Saturday, January 06, 2007

"Hurtful" is the new "obscene."

Despite the fearmongering about theocracy, it may be secular fundamentalists or militant atheists who pose a greater threat to freedom. That shouldn't surprise anybody of my age. The Nazis and Communists were/are vehemently anti-religious. But, since we learned to keep religious leaders from having access to police powers, there have been no inquistions to speak of.

The people insisting on pc speech codes today were once free speech advocates, yet they fail to see the hypocrisy of continuing to defend obscene and profane speech while they seek to impose their own list of forbidden lists of hateful words and expressions, which are applied according to context and therefore operate like a minefield. The worst thing these days is to be offensive, but only if what you say is offensive to certain people, while what may be offensive to others defended as free speech.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Khameini reported dead of cancer

PJ Media scores a scoop, if it holds up. The reporter isn't named, but it's probably Michael Ledeen, who reported on the power struggle in Tehran last month:
Recent events document both the intensity and the violence of the power struggle.

On November 27th, a military aircraft–an Antonov 74—headed for a military site near Tabriz crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran. Nearly forty deaths were reported, including several top leaders of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, the country’s elite military organization. The dead included some of Khamenei’s closest allies and advisers, and their loss was a serious blow for him.

Most Iranians–who are in any case reluctant to believe in accidents when the mighty are killed–are convinced the plane was sabotaged, especially as this is the latest in a sequence of spectacular airplane disasters, producing high-level military casualties.

About a week earlier, a military helicopter came down, killing all six people on board. Last January, Ahmad Kazemi, the Revolutionary Guards’ ground commander, and seven other senior officers, were killed in the crash of a French-made Falcon, a small executive jet, near the Turkish border. Barely a month before, yet another military aircraft, a C-130, came down near Tehran airport, hit a ten-story building, and killed 115 people (mostly journalists).

A week ago, the Majlis (the national assembly) passed a law effectively reducing the presidential term of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nezhad by a full year. This was universally seen as an attack in favor of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, Ahmadi-Nezhad’s most visible political rival, and a candidate to succeed Khamenei.

Meanwhile, as reported