the Palestinian “cause” is now almost complete: Blow up a nightclub in Bali full of Aussie tourists and Scandinavian backpackers and within ten minutes someone will have identified the “root cause” as the lack of a Palestinian state. The current intifada has in essence been funded by European taxpayers – and the EU’s auditors don’t seem to care. The withdrawal from Gaza was celebrated with promotional materials bearing the slogan “Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem”, which doesn’t sound awfully like a “two-state solution” but was nevertheless paid for by the United Nations Development Programme, whose logo appeared just underneath the slogan. Taking their cue from the Palestinians themselves, these various forces have little interest in a Palestinian state itself, only in using the lack of one as a means to undermine Israel and its legitimacy – which in Europe they’ve done very effectively. A continuation of the status quo – whereby the Palestinians are preserved in perpetuity as “deserving” a state without ever having to earn one – would only see further remorseless deterioration for Israel in the world. In that sense, any change in the situation would be for the better – especially a change that makes Gaza not Israel’s problem but everybody’s problem. Thus, the Egyptians have just deployed their own troops to the strip to replace the evacuated Israeli Defence Force. Why would they do this now the Zionist oppressor has fled and Arab lands are rightfully back in Arab hands? Well, for a very obvious reason: an Islamist squat in Gaza is a far greater threat to the Mubarak regime than it is to Israel. With the Jews out of the way, the Egyptian government can no longer avoid seeing Gaza for what it is. This is one way of re-engaging Arab nations in the grubby reality of Palestinian “nationalism”.
For years, it's been the Palestinians keeping the Israelis off guard with their perpetual suicide attacks. Now it's the Palestinians', and it will be interesting to see how they handle their sudden discombobulation. They may be reciting to themselves right about now "be careful what you wish for; you might get it."

Humiliating an Ivory Tower idiot

Juan Cole pops up on the blog periodically as one of those Left wing professors, ensconced in an Ivory Tower at taxpayers' expense, who has set himself up as an apologist for radical Islam. He made a mistake, though, when he tried a "blame the victim" approach with regard to Steven Vincent's death and Nour's almost-fatal injuries. It turns out that Vincent's wife came across his vicious, uninformed attack and came out swinging. Her response to Cole is simultaneously, a lovely eulogy for a brave, compassionate man and a scathing attack on a useless idiot. If you've got some time, be sure to read it. As Little Green Footballs says, "Lisa Ramaci-Vincent absolutely rips him a new one."

Why are we passive about Africa?

If you link here, you'll find a depressing story about the devastation AIDS has brought to Africa. The story reports about a documentary VH1 is running, following a trip Ashley Judd and India.Arie made to Africa to highlight the complete destruction AIDS creates -- the vast number of orphans, and the horrible economic and sexual exploitation of girls and women that follows in the wake of this chaos. When pressed, both Judd and Arie say that the real problem is that the face of AIDS is African and black -- and that, if this were a white country, the West would be much more aware and active. I think Judd and Arie are correct, but I don't agree with their statement that racism creates the difference between the West's real approach to Africa, versus its hypothetical approach to a Western country with the same problem. I certainly don't deny racism, but I also wonder if the West's reluctance to rush into the maw of this disaster is also attributable to a sense of futility. Africa in the latter part of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st Century just bounces from one horrific disaster to another. Some of these disasters are natural -- remember Ethiopa and now, I understand, Somalia? But for the most part, they seem to be man-made. Here, just off the top of my head, is an incomplete list of man-made horrors that have recently devastated parts of Africa: Rwanda, the Congo, Liberia, the Sudan, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. I'm sure all of you can, in seconds, think of all the other horrors man has visited on man in Africa in just a short time. The sheer number of disasters in Africa has made patently plain that Western aid tends to get clotted at the top, never reaching those for whom it is intended. In Keith Richburg's sad and powerful book Out of America : A Black Man Confronts Africa, he describes a continent which has large parts that have spun entirely out of control. He also describes, significantly, completely dysfunctional infrastructures. Perhaps his most telling point is a joke, current in Africa when he was there, which I'll struggle to retell:

Two men, an African and an East Asian, become friends at college in America. When their studies end, they return to their respective countries and begin working for their governments. One day, the African man, who is living in the abysmal poverty of the ordinary African, gets an all-expenses paid trip to his East Asian friend. He arrives at his friend's home to discover him living in a luxurious house on a hill, with multiple cars and servants. Asks the African, "How in the world did you manage this?" "Simple," said the East Asian. He takes his African friend over to the window. "Do you see that highway and house development out there? When they built that, 10% of everything came to me." The African departs, vastly impressed. A year or two later, he invites his East Asian friend to visit him. The East Asian arrives and discovers the African living like a Sultan, indeed, better than a Sultan. His home is palatial, his grounds enormous, his servants uncountable. The East Asian is impressed. "How did you do that?" "Simple," says the African, as he walks his friend to the window. "See that freeway and housing complex out there?" "No," says the East Asian. "All I see is a field." "That's right," says the African. "When they started to build that, 100% become mine."
Richburg's point, if I remember correctly, was that many of Africa's governments were so profoundly corrupt that they'd even managed to make corruption ineffectual. In most countries, greasing palms is common, but things still get done, even if expensively and shoddily. In Africa, however, the corruption is so complete, nothing gets done. And that gets me back to my original point: Maybe the West isn't ignoring Africa because of racism. Maybe the West is ignoring the devastation in Africa because, after decades of attempting to help, the West has the sense that Africa's problems are impenetrable and unresolvable. And if you don't feel you can help, why pay attention? I'm not saying this excuses the West's inactivity (assuming that we really have been as inactive as Judd and Arie accuse. But, perhaps, it explains it.

Prisoners of the Japanese Wars

I'm not a great one for war movies, so have not had any urge to rush out and see The Great Raid, despite the good reviews. What I didn't realize, though, is that the politically correct crowd has taken umbrage at the fact that the movie shows Japanese atrocities against American POWs. I guess these people figure that, if you can't rewrite history, you should just ignore it. While the Japanese may be an unusually civilized nation in today's world, and a good friend of the US, their behavior during the 1930s left a whole lot to be desired. The most obvious things that leap to my mind are Pearl Harbor and the Rape of Nanking (where the Japanese demonstrated a brutality almost unparalleled in historical annals). I don't need to look further than my own home to believe that the Japanese were guilty of appalling cruelty to the prisoners under their control during WWII. My mother was a civilian prisoner of the Japanese in Indonesia. While she's always been able to make her peace with modern Japan (as she says, "It was war, not genocide"), that hasn't erased the memories of the tortures the Japanese commandants visited on them. The one that she's never gotten over is when the entire women's camp, old and young alike, was made to stand in formation in the yard, under the tropical sun, for 24 hours. Another that haunts her is her friend in the camp who discovered after the war that her husband, a physician, had been beheaded by the Japanese over in the men's civilian camp. What's heartening about the Japanese then and now is how completely they seem to have been able to exorcise those demons -- more so than the Germans, who have been much more scarred by the Cold War. As I noted earlier in this post, the Japanese are an unusually civilized nation, and they made this transition very quickly in the post-War years. Perhaps there's hope for those nations caught in the grip of the worst type of medieval Islamism.

The evil that is Hollywood

If you want to be reminded just how foul Hollywood is, read this.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Need some inspiration?

Bored? Frustrated? Overwhelmed? Read this post at Scott's Conservative News and Commentary and you will feel (a) inspired, (b) awed, and (c) grateful for your own good fortune.

Frank Rich exposed

When I read Frank Rich's utterly hallucinatory column in today's NY Times, I was actually too overwhelmed by its erroneous facts and reasoning to take a stab at fisking it myself. Fortunately, there are braver souls out there than I am, and Captain Ed has taken it upon himself to give Rich the drubbing he deserves. At this point would it be too snarky of me to observe that perhaps Rich, a former theatre critic, is not more equipped to handle this heavy mental lifting than would be, say, Cameron Diaz or Barbra Streisand? UPDATE: Patrick's only been back a day, but he obviously found his vacation refreshing, because he's also fisking Rich with the best of them. UPDATE 2: Here's a heads-up: The Day by Day strip for tomorrow (August 22) will also take aim at Rich's really appalling column, and it's great -- funny and pointed.

Saddam lied, people died

Considering that this man, after abandoning his leadership role, was found hiding in a hole in the ground, I somehow doubt Saddam Hussein's current assertion that he'd give his life for the Arab cause:

Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has said in a letter he would sacrifice himself for Arab nationalism and to end foreign occupation. The International Committee of the Red Cross delivered the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, on Sunday to a Jordanian friend of Saddam who declined to be named. "I sacrifice my soul and very existence to the Arab cause and liberation of our homeland from foreign liberation," the former Iraqi leader said in the undated letter that was heavily censored by the U.S. military which holds him on behalf of the Iraqi government. *** "My brother, love your people, love Palestine, love your nation, long live Palestine," Saddam wrote.
As for his tying his country's sovereignty to the Palestinian cause, it's clearly an attempt -- that will no doubt be successful -- to convince the world's Leftists that restoring his totalitarian, genocidal dictatorship (does anyone remember the Kurds?) should be lumped together with their quest to destroy the only liberal democracy (which coincidentally is a capitalist country) in the entire Middle East. UPDATE: See Caption Ed's more sophisticated analysis of Hussein's entirely uncoincidental reference to Palestine in his much balleyhooed letter.

