I must say that I find all the fuss over the supposed humiliation of ex-mass-murdering-fascist-dictator Saddam Hussein because his ENT exam was shown on tv to be quite curious. In all my years of having doctors peer at my uvula with the aid of tongue depressors I had no idea that I was undergoing something that should only be spoken of in whispers, and that the very memory of having my throat and teeth examined should now bring a blush of crimson shame to my face. As I said in the comment section of the above-linked post, you would think that Hussein had been stripped naked and displayed in a public square in Baghdad.
But I can identify this ostentatious display of compassion on the part of Cardinal Martino and others: I believe it has to do with something the Christians call "pride." Remember that? "I'm better than you," these caretakers of Hussein's human dignity are saying. "I'm so full of love for humanity that I even refuse to feel anything but pity and sorrow for mass murderers! Beat that, Americans/Righties/Warmongers/Whatever!"
I also find this concern over Hussein's sensibilities amusing in a culture which seems to have othewise consigned human dignity to the landfill. Suddenly the same "liberal," "progressive" forces that want to have sex ed in kindergarten and are up in a fuss because some woman in Texas got arrested for selling a dildo also seem to be behind this new prudery concerning a ruthless fascist dictator's feelings. Can you spell "hypocrites"? I knew you could.
To call "treason," that is. I ask that in all seriousness. I mean, what else could this statement:
And I would say to the Europeans, I pledge to you as the American president that we’ll consult with you first. You get the right of first refusal on the security concerns that we have. We’ll bring you in.
by Wesley Clark -- who, I might add, is a general in the United States military -- be but treasonous in attitude if not intention? And I thought Clinton's Europandering was bad. Wait for the "Clark didn't really mean it that way" ass-covering to start soon, if it hasn't already. There was a time when the thought of consulting foreign governments in matters of our own security would not have crossed through the minds of someone who was vying for the presidency, much less been allowed to pass though their lips into the open air. Times such as the date of the founding of our country. But loyalty and the idea of the welfare of the citizens of one's own country coming first are so outdated, right? Good-bye Democratic Party, it was nice knowing you. (Via exit zero and isntapundit.com.)
In other news -- I know I had promised a daily post. Well I don't live for you people! I'll blog whenever I want! (Wild-eyed stare.) Heh. Actually, it's been a case not of having nothing to say, but having too much, and having it jam up in my head whenever I have tried to write. For instance: did you know that there was a pro-coalition, anti-terrorism rally in Baghdad yesterday? It appears that the media (the professional media, that is) didn't. Actually, I am sure that they knew quite well what is going on -- blogger bigwigs like Glenn Reynolds and Jeff Jarvis have been promoting the hell out of it, and news media organs haven't ignored these guys in the past. (Jarvis works for the media -- I used to read his things in TV Guide -- for godssakes.) So I am sure that the downplaying and almost-total-ignoring of this event was deliberate. The news people seem to have decided that being reporters on the scene isn't enough: they want power to influence world events too. And they seem to have decided that they want to influence world events in a way that makes for lots of great dramatic news (explosions! dead bodies! people suffering!) instead of boring stuff like Iraqis wanting to have a normal life under a non-totalitarian government. What a surprise.
They are shameless: I opened my city's paper today, looking for Iraq stories, and I found this heart-wrencher (registration required, use "laexaminer" twice) about a dog that had to be put to sleep because of a regulation against having dogs in a US army encampment. Of course it was a terrible story; the law certainly sounds like it was written (and enforced) to please some martinet somewhere -- though I can think of a dozen reasons why there might also be good reasons for having such a regulation. (Animal-born diseases, the possibility of distraction caused by an animal underfoot, and the danger of a dog-bite leading to a lawsuit are three that come to mind.) All the same, a sad tale -- and yet, I wonder why that story was one they chose to report. There was no possibility of saving the animal: the dog was already dead at the time of the story's writing. I can only suppose that the purpose of writing this up was to show that our military is run by cold, cruel people who won't even save the life of a helpless dog (if you didn't know, life generally sucks for dogs in Arab countries; let's just say Mohammed was by all accounts a cat person), and to destroy yet another few molecules of morale. I know that reading the story left me depressed -- even though the dog at least had some people (the soldiers who adopted it) show it some kindness before it died, something that many dogs don't get.
Then there is this column, by a Gulf War I veteran and author named "Joel Turnipseed." (I wonder if he is any relation to that Tom Turnipseed weirdo who writes for Commondreams.org?) The column is all about how we shouldn't worship heroes in wartime. Now there is nothing wrong with cautionary advice when it comes to deciding who is a hero or not; after all, this is an age where it is considered "brave" of entertainers with a gajillion fans to make a pouty sad face and say "war is bad!" on teevee. But that isn't what Turnipseed is getting at. He's another of the morale-destroyers, and I can't help thinking what a soul-smothering suck in person he must be after reading these words of wisdom:
Why are we so desperate for heroes, anyway? The ancient Greeks, who taught us the term, found the word inseparable from tragedy, intertwined with disaster by hubris: A hero was someone they feared as often as they praised.
Leaving aside the almost total misunderstanding he has of ancient Greek attitudes, what exactly is he trying to accomplish with his rambling and unfocused maunderings? All it communicates to me is that, like many faux-hip cynics, the only person "desperate for heroes" to worship is Mr. Turnipseed.
One thing the pro-news people couldn't seem to quit babbling about was the refusal of the coalition to let France, Germany, Russia, and Canada play our reindeer games in the rebuilding of Iraq. The notion that the people who had spent blood and money on Iraq get to be the ones who decide who gets to profit off the rebuilding of that country seems to have come as a shock to the above-mentioned foreign bodies as well as many of the media squeakers. Of course, the idea that one would have to have cast-iron balls to go up to someone you've stabbed in the back (such as France et al re the US in Iraq) and expect to be treated like bestest friends does not seem to have occurred to the wounded parties. What's that faint whiny sound? It's the smallest violin in the world, boys, and it's playing just for you.
More later, possibly. I'll open comments on this one for a while. Get your digs in while you can!
Erm. I was always under the impression that Taiwan was a defacto independent country that most of the world (including the US) didn't recognize "officially" because they were afraid of and/or greedy for trade with Big Red China. When did this change? (Yes, I am surprised that anyone is really taking seriously -- from the point of view of what the mainland Chinese want rather than as a threat against a sovereign nation -- the usual blusterings from said large country's government over Taiwan's "bid for independance.")
In other news... I have no other news at the moment. Except that I am still carless and broke. But I went for my drug test today (my boss drove me) which was the one remaining thing I had left to do before they could start processing me to add me to their payroll. I am hoping for a little bit of a raise. Also: I'll be tweaking the site just a bit more, but I guess this look will be it for the month.
According to Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London (and apparently at least one ant shy of a picnic), current
fascist dictator president of the US, George W. Bush, is
...the greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen. The policies he is initiating will doom us to extinction.
Really? Cool. That ties up my vote. (Sorry, Cthulhu!)
Don't hate the UN yet? Get a load of this:
Small countries in the United Nations have been arguing to put the Internet under the control of the UN so that countries can more easily monitor (read: control) Internet content. It's on hold for now, but this could become a very real censorship problem, very soon. Some nations have gone so far as to suggest "monitoring boards" for internet content.
Oh, I'll just bet they have. Can't let that freewheeling interchange of ideas get, you know, out of hand.
PS: what do you want to bet the most strident of the überloons who think John Ashcroft has bugged their modems because they have Ché posters on their dorm-room walls will be screaming in joy at the idea of the blue helmets "monitoring" the internet?
(Via that puppy-blending, secret-misogynist Glenn Reynolds.)
I. Wherein I insult the Art World
I really need to get out of the house and do things, but I decided to get to this first:
I was rather mean to Rossi in the comments to this post of Michele's. I feel rather bad about it -- not about the necessity of being mean, sometimes you just have to put the smack down, but about the object of the smack down. From what I have read of her blog, Rossi seems to be a nice person; unlike me, she seems to be compassionate, kind, creative, and have normal human feelings. But -- when people start saying things like "bush is the scariest thing to hit this country
since mccarthur" ("mccarthur?" He was never president; surely she means McCarthy; but he was never president either) and "oh bring back clinton" it just drives me crazy.
For one thing, no one is going to bring back Clinton. He had his eight years already. That's what you get -- two terms. I swear, these people who are always going about screaming about the "fascist Bush junta" and "the Coup" would cheerfully have elected Clinton president-for-life and not seen any contradiction between the two attitudes. But her comment made me remember something I had wanted to blog about but had put to one side: the reason why so many artistic people loved Clinton and hated Bush. Here is a portion of that thought from my first comment to Rossi:
Clinton was a flatterer. I think that is why so many people miss him. People love to be flattered and talked up.
And no one loves it more than an artist. While many artists -- writers, actors, painters, etc. -- have often claimed to be iconoclasts who look at all politics with a skeptical eye, I have observed otherwise: artists will fall for any clever politico who praises them and throws them a party and gives them money, though the latter two things are not necessary. The praise is usually more than enough. (Most artists really aren't in it for the money; if only such an innocent object was their goal.) And for the President! of the United States! to come to their shindigs -- and talk to them and ask their advice (kinda) -- ! Well, it sure is a great way to get people with a lot of tv cameras on them on your side. Clinton was many things, but he was not a fool.
(Side note -- for some celebrity vs. Clinton backlashing, check out this Richard Gere slam on the Clintons. Though I am not sure Clinton did "nothing" for AIDs victims; and I am not sure what Gere thought he could do anyway -- lay his hands upon the sufferers and heal them?)
Clinton was (and is) a flatterer; Bush most certainly does not have this skill. I have not heard one instance of Bush attempting to reach out to the art world and win their hearts and minds. And they can't forgive him for it. Though -- would they even let him? Their hatred of Bush seems to come prepackaged; and I know why. See, they would have been okay with Gore in office, because, although he seems to have no more shmoozing skills than Bush does, Gore at least is seen as something of a Clinton protege -- so if they couldn't have their beloved Bill, at least they'd have someone who basked in the Great He's aura for a number of years. And I'm sure Gore would have kept the suck-up-to-Hollywood tradition going; a wise choice, considering how many celebrities are registered Democrats.
But Bush got to the Oval Office instead. And he made it clear that in many ways he was the Un-Clinton, not the least of which is the fact that the White House spare bedrooms seem to have been celebrity-free lately. Hell hath no fury like a celebrity scorned.
There is another reason most artists and artistic people hate Bush: he's just so damn dull. Dullness, being boring, is a capital crime in the art world. Think of it -- once Bush got the keys to the Oval Office, remember the news of the new dress code? Out with the jogging suits and sneakers, in with the traditional business attire in D.C. Drabwear colors (black, gray, brown, navy blue). No wonder Howard Dean, with his exciting neckties, is getting so popular among the Democrats.
The problem with Bush is that he is not exciting (say what you want about the Clinton administration, there was certainly no knowing what he or his staff would get up to next, and some people like that kind of uncertainty). He's not skilled at flattering dictators, his speech patterns go clunk (though he is getting better; if only he didn't have that high-pitched voice), his idea of a good time by all reports is watching football on teevee -- I don't even think he's into Zane Grey novels like Reagan was. What Bush is is a businessman, and if you have spent any time at all employed by a company large enough to have a setup of CEO, managerial staff, and so on you will recognize Bush's methods. I don't know if they are the best methods for running a country and a war, but they are SOP for someone like Bush. Artists don't get this: few of them have had traditional 9-to-5 jobs and those who have were often absolutely fish out of water and hated their jobs so much they find it impossible to look with any sympathy on the denizens of that world who wanted to be there. Bush-haters of the irrational kind seem to almost want him to be a slavering demon who has scores of Arab children chained in a basement; that would be so much more exciting than the dull, crass, drab reality. Therefore: Bush = Sauron, and worse, he has the ring. We are all doomed, but doom is so poetic.
In order to drive heretics back into the Democratic Party fold, Matthew Yglesias, Professional Writer™, has dropped this load of crap into Blogostan like a ten-ton fertilizer bomb. Everyone has fisked it; why not me? Okay, I'll begin:
Take a deep breath. Look in the mirror. Take another deep breath. Look at some photos of your liberal friends and family.
Oh go fuck yourself, Oprah.
I guess I don't have the patience to deal with this sort of thing after all.
Belmont Club has a few observations about the anti-American antics of media outlets like the BBC. I especially liked this passage, since it sums up my own disgust at what the pro-news creatures have been spouting lately:
There is something disgustingly craven about an entity whose courage stems entirely from the conviction that those who it reviles will be too decent to strike back. Perhaps the most appropriate fate for the BBC is simply to remain what it is. Still, it is comforting to know that if civilization should perish under the heel of Islam the destruction would encompass those who jeered loudest as the valiant manned the walls.
He suggests that it is ironic that the best thing that can happen to organizations like the BBC is for the War on Terror to succeed, since they are apparently so against every aspect of it. I suggest that this is because they seem not to realize that this is a real war, and that they are really in danger if we lose. I'm not sure what to base this on. Perhaps it was because our side, as it was then, lost (or rather, gave up on) the war in Vietnam and nothing much bad happened after all (to journalists, that is; a few million or so Vietnamese people did not exactly have a thrilling time). But I think it is because so many of these antiwar babies grew up on a steady fodder of World War Two movies. World War Two, see, was a real war, with clearly delineated sides, uniforms, an Evil Villain right out of central casting, and everyone back then knew exactly what he or she stood for and never deviated from that course. Or so it seems to people; the idea that there was -- gasp -- just as much grousing, backbiting, uncertainty, and appeasement-mongering during the Big One is shocking to today's crop of Mirandas. But leaving that aside, I also think that journalists such as infest the BBC and other networks show a condescending attitude of near-colonial proportions towards the people they report in areas of the world like the Middle East, and as we are always being told ad nauseum, memories are long in places like that. No one likes being treated like a stupid child, least of all crazy terrorists who want to kill infidels for Allah. Believe it or not, making war on these people is one of the nicest things any Westerner has ever done for them; it certainly has given them a sense of validation. Isn't that what life is supposed to be all about?
I've decided to close comments on the "Horses" post. It's not that the conversation was all that vitriolic, but I am tired of people posting bloodless, mind-numbing comments about this and that court ruling, using all sorts of euphemisms and abbreviations ("PVS," "ANH") to conceal the fact that they are talking about starving a helpless person to death because she is an inconvenience to someone. I. Do. Not. Care. about what the law has to say at this point. I have no influence upon the goddamn courts, and thanks to the near-religious awe so many people seem to apply to the court system, neither does anyone else who isn't involved in it. Anyone else who posts anything about this or that judge's ruling in this or that case will have his or her comment deleted, whether pro or con. Sorry all those law people out there who read my blog; but my blog, my rules.
Reader Michelle Dulak sent me a link to Mickey Kaus' take on the Terri Schaivo case. Mr. Kaus has a stronger stomach than I -- he listens to NPR. Here is what he heard:
a) Melissa Block introducing Jon Hamilton's report and declaring that the governor's action "goes against more than two decades of legal and ethical decisionmaking."
b) A bioethicist who is "saddened" by the intervention to reinsert the feeding tube.
c) An explanation of "persistent vegetative state" from a neurologist who actually testified for the husband, Michael.
d) A representative of the American Medical Association who seems to support letting the husband decide.
e) Hamilton noting bioethicist (b)'s opinion that there is "little question the Florida legislature will eventually be overturned."
Here is part of his reaction:
Given the actual facts in the Schiavo case, I'm not sure which side I support. But I gag when NPR commentators glibly talk about upholding Terri Schiavo's "right to die" as if she herself had exercised that right--e.g. by writing a living will--as opposed to having her husband exercise that "right" for her when she's unable to contradict him.
I'm glad I am not the only one who noticed the pretense that Terri Schiavo is a conscious participant in this debate. The problem is, we are now in our culture so focused on the need for everyone's individual viewpoint to be important that we are incapable of dealing with someone who is... incapable of formulating an individual viewpoint. Unless they are babies or senile old people; we'll give in-duh-viduals a pass then. (Well, mostly.) But when confronted with a woman who is in what should be the prime of her life who is basically an infant, many people seem to go into a weird state of denial. The people who think she is better off dead seem (I say "seem" because I don't want to be accused of pretending to be a "mind-reader," but if I can't try to figure out human motivation from what I know and have observed, I may as well stop writing altogether) to be applying her case to their own lives and their own instinctive revulsion at the thought of being reduced to such a state.
There are what I will call evolutionary reasons behind the instinctive negative reaction that human beings have towards the weak and the helpless. Back in the good old days when we were small tribes of primitive humans wandering the African plains, having to tend to a crippled adult could be the difference between getting food and becoming food. Or was it? Some evidence suggests that the reasons humans evolved (if you believe humans evolved) into the dominant species is because we were physically (compared to the rest of the clawed and fanged animal kingdom) weak and helpless, so we had to grow bigger brains and figure out how to make tools and weapons to compensate. That being said, the problem of the strong both despising and exploiting the weak has been a problem throughout human history. The best of our culture has been the result of efforts to restrain this part of our nature. So what does it say about humanity when so many of us can look at a helpless person like Terri Schiavo, and condemn her to death for the crime of being useless? Because that is really the only reason I can see for people wanting her dead, once we strip away the self-protective verbiage about how "she couldn't possibly want to live this way," is the fact that she can't "contribute" to society in any way people feel is meaningful anymore. She can't be a wife or mother, she can't hold down a job; so she deserves to die. As Mr. Kaus points out, she isn't in any pain, and she isn't dying of a terminal disease (except for that terminal disease called "life"), so the only reason to kill her is because the very thought of her existence is a bummer to some.
Well, my pretties, she's not the only one in this condition. Why don't we kill all the vegetables? After all, it's unlikely that they will all wake up like this fellow did. And they are sucking up resources. (All that oxygen! You know everytime a braindead person breaths an African child faints. And those cans of Ensure could be saved for when our celebrities become senile. And all those people taking care of all those brain-dead relatives could be free to go on Mediterranean cruises or something.) So why don't we just pass a law that says if you get into a car accident, get sick, or sleep too long and someone attached electrodes to your brain and doesn't get a reading, off to the glue factory you go! After all, we have a Brave New World to build; we ain't got time for no gimps.
Update: here's some discussion on the law stuff behind this all. Visit while the Blowspot link works! And the first commenter noted something I hadn't thought to touch on (I can't do everything): the woman Michael Schiavo is with now wants to marry him why exactly? I sure hope she doesn't let him take out a life insurance policy on her.
I've been writing this post in my head for about two days now. I wasn't going to post on the Greg Easterbrook flap, because everyone else (see the links) had already said enough. I was driven to comment in Michael Totten's post on it after reading what Dipnut had to say. (Scroll down for my comments.) My take on the matter is that Easterbrook is far from anti-Semetic, but that he is guilty of using an anti-Semetic stereotype to make his point. I believe that it is possible to use anti-Semetic stereotypes (as well as other racially or ethnically offensive stereotypes) without actually being a Jew-hater or any other kind of racist. Do I believe that this is the right thing to do? I do not. But people do it all the time. People are careless. People also make dumb decisions which seem good at the time; I am sure that Easterbrook thought that using this stereotype (money-grubbing Jewish Hollywood exec) would be a good way to get people's attention. Well it sure did that.
Therefore, I thought that the contention that Easterbrook was an anti-Semite was ludicrous. I think that the reaction he got from readers alone was enough punishment -- after all, his main crime, to me at least, was against the English language. (Why are so many lousy writers paid writers? Never mind, that's an argument for another day.) Firing him from ESPN and removing all his columns from their website was overkill -- as many people have pointed out (see the Instapundit link above), the sort of overkill you can expect from a Disney-owned media company.
And no, Mr. Hackbarth and Matthew, I do not agree that it is the fault of bloggers that Easterbrook got canned. What, we aren't to say anything about someone's stupidity for fear they might get fired? It was one thing to be cautious when someone's life was possibly on the line (remember peoples' fears about Salam Pax when Saddam was still in power?); it's another thing to insist we worry about every media writer's job. The media is a shark pond; if you get careless you'll get eaten. If Easterbrook didn't know it then, he knows it now. If that sounds heartless of me, too bad. Sometimes baby needs to get burnt before he learns not to touch the stove.
Be that as it may, I also agree with Dipnut when he says: "But it seems to me what's really going on here, is you can't use the word 'Jew' in a sentence anymore without being ridden out of town on a rail by a bunch of outraged pantywaists." He exaggerates only a bit. I can state that this is true because it happened to me. Read on:
Full disclosure: once in the long ago, BB (Before Blogs -- well, at least before I had my blog), I was an occasional poster on an X-Files discussion forum. Threads were pretty free-wheeling; the only rules seemed to be Stay On Topic and Don't Sign Your Posts. (It drives me crazy to this day to see people sign their comments when their name appears in the comment footer.) Anyway, one day discussion turned to David Duchovny's injunction against Chris Carter when the latter sold syndication rights for the show without giving the actor a cut (or a fair cut) of the profits -- or maybe it was for not consulting the actor beforehand, I don't remember. Anyway, I decided to quote (or paraphrase) the actor's comments from some interview where he said Carter should have known better than to attempt to mess with the finances of the son of a Scot and a Jew. (That would be Duchovny, whose mother is from Scotland and whose father is an American Jew.) Well, the thread went ballistic. I was labelled anti-Semite (natch), offensive, insensitive... The works. Despite the fact that:
The gist of the reaction was I should have just let this comment of Duchovny's slide down the memory hole, since the mere action of repeating it could cause offense. The underlying theme seemed to be that by quoting someone you are therefore and always espousing the beliefs revealed in the quote. Bizarre, to say the least. In any case, for some reason I lost interest in participating in the forum -- oh, let's be blunt, I don't talk to people who can't think, it's a waste of my time. By the way, no one came to the defense of the poor Scots I offended, so I guess we can let fly at drunken, angry, penny-pinching Scots as much as we like.
PS: Easterbrook was wrong about his assertion that Jews should be against depictions of violence in the movies because of what happened to them in the Holocaust. If you ask me some violence on the Tarantino scale would have kept lots of Jews off those trains. Is he really suggesting that Jews should be pacifists? Yeah, that will impress their enemies.
Update: "Monsters from the Id!" Heh.
More: here's some more cogent commentary from E. Nough.
Add me to this list as well. Why? Well for one thing, this is how it will read to the ROTW: "Hello. We've invaded your country, dropped bombs on it, killed lots of you, and we would now like you to pay for all the damages." I'm no advocate of the "we need to make the world like us" nonsense, but this is ridiculous. All that will happen is that the debt will never be completely repaid, it will cripple Iraq's economy, and we'll end up having to endure yet another Jubilee "Drop the Debt" campaign by aging rock stars. Do these fucks in the Senate want things to change for the better in the world or don't they?
In the meantime, there's been all sorts of fun in Bolivia. Miguel, who blogs from that country, points out something that members of the tear-it-all-down school of thought tend to glide past:
The saddest thing's that this will only affect the poor, not the rich. At worst, people in the Sona Zur are going w/o their café or ice cream (although we still went out for ice cream in San Miguel last night). We have plenty of food; we're essentially safe w/ our well-stocked fridges. But the people in El Alto, who live day-to-day, are suffering from the protests. The pressure's all on them, not on the sureños.
Ian Wood has an important question. I don't know why people glom onto disaster porn (which is what I call the endless feast of doom-'n'-gloom news reporting coupled with all those true crime shows) myself. I can't stand watching the news anymore; it's all about the reporters -- the actual events and the people they are reporting about are just props. And don't even get me started about "reality tv."
By the way: to my trolls who seem to think that they are making some sort of cogent point by droning on and on about the "hypocrisy" of the US going after one dictator while leaving others unbothered (which the trolls call "supporting" them) -- I will expect then that when this or some future administration decides, for whatever reason, to go after the next thug nation's psycho regime, that you will wholeheartedly support this action. After all, it's what you want us to do, isn't it?
Oh, it's not?
So what do you want us to do, exactly? (This is a purely rhetorical question, of course -- I am sure the answer is something similar to that answer the alien gave to the president in Independence Day when he asked that very same question. For my foreign trolls, the defeat and destruction of America would please them because they imagine that it would somehow enrich their own native land -- it wouldn't, but they aren't smart enough to figure out. For my American trolls, the defeat and destruction of America would give them a chance to live a real-life version of Fight Club, which they imagine would be neato-keano... Of course what they don't seem to realize is there is only one Helena Bonham-Carter, and she won't be available after the apocalypse.)
You know, about this whole CIA-Lady-Bush-administration-scandal-leak-blah-blah, I have just this to say:
What the hell kind of name is Plame, anyway? I mean, what the fuck*, "Plame"? Where did the boat that carried that name into the world come from? Is it German (derived from the name of the von Plämmensingenstrassenecken family that had to flee their ancient fiefdom of Höhenblücherdienstagmittwochstein in the seventeenth century due to a falling out between the morganatic Duke of Upper Farvergknucklesandwich and Count Otto of Bad Medizin)? Or English? ("There's always been a Plame to carry on the family name in our village on the Thames!") Or did some clerk at immigration come in late with a hangover, see the collection of c's, z's, and other letters God Almighty meant to be separated by vowels and say: "Fuck* it, you're Mr. Plame from now on" to the hapless Czech immigrant standing meekly before him.
Plame. It's not a name -- it's a typo.
*Copyright 2003 Andrew Northrup, aka "The Poorman" ("now with twenty percent more 'fuck'!")
Reason number 789,451 why I will never, ever work for a newspaper, magazine, or any other kind of professional media: I'd have to deal with pissant editors looking for new ways to get a power-jones. The fact that some pub's house blogger will now have his entries be combed over by the nanny board, who will sift out anything "controversial" that might cause some twit the vapors comes as an apparent shock to Glenn Reynolds and others, but I'm not surprised. There's a reason I bought the Sunday edition of the Orlando Sentinel and tossed everything but the ads and the travel section, and it's not because of all the Visit Disney! propaganda either.
Here's another idea that antiwar groups have been putting forth as a reason to be against the Bush administration's handling of the terrorist threat: the idea that their actions re Iraq and elsewhere have caused us to "lose the friendship of the rest of the world." Friendship? What friendship would that be?
But these sentiments have long prevailed in Jordan, Egypt, and France. During the 1990s, no one said good things about the United States in Egypt. It was then that the Islamist children of Egypt took to the road, to Hamburg and Kandahar, to hatch a horrific conspiracy against the United States. And it was in the 1990s, during the fabled stock market run, when the prophets of globalization preached the triumph of the U.S. economic model over the protected versions of the market in places such as France, when anti-Americanism became the uncontested ideology of French public life. Americans were barbarous, a threat to French cuisine and their beloved language. U.S. pension funds were acquiring their assets and Wall Street speculators were raiding their savings. The United States incarcerated far too many people and executed too many criminals. All these views thrived during a decade when Americans are now told they were loved and uncontested on foreign shores.
Face it, puppies: the ROTW was never America's "friend" -- for one thing, that word is meaningless in international relations. And we were never universally loved before September 11th either. What we were, perhaps, was ignorant and/or in denial of the depths to which much of the world had sunk into envy and hatred regarding the USA.
If Americans have one overriding flaw, it is this puppy-doggish need to be liked. Our national lack of self-esteem is one of the few American products that people in most other countries, especially what I call the Thug World Nations, have not snatched up. On the contrary, I think that you will find that one thing our enemies do have is plenty of self-esteem -- they lack esteem for others. (This is another unpleasant truth that many peacniks don't want to face -- the idea that their Dear Victims of American Hegemony should actually possess monstrous, Hollywood celebrity-sized egos. But that is for another rant.) And the citizens of most other countries outside the so-called "Anglosphere" seem to also lack that need to be loved by the rest of the world. They think, in time-honored tribal tradition, that wanting to be loved by a bunch of foreigners is a puzzling, if not perverted, desire. (The fact that American patriotism pales in comparison to the excessive nationalism of other nations is also for another rant.)
If being conservative means being this ridiculous, count me out. Michele has apparently been relieved of her VRWC membership, and isn't the least bit sorry.
For the record, I believe that the government's duties should be confined to: the upkeep of the roads, the defense of the country (which yes, often means giving the enemy, whoever he might be, an ass-kicking on his own soil if necessary), and to provide for the weak and helpless in order that they may become strong and productive. I have always been told I was a conservative because I didn't think any of these measures could be forced to include paying for a bad artist's bad art, or Penile Implants for Hermaphrodite Wannabes, or what-have-you. I didn't think that the very idea of providing a piece of meat, a slice of fruit, and a roll to some poor kid was the slippery slope to Communist Doom. But what do I know. Let's just keep on paying for that War on (Some) Drugs, try not to pay any attention to that gun-control regulation quietly breeding under the fridge, and keep the budget to name every footpath and birdcage in West Virginia after Senator Robert ("Grand Wizard") Byrd full! That's not a waste of money -- that has entertainment value. And you can get a good deal at the auction on BMWs snatched up by the RICO act. In the meantime, I hear the uranium mines need small workers; hey, single ma, we've found a way to make your kid pay for those lunches!
And speaking of blinders, the New York Times continues to act as if Arab terrorists give a shit about Westerners killing other Westerners:
Death came from the skies. A building — a symbol of the nation — collapsed in flames in an act of terror that would lead to the deaths of 3,000 people. It was Sept. 11.
But the year was 1973, the building Chile's White House, La Moneda, and the event a coup staged by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
(Via The Daily James.)
One of the many reasons I mostly don't bother with the so-called professional media any more -- I don't watch teevee news, I don't watch teevee crap like Survivor and Stupid Shrill Boring People Feed Each Other to Cannibals Island, I have even quit listening to the local rock station in the car since it became an All-Nickelback-All-Day station:
With the second anniversary of the 9/11 attacks only three weeks away, TV networks have planned nearly no special programming to commemorate the horrible events of that day.
Rachel Lucas is pissed, as well she might be. I remember the Our Di Died 24/7 coverage, the endless footage of the pile of sodden teddy bears in front of Buckingham Palace, the crowds of assholes demanding that the Queen get down in the slog with them and cry like the fucking babies they were... And don't even get me started on the Laci Peterson thing. See, when it comes to a dead celeb, or a gruesome murder of someone these journos don't know, then it's meal ticket time. "We won't have to think up a story for weeks! Years, maybe!" But let something happen that makes the media mavens themselves remember they are human (and thus can be killed), then suddenly they pull out the "We think it's time for some closure" shtick. Fucking swellheads.