Everything old is new again

The Palestinian demand that Israel withdraw from Gaza, followed by the Palestinian response to the actual fact of that withdrawal, sent me hunting for one of the classic Jewish jokes about anti-Semitism (with apologies to modern Poles who hold more enlightened attitudes):

Shortly after WWI ended, the Polish leader met with President Woodrow Wilson. "If you don't meet our nation's demands at the peace conference," he said, "the Polish people will get very angry, and will go out and massacre the Jews." So Wilson asks, "And what if your demands are met?" "Then," said the Polish leader, "my people will be delighted. They'll celebrate by getting drunk and going out into the streets -- where they will massacre all the Jews."
For another old Jewish joke about anti-Semites that's been given new life, check out this post at Cheat Seeking Missiles.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions (and some malevolence)

Apparently all was not love and light, even at a Bay Area peace vigil. How else to account for letter to the San Francisco Chronicle's editor from a vigil attendee:

As I attended the vigil Wednesday night in support of Cindy Sheehan, I was struck by two things. First, I realized I was shoulder-to- shoulder with people my age -- Baby Boomers. Very few young people were at the vigil. While we mostly received positive greetings from passing cars, I was troubled to see that the few negative responses were mostly from young men, looking to be between ages 17 and 25, who raced down the street in trucks and yelled, 'Support the war!' and 'Go Bush!' When I protested the Vietnam War, I was with mostly young people who were against the war. So, the people who held the ideal that war is wrong a generation ago still hold that ideal. [I like this one. It doesn't occur to her that these young people actually believe that a country should act aggressively to protect itself. Perhaps, referring to one of my earlier posts, these young people have been studying their Harry Potter, while the letter's author hasn't.] Could it be that not having the draft produces no threat, so the young people feel they have little to lose by jeering? [This paragraph highlights that the anti-War protestors are the Vietnam generation reliving the protests of their youth. The call for the draft is simply meant to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing Vietnam narrative.] The other thing was the perception that we who are opposed to the war don't support the troops. How much more supportive can one be than to try to save a life? [Ummm. How about if you didn't look as if you were denigrating the willing sacrifice made by a volunteer army to save the lives of all Americans? Maybe you'd look more supportive if you actually supported these soldiers' missions, so that you didn't give aid and succor to the enemy?] JULIE WILDER-SHERMAN Petaluma

I dreamt a news story

I was reading this "Hegel"-ian nightmare, and it plunged me into a time travel dream about WWII press coverage:

A leading member of the Democratic party said the war in the Pacific is looking more like the Thirty Years War from a few hundred years ago. Cali-braska Sen. Chuck Baxer, who has actually seen blood once, reaffirmed his position that the United States needs to develop a strategy to get out of the Pacific. "Stay the course is not a policy," said Baxer, a possible White House contender in 1944. "By any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in the Pacific ... we're not winning. We've had soldiers, sailors, even marines dying out there. The Japanese have been dying too. And we haven't even gotten onto land in the European theatre. This War is a boondoggle, no matter how you look at it." Sen. Ralph Alan, however, another possible Democratic candidate in the 1944 race, said that promising freedom for the people strangling under totalitarian fascist regimes would provide a rallying point for resistance fights eager to make common cause with the Allied forces. For example, rumor has it that underground leaders in Berlin have been working to assassinate Hitler and overthrow the Nazi regime. There have also been rumors that enslaved citizens in Warsaw took to the streets wearing yellow stars. After fierce fighting during which the occupying Nazis sustained tremendous casualities, the freedom-seeking citizens were brutally slaughtered and survivors deported. Reaction from the surrounding Polish population was muted. Alan reiterated: "The Nazis and the Japanese don't have anything to win the hearts and minds of the people of the world. All they care to do is disrupt." Baxer, however, responded that it simply wasn't enough to deploy troops against the Japanese and the Nazis. "We're past that stage now because now we are locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where the world was during the Thirty Years War," Baxer said. "The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have. You know, I've said it before and I've said it again, some of our soldiers -- who are all someone's children -- are getting hurt out there. "And for what? It's been years since the Japanese attacked us on our own territory, and now we're just getting bogged down in a battle on theirs. Not to mention the fact that we haven't even touched land in Europe yet. This is just a waste of time, lives and money. I'm sure that, if we let the Japanese and the Nazis know that we intend to withdraw in six months, they'll take the heat off our military and return to the negotiating table. "What I think the White House does not yet understand — and some of my colleagues — the dam has broke on this policy," Baxer said. "The longer we stay there, the more of our soldiers -- all of whom are somebody's children -- are going to die, making this similar to other wars, in all of which someone has lost."
What our time traveling politicians and Demo flakes do not understand is that the best analogy for this war is WWII, not Vietnam. Then, we were attacked on our own soil by a belligerent force. And while Japan just wanted control over its own corner of the world, our other enemy in that world, the Nazis, dreamt of world domination that would subject every country to totalitarian control; that would stifle all dissent; and that would treat as slaves or would slaughter (brutally) those deemed second-class citizens. Now, we were attacked on our own soil by a belligerent force. And it's a force that dreams of world domination, that would subject every country to totalitarian control; that would stifle all dissent; and that would treat as slaves or would slaughter (brutally) those deemed second-class citizens. This war, like WWII, is a binary war -- you win or you lose. And we'd better win, a goal one does not achieve by announcing to the enemy that we promise to pack up our gear and go home by a specific date. UPDATE: Here's Power Line pointing out what I didn't know: that, contrary to the AP's representations, Hegel's record establishes that he is anything but a prominent Republican, nor have any Republicans to date considered him a viable Presidential candidate.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Yes, it's time for another Mark Steyn alert

In his inimitable style, Mark Steyn takes on Cindy Sheehan and the media frenzy. You just know the whole article is good when you find this kind of writing:

She may not be emblematic of bereaved military families, but she’s certainly symbolic of media-Left desperation. Still, she’s a mother. And, if you’re as heavily invested as Ms Dowd in the notion that those ‘killed in Iraq’ are ‘children’, then Mrs Sheehan’s status as grieving matriarch is a bonanza. I agree with Mrs Ryan: they’re not children in Iraq; they’re thinking adults who ‘made a decision to join the Armed Forces and defend our country’. Whenever I’m on a radio show these days, someone calls in and demands to know whether my children are in Iraq. Well, not right now. They range in age from five to nine, and though that’s plenty old enough to sign up for the jihad and toddle into an Israeli pizza parlour wearing a suicide-bomb, in most advanced societies’ armed forces they prefer to use grown-ups. That seems to be difficult for the Left to grasp. Ever since America’s all-adult, all-volunteer army went into Iraq, the anti-war crowd have made a sustained effort to characterise them as ‘children’. If a 13-year-old wants to have an abortion, that’s her decision and her parents shouldn’t get a look-in. If a 21-year-old wants to drop to the Oval Office shagpile and chow down on Bill Clinton, she’s a grown woman and free to do what she wants. But, if a 22- or 25- or 37-year old is serving his country overseas, he’s a wee ‘child’ who isn’t really old enough to know what he’s doing.
Hat tip: Flopping Aces

The message is the medium

I've mentioned before the irony that, after blogging for almost a year, I've made my infinitesimally small mark on the blogosphere by being one of the first to link to Hala Faisal's ridiculous nude display in support of governments that would cheerfully flay a nude women within their territories. My traffic's also increased because my brief, small flutter with fame has brought me to the attention of blogs that automatically ping other blogs. For example, in my statcounter, I'll note with excitement that a certain blog is sending me regular traffic. Of course I'll link over to that referring blog immediately, only to discover that it has 200 one-sentence posts, all repeating the virtues of a brand of sneakers, a power mower, or an online drug store. Sigh.... Now I read on La Shawn Barber's Corner that blogs are swiftly become so common they're on the way to being passe. Yup, here's what she has to say:

Has the blogging revolution petered out? I don’t like to think so, but the novelty has worn off. That’s not to say blogging itself is wearing out. Everyone and his mother are blogging. To stand out, individual bloggers will need to “niche blog.” That is, pick a topic you know a lot about or want to know more about, find out what’s currently out there, and more importantly, what’s not, and start filling in the gaps.
The darn thing is that I don't have a niche. Politics interests me, but it also interests other, better informed, more sprightly writers than I. (Power Line anyone?) Still, I'm going to keep plugging away, hoping that reasonably pure grammar, plus the compulsive need to voice thoughts antithetical to ideas in my liberal community, will keep a steady stream of traffic -- real traffic, not 'bot traffic -- flowing my way. And by the way, to those of you who have become my regular readers and my blog friends, thank you so very much. I appreciate your comments here, just as I appreciate the chance to read your thoughts at your own blogs. UPDATE: Aaak! I suddenly realized what a girlie post this is. Sorry, but I'm a girl, and this is my blog (whether political or otherwise), so I guess it's going to seep through periodically. I'll just attribute this feminine anxiety (remember Sally Fields' cri de coeur "You like me. You really like me"?) to too much work and too much accompanying procrastination.

Do you think this will support a Worker's Comp claim?