Then again, as Rachel says:
And you know, that's fine. Their version wouldn't be right, anyway. They'd edit and splice. They'd add moving music and make montages of moving moments. They'd do voiceovers and talk about all manner of ancillary facts that didn't really matter on that day. Blah, blah, blah, they'd do their "thing" and the end result would be a Hallmark card. No thanks, I think I prefer my own unedited tapes.
So maybe it's a good thing. But they are still a bunch of fucking swellheads. Me, I think I'll commemorate the anniversary by buying 9/11. (I have it on video but it was from really crappy antenna reception. I didn't have cable when it was aired.)
David Janes had the same thought that I did about this report by "researchers" on what supposedly defines a political conservative. As he says, the thing basically states that conservatism is a mental disorder.
The point is to lay the groundwork so "conservatives" can be forced into treatment to "cure" their mental condition.
Then he links to an article on how the Chinese are sending dissidents to mental hospitals, which is not exactly a new practice in any communist country. So leftist academics are dreaming of the day they can load up people like William F. Buckley into a padded truck, what a surprise.
That being said, let's take a brief look at the list of "symptoms" these learned beings came up with. [JEFF FOXWORTHY VOICE] You might be a conservative [/JEFF FOXWORTHY VOICE] if you have these 'psychological factors':
Okay. John Collins already did a lengthy examination of these points. I haven't much to add to his rundown, and I am having trouble thinking of words at this hour anyway. But I am afraid that I must inform the learned minds that came up with this crap that "fear and aggression" is not unique to conservatives, but a main component of human nature (and if you don't believe me just go up to your nearest peace moron and ask them what they think of George W. Bush); "dogmatism" and "intolerance of ambiguity" are two different things and should each have a line of their own; "uncertainty avoidance" is -- how can I say this -- normal, as well as being another standard component of that icky, unchanging human nature thing; as is the "need for cognitive closure" (are these people seriously saying that there is something wrong with this?); and I am not sure what "terror management" is supposed to be -- if they are talking about the current political and military situation, that is not a "psychological event," but if they are talking about controlling one's own response to one's fears, they seem to be saying that there is something wrong with that. Fine. You guys stay with the hysterics. I'll hang out here with the people who can control themselves.
Well, I've been pretty occupied with moving, and today was the rent-the-Uhaul-and-cart-the-heavy-stuff-to-storage day. I'm so tired I can barely type. I haven't even had a chance to answer my email or check on any of the comment threads or anything. And I missed the chance to enjoy the deaths of Uday and Qusay, the Psychotic Duo. I also got to miss the apparent fact that many antiwar folks, anti-Bush fellows, or just plain antis are actually a bit down in the dumps about the demise of these two. (Just look around the blogs. I'm too tired to link.) Incredible. What, did Uday owe you guys money or something? Was Qusay really that much of an asset to the world? Don't they even deserve the sneering sendoff that Strom Thurmond got? I mean gee, Thurmond was no angel, that much is true, but AFAIK he never fed anyone alive into an industrial plastic shredder and sat around to watch and enjoy the screams. Whatever.
Anyway, tomorrow I lay waste to the comments and make war upon the blogospherical thingy! Or maybe not. Gotta keep you lot on your toes. Oh --- one last thing. I am going to announce it here, in case he reads my index page: to Mike at Mindpring.com, please stop posting comments here for a while unless you can say something about events that happened in, say, the last three months. I refuse to let my blog get bogged down in a comment hamster wheel of "Bush stole the election/lied about connections between Saddam and Al Qaeda/we shouldn't have gone to war" obsession. The volume of your comments indicates that you have plenty of free time to start a blog of your own, and much to say with it. While it was fun at first to review recent history with you it looks as if you are taking the discussion here off its rails because, obviously, you remain pissed at the many things you have no control over, as well as frustrated that you can't seem to get anyone to agree with you. I'm not going to ban you or anything like that; I'm going to try asking nicely. Drop it. I have said everything I want to say, and everything on the subjects under discussion have been done to death over the past twenty or so months. I am getting bored, and I have limited server space. If you and someone else still feels the need to bicker over these issues, there is this thing called email.
This site is not a public service; it is my personal blog where I express my thoughts and work out my issues and comment on things. I could password protect it quite easily, or shut off comments. However, I do like feedback from people, so I have left the site open and comments on. I don't mind a little bit of snark, but I do object to being harangued. This site is not a message board, and it is certainly not a free-for-all. I control this website; if you don't like it, there are many, many free blogging services out there. You can set up your own site and say whatever you want.
And please, no more pathetic comments on how I "don't like being disagreed with" or how I want to quell your free speech rights. I don't mind being disagreed with, I mind being hectored and abused because what I wrote does not meet with someone else's standard of approval. A bit of raillery is one thing, but people who pull out the above wet towel defenses I tend to dismiss as sad cases not worth my time.
I have just had an evil thought. While in an argument with a troll in this post, I mentioned that the shriekers in the press and in antiwar groups and so on used as one of their antiwar arguments the idea that Saddam Hussein would loose his WMDs at the coalition forces and the result would be millions of soldiers killed by nukes and poisonous gas and anthrax and, I don't know, armies of undead zombies and such. Well, as we all know this didn't happen, and so far it seems that it will not happen, either because Saddam's WMD capabilities were overestimated (which I am certainly willing to believe, considering what an egotistical blowhard he was, and how difficult it is to get clear intelligence out of that area) or the remaining loyalist forces can't get their hands on wherever these things have been stashed.
The evil thought I had was this: of all the people who seemed most to believe in the Imminent Threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction coming from Iraq, it seemed to be the antiwar groups (leftwing, rightwing, and wingnut) who were the most fervent in their fear -- well, their stated fear -- that these horrors would be unleashed upon the world due to the rash actions of the United States. All of the war supporters I have read all were of the opinion that the Iraqi forces would prove to be more bark than bite, though there was the chance that WMDs could be used. Guess who turned out to be right? So I think that the antiwar forces are miffed at the lack of the piles of corpses on our side. I think that they are pissed that they were so gullible -- they are the ones who sucked down the government's spin on the "imminent threat" (or misunderstood just what the administration meant by "imminent threat" -- I doubt they thought it meant that Saddam had nukes primed and ready to fire at Washington). So they are snarling and snapping now about the WMDs and the "sixteen words" and waving around the corpses of soldiers killed in "guerilla war" and shoving reports of grumpy soldiers (as if the normal state of military personnel is some sort of happy Disneyland in fatigues) and stuff like that because they can't stand how they have consistently been proved wrong.
Oh isn't this special. Suddenly the UN is all for the US sending troops to a foreign country -- Liberia. Let's see, the UN so far has thrown pissy-faced and stampy-footed tantrums over the battles we have fought so far. They not only didn't shut up when we were both successful and brought the battles in "under budget" (ie, with much less time spent and loss of life than expected), they and their lackeys in the press continued to fume and fuss at us for every smashed pot and discomfitted ex-Baathist who now has to clean toilets for a living. Now suddenly Kofi Annan is proclaiming that we just have to send troops to poor, beleaguered Liberia; this (proposed) battle gets their seal of approval. Can you smell something traplike, children? I sure can. Normally I am all for us going to some cracked up place and setting it straight, but this time my instincts say: "Run away! Run away!"
(Via Steven Den Beste.)
A Tale of Two Speeches...
There has been a lot of fuss over two speeches in the past few days. One fuss, unfavorable, has been over Bush's pre-Iraq-invasion speech with the famous "Sixteen Words" (aka, the "Bush Liiieeddddd!!!™ speech). The other fuss, generally favorable, has been over "Our Tony" Blair's recent speech, with the oft-quoted pro-liberty, pro-democracy passage. Now I am not going to say anything either pro or con about the content or intended audience of either speech.* I'd just like to focus on the notion that admirers of the second and detractors of the first seem to share: the idea that political decisions still hinge in any sgnificant way on a politician's formal oration about it. (I am not including debate on an issue in this category; that's a different thing.)
I can only speak for myself, but I have never had my mind made up on any issue, easy or difficult, by hearing some pol give a speech about it. These days, by the time a pol has given a speech about something -- unless he is running for office -- it is either to summarize or explain a process that has already been set in motion (the Bush speech) or to summarize and declaim on some event that has already occurred (the Blair speech). People who are in a frenzy over Bush's speech and the so-called "lie" (which by the way anyone with the discernment abilities of a reasonably bright elementary school student could tell is merely a statement of acceptance of someone's -- in this case, British intelligence's -- report, but let's leave that aside for now) are acting as if the decision to go to war on Iraq had not already been made months before that speech. Mes amis, I must inform you that speech or no speech we were off to war.
The paeans and hosannas across Blogville for Tony Blair's speech are a tribute, perhaps, to his rhetorical gifts. I did catch a few minutes of his speech on C-Span and it did sound quite good, but I have little attention span for such things. (Besides, there is always a blog somewhere where I can get the rundown on whatever it was I was too lazy to watch.) But I don't see that his words made a difference one way or the other, except, of course, to give some of us pleasure and reassure us that he is, at least in the War on Terror endeavor, on "our side." Perhaps at least he recognizes that it's Britain's neck on the line as well as America's. But anyway, he is otherwise by all reports a socialist who is slowly leading the UK into the clutches of some semi-totalitarian future state, so I am not as ready to join the Tony Blair fan club as are some other people.
In any case, the anti-Bush, anti-war contingent should be horrified and the pro-Bush, hawkish club should be reassured at what the future probably holds. At this point we are in too deep to backtrack now. Even if it so happens that the economy tanks even further and the mopping-up in Iraq turns into some sort of Quagmire™ and Bush doesn't get elected for a second term, whatever Democrat candidate gets into office will be met with the same unpleasant reality that clonked Bush over the head: once terrorists from a foreign country kill thousands of your own citizens in your own country, there is no way you can go back to appeasing them with "just enough" carrots (in the form of aid and diplomatic tricks) to keep them out of your hair. For decades the West tried to pretend that the Middle East was a) not there, or b) not so bad as all that. They were wrong. Now we are in it for the long haul. A Democrat in the White House won't change a thing.
*Update: well, not much anyway.
Up-freakin'-date 2: Jebus, I can't win for losing. I thought I was pretty impartial in my bashing of the left and right sides when it came to their current pet issues. But I might as well have filled an entire post with "Noam sux, Bush rox!" written five hundred times. (Read my very first commenter to see what I mean.)
I have very little to say about the Bush Liiieeedddd!!!™ pseudo-controversy. For one thing, I don't care. For another thing, other people have already said plenty. So far I like Steve H.'s take the best.
I'm trying to wake up here. (It takes about a pot of coffee.) Then I must commence shredding -- uh, I mean packing. In the meantime, read Dipnut. He's pissed at Time magazine (the second item down the page) and some blog creature called Billmon. And, after reading his pieces, so am I. (By the way, unless you feel like discovering a whole new reason to hate humanity, don't go to Billmon's site and read his commenters. Man, what a collection of pissants, sourballs, and near-sociopaths. It's not a question of nothing being sacred to these people; it's the fact that they don't seem to think that there is anything that is deserving of even a modicum of respect. Whatever.)
Anyway, my synopsis of what Dipnut has uncovered is: the press in the UK and in the US (at least in Time and in the British publication he links to) are trying their best to transform the current situation into a repeat of the Vietnam War, when America was an evil fuckup, soldiers were considered to be pathetic psychopaths, and the journalist was king.
Guess who is proposing to trash a historic neighborhood in order to build a toxic-emission-emitting complex in Providence? Big Tobacco? Dow Chemical? Halliburton? Some other Eville Capitalist Entity? No: Brown University.
Here is more.
Wow. Remember when you could get into deep doo-doo for suggesting that black people be segregated off into specialized areas, such as "their music" and "their dancing"? Well, I sure do. But it looks as if the New York Times forgot. Oh well -- how can we expect them to remember such things? We all know that it is impossible for racism to exist north of the Mason-Dixon line.
Here's an interesting post on sadistic "artists" doing things that would get an ordinary "non-artist" person arrested or beaten up. I have nothing to add to it; it's too well-written. (I don't know, though, that "misanthropes" is really a proper designation for these people, since they need to have other human beings to do their dirty work on. A true misanthrope wouldn't be able to stand the presence of another human being long enough to torture him.)
(Via Dean Esmay.)
Okay, goddammit. I have had it up to hear with this "bright" crap. Note to Dean: I hereby proclaim that the theme to your continued poking and prodding at this particular monkey cage will be the old Smiths song, "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore." It's just irritating me now; you wanted to know, so now I'm telling you. And unlike Pejman I am not even interested in the non-believers' rudeness to believers aspect to this matter. As for Max Power, I don't know why he has such a bug up his ass about Pejman's argument, and at this point I don't care. (I do find it funny that he would get all bent out of shape about other people getting bent out of shape on something.)
Here is my absolute last word on the subject: I don't care about the fragile souls of uni-coddled academics who are afraid of scary religious people, or whatever their damage is. I don't particularly care about the hurt feelings of believers either: it is my observation that the world is rather hard on peoples' ideas about life, the universe, and everything. It would be nice if it were otherwise, but it isn't; that's just the way it is. Deal.
But I do care about the English language, what is left of it anyway. But don't listen to me (obviously nothing I say penetrates anyway); listen to C.S. Lewis. Here's what he had to say about this sort of thing, in the preface to Mere Christianity:
The word gentleman originally meant something recognisable; one who had a coat of arms and some landed property. When you called someone "a gentleman" you were not paying him a compliment, but merely stating a fact[...] But then there came people who said -- so rightly, charitably, spiritually, sensitively, so anything but usefully -- "Ah, but surely the important thing about a gentleman is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behaviour? "[...] They meant well. To be honourable and courteous and brave is of course a far better thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing. Worse still, it is not a thing everyone will agree about. [...] When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker's attitude to that object.And so on -- you can read the entire passage here.
See, we don't need to take a perfectly good word -- "bright" -- which already has several different meanings attached to it, and give it yet another meaning. Especially when we already have plenty of perfectly useful words for the thing the "bright" advocates want to describe -- atheist, agnostic, naturalist, secular humanist, humanist, and so on. New terminology won't change the fact that some people are unfavorably disposed towards these words, because it is the ideas behind those words that they object to, not the words themselves. No fulminating Bible-thumper is going to change his mind about atheists being Godless sinners if atheists start calling themselves something else. No fanatical Muslim is going to sing songs of praise for secular humanists if they start calling themselves "cigars" or "Molly" instead. The Brighters are going to be sneered at by a certain segment of the population no matter what they do, and the cutesy smugness of their stance certainly is adding people to that number.
Update: okay, the last last last last word.
Wow, that's some set of cojones the British Parliament has. They are planning to make everyone in the UK carry a "universal ID card." But that's not what stands out to me (the fact that Britain is inching towards Big Brotherism is old news now); what I can't believe is that they are going to make everyone pay for it:
The ID card will be required by everyone over 16 -- more than 40 million people -- and cost around £40, though with concessions for the elderly and the poor.Can you imagine the outcry in the US if the government decided to charge everyone for their social security card? (It's free here. And yes, I know that "free" in the context of a government service means "paid for by taxes," but at least we don't have to fork over another US$65.00, which is about what £40.00 is according to the current exchange rate.)
(Via Kim du Toit.)
Strom Thurmond has stopped moving.
(Via A Small Victory.)
Chuck Simmins and Kathy Kinsley comment on recent protests against feeding the starving. Actually, the protests are against using "genetically manipulated" crops and other modern farming techniques in third world countries (that is, feeding the starving). In other words: let them eat cake made with wheat grown the good, old-fashioned "organic" way; that is, the way that isn't working anymore in much of Africa and other third world countries -- the ways we abandoned here in the West centuries ago, except for a minority of granola-heads.
I have a simple test of judging organically-grown produce vs. produce grown using those horrid "modern" methods that are supposed to turn the human race into mutant three-eyed monsters or something. (Which, however, live to be ninety-five years old and die fat and rich, but who cares about that when you have an icky third eye in the middle of your forehead! Actually, I think it would be cool to have a third eye in the middle of my forehead. The two I already have don't work that well.)
Anyway, the test is this: I go to the produce section and look at the organic vegetables. Then I look at the Eville Mutation-Inducing vegetables. I observe that the Eville Mutation-Inducing vegetables are larger, more colorful, and less-blemished than their good, old-fashioned naturally-fertilized counterparts. I buy the Eville Mutation-Inducing veggies (which are also about two-thirds cheaper than the organic stuff), take them home, eat them. And yes, I have tasted both versions of veggies and I have been unable to discern any taste difference.
So, we shouldn't foist our Eville Mutation-Inducing agricultural techniques and seed crops, ones we have used to make us into the most overfed nation on earth, onto the poor, starving third-worlders, because
European Union agribusinesses will suffer we can't let Uncle Sam do anything that makes it look good who needs so many black and brown people anyway? It's population control It makes granola-munching hippies, who shit fifteen times a day due to their fiber-intensive "healthy" diets, feel better if people everywhere are as miserable as they are it might benefit the companies that manufacture and sell these techniques and crops. We can't feed starving people if there is a chance that someone somewhere might make a profit off it the act. A corporation that makes a profit is more evil than mass starvation. Have I got that right?
JESUS H. CHRIST. What the fucking hell, people? Getting someone fired? Over something so stupid?
I. Am. So. Pissed. Right. Now.
Supposedly the great civil liberties struggles are behind us. So what exactly is going on? Is this righting old wrongs, or plain old revenge? How about this? And will this help people to stop judging others by the color of their skin?
Someone named Jack Cluth at the People's Republic of Seabrook thinks the US needs to "let someone else be the world's moral policeman." I hadn't realized that was what we were doing -- I also didn't realize that there was an argument vis à vis the morality of ridding the world of terrorist and fascist scum, but I'm naive in that way. But the funniest thing about this entry? Guess who Mr. Cluth is apparently willing to be the new "moral arbiter" of the world: Belgium. Now, Belgium is a charming country or so I am told (on my one day in that country everything happened to be closed -- some sort of "saint's day"), but he's the first person I've come across who has actually taken that country's "war crimes accusations" seriously. I've got to visit more lefty blogs -- looks like they are pure comedy gold.
Via Cronaca, reports of more fun and games at the Baghdad Museum. The board of antiquities office wants Donny George, their head and the curator of the museum (as well as a former Ba'ath party apparatchik) to resign, staff members charge that he told them to "fight the US troops or face the sack" -- which could either mean get fired or get tied up in a sack and thrown into the Euphrates (in Saddam-run Iraq, what who knew which they would get?) -- and so on.
David at Cronaca features an article in the Washington Post wherein a Professor James Russell bemoans the effect the exaggerated accounts of the looting of the Baghdad Museum is having, but he sidesteps the question of why so many of the museum officials basically lied. (As a matter of fact, you should be visiting Cronaca for all your updates on this and other reports from the archaeology world.)
Skip the excerpt from the Mark Steyn article, which, funny as it is, is just snark -- and has been linked to a thousand times already. Go to the part of Glenn Reynolds' post where archeologists are quoted as worrying that their profession, or at least the current members of that profession, has lost credibility over the way they acted. And then there is this link to an article in Archaeology magazine. It was written before the war. It's about the Baghdad Museum's preparations for the impending invasion. Read it: the museum officials knew full well that looting was a danger and were preparing accordingly.
Yeah. Let's see, I was flipping through channels the other day and came upon a news report by the BBC. I can't remember what channel it was -- CNN, MSNBC, BBC America -- it wasn't Fox News, every time I turn that on they are having that Greta Van Susteren (however you spell her name) creature yacking about Martha Stewart or the Hillary Horror, or Hannity and Colmes is on and they are yelling at each other (or some other guy) about the Democrats. Anyway, I came upon this "news report" out of Baghdad. I put the quotes there for a reason. The reporter/journalist/presenter/whatever was some blond British woman whose name I didn't pay attention to. She was interviewing an Iraqi. Naturally the subject was how everything sucks in Iraq because of those Bad Americans and their war. Why, during the battle an American tank fired on a "crowd of innocent bystanders" and the man's son was "caught in the crossfire." Then we cut to the interior of somebody's house (the interviewee's, supposedly) where the man had his son lying face down so his father could pull up the boy's shirt dramatically and show the cameras a bandage patching the back of one of the boy's shoulders. This was supposedly where the kid caught one of Uncle Sam's bullets, though the bandage was about the size of my palm, no bigger than the one the doctor put on a boil I'd had lanced last summer. In fact, the boil was on about the same place on my shoulder blade as where the kid's injury was.
The fact that this Iraqi had been "a policeman" during Saddam Hussein's reign was mentioned as if it was no big deal, and had nothing to do with the fact that of all the Iraqi people to interview the BBC just happened to choose this guy. I guess it never occurred to the wide-eyed innocent reporters on the scene that the fact that this fellow was an ex-member of Saddam-era "law inforcement" might have had a lot more to do with the man's unhappiness with current events than his son's non-life-threatening injury. In any case I wasn't surprised that the kid never showed his face (he kept it buried in his arms throughout the ordeal) -- I can only imagine what it must have felt like to the kid -- he seemed no older than fourteen -- to have to act all pitiful and victimized in front of a foreign female. He had probably been using his wound as teenage bragging material. (I can see it now: "Hey! Hassan! Ali! Guess what! I got shot by the Americans!" "Wow! No way! Did it hurt?" "Nah! I hardly felt a thing!" "Let me see!" "Dude, you're gonna have a scar! Cool!") Then he gets home to find out his dad is having the reporters over and he would have to play the Pitiful Injured Boy. I would have died. I wouldn't blame the kid if he ran away from home.
Anyway, on that note, Denny Wilson has a letter From Baghdad (scroll down) which recounts that all is not ill-will and whining among the Iraqis. But you won't see that in the teevee news, most likely -- nor will we see anything recounting what the Army Corps of Engineers is doing for the Iraqi people. Dipnut has the details.
Another thing I saw as I was flipping through channels was one of those religious commercial things on one of the Christian channels. Some guy was saying how the most common disease among children and teenagers was not AIDs or anything like that, it was pessimism. Leaving aside the source of the comment and the postmodern notion of "pessimism" being a disease, I am not surprised that most teenagers are depressed. Just think of what is on the teevee news: either inane "local interest" goo or all the ways in which the world sucks and how (often implied if not stated outright) it is all America's, or at least Western Civilization's, fault. I'm not a fan of the "hide bad things from the Children™" nonsense, but sometimes I wonder if the Concerned Ones responsible for our Do-Gooder media, with their worries about how everything is connected in some sort of sticky metaphysical web, has really given any thought to the effect that their doomsaying is having on actual living people. No, don't answer that -- it was a rhetorical question.
In this discourse on academia's latest shenanigans, Amritas highlights a passage from a much-talked-about John Derbyshire article on immigration and meritocracy, which ends:
We no longer believe in the dignity of labor. We all want our kids to go to law school, and have convinced ourselves that they have a right to do so. What do you think the slogan “No child left behind” means
To that Amritas says:
I hope he's wrong I hope he's wrong I hope he's wrong.
I don't know that he is... but there has always been a rather schizophrenic view of manual labor in this country. It seems to be part of common immigrant aspirations for most immigrants to wish their children could get into college and get a nice "clean" job in an office. And there is definitely a divide when it comes to the educated classes, though I think it breaks down by region as well. (I can't be sure, but I think that it is more common in the South than the North for academics to be willing to let their hair down -- so to speak -- and hang out with "good old boys" such as mechanics and so on. My example is my teacher father, who preferred the company of the "working class" to hanging out with his fellow academics -- though most of them could be found down at the bar as well. But that was then, this is now. Things might have changed.)
Anyway, I've known people who had decided to dump their college careers to go into their fathers' less-academic (but monetarily more lucrative) fields, such as mechanics. There was also an element of satisfaction they found in the more manual job that was lacking in the classroom. So I think there will always be people who will prefer manual labor to the pristine confines of an office or classroom.
And on that note Toren emerges from his lair to tell the WMD-obsessives to shut the fuck up. Do read.
The Reason of Voice guy emailed a request to me to post a link to this post. I'm not running a public service blog here, but I'm in a good mood, so why not. Anyway, it's his take on the whole WMD thing. I tried to post this in his comments thing but it's one of those free programs and it wasn't working. So I'll post it here:
I'm sick of the whole subject, but if you ask me your entire take on this falls apart when you say: "Wake up - there's nothing there and probably hasn't been for quite a while."
I do so love it when people say "Wake up!" as if they are the only ones awake in a world of hypnotized sleepwalking sheeple.
And to continue, you're assertion can't be proved until we have looked through every inch of that country. As a matter of fact, we have found many of the components that make up WMDs, that the Iraqis were not supposed to have (mobile biolabs and so on). But I'm not going to get into that. And I am not "throwing myself in front of a bullet to protect Bush" -- he's a big president, he can take care of himself.
To tell you the truth, I am not sure where you are coming from here. Also, your font size is too tiny. I can resize the text, but still.
I said I was in a good mood? Nothing like telling someone off in the AM to get the blood moving, I say.
I was going to type a long thing but I got bored. Here is the short version, using the last two presidents as examples:
George W. Bush would sell you a late model, bland-yet-reliable, American (or ally)-made sedan. It wouldn't be flashy, but it would get you from point a to point b, which is the car's main job. You'll drive away feeling vaguely taken in, as all car buyers do, but a year later you'll compare your repair bill with that of your Volvo-owning neighbor and decide that you came out ahead.
Bill Clinton, on the other hand, would sell you one of those fragile yet intriguingly-designed foreign roadsters. There would be no passenger seating, and the glove compartment would be bigger than the trunk. Sure, you were a family man, and had come to the dealership fully intending to buy the sturdy yet roomy SUV to serve your wife and children's cargo and ferrying needs. But Billy Jeff is the salesman here, and he feels the pain of the midlife crisis you had no idea you were suffering. And even though the engine in your new status symbol blows up two weeks later, and your wife and children leave you for your profligate ways, and you end up homeless on the street, you'll have that shining moment of utter coolness, when you drove off down Sunset Boulevard with that blond woman who said she was an actress in the passenger seat, to dine out on for the rest of your life. (Which won't be long.)
Oh, okay, here are some more politician-as-car-saleman examples:
That Kerry dude, the one with the helmet hair -- he's the one who keeps trying to get you to buy the car the dealership really wants to dump on someone (usually a repo with a cracked engine block).
John McCain sells big, loud cars and SUVs -- economy rice-burners will get you killed on the road, Mister! Or your daughter! Do you want to see your daughter in her Toyota squished by a semi on the interstate? No! Then why are you even looking at that Corolla? I've got a Ford Expedition over here that could take a hit by a tank!
Albert Gore sells bicycles. Cars are destroying Mother Gaia.
Richard Nixon sells limos in hell. You can't have one, you peon.
Dick Cheney sells ambulances.
George Bush Sr. is partial to Rolls Royces, but he was in a Chevy once. The ride wasn't bad.
Condoleeza Rice will sell you whatever she feels like selling you and by god you will sign that contract and like it. Don't mess with Condi.
Donald Rumsfeld has no time to pussyfoot around with weak-kneed, indecisive car buyers. Do you want to be able to quit riding the bus or not? Here, this car is new, the engine works -- no, I don't know how much mileage it gets! Who the hell cares! Sign the goddamn contract! Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry...
I haven't said anything about the Jayson Balir Scandal™, because feh, the New York Times, what a surprise... but I came across this article (via a commenter on Michele's site) and the last line gave me pause, to say the least:
"I was either going to kill myself or I was going to kill the journalist persona," he said. "So Jayson Blair the human being could live, Jayson Blair the journalist had to die."
In the parlance of these times, dude's got major issues. Wanker.
White House Press Secretary (and according to some, raving attack dog!) Ari Fleischer is resigning. I can dig it. Being press secretary during a war is one thing, but during a presidential campaign? I'd be out of there too, so fast I'd leave skid marks on that little stage they use. ( Via Instapundit.)
Speaking of hoaxes, there's a big Is He Or Isn't He argument going on about Salam Pax, that Where is Raed guy. Columnist David Warren is quite miffed about his assertion that Pax was really a Ba'athist spy. Even though I have had my own suspicions that Pax wasn't being 100% truthful with us (duh, ya think?), it seems to me that Warren is being a little over the top here.
There's a lot more informed opinion on this at Winds of Change. I'll just say that if he was a spy, what exactly was blogging supposed to accomplish? Disinformation? Well, I seriously doubt that the administration was using his blog as a major source of info about Baghdad. To foment antiwar sentiment? From what I have seen from commenters to his blog, and elsewhere, most peoples' war sentiment, whether pro- or anti-, was already set in cement, and those who admitted to being fence sitters changed their opinion one way or another for reasons other than sympathy for one blogger's personal plight.
In any case, to claim that all bloggers have swallowed his story hook, line, and sinker is something of a canard. Questions about the veracity of his blog are by no means a new phenomenon -- there have been other bloggers who opined last year that he might be a fake, long before any big pundit even knew his blog existed -- but now that the war is over (more or less) and Saddam is out of a job, presumably at one point or other we'll find out the truth.
(PS: I realize that Where is Raed is not just Salam Pax's blog, but I use "his" for purposes of brevity.)
Everyone's making a big fuss about William Bennett's gambling thing. Yawn. Bennett has always bored me. His Book of Virtues was incredibly dull, and was probably really written to punish children into behaving. ("Keep acting up, Suzy, and I'll read to you from Mr. Bennett's book!" "No, Mommy, no -- I'll be good!") And yes, I have tried to read it.
Well, as is typical, even when Bennett turns out to have a rather large and embarassing vice, it's also an incredibly dull one: gambling. I have never understood the appeal of gambling. My friends taught me to play poker, and that was fun, but we played for chips -- the fun would have drained right out of the game for me if money was involved. I can't see the appeal, at all. I have read it is the thrill of possibly "winning big," the adrenaline rush, the -- excuse me, you are standing in a smoky room staring at a ball spin around, or throwing little plastic cubes about. And you aren't James Bond with a blond hanging onto your arm and an assassin about to shoot you through your tie-pin.
And wouldn't you know -- even Bennett's preferred facet of the vice is the most boring of all. Video poker? One of those machines with the spinny, flashing light things that you just sit there and poke coins into? Ken Layne is wrong -- it's not masturbation, because at least when you're masturbating you're doing something. "Playing" video poker is like to gambling as being awake is to catatonia.
Michael J. Totten writes on the difference between conservatives and liberals. Fine article, many truths, yadda yadda. There's just one problem: his concept of liberals as "builders" vs. conservatives as "preservers."
I don't have a problem with the latter: I also have this idea of the stereotypical conservative as being rather like the Old Took holed up in his increasingly shabby hobbit hole, "...a huge place, where the furniture has never been moved or changed for generations."1 But the idea of liberals as "builders" makes me want to laugh. Most liberals, or the people calling themselves such, certainly like to think of themselves as builders (they'd probably say "architects of the future" or something grand-sounding like that). But they are builders in the way my dad was handy around the house.
I will illustrate: we lived in an old (for Miami) house that my father was always tinkering with, "fixing" stuff. That was why the place I grew up in was always falling apart -- that and the termites. One day they decided to turn our little-used dining room into a bedroom for me. I wanted bookshelves, so my father bought some planks and nailed them to the wall. There was no fitting, no brackets, none of that stuff. After a few years, I was propping up the lower shelves with old encyclopedias, and every once in a while I had to hammer some of the shelves back in place. They sagged in the middle (where I had run out of old encyclopedias). And so on.
What liberals are is a high-caste version of the "idea man" of Madison Avenue fame. They sit around in taverns and classrooms making up grand schemes to improve the world, plans that work out great on paper but are easily defeated by the real world much as my bookshelves were defeated by gravity.
In the meantime, while the liberals are fucking up in grand style and the conservatives (like me) are huddling behind their piles of moldy books containing millions of facts that liberals are too busy to deal with, the bulk of humanity that is neither one nor the other -- the ordinary folk that all the liberals are so busy trying to "help" and all the conservatives are eyeing with suspicion -- are actually doing the stuff that needs to be done. Neither ideological group likes the ordinary people very much, because they aren't really interested in the Important Things, like politics and ideology and arguing over same. (I think this is why many conservatives, and most liberals, hate George W. Bush. He's one of the ordinary, not-interested-in-your-philosophy, do-stuff people who somehow made good and got put in charge. That's not supposed to happen.)
1. The Two Towers.
Oh come on. Like I'm the only one.
Dave got kind of complicated about how perceptions of artists' works change when fans hear them say things that are offensive, and should we let that happen, and so on. I don't think it's that complex a problem, really, or at least I don't believe in being complicated about it and agonizing over it. I'm through agonizing over these people. (That is my way of dealing with it. I was not writing my post in the idea that everyone should do as I do.) For one thing, I don't believe in "boycotts" per se. I prefer to take it on a case-by-case basis, because, well, it's my money and my time. For instance, Viggo Mortenson's spouting off really annoyed me, not because he criticised the president or the war or thinks different than I do, but because what he had to say was so dumb and juvenile. But I'm still going to buy the Two Towers dvd, I'm still going to see Return of the King. And if he appears in another movie that looks good I'll see it sometime like as not. (Note: it has to fit into my rather narrow criteria of movies that I like.) I simply refuse to read any of his interviews, buy any of his "poetry" books (ugh), and so on. As for the Dixie Chicks, I have no interest in their music, but that has always been the case. I am actually getting sick of them -- their reputation has outpaced their rather feeble talent, and as for their talents as provacateuses, they disappoint, to say the least. I was merely pissed that they trash-talked the leader of their country to a bunch of foreigners; I was brought up to believe that one simply doesn't air one's dirty laundry (if one thinks it's dirty) to strangers like that. Sue me, I think my mama brought me up right. But I don't care if people buy their records and go see them; they can keep on having a nice, successful career.
What bothers me is not the anti-Bushisms and even anti-Americanisms (or stuff that can be taken that way) that the celebrities spout, it is the stupidity of what they have to say. It's barely above "Bush eats worms!" playskool taunts. It pains me to see people reveal their stupidity while their minders nod and pat their charges' heads and count the money. I get tired of having to tell myself that contrary to appearances, members of the entertainment industry are not any more jacked into what's going on in the world than the average 7-11 clerk in Podunkville, Nowhere -- often much less so. It's a mistake to think that just because someone is wildly talented in one area, or even two or three, that they are intellectual giants as well.
But that having been said, for the most part, my restaurant analogy still stands for me. I prefer not to be insulted -- to have my intelligence insulted by someone who is my intellectual inferior in everything but musical or acting ability, merely because they have fame and money and have access to millions of sycophantic fans and have "important" media people hanging on their every word and I don't. I don't need my entertainment that badly. If I happen to hear something an artist says that colors my perception of his work badly enough so that I can no longer enjoy it, too bad for me, but I think it's even worse for the artist. How sad is that, to lose a fan over something stupid you said? I'm not going to make an effort to jump the hurdles these idiots place in front of my enjoyment of their work anymore if I don't feel like it. Why should I? I have a life. For example: so Jessica Lange thinks she can keep my eyes on her after switching her heinie across the pond and telling the Euros how she's "ashamed to be American"? Screw you, Jessie, and thanks for the "honest opinion." Hope you like your new European fans, you've lost at least one American. And so on.
The French have been naughty. Yes, I know -- die of shock. The continuing revelations that the French have been Saddam Hussein's bagmen is not surprising. But it seems as if they are even screwing over their EU buddies. More and more, France's obsession with this European Union thing is beginning to look like that of a woman who really, really wants to get married but just can't seem to stop cheating on her fiancé.
According to this article in the Chicago Tribune,* most of the missing artifacts have been found -- inside the museum:
A total of 38 pieces, not tens of thousands, are now believed to be missing. Among them is a display of Babylonian cuneiform tablets that accounts for nine missing items.
That's a different number than the 27 to 29 I've been reading elsewhere, but it is still a much lower number than 170,000.
The inventory, compiled by a military and civilian team headed by Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos, rejects reports that Iraq's renowned treasures of civilization--up to 170,000 artifacts--had been lost during the U.S.-led war against Iraq. It also raises questions about why any of the artifacts were reported missing.
Of course, this is the US military -- I can hear the objections now: "Of course they'd say that and whitewash themselves!" It is taken for granted by certain persons that the US military 1) habitually lies, even about non-strategic matters like missing museum stuff, and 2) that they do so despite the fact that their every move in Iraq is now under a magnifying glass. Hey, it could happen -- but I prefer to believe that these investigators are telling the truth, despite their being members of the Evil Hegemonical American Military-Industrial Cabal.
Damage to the museum's administrative offices was extensive, with desks, wiring, fixtures and chairs hauled out by looters. Artifacts, apparently obscured in some instances by the rubble left by looters, emerged largely unscathed.
I told you, Office Depot or some place like that will make a killing if they open up in Baghdad. The Iraqis seem to be much more interested in getting their hands on office furniture than on clay tablets.
This will make people happy -- I hope:
The most significant of the damaged pieces was the Golden Harp of Ur. But investigators determined that the golden head on the damaged antiquity, feared missing, was only a copy. Museum officials confirmed this week to investigators that the original head had been placed in a storage vault at the Iraqi Central Bank before the war.
That would be the much-lamented "Harp of Pu-Abi." So no unscrupulous artifact-collecting millionaire is attempting to play "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" on it, that's good to know.
Cronaca is skeptical about the low missing artifact count, because, he says:
The fact is, recording and publishing objects receives low priority in any museum; money is always short, and it inevitably goes first to acquisition, preservation, and display. Few museums in the entire world have a significant portion of their records digitized, facilitating off-site backup. Museums in poor but archeologically rich locations often have skimpy records indeed -- all on paper, often without photographs, with the most minimal of descriptions.
Well yeah, but that sounds like a great opportunity for fraud and misdirection too. If, say, the "170,000" number was merely an estimate of everything in the museum, including boxed-up envelopes full of beads, shards, and other "less-valuable" (per the Tribune article) items, and there had been shoddy record-keeping to begin with, then one could sneak out a fair-to-middling artifact here, a less valuable one there, and even some of the showier pieces, and then during this oh-so-convenient looting (which included mysterious openings -- not break-ins -- of vaults that no one seems to have the key for; see the Tribune article for details) that happened during this oh-so-convenient war that had been publicly on the board for a year and a half.
But in any case, this probably won't make any difference in certain quarters. I am still of the opinion, as is John Dunshee (the post from which the link to the Tribune story was taken is that of May 5th, 1:07pm) that no matter how good the news is that comes out of this event, it won't matter, because the idea that "Americans allowed the looting" has already become the established truth. No one will care about the real truth. I can't wait for Oliver Stone's version of the fall of Baghdad -- it will purport to be "Finally! The Truth!" and be nothing more than a rehash of all the old, tired lies and canards, like his Kennedy movie.
*Registration-only, but I believe registration is free.
More proof that Hollywood's lip-service to the ideals of "speaking up for the downtrodden" and "the little guy" and "freedom of speech" is just that -- lip service. A rich, ripe plum of evidence is the letter the William-Morris Agency sent to Dotster.com (coincidentally, the same domain service that screwed up Lileks' site last weekend, and has some hideous website that tries to replace your home page with theirs). As consequence of this, Dotster.com is taking down Boycott Hollywood. The WM folks say that the agency has received email death threats. I'm sure they have -- and I'm sure they have received such things long before the Boycott Hollywood website was up. In any case, they took the typical big bully coward path to squashing the peons by going over their heads. I hope the people who run this website take the advice of their commenters and move their domain service and web content elsewhere. Note to self: don't use Dotster.com. Bunch of weenies.
PS: I forgot to say -- when the site goes down, I took screen captures. I'll post links to that instead.
The looting of the Baghdad Museum is looking less and less serious all the time. According to this article (it's in the NYT, who I assume can't be accused of being Iraqi war apologists) there are actually only twenty-five objects that are "definitely" missing, as opposed to the entire 170,000 objects that were supposed to be in the place. I guess I don't have to say that that's a big difference, do I? Of course this assumes that these twenty-five objects were still in the museum at the time of the looting. Were I a corrupt Ba'athist party official, or a member of Saddam's family, I don't think I would have wasted the opportunity to stash away that pretty gold harp for my own self. It was probably sold years ago and resides in some rich dude's personal vault.
There is more about finding glass cutters and keys in the museum mess, eyewitness accounts of "European looking" men who directed the crowd, and so on. Also some good news for manuscript afficionados: the manuscripts in the museum were spared, having been "bricked up." Also there is speculation that "90 percent" of the manuscripts and books in the burned-down Iraqi National Library had actually already been moved for safekeeping, but that remains to be seen.
Of course, it wouldn't be an NYT article without some standard grousing to take the edge off the good news:
The Iraqi cultural officials cannot help looking back to April 8 and 9, when their appeals for American military protection of the museum went unheeded. In conversation after conversation, the subject resurfaces, invariably with a bitter reminder that American forces were already protecting the nearby Ministry of Oil.
"I asked some soldiers why they did not stop the looting," Mr. Naqsa Bandy recalled. "They said, `This is not our duty.' "
Mr. Khalil said his experience was similar. "The U.S. forces and tanks were near the museum," he said. "They could have done as they did at the Ministry of Oil. Why didn't they? I don't know. We asked them. They said they were in the middle of a war."
Uh huh. They were being fired on from the museum's vicinity. (scroll down to the paragraph from the Chicago Tribune piece.)
(NYT story via Common Sense and Wonder.)
I open this website, and see that the owner is a member of "Web Rats -- Journals With Attitude." There's something about people who have the need to proclaim their membership in groups of like-minded people as a proof of their individuality and uncompromising stance that wakes up the Iago side of my personality. I hate the boors, especially when they gather en masse.
I have encountered this Vera woman before. Here, in fact. This conversation, and its aftermath, seems to have caused her discontent. Her April 20th entry (no permalinks) starts:
Take a seat and hold on to something around you while I rant.
I was already sitting down, so I grasped my mouse in one hand and my coffee cup in the other. (I believe in doing more than necessary when it is warranted.) She says:
It looks like the blogosphere picked up the comments I made in Teresa Nielsen Hayden's blog comments area about the destruction of the Iraqi museum and ancient historical artifacts versus saving a baby's life.
In the comments for April 12, 2003 "Loss" entry, I said:
This may sound horrible, but given a choice between saving a museum and saving a baby, I would probably run and save the museum. Better yet, I would probably offer them a choice of shooting me if that means the historical artifacts remain unharmed.
Italics hers. I am not sure what particular artifact she is talking about -- she does not seem to have considered other scenarios, such as the idea that the looter might not want to "harm" the artifact but merely remove it, or that he might solve the problem of baby and adult female in the way by shooting both of them dead and then going on to do as he pleased. (How its protector's dying will protect an inanimate object from being harmed is not something I can figure out with my weak brain.)
To her apparent surprise, her views were not accepted with universal hosannas:
I was labeled as "that Vera woman is the worst" and "Vera you make me sick" and "that moral wasteland."
Well, maybe she should have used some emoticons -- or maybe she should have used some other false dichotomy to show off her Student-of-the-Month bona fides than that one. On the internet, no one can hear you scream, but they can see things about your character that you probably didn't intend to reveal:
[...]I was amazed more and more at one thing I saw over and over -- the complete disregard on many individuals' part of the value of cultural history, cultural memory, of symbols and of principles -- not objects of great monetary value but objects of great meaning.
(Bolds are mine.) So -- symbols and principles are set against... what? Individuals? That's certainly what it looks like to me. And the anger her critics direct at her is supposed to indicate that they therefore do not value "cultural history, cultural memory" and "objects of great meaning." And we are accused of thinking in simple "black and white" terms... And her examples simply do not scan; do I really have to be the one to tell her that cultural memory means nothing if there are no living brains to hold those cultural memories?
Is it not worth to give one's life for something other than another human life?
(Bolds in the original.) Well -- that depends, I should say, on the situation and the object in question. And that really wasn't the situation in Baghdad... but we have left that city and its travails far behind by this time.
She goes on and on, wandering far off into la-la land where even the elves don't go, ranting about would we sacrifice a human life for the Cure to AIDs™ or the last recording extant of Mozart's works or the complete dvd set of Fantasy Island including Hervé Villechaise's short film Shot From a Cannon... Okay, I made that last one up, but I swear on the altar of Ishtar that the rest of them are true and there are more incredibly dull entries from the Standard Cultural References handbook that I just couldn't bear to copy and paste.
But I will not get into this fake argument anymore, this unseemly brawl over the dead bones of Mesopotamians. Personally, my problem wasn't with the hysteria over whether or not human lives were more important than the alleged looting of the Treasures of the Ages. My problem was with the hysteria surrounding the alleged looting of the Treasures of the Ages. Jim Treacher speaks for me (as they say), here: STOP THE LOOTERS. DON'T KILL ANY CIVILIANS. YES, BOTH. Wow, you mean I can have a third choice?
The latest creature to hatch from the primordial ooze is George Galloway, who is some sort of Scottish commie, and who was also apparently in the pay of the Ba'ath regime, hence his rabid defense of Hussein and his cronies before the war. Links to pertinent articles in these two posts by Tim Blair. I'm sure there will be updates everywhere.
I rarely bother talking about Florida politics, for a variety of reasons. But I have to say something about this article on our own Bob Graham's decision to run for president in 2004. I won't say he's pulling a Kerry, but he approaches that senator's technique with his statements about how he saw the country as "headed in the wrong direction" after September 11th. What direction is that, you ask? Why, towards war, of course -- what else?
It motivated him to drop his usual bipartisan approach and take on the president over what he saw as a misguided war against Iraq.
The Iraq war, he argued, would distract the country from the more important battle against terrorism and could invite reprisals from terrorists in the United States.
I can see him thinking this before the war, but after a successful campaign? Are Democratic senators in some sort of different space-time continuum from the rest of us?
And the article tantalizes us with Graham's hints that the administration covered up "groups" and governments that might have aided terrorists, but doesn't name names -- I guess he is saving his bombshells for the campaign trail. What do you want to bet he's going to say "Saudi Arabia Syria Pakistan"? He claims it is because the administration didn't want to "offend" these countries -- sure, and I'm the Queen of England. Either he is too naive to be in a position of power, or what is more likely, he thinks that the American people are dumb enough to think that fear of giving offense is behind any of the machinations of this current administration's actions. Whether you disagree or not with Bush and his advisors, you must admit that they don't seem particularly concerned with anyone's feelings.
Jim Miller has a reasoned post on the necessity of waiting until all the facts are known on the Baghdad museum looting and library burning before we start pointing fingers:
What we do know is this: Iraqi officials, from Saddams regime, have charged that there was extensive looting of the institutions they were obliged to protect. Credulous reporters, many from anti-American British newspapers, have spread this story over the entire world without much effort to check on the facts. I don't think it is intellectually responsible to go farther in our conclusions than those two points, until more facts are available.
But as he says earlier in the post, to some people this story is so good a stick to beat the US with that they prefer it be true, whether or not the facts of the case bear it out.
(Via Moira Breen.)
Germany's intelligence services attempted to build closer links to Saddam's secret service during the build-up to war last year, documents from the bombed Iraqi intelligence HQ in Baghdad obtained by The Telegraph reveal.
They show that an agent named as Johannes William Hoffner, described as a "new German representative in Iraq" who had entered the country under diplomatic cover, attended a meeting with Lt Gen Taher Jalil Haboosh, the director of Iraq's intelligence service.
Photon Courier has a post on a study showing that -- surprise! -- focusing on a child's "self-esteem" turns kids into lazy little pricks if they are lucky, and borderline-psychotic delinquents if they (and we) aren't.
What surprises me is why this "just keep telling Johnny how great he is!" shtick lasted so long. Actually -- no it doesn't. After all, this self-esteem nonsense has been going on since I was in school -- that's a good thirty-plus years ago. I was fortunate in that I was smart enough to escape more than the edges of this nonsense, because in the early days the Self-Esteemers ignored the smart kids, figuring if anything that smart kids had too much self-esteem. Then the first generation of below-average-to-average kids who had been bathed full-on in SE-rays grew up, and entered the education system on the other side of the
desk podium lectern beanbag chair on the floor of the rec room, because that was all they were fit for, to be clones of their indoctr-- I mean, instructors. Now Self-Esteem Building™ has become a lucrative profession. Just visit any bookstore and scan the titles on the shelves in the Self-Help section.
But I digress from my original subject: why the SE crap only makes kids worse, not better. I think it has everything to do with the openly empty-calorie nature of the movement's methods. Since they come from the low end of the dummy side of the bell curve, the SE-ists are not the most perceptive people in the world. They see smiling, obedient children and think: "Our videos and posters are working!" No, a child's desire to please is working. Children, at least up to puberty, are incredibly easy to manipulate emotionally. Of course they are going to smile at a video that is nothing but some cartoon character telling them how wonderful they are. (And half of them are drugged on Ritalin or other kiddy calmers.) But deep down inside they know that they are being lied to, and it causes them to develop another wonderful emotion that has added so much to our society: contempt, mainly for the people in charge, such as the adults who are feeding them this load of garbage. It's no surprise to me that children are turning out twisted. Their caretakers were spoiled rotten for the most part too.
Jeff Jarvis has 'em. Read the comments too.
Steven Den Beste has a long comentary on the CNN Brouhaha: the revelations of CNN's acquiescence in the Saddam Hussein regime's suppression of unfavorable news stories. At the very end he has this to say, to a reader's speculation that Eason released his report to stave off unfavorable "spin" caused by revelations of what would be found in Iraq:
That seems like a completely reasonable explanation to me. I wonder who else out there is becoming nervous about captured Iraq records?
I will say that when I first heard this story the first thing I thought of was this line from the tv series I, Claudius, where Claudius keeps saying: "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out." I think I know why so many groups were dead-set against this invasion, and it had nothing to do with the ickiness of war or concern over precious ruins and artifacts. I wonder what sort of slimy creatures will slither out into the light of day in the coming weeks and months.
This will not change the minds of those who believe it was America's and America's fault only that the Baghdad Museum got looted, but here it is anyway: Experts: Looters Had Keys to Iraqi Antiquity Vaults:
Paris (AP) - Some of the looters who ravaged Iraqi antiquities had keys to museum vaults and were able to take pieces from safes, experts said Thursday at an international meeting.
The U.N. cultural agency, UNESCO, gathered some 30 art experts and cultural historians in Paris on Thursday to assess the damage to Iraqi museums and libraries looted in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion.
Although much of the looting was haphazard, experts said some of the thieves clearly knew what they were looking for and where to find it, suggesting they were prepared professionals.
"It looks as if part of the looting was a deliberate planned action," said McGuire Gibson, a University of Chicago professor and president of the American Association for Research in Baghdad. "They were able to take keys for vaults and were able to take out important Mesopotamian materials put in safes."
Cultural experts, curators and law enforcement officials are scrambling to track down the missing antiquities and prevent further looting of the valuables.
The pillaging has ravaged the irreplaceable Babylonian, Sumerian and Assyrian collections that chronicled ancient civilization in Mesopotamia, and the losses have triggered an impassioned outcry in cultural circles.
Many fear the stolen artifacts have been absorbed into highly organized trafficking rings that ferry the goods through a series of middlemen to collectors in Europe, the United States and Japan.
Officials at the UNESCO meeting at its headquarters in Paris said the information was still too sketchy to determine exactly what was missing and how many items were unaccounted for.
But they were united in calling for quick action to track down the pilfered items.
"I have a suspicion it was organized outside the country, in fact I'm pretty sure it was," said Gibson. He added that if a good police team was put together, "I think it could be cracked in no time."
Critics of the failure of the coalition to stop the looting have been acting as if those things were so safe in the museum when the country was under Saddam's rule. They have been using this event as an occasion for moral grandstanding and as yet another opportunity to call the president a moron and his administration a pack of grunting Neanderthals. Even though I am sure that these outraged guardians of human culture don't actually believe that old pots (and pretty gold things) are more important than freeing a country of its thuggish dictator, they certainly came off that way.
Now I am going to tell you all a secret about myself: in general, I prefer interesting artifacts from ancient civilizations to people. Heck, I prefer old moldy bread crusts to some people. But you know what -- I realize, at least, that this is a fault within myself, however jokingly I may speak of my misanthropy, and I have trained myself to not give into this feeling when there is no good reason to, and to not brag about this tendency of mine as if it was some kind of virtue. I mean, after all, my most favoritest novel has as its plot line the necessity of destroying an ancient, powerful, unique, and most precious gold object.
(Via A Small Victory.)
A while back I got into a fight on someone's comments over the issue of whether or not Colin Powell made the U.N. cover a tapestry rendition of Picasso's "Guernica" out of "discomfort with its antiwar message." I finally had enough and wrote this post. Anyway, here is an article with more proof that the "Guernica" fuss was manufactured out of -- excuse the pun -- whole cloth. Of course, proof isn't enough for some people -- heck, actually being there and witnessing the event themselves wouldn't be enough for some people, but I just wanted to point this out.
(Via Tim Blair. See the post for April 17, 4:22pm. Also: comments for that old post of mine are turned off so don't try to comment there.)
Well, I might as well attract more trolls (the ones my latest Michael Moore post haven't already sucked in). Everyone is always jawing on about how intelligent and smart and he-went-to-Oxford-Rhodes-Scholar ex-president Bill Clinton is, as opposed to "Our Current Moron-in-Chief." Well, Mr. Smarty Pants said this recently, and it sure sounds like an opinion off the short bus to me:
"Since September 11, it looks like we can't hold two guns at the same time," Clinton said. "If you fight terrorism, you can't make America a better place to be."
So... we should quit this silly terrorism-fighting thing, and do whatever it is constitutes in Slick Willy's mind "makes America a better place to be"? And we will enjoy these fruits of well-being up until the next terrorist attack, right? Dumbass.
Note to self: if desirous of murdering someone, make sure to do it in the Netherlands.
(Via Henry Hanks. Direct anchor link used because, you know, Blogspot.)
The only surprising thing about the revelation that CNN was more interested in the questionable prestige of having a news bureau in Iraq than actually reporting anything that might upset their hosts -- such as news of atrocities committed by the regime, is the number of people who are surprised by this. Rand Simberg asks:
please tell us why your reporting from Damascus, or Gaza, or the West Bank (as just three examples) should be given any credibility whatsoever. How much of Arafat and Assad's thuggish behavior have you been covering up? And if you now propose to tell us, why should we believe you?
Well, I can answer those questions: it shouldn't, a lot of it, and no.
It's my turn to weigh in on the Agonist Plagiarism Scandal. I'll just say... I wasn't surprised when I heard about it, nor about Mr. Kelley's lame excuse of being "too busy" to cite his sources. That excuse was bullshit on so many levels -- not the least of which the man has a Bachelor's Degree in History and is studying for his MA, and if there is one thing that is still one of the pillars of Academe it is that you WILL at all times cite your sources.
But the arrogant, I'm-above-the-rules attitude inherent in first, his lifting of articles without attribution from Stratfor's for-pay site, and then in his feeble excuses and unsatisfactory, "I'm sure I'm sorry" apologies, has always been this person's most notable characteristic.
When I first started reading that Mr. Kelley's blog had become a famous, Big Media-cited warblog on par with the Comand Post and some others, I was a little surprised. In fact, the first thing I thought was: "Gee, I wonder if Sean-Paul Kelley has taken down his 'Fuck you you bloodthirsty warbloggers' post?" I almost posted that thought to my blog, but I didn't for a number of reasons. I now regret my decision to let sleeping dogs lie. As you can see if you click on the link above, Mr. Kelley has not removed the post in question, which is a broad, sweeping attack on all so-called warbloggers, whom he accused of not displaying the proper sensibilities, of thinking war is "like a video game," and so on. (The only person he cited by name was Andrew Sullivan, who AFAIK has not mentioned his love of warlike video games, or any video games at all, on his site. Then again, I haven't searched it, so maybe I missed the drooling post on how dropping bombs on Afghan children was almost as much fun as playing Quake.)
But anyway -- the post is still there, but the comments are gone. Mysteriously so -- he claims in his apology post that they are "broken," and invites people to post to a bulletin board for which he provides, again, no link. Uh huh. In any case you'll have to take my word for it (and the words of commenters in my post on the matter) that there was a lively discussion going on concerning this in his comments. The only trace of this discussion now exists on my site here. I still have some emails on my other computer from our rather acrimonious email exchange, but I don't have all of them -- some of them were eaten by some email problems I had.
Anyway, that the writer of the Agonist is pretentious and has an ego the size of Jupiter doesn't surprise me at all. That he was latched onto by Big Media as a star warblogger also doesn't surprise me -- he is photogenic and obviously knows how to promote himself. In less telegenic times an episode like this would have made him a social and academic pariah -- he might have had his degrees rescinded; he surely would have been shunned by the academic community and had his career, whatever it is, effectively ruined. But in these modern, "enlightened" times I am sure that his ship will sail on. I wouldn't be surprised to see a three-figure book deal or tv offer in his future. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised to see his name on a campaign poster someday. He has all the makings of a perfect politician.
I have one last thing to say, though. Ken Layne has a lengthy (and better than mine) essay on journalistic integrity, blogs, and the necessity of citing sources. See, I also had a nasty, suspicious thought that this whole episode had an ulterior motive. Some people are touting blogs as the "new media," or the "rival media" to Big Media. There's been some jabs taken at blogs by some professional pundits on bloggers' "lack of editors" and so on. Also, there has been a perception that Big Media is leftist, while "warbloggers" at least are right wing. I am not going to say whether or not that is true. What is true is that when one blogger gets caught out in an act of blatant plagiarism, whether or not we like it it affects us all. The internet itself has suffered under a not-entirely-unjustified (no, not at all) reputation of being nothing but lies and pretense, seeing how it has been used as a medium for pedophiles to get underaged girls and such. And now we have this prominent, interviewed-on-CNN blogger who has been caught out in a laughably blatant act of plagiarism.
I have a nasty suspicious mind, and my thought was: what if this wasn't a series of "stupid mistakes"? What if it was deliberate? Mr. Kelly has not concealed his biases against "warbloggers" in the past. Something tells me he wouldn't think it at all wrong to stoop to subterfuge to discredit them.
Update: Dean Esmay has an entry on this, and it includes a tidbit of info that I did not notice:
In the earlier versions of his site was a statement that all items on the site were uncopyrighted, because:
"Intellectual property is theft."
In other words, copyright is itself immoral. Creative works should automatically be everyone's property. This was up on his site for some time, in place of where you normally see a copyright or Creative Commons notification.
I have no comment.
Last update, I swear: my vote for best comment on this goes to Laurence at Amish Tech Support: "I don't care if you're writing on the floor with your own feces. You cite your sources, or you're a thief. End of story." Bow. Down.
Speaking of the Nü-Pacifist countries, in particular, Russia, I present to you this koan:
Evan Kirchhoff takes a serious look at just what does Michael Moore and his fans believe. The short answer seems to be: nothing, really. Of course, I simplify -- but this reminds me of something I meant to blog about but never got around to it.
I've had jolly fun calling Mr. Fatty McMoorefat names (like that), but back in my less discerning, more "radical" days (radical in that I used to tape MTV's 120 Minutes "alternative" program and sneer at the prime-time pop videos), I used to watch Moore's show TV Nation. As I recall, it was mildly amusing, not really hilarious, but it provided the sort of irony-laden snarkiness that my friends and I mistook for fun back then. A sequence stuck in my mind: Moore had the Gay Men's Chorus stand outside the home of Senator Jesse Helms and sing whatever it is that group sings. The occasion was, I guess, to reprimand Helms on some anti-gay comment or move or other. Helms' wife was at home, but Helms was not. I remember that she came to the window, and was polite in her Southern way to these guys, complimenting their singing and so forth. I don't remember if she asked them to leave; that little snippet is all that remains in memory. At the time I was all, "Haha! Gotcha, Helms!" or something. But now I think of it, and I think: what kind of person harrasses a man's wife outside of her property because he doesn't like the man's politics or viewpoint? I guess it was easier for Moore to stage his scene outside the old lady's house in whatever city that was, instead of on the steps of the Capitol Building.
I remember another segment now. Moore had some guy move into a house by himself and act really weird -- drag large, heavy garbage bags to the back yard and bury them, create chopping, banging, hammering sounds late at night, wander around his property smeared with a reddish substance, and so on, all in full view of the neighbors, who were shown looking puzzled and occasionally revolted at the man's antics, but not doing anything else. I can't be sure but I think this was after Jeffrey Dahmer's arrest. Moore's point seemed to be that no amount of suspicious activity would cause your neighbors to call the cops on you or otherwise bother you. I was a snob but I wasn't stupid -- I figured out Moore's underlying premise, which was that American society was so standoffish and alienated from itself that a serial killer could do whatever he wanted in full view of everyone and no one would want to "get involved." Of course, I didn't consider the implications of that entire idea, because feeling superior to it all was more important than actually asking myself how people in society were supposed to simultaneously be completely watchful of each other and totally respectful of individual rights to privacy.
Kirchhoff says that Moore's stuff is "valued specifically because he's making it up and known to be making it up." That could be -- but there are plenty of Moore fans who are both intelligent (I was no dummy back then, at least about things that didn't have to do with reality) and actually believe -- in so far as such a shallow belief can be held -- that Moore's underlying premises are correct despite -- or even because of -- the lies and distortions in his works.
(Via Colby Cosh.)
Well, this makes two times today that I have found myself disagreeing with Glenn Reynolds on the relative worth of something he linked to. Hey, it can happen.
Anyway, I'm no economic expert by a long shot, but something strikes me as just plain wrong about the conclusions reached by conservaguy Ramesh Ponnuru (based on this article in the New Republic which I haven't read), and expanded upon by one T. Crown (that's the main site for the link from Instaman -- I know this will come as a stunning shock, but it's a Blogspot site and the archives don't work, so go to the post from March 28 right below the one from 3:13 pm). The premise here is that the discovery of large oil reserves is a Bad Thing for the countries that have them, and destroys their economy, government, and culture. The idea here is that people who are invested with a sudden bounty of revenue will stop being Thrifty and Decent and True, quit working hard, sell their souls to the Eville (American! of course) company that helps them exploit this revenue, and the governments of these poor, fragile baby nations will become corrupt, blah blah.
Of course, I am simplifying the points made,* and perhaps I am missing something -- but it seems to me that all these deep thinkers are missing something too: what other factors led to these supposedly strong, healthy nations (the example of Venezuela is used) to fall apart like cheap cheese the minute they found they had large oil reserves? According to Ponnuru, John Judis, in the New Republic article, states that
the presence of large amounts of oil gives the state too many resources.
Guh. That sentence just strikes me as wrong, bad, based on mistaken premises, and the ideas behind it are way too attractive to certain "fiscal conservatives" who are yet affected by nanny state penny-pinching urges. We show the officious bureaucratic grandma who wants to make everyone wear hand-me-downs out the front door, and here comes her equally penurious sister in through the back door. What I mean by this is: I hear the sounds of "isn't that too extravagant?" coming from certain quarters when it comes to letting the individual citizenry choose how hard they want to work, how much money they want to make, and so on.
What is really unattractive is that this Scroogefest seems to be focused on countries other than the US. For example: I don't know how strongly I can emphasize the fact that it isn't really feasable at this point to cut the Saudis off at the oil pipe. How can I be more blunt: they have nothing else worth selling, and their economy would collapse.
Two: we here in the U.S. have more resources than anybody, with the possible exception of oil (I don't know how much of that we have left, in relation to the Middle East's supply, yadda yadda). I don't hear any of these great minds complaining about the effect on the American economy and government of all our bounty of resources.
Anyway, I stress that I don't really understand the economic factors involved, but something really strikes me as wrong about the idea that a country can have "too many resources" without taking into account all sorts of other factors, like political cohesion, the influence of various strains of Marxism and other religious beliefs on the culture and political system of the countries in question, and so on.
*Update: bolds added for the benefit of those people who helpfully pointed out that I am "oversimplifying" -- something I already admitted to.
Michael Moore is a lying ratbag motherfelcher. Here's an mp3 of the Oscar segment where he was booed. The boos are clearly more than "five." And he tries to claim he got his friends to do the boos? To show "diversity of opinion"? Lying sack of donkey vomit.
(The mp3 was made by Bobby Allison Gallimore. There are also links to various videos, of Moore's after-Oscar speech, and the segment itself, and so on, available in the comments. I haven't visited the sites because I don't want to see his overfed mug or hear his pustulent lies right now.)
More Moore-slaps, this time from James Poniewozik in TIME. His basic premise is "you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." In other words, if the self-styled liberal intelligensia wants to get people on their side, they should stop treating them the way Michael Moore does:
The remainder of the speech was no improvement. There was the general hectoring and finger-wagging — and I don't mean finger-wagging figuratively; the man literally thrust his finger at the camera. A man with Moore's sense of history has no excuse not to realize that makes him look like a crackpot dictator shouting a harangue from the balcony.
Why is this bad? Because:
More people in America identify as conservative than liberal, like it or not. So lefties who want to accomplish anything outside Santa Monica and Manhattan need moderate support even more than their righty analogues do
The problem is, many of these people don't want to coax "conservative Americans" onto their side. They have based their entire career on being against what they see as stuffy, puritanical, no-fun Middle America; in other words, their parents. They are stuck in "rebel without a cause" mode. They have taken that line in The Wild One ( Girl: "What're you rebelling against, Johnny?" Johnny: "Whaddya got?") as their central ideology, even though in their professional and personal lives they are as hidebound to their own traditions as a deacon of the First Lutheran Church of Des Moines is to his.
One of their traditions is to look upon people outside the entertainment industry -- and in this country politicians are not necessarily outside the entertainment industry -- as an easily-led, unintelligent bovine mass. The relationship of entertainers to the audience is necessarily partly antagonistic -- after all, these are the people who must be persuaded to part with their hard-earned money to view the fruits of all that expensive location shooting and studio time. But since most entertainers are also unstable and have massive egos, this seems to translate all too easily into a paranoid view of the audience, especially the middle-class, suburban portion of it, as being a stand-in for every parental admonishment, unfavorable review, directorial berating, and that little inner critic that everyone has that tells you "you suck." So to many activist entertainers, the idea of actually treating an audience member like an equal and trying a little sweet persuasion doesn't even occur to them.
(Via Jim Treacher again.)
Meryl Yourish has a perfect reply to Yet Another Hollywood Imbecile. Now it's Roy Scheider doing the sneering. His target? The herd-like, easily-brainwashed American public. His take on the war is basically that we -- or rather, the non-antiwar-protesting portion of the American public -- have been hypnotized by all those waving flags, that we're basically just troop groupies. Yeah, whatever, lousy-sequel-to-2001 star. Anyway, Meryl bags these folks. When I was a certain age, I thought I and my peers were sooo much smarter than those dimbulbs in the Reagan administration, with their simplistic cowboy ways that only brought down the Soviet Union and ended the Cold War. The thing is, these celebs think that because they are rich and their faces are known by millions, and because in their professions they get to pretend to be all sorts of different characters, that they have special insights into What's Really Going On in the cosmos. But they don't -- they actually live in a bell jar surrounded by yes-men and sycophants whose job it is to constantly puff up their egos and the fragile self-esteem that most entertainers seem to have, and to shield their charges from as much of unpleasant real life as possible. Even the lesser Hollywood lights get this sort of treatment, as much as their place on the Hollywood food chain will get them. But strip away all of this and you have a collection of people who are usually no more well-informed (and in many cases, are not capable of being any more well-informed) on politics and other matters outside their sphere than the average cashier at a suburban grocery store. Rather less so.
Possibly thinking that no one would notice or care, CBS online used an obviously fake photo of B-52s "in formation over Baghdad" on their website. One problem: this is the internet. Instead of having to sit and grumble at an inaccurate or wrong tv newscast, and at the most only be able to make a phone call or write a letter of complaint (which would then be judiciously round-filed like as not), today's viewers can publish their own refutations on the very same medium that carried the error or lie. Ain't the internet grand?
Alex Knapp lists all the countries that are supporting the U.S. in its actions in Iraq. Some commenters have pointed out that many of these countries are small and insignificant, and can't or haven't given us any money, unlike in the last Gulf War, so therefore their support doesn't count for much. Oh. Never mind then. Sorry, little buddy nations! You're not big enough to participate in the grownup world yet!
Michael Moore's film Bowling for Columbine is completely debunked as a documentary. There is a word for this sort of film: propaganda.
Ugh, Tom Brokaw started talking to Senator Daschle (D., Whoville). Off went the teevee. Besides, I'm hungry, and there's no food in the house. I'm off to Denny's or someplace like that.
Juan Gato is keeping an eye on some other unpleasant regimes, who are taking this window of opportunity while the US is busy to do some busting of heads within their own borders. When the cat's away...
Why, you little rascal:
The day the Lewinsky scandal broke, Clinton was to trade in his "biscuit" with the nuclear launch codes. But they were missing. "We never did get them back," says Patterson. Then there's bin Laden: Clinton ducked calls from the Situation Room to ok a Tomahawk attack in 1998, then waffled until it was too late.
Gee, I hope they changed the codes since then. Did he at least have to pay a penalty, like the fifty bucks I had to pay once when my purse was stolen and I had to get my credit card account cancelled and replaced?
Turkey's new government signaled Saturday it would wait at least another week to decide about the deployment of U.S. forces on its soil, but the United States appeared to be losing hope of using Turkey to open a northern front against Iraq.
A senior U.S. official said Washington has now retracted its offer to give Turkey $15 billion in economic aid if it allowed the U.S. deployment. "The package was time-bound and we have moved on time-wise," the official said on condition of anonymity.
You know, there is something that I think has really not been emphasized enough in the current hugeass argument over whether or not America is "unilateral" or bilateral or trilateral or whatever, and whether we have the "right" to invade Iraq and remove Hussein by force for not giving up his WMDs or pieces of unassembled WMDs (even though it is part of the terms of the agreement that kept him and his clones in his palaces at the end of GW1, yadda yadda). It's this:
That's right, chilluns, the UN is not the government of the world, it's a diplomatic organization where nations can send representatives to hash out differences and treaties and things. The only "authority" they have is that which is voluntarily granted to it by its members. And the current structure of the UN, by the way, is based on the outmoded Cold War US vs. USSR faceoff, which needless to say no longer exists. And from what I have read so far, it is clear that the current structure of the UN is all too easy for its members to twist and corrupt.
I can see why Bush would want to keep the UN alive, so much so that he has been playing this game of inspections and sanctions and resolutions with them. I mean, it's not easy to set up Leagues of Nations and such. There are oodles and scads of regulations and charters and organizations and projects that come under the United Nations rubric, and you don't just toss all that in the garbage can -- not if you are a business-minded kind of guy who wants to conserve as much time and personnel as possible. To compare with a prior administration, just look at the amount of time the Billary wasted on their various Fresh New Government boondoggles: the "National Health Care Plan" is the first thing that comes to mind, followed by everyone's favorite debacle, the gays in the military thing. (Hey, I don't have a problem with gays in the military, and I think they should be able to let their rainbow flag fly too -- none of this "don't ask, don't tell" shizzle. But I'm not in the military, and I certainly am not Commander in Chief.)
Anyway, I think that Bush would rather not have to build a whole new clubhouse for world leaders to meet in out of the shattered wreckage of the United Nations. For one thing, he has much bigger fish to fry (such as keeping the big bombs out of Abdul Hitler's hands).
Oh -- did I forget to mention that the USA will be expected to construct an entirely new United Nations-type thing if the current body should fall to bits? You know we, and maybe a few other countries like Great Britain, will be the only ones who will care to. The entire Rest of the World, the individual nations of which practice the sort of cultural and mental isolationism of the sort Pat Buchanan can only dream about, will have no interest in pretending to care about the fate of any other nation, and will not be particularly interested in getting anything out of Americans except money. We heirs of the enlightenment ideals of perfectable humanity, are the only ones who want to rescue the world from its miserable self.
So anyway: the United Nations is not a world government body with power over George Bush or Tony Blair or Saddam Hussein or whoever it is runs Andorra these days. So all this bloviating about "the UN won't approve" is so much hot air. I'd sooner let my cat run things.
This is a further development of a ranting comment I left on Juan Gato's site in this post. It's not enough that Americans are being painted as the Warlike Nation of Bloodlust and Disturbing Loud Noises as Opposed to the Peaceful Bambilike European Nations of Love 'N' Hugs, now they are trying to pretend that the ideal human body in European culture all the way back to Classical Greece and before wasn't to be as FAT FAT FAT as possible. Here's a sample from the latest lying article spreading this LIE:
Nearly one-third of all Europeans are obese because of fast-food consumption and sedentary lifestyles, and nations must encourage healthier habits, a U.N. agency warned Friday.
Obesity, once considered mostly an American problem, now is prevalent in European countries, where traditional diets have been associated with long life and good health, the World Health Organization said.
Why you little lying liars. Let me tell you something about "healthy, long-lived" Europeans on their "traditional diets" of grease, salt, and the fat part of dairy products. In 1981 my mother and I took a trip to Europe. We spent about a week and a half in England and Scotland, and another week and a half taking the train through the Netherlands, Belgium, West Germany, Swizerland, Austria, and France. Let me tell you about how every single European we talked to told us: "American women are too thin!" "You are too thin, you Americans need to eat more! try this!" And we were wined and dined and stuffed with about two billion calories worth of chocolate, fat, cream, and fat. Now, my mother and I were not "thin" by American standards in 1981. We were normal. By the time we left Europe I had gained twenty pounds and so had my mother. I couldn't fit into the new outfits my mother had insisted I buy before we left.
Oh, and you want to know where the fattest people we saw were? England. Yeah, especially the kids. The babies were so fat they had no necks, and they couldn't lay their arms flat against their sides. I was afraid to brush up against one; I was terrified they would pop, like a grape. My mother and I talked to a group of preteen boys who looked like miniature linebackers. Of course every meal in England was accompanied by chips (fries), and every vegetable was overcooked to mush. We had to eat Chinese food to get some vegetables that didn't fall apart when your fork touched them.
The weight gain of Euros being the fault of Evil, Bloblike Americans and their soylent-green-like food is a big, steaming heap of bullshit. I know my trip was more than twenty years ago but I am damn sure nothing has changed in "traditional," hidebound Europe all that much. McDonalds was popular then because you could get cheap meat that didn't have the consistency of shoe leather (unlike the impossible-to-chew piece of beef I had in Frankfurt, and the rubber-like rabbit I ate, or rather attempted to eat, in Geneva -- yes, I ate Bugs Bunny, or rather, his ancient and extremely tough grandpa). Also, the food at McDonalds is packed with fattening grease and artery-destroying salt, which Europeans LOVE.
I hate lies.
PS: More proof of the fat-worship of Europeans: here, some reproductions of ancient mother-goddess-figurine-things; the Venus de Milo isn't exactly skinny, is she?; here's Bacchus, by Rubens (everyone knows Rubens especially loved fatties); here's a painting of Pygmalion and Galatea by some French dude in the 18th century; and this is Rubens' idea of a skinny broad. Fat and European, all of them -- and all (except for the French one) conceived before America was even a European king's bad dream.
The supervisors of a Pennsylvania have been reminded that being an elected representative in a democratic republic does not mean carte blanche for the representatives to do whatever they please. Read A Dog's Life for the details.
Some of you will remember in the heady days after Clinton was first elected (well, heady for Democrats anyway, and at the time I was one), when suddenly there seemed to be a spate of "failed Clinton presidency" analogies popping up here and there. This would have not been so notable much later in his presidency, or even now; but this was right after he entered office. It became a joke, and Dave Barry regularly referred to "the Failed Clinton Presidency" in his columns. I believe that one of the reasons was the "National Health Care" debacle, which had the interesting effect of uniting two sides, the Right and Left Wings, in mutual distaste. (The Right hated the very idea of any national health-care system, the left hated the fact that health care hadn't immediately become free for all Americans the moment Clinton took his oath of office. I exaggerate only slightly.)
Well, I am seeing something of the same theme running throughout left-of-center commentary on the current state of Afghanistan. It has only been little over a year since the Taliban was kicked out of the country, but already I am seeing reference to "Afghanistan, the Failed Democracy," "Afghanistan, Not So Rosy," "Afghanistan Isn't 100% Fixed Yet So the U.S. Failed!" and "Afghanistan, Where Women Still Can't Drive Naked," and so on. Any article that refers to the return of Afghan refugees to the country, increasing entrepreneurship and other evidence that the people of that country are taking advantage and rebuilding their lives, is counteracted by an article or a comment on how Karzai is still in trouble and doesn't have 100% backing of everyone in Afghanistan, there are excursions by Taliban forces, the women still don't feel comfortable wearing a bikini on the street, and so on. Think I'm exaggerating? Check out the first comment to this post.
It is true that the country is still a mess, and that it will take more than paper and happy words to repair many of the problems there, but it seems to me that all the detractors of people who speak hopefully of Afghanistan's chances are doing something akin to telling someone who's leukemia has just gone onto
rescission remission*: "Well, it could come back you know, it's not like you're completely cured, so don't be so happy!"
*Thanks to alert reader mikeski for the correct word. For some reason I couldn't think of it.
Well, there goes any plans to even visit Oregon, let alone live there. I prefer not to spend my money in tiny versions of Oceania, whenever possible.
Hm. It seems that Prince Faisal is not down with this whole invade-Iraq thing:
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal has said that any unilateral military action by the US would appear as an "act of aggression".Message to Prince Faisal:
In other news, no-longer-president-but-can't-seem-to-get-over-that-fact Jimmy Cawduh continues to annoy. Now he has signed the UK Mirror's "Not In Our Name"
Support Dear Leader Saddam Hussein Anti-War Petition. Message to ex-President Hamster: shut up you goddamn hypocrite.
The US isn't the only country to get the shut-up-you-kids treatment from Wise Older Nation France: here is part of M. Chirac's message to the eastern European nations that have backed the U.S. position on Iraq:
"It is not really responsible behavior," he told a news conference. "It is not well brought-up behavior. They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet."How.... arrogant. Really, I have no words. Probably 'cos I'm a dumb, simplisme American.
(Via Juan Gato.)
Glenn Reynolds looks at America in the Bearded Spock Universe.
(If you don't know what the Bearded Spock Universe refers to, go here. Notice how even in an alternate "mirror" universe Kirk still gets to do it with a miniskirted babe.)
We're saved! Saved from the man with the baggie of weed! Thank you, DEA, now I can leave my doors unlocked at night!
Seriously, can we please shut down this goofy Fake War Against Some Drugs? Can't we divert the money used for this Ponzi scheme into some more worthy endeavor, like making sure armed men from an enemy country can't just waltz into my state? Hello, Homeland Security? Is this thing on? (Even if I do welcome defectors from Castroland, I would like them to be noticed by someone in law enforcement before they made it to "Key West's main drag." Har har, Herald writer, no pun intended, I'm so sure.)
The crisis over Iraq shows how the US will attempt to manipulate the latest adherents to the EU, the countries of central and south-eastern Europe. Nations that were once the vassals of the Soviet Union are now in danger of becoming vassals of the US. In addition to the three former members of the Warsaw pact which signed the "gang of eight" letter, on Wednesday a new group, a "gang of 10" - consisting of the three Baltic states, plus Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia - issued a strong statement of support for the US over Iraq.Guh. Unfortunately for Mr. Steele, there are people like Matt Welch, who actually lived in the countries in question during the time of rebuilding and liberation, not to mention people who still live there and know a little more about what is going on than one Guardian lackey. (Must. Stop. Self. From making joke about poster of Che Guevara that probably hangs above Steele's desk. Oops. Too late. It was Jebus! He made me do it! He turned my coffee into bourbon! Darned inconvenient miracles.)
In 1989 there were those who thought these newly liberated countries would be bastions of new thinking. But the west was an attractive-looking club and they were anxious to join the winning side in the cold war. While the EU insisted on a slow and complex process of economically painful adjustment, joining Nato was relatively easy and the US used a mix of fear, flattery and economic incentives to get them to sign up.
Side note: one of the commenters to Mr. Welch's post keeps spouting the "America forgets about everyone it promises to help, look at Afghanistan" line, and it is beginning to cheese me off. No, it has cheesed me off. Let's review:
Afghanistan is not like a corner of Idaho or Maine, we cannot transform the country into a prosperous, self-sufficient nation -- hell, even plain old self-sufficiency would do -- in the space of less than two years, all by our lonesome. As a matter of fact, we have not abandoned the place, as a random Googling will show. But for some reason the fact that there aren't hourly features on that country on CNN means that Afghanistan has been "forgotten" by some entity known as "America." Well. What is meant by "America" in this context? Does it mean the guy at the corner grocery, the taxicab driver, the newsstand guy, the hot dog stand guy -- or, to pick some examples from parts of America other than New York City, does it mean the teacher, the baker, the comic book maker? Or does it mean to be a complaint that the president is not calling me, personally, every day to brief me on the day-in-day-out plans for every thing and every place the US is currently involved in? Let me bring you up to date on something: there is nary a country on the planet that the US is not doing something with, for, or to, and there is no way to compress news of all these activities into an hour-long press conference. Most of these activities are deadly dull, and a report of them would put you, the Concerned Average Citizen, to sleep faster than a Quaalude and vodka cocktail. Let's be real here: when people say "America has abandoned (insert country it was spectacularly doing something to or for last week)," we really mean, "America has been doing a lot of tedious, detail-oriented, time-consuming stuff that is slow to show results in (insert country) but it's too boring to talk about."
I have some advice for those of you who are sitting on your butts grousing about how "America forgets" everything, like an absent-minded housewife who keeps losing her car keys. TURN OFF THE GODDAMN TV. Try using this internet thing, just like I did up there. If you hate Google, there are other search engines. If you hate the internet (then how are you reading this? Liar.) then go to the fricken' library. I'd suggest checking out one of the large university libraries if it is possible; they have meatier stuff, like reams upon reams of boring statistics, charts, and reports like "PERIODIC REPORT ON THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO IRAQ... HOUSE DOCUMENT 107-179... 107TH CONGRESS, 2D SESSION." I mean, if you really want to know stuff and aren't just talking out of your ass in order to prove how hip and cynical you are about Dubya and the Repugnicans.
And please, please use some common sense: do you think that this nation, for better or worse, got into the position of power it is in today by forgetting any damn thing? If so, you have been h4X0rd and are now OWNED.
Update: a commentary from someone who currently lives in Bulgaria.
I've been skimming the blogs and other commentary re last weekend's anti-war fizzlefest. We already know that much of it was coordinated by the Papa Joe fan club that is A.N.S.W.E.R. So of course the proceedings were hijacked from the beginning by people who went into mourning the day the Berlin Wall was torn down. But criticism of this is met with the usual defense of communists and their sycophants: they might be wrongheaded, but they're passionate about social justice!
Well BFD. Excuse me if I seem underimpressed by that argument. "Passionate" people are a dime a dozen, and the most cursory skimming of any history book will reveal that passion has never been in short supply in the entire course of human interaction. You can be "passionate" about anything. As I recall, I was once really passionate about staying up late on a school night to watch tv. What has always been a meager, easily depleted, and rare commodity is cold, boring old reason, the application of which has led to more advances in "social justice" than any shrieker carrying a sign or throwing a rock through a window. Emotions are easy; solutions are hard.
Can someone tell me what the hell that was that just flew past? First, it seems that Bush put some guy who is maybe one inch to the left of the Godhatesfags.com dude as the head of the AIDs Advisory Commission, whatever that is. There was all sorts of uproar from all over the place. Then faster than you could say "Mario Andretti in a souped-up Lamborghini" the we-should-cure-the-homosexuals (how, with a magical spell?) guy says "Nope, not me, I'm not going to do it." Bush is now I guess free to appoint some guy he really wanted as the head of this group, or maybe abandon the whole project as a revenue-suck that hasn't contributed so much as a microscope lens to the cause of curing AIDS, or maybe just look like a bumbling idiot on domestic policy which is par for the course for Republican administrations. The problem with the Republicans is they are so good at handling the foreign riffraff, and so hamfisted at dealing with their own country's problems. Here's another example of this tendency, one which has shortened their shelf life considerably. Great priorities, guys.
Someone forgot to unscrew a federal justice's skull and remove his brains, and tragedy occurred: the fat kids who were suing McDonalds for their own act of being unable to stop shoving Big Macs down their own gullets were told by Judge Robert W. Sweet in no uncertain terms that their porcine condition is their own damn fault. I would like to impart my own message of uplift to the heart-broken would-be millionaires: "Ha ha, Fatty McFatperson and your little sister Tubby! You don't get to make money off of your own inability to control yourself! Now go on a freakin' diet and exercise regimen like everyone else has to do. Oh -- and kick your parents in the nads for letting you do this to yourself."
I like Maryland. My dad grew up there. I thought Baltimore was an interesting town, and I especially liked Annapolis. I even thought of moving up there someday, so I could be near but not actually have to live in either Washington D.C. or Philadelphia, two cities I also love to visit (but would not want to live in for various reasons). Oh well, another plan bites the dust.
(Via Kim Du Toit.)
Tacitus really shook the monkey cage with this post. I'm afraid that some of the leftist commentators who have been engaging in the feces-flinging here will not be moved from their positions no matter how much logic and rational argument is brought to bear. That is because they are not logical and rational about their philosophy: they are religious.
It was and is easy to condemn a racist, exclusivist movement like Nazism. That philosophy, after all, played upon the German peoples' worst instincts, not their best. Their downfall was not merely due to the fact that "oft evil will shall evil mar,"* but to what I think is instinctive knowledge that despite our petty differences we are one. We are very good at overriding our best instincts, of course; but it is so much easier to use our best instincts against us as the communists and their offshoots do than to attempt to make our worst tendencies into virtues the way the Nazis did. Easier, and harder to combat.
The communists and so forth talk a great game about "brotherhood" and "equality." It is very difficult to go against this cant, even when one knows that it is being used falsely in the service of evil. The exclusion methods used by the Nazis were almost childishly simple -- you had to be German to be in the club! It is harder to keep track of what keeps you in the communist, or even leftist club. The definition of what it means to be a "vanguard of the proletariat" as opposed to a "capitalist lackey" is subject to the whims of whatever is fashionable in inner leftist circles. It could be anything: you wore a new jacket to the meeting -- So, comrade, are you hoarding, or did you get that on the black market?; that book on your shelf that was standard accepted literature is suddenly as good as a ticket to the gulag, because the writer fell out of favor; you pissed someone at the last meeting off, and they decided to pull strings...
But this is all being done in the name of The People™. Unfortunately, the good of The People™ is continually being undermined by those pesky actual persons. Few people can stand to be accused of undermining The People™ -- most people want to be known as the Most Altruistic Person on earth. The most horrid accusation to a lot of people is "You're so selfish!" (An accusation I always take as a compliment, but then I am a misanthrope and gush about the "Brotherhood of Man" moves me not at all. The fact that we are all human together is an occasion for irony, not gushy lumps of togetherness-spiel -- but I digress).
Anyway, that is why in the long run communists are more evil than Nazis. It was easy to get rid of openly evil Nazis, but it's going to be nearly impossible to get rid of every purse-lipped, smug-arsed lover of humanity with a copy of Das Kapital and a Free Mumia!/Paul Wellstone For President t-shirt.
*I thought of that quote when I thought of this post but I was going to wait until tomorrow to put this up; but when I opened the book it opened to the page that had that very quote, so I took it as an omen.
Meanwhile, in my old home town, quite a different protest was taking place, with a bigger crowd (apparently) than the antiwar nonsense in D.C. I believe the crowd estimate numbers: one, it is a lot warmer in Miami than in Washington; and two, they don't like communists down there, to say the least, and huge, traffic-tying-up protests/celebrations form at the drop of a beret down there (for example, a few years back the Miami Herald reported that Castro had some sort of ailment and his life was in danger; the resulting traffic jam from happy Cubans flocking to the streets in their cars to beep their horns -- a popular local method of celebration -- made me get home from work two hours late).
England's dreaming. No, actually, England's fucked. And France is even worse. Dipnut has much to say. Here's what I say: I'm staying. Right. Here. In Violent, Fascist, Amerikkka, where it is still kind of possible in parts of it to defend yourself from a burglar without having to worry about the judge feeling sorry for the criminal scum and releasing said creep out into the public while throwing your sorry ass in prison for being mean to the downtrodden, where it is quite the rarity for a cop to say to your face that they don't want to report the crime you have just called them for because "it's too much paperwork" and will "retard our careers."
Europe. Home of high culture. Hah.
Guess what the new trend will be: blogging from political conventions. Cool. No, really. I'll bet the big-deal reporters will hate it too.
They only elucidate what is and is not a crime. Money quote in this Mark Steyn article:
[...]if the gangs refuse to obey the existing laws, we'll just pass more laws for them not to obey.The attitude of gun control advocates in Britain seems to echo that of the gun control advocates on this side of the pond: an almost -- oh hell, a frankly superstitious regard for The Law that thinks that adding more laws -- more words, spells, and incantations -- will somehow magically reduce or eliminate the urges of the criminally-inclined to do crime. One word: WRONG. Just wait.
(Via everybody. Come on, it's Mark Steyn.)
Because I am a liberal.
(Via Aaron's Rantblog.)
Update: I just wanted to add that I don't agree slavishly with every single thing that is said in the article (for one thing, it is not at all clear that our intentions re Iraq et al can be descrived as "imperialistic"). But I concur with this portion:
There are almost no European-style conservatives in the United States, people who want to defend a status quo based on hierarchy, tradition and a pessimistic view of human nature. Those we label "conservatives" in this country are called "liberals" in Europe, because they are in favor of free markets, individual initiative and a democratic polity based on individual, not collective, rights.It goes on to say that the anti-globalist, anti-progress, anti-everything contingent are actually the conservative ones, though ostensibly of the left. I want to add further that I think we should really try to bury those old designations of "left," "right," and "center" for once and for all; they are meaningless. Better labels might be to call peoples' political positions "dynamic," "static," or a combination of the two. I am sure someone else somewhere has already come up with this concept, because it seems familiar to me.
Also, I have changed the category to the one I have set aside for whatever non-war political posts I come up with. There, Spoons!