I can just see the Worker's Comp claim for this one:

Two Hamas members were wounded when an explosive device they were carrying accidentally blew up before they could plant it near the evacuated Gaza Strip settlement of Kfar Darom, Palestinian officials said Friday. The members apparently wanted to target IDF troops still guarding the emptied settlement to bolster Hamas claims of having driven Israel from Gaza. The wounded were taken to hospital for medical assistance, however the extent of their injuries are still unknown. While Kfar Darom was evacuated on Thursday, security forces have remained in the area to prevent infiltrators from returning to the settlement and to stop Palestinians from looting belongings left behind by evacuees. The IDF is currently examining Palestinian reports that the explosion was caused by a "work accident" after terrorists planned to carryout an attack.

A complete defense of a just war; or real art is always honest

I just finished reading J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, [see sidebar] which is a wonderful book that demonstrates Rowling's ever-more assured mastery of her subject. The book also held a huge surprise, and I'm not talking about a plot twist, so don't worry that I'm giving away anything. (Of course, if you want to be completely pure of mind when you read the book for the first time, without any information about the book's contents, please stop reading immediately.) Let me step back a minute and say that I suspect that Ms. Rowling, if pressed, would demonstrate all the prejudices of her class and country. That is, without any actual information on which to base my suspicions, I think there is a reasonable chance that Ms. Rowling is pro-Palestinian and, at least insofar as Iraq goes, politically anti-American. If I'm wrong, please correct me. The thing is, though, as I said in the title of this post, real art is always honest. And that honesty comes shining through in Chapter 23. Chapter 23 says that, when an evil force singles you out as its nemesis, and when your motives are to defend yourself and to protect those you love, your belligerent actions are just and justified. Read or re-read this chapter and tell me if I'm right. My take on the matter is that, to the extent the Islamists have been waging increasingly bloody war against us since 1979, based upon their own declaration that we're their enemy, and to the extent that we are trying to contain them and protect ourselves, and to the extent that we are trying to bring the Democracy (which I do believe is the best political system), this is a just war. So, the next time you hear one of those inane anti-war protestors announcing that he or she is "against all war," just direct that person to Chapter 23 of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

A forthright attack on the abuse of the dead

The Demos, reeling from two lost elections, have started using grieving people as offensive weapons. In a detailed, riveting Weekly Standard article, Noemie Emery eviscerates this shallow political ploy. You can get the gist of the article from the conclusion, but you're really missing out on something if you don't take the time to read the whole thing:

Here is a message for our friends in the grief-based community: Really, you must cut this out. We are tired of having our emotions worked on and worked over; tired of the matched sets of dueling relatives, tired of all of these claims on our sympathy, that at the same time defy common sense. The heart breaks for everyone who lost relatives and friends on September 11, as it does for the relatives of the war dead and wounded, as it does for the sons of Paul Wellstone. It does not break for MoveOn.org, Maureen Dowd, and Gail Sheehy, who have not been heartbroken, except by a string of election reverses, and are using the anguish of other people in an effort to turn them around. Especially, it does not break for George Soros, who, after squandering millions on the Kerry campaign, is now using poor Cindy Sheehan to get back in the action, and it does not break for political operative Joe Trippi, late of the Howard Dean meltdown, who is trying to do the same thing. She is now the vehicle for a collection of losers, who will use her, and then toss her over and out once she has served their purposes, or more likely failed to do so. Her family has broken up under the effects of this circus; she has now lost her husband, as well as her son. Please, send her back to her therapist, and what is now left of her broken-up family. And please--do not try this again.
Related posts: A plague on both your houses

The withdrawal

Those who know me, and my strong feelings about Israel, may have wondered about my silence in the face of the Gaza withdrawal. (Indeed, Don Quixote just asked me that the other day.) Frankly, I haven't had the heart to write about it. I think it's appalling that the Israelis have granted a major concession with absolutely nothing in return. However, as I said to Don Quixote, I hoped that at least there was a tactical goal behind the withdrawal. Now, Charles Krauthammer has set out everything I thought, wished and hoped, so, unusually for me, I'm quoting his entire column here:

The Israeli abandonment of Gaza is a withdrawal of despair. Unlike the Oslo concessions of 1993, there is not even the pretense of getting anything in return from the Palestinians. Nonetheless, unilateralism is both correct and necessary. Israel has no peace partner -- Mahmoud Abbas has nothing to offer and has offered nothing -- and in the absence of a partner, there is only one logical policy: Rationalize your defensive lines and prepare for a long wait. Gaza was simply a bridge too far: settlements too far-flung and small to justify the huge psychological and material cost of defending them. Pulling out of Gaza leaves behind the first truly independent Palestinian state -- uncontrolled and highly militant, but one from which Israel is fenced off. If Israel can complete its West Bank fence, it will have established a stable equilibrium and essentially abolished terrorism as a regular and reliable means of attack -- i.e., as a usable strategic weapon. That will leave the Palestinians a stark choice: Remain in their state of miserable militancy with no prospects of victory or finally accept the Jewish state and make a deal. That is Israel's strategy. There are two problems with it: What about the rockets? What about the world? The first problem is that while the fences do prevent terrorist infiltration, they do nothing about rockets. For months Palestinians have been firing rockets from Gaza into towns within Israel proper. The attacks are momentarily in suspension, but with the enhanced ability to smuggle in weapons from Egypt, and with no Israeli patrols looking for them, the attacks will resume and get far worse. What to do? Something Israel should have done long ago: active and relentless deterrence. Israel should announce that henceforth any rocket launched from Palestinian territory will immediately trigger a mechanically automatic response in which five Israeli rockets will be fired back. There will be no human intervention in the loop. Every Palestinian rocket landing in Israel will instantly trigger sensors and preset counter-launchers. Any Palestinian terrorist firing up a rocket will know that he is triggering six: one Palestinian and five Israeli. Israel would decide how these five would be programmed to respond. Perhaps three aimed at the launch site and vicinity and two at a list of predetermined military and strategic assets of the Palestinian militias. This policy would echo, though in far more benign form, America's Cold War deterrence policy of "massive retaliation." That was all somewhat theoretical, but the Soviets apparently thought otherwise when they backed down during the Cuban missile crisis. In Gaza, the issue is not theoretical. Once Israel leaves, there is no way to dismantle the rockets. Deterrence is all there is. After but a few Israeli demonstrations of "non-massive retaliation," the Palestinians themselves will shut down their terrorist rocketeers. The second problem is world reaction to the Gaza withdrawal. Far from Israel getting any credit for this deeply wrenching action, the demand now is for yet more concessions -- from Israel. The New York Times called the Gaza withdrawal "only the beginning" and declared sonorously that Ariel Sharon "must also be forewarned" that giving up the West Bank must be next. This is a counsel of folly. The idea that if only Israel made more concessions and more withdrawals, the Palestinians would be enticed into making peace is flatly contradicted by history. We are not talking ancient history here; we are talking the past 12 years. Under Oslo, Israel made massive, near-suicidal concessions: bringing the PLO back to life, installing Yasser Arafat in power in the West Bank and Gaza, permitting him to arm militia after militia, and ultimately offering him (at Camp David 2000) the first Palestinian state in history, with a shared Jerusalem and total Israeli withdrawal from 95 percent of the formerly occupied territories (with Israel giving up some of its own territory to make the Palestinians whole). How were these concessions met? With a savage terrorist war that killed 1,000 Israelis and maimed thousands more. The Gaza withdrawal is not the beginning but the end. Apart from perhaps some evacuations of outlying settlements on the West Bank, it is the end of the concession road for Israel. And it is the beginning of the new era of self-sufficiency and separation in which Israel ensures its security not by concessions but by fortification, barrier creation, realism and patient waiting. Waiting for the first-ever genuine Palestinian concessions. Waiting for the Palestinians to honor the promises -- to recognize Israel and renounce terrorism -- that they solemnly made at Oslo and brazenly betrayed. That's the next step. Without it, nothing happens.
UPDATE: I was speaking with my mother about the withdrawal, and she offered something very interesting. Apparently a lot of the old-timers in Israel are deeply resentful of the Jewish settlers in Gaza, and not at all displeased with the dismantlement. From their point of view, these settlers, most of whom came from America, got a disproportionate share of government largess -- in the form of houses much larger than the average Israeli enjoys -- and exposed Israel to unnecessary risk and worldwide opprobrium.

Friday, August 19, 2005

If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck

James Lileks exposes the anti-Semitic impulses behind the Presbyterian Church (USA) decision to divest from Israel:

"But they're not anti-Semites. Heavens, nay. Don't you dare question their philosemitism! No, they looked at the entire world, including countries that lop off your skull if you convert to Presbyterianism, and what did they choose as the object of their ire? A country the size of a potato chip hanging on the edge of a region noted for despotism and barbarity. By some peculiar coincidence, it happens to be full of Jews.
Hat Tip: From the Word Go

A brief refresher on the danger down South and the danger in NY

Here's a brief, clear, complex article discussing the Chavez/Castro plague spreading in Latin America and exposing the NY Times' abysmally ill-informed, knee-jerk anti-Bush approach to the situation. Previous posts: Jews are always the canary in the coalmine Worries in Latin America More on the scary Hugo Chavez Is Venezuela's Chavez facing internal risks? Washington is taking on Hugo Chavez The threat from the South

It's so like, um, you know, girl stuff

In a generally excellent Meghan Cox Gurdon article about the dumbing down of magazines aimed at girls, we find this wonderful discussion:

It used to be that adults talked about bringing children up, of raising them. Today the mass media, with the tacit support of parents, has largely abandoned any effort to lift children up and instead crouches ever lower to what it thinks is their aesthetic and linguistic level. Slam poet Taylor Mali's witty cri de coeur "Totally like whatever, you know?" aptly laments the pandemic brainlessness this fosters:
Has society become so, like, totally . . . I mean absolutely . . .You know? That we've just gotten to the point where it's just, like . . . whatever! So actually our disarticulation . . .ness is just a clever sort of . . .thing to disguise the fact that we've become the most aggressively inarticulate generation to come along since . . . you know, a long, long time ago!
Clunky bottom-feeding language is, of course, an expression of clunky bottom-feeding thinking. And when you "fun up" language, you trivialize thinking, fueling the already unhelpful suspicion among young teens that someone who talks seriously is ipso facto boring. So what we have is this extraordinary wave of empty, glittering, funned-up teen culture that rushes children into an ersatz maturity--chiefly sexual--and where the only reward is a jaded heart and an empty head.
It's really nothing new. I'm still a who/whom, I/me purist, which had me labeled as a nerd all my life and still drives my husband nuts. Nevertheless, whenever my kids make a grammatical error, I correct them, explaining that they have to learn to speak correctly, so that this knowledge can translate into writing correctly. Once they've mastered these skills, they're free to dumb down their speech when they're with their peers, if that's what they need and want to do for social survival.

He's a good man, the new Pope

Since Patrick's still on vacation, let me be the one to say that Pope Benedict XVI is proving to be a good man:

Pope Benedict XVI warned Friday of rising anti-Semitism and hostility to foreigners, winning a standing ovation from members of Germany's oldest Jewish community during a visit to a rebuilt synagogue that had been destroyed by the Nazis. With the shrill sound of a ram's horn and a choir chanting in Hebrew "peace be with you," Benedict became only the second pope to visit a synagogue, praying and remembering Holocaust victims. "Today, sadly, we are witnessing the rise of new signs of anti-Semitism and various forms of a general hostility toward foreigners," he said. Benedict said progress had been made, but "much more remains to be done. We must come to know one another much more and much better." He did not elaborate on his warning except to call for more vigilance, receiving loud applause from the audience after his remarks. Earlier, Benedict stood quietly with his hands clasped during a Hebrew prayer before a memorial to the 6 million Jews killed by Nazi Germany, and strode into the main hall as the choir sang, "Shalom alechem," or "peace be with you."

A plague on both your houses

You read at Power Line that the Demos savage attacks on Pres. Bush are having an effect at the polls, insofar as the President's poll numbers are dropping. However, the Demos are not receiving the expected corollary. That is, their numbers aren't rising. John's comment is that "An ancient adage in politics holds that you can't beat somebody with nobody. That saying applies to candidates, but it is equally true, applying the adage to ideas, that you can't beat something with nothing." What's worrisome is that the Demos, with their constant dirt, smear and pessimism are creating a "plague on both your houses" mentality amongst voters, who may then wash their hands of the political process entirely. I'm a firm believer that, when it comes to voting rights, if you don't use them, you lose them. I don't mind the absence of genuinely disengaged voters from the process. I was glad that Rock the Vote didn't send bazillions of uninformed 20-somethings, with heads stuffed with MTV drek, to the polls. But I do find it appalling when the political process not only fails to engage people who could never be brought to care, but also scares away people who are informed and were once involved. It's the anti-thesis and, possibly the end, of democracy when this trend begins.

Another book to read

I just read, in one gigantic gulp, Bernard Goldberg's book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken is #37) [see sidebar]. It manages to package into about 300 well-written pages many of the concerns that have been flying around the blogosphere in the last year and a half (and more). I enjoyed it very much and, if you haven't already read it, you should.

The law of unintended consequences

Victor Davis Hanson has an interesting post on what he calls the "biteback" effect, which he defines as follows: "Every time one hears a strident censor bring up a purported American sin, expect that he'll be bitten right back by proving the opposite of what he intended — and looking foolish in the bargain." What I found particularly interesting was the very beginning of his article:

Sometimes even the English language is without the right word to describe a commonplace occurrence. We don't, for example, have a term quite like the German schadenfreude: "Taking malicious delight in someone else's misfortune." The Arab world has no real word to denote constitutional democracy, and so uses our Anglicized form of the Greek dêmokratia. Take the recent boomerang effect of those critics who critique the war, but in the process achieve the exact antithesis of what they intend. After the spring 2004 butchery of American contractors, we went into, and then withdrew from, Fallujah — apprehensive that global media scrutiny would portray us as storm troopers. In fact, the enemy considered us too equivocating and claimed the retreat as a great victory. So until we retook the city in November, we fretted that the Fallujah encirclement was an example of our blunt-headedness, while our enemy equated it with softness. Indeed, throughout this conflict the United States has been apprehensive that it was becoming too brutal in its effort even as the Islamic fascists were convinced that we were too weak to fight such a war.
I don't know whether I've made this comment before (I probably have) but I'll say it now. The Islamists are binary: You're either up or you're down. You're either strong or you're weak. The concept of equality does not exist in the traditional Arab culture. During WWI, the English used to say of the Germans "The Hun is either at your throat or at your feet." The same could even more easily be said about the Islamists, and this is something that, despite 26 years of experience, starting with Carter's groveling apology to the Ayatollah in 1979, we just don't seem to get: With Islamists, any show of restraint and humanity is perceived as a sign of weakness. I'm not saying that we should give up our humanity and sink into Hobbesian brutality as the only way in which to win this war. I am saying, however, that we have to fight this war to win, and we must stop worrying about whether our legitimate battle tactics will hurt the enemy's feelings. It's not about feelings -- it's about victory, something they understand and many of us don't.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Aaargh! Grumble, grumble

I'm feeling irked. My friend, whose child is good friends with my child, is going through a very difficult divorce, which involves a custody struggle. The other day, the husband's new girlfriend, whom I'd known for only a half hour, started criticizing my friend's conduct in the divorce. In retrospect, I should have said simply "Well, I can't agree with that." What I did, though, was look at her, think to myself that it was very peculiar for her, a half hour after having met me to badmouth my friend, and switch subjects. We parted minutes after that (since our meeting was simply to hand-off children after a playdate). I've since learned that my silence in the face of what I considered surprising and inappropriate information is now being used as part of a custody challenge against my friend. Apparently I "agreed" with the girlfriend. To say I feel violated is too strong, but I'm feeling something that comes under that umbrella. To have my silence perverted in this way, and suddenly to have my friend worried that I've somehow spoken against her is incredibly disturbing. So here I am, aarghing and grumbling.

When our children pick dangerous jobs

Anne Morse elegantly points to the fact that Cindy Sheehan's resistance to her son's military career, while a normal feeling for all mothers, cannot be elevated to a sacrosanct view in a healthy society:

If it were up to mothers, no son or daughter would ever volunteer for military service. We don't like seeing our children do dangerous things, whether it's leaping from the top of jungle gyms or volunteering for rescue missions in Iraq, as Casey Sheehan did. But if mothers really could pick their children's careers, what kind of a world would we have? We would wake up one morning to discover that we had no more soldiers, policemen or firemen, no freedom fighters, no prison guards or life guards. We would find ourselves in a world in which the strong preyed upon the weak, a world in which millions would be abandoned to the tender mercies of death squads and serial killers, to those who rape and torture, exploit and enslave. What a terrible world it would be. *** Casey Sheehan was not the first to die performing these tasks, nor will he be the last. Next month we will recall once again the terrible events that launched the war against Islamofascist extremism. On recently released audio records of that day we hear the desperate cries for help, and of the valiant efforts to save the victims. A commitment to their callings led hundreds of police officers and firefighters, and at least one priest, to their deaths that day — brave and noble men killed in service to their neighbors. A sense of calling means that each of us does our best to help free the world from the darkness and devastation that threaten to overwhelm it. Through work well done, we witness to the One who calls us — just as Casey Sheehan did.
Somehow, given the record of Casey Sheehan's life, this seems like a much more eloquent and apt epitaph than his mother's hate-filled rhetoric.

These words will get airtime if bloggers have anything to do with it

Given the press coverage over Ms. Sheehan, one could be excused for thinking that she's the only person in America to have lost a child in the Iraq war. Charles Johnson, at Little Green Footballs reminds us that there are other mothers out there, and that at least one recognizes how important her child's sacrifice was for American freedom:

WEST CHESTER, Ohio (AP) — The mother of a Marine killed in Iraq urged mourners Wednesday not to let their anger and sadness turn them against the U.S. fight in Iraq. “Honor me in this way,” Kathy Dyer said during a memorial service for Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Dyer, 19, of the Cincinnati suburb of Evendale. At the funeral at Tri-County Baptist Church, Kathy Dyer delivered what she believed would have been her son’s own message: “It has been with the greatest pride I have served ... fighting to preserve freedom.” She said he would want mourners to continue supporting the troops in the war against terrorism.
Now that you've read these courageous words, here's what the LGF post had to say about them:
Mainstream media is doing an absolutely disgraceful PR makeover on loony Cindy Sheehan, ignoring her many insane statements and history of radicalism to promote her as an archetype of the “anti-war” movement. But how much publicity will Kathy Dyer receive?
Well, with regard to that last question, if you link to the LGF post or to the AP story, and ask those who visit your blog to link as well, maybe she'll get the publicity at the grass roots, where it counts. So do your stuff: link to this story and ask others to do so as well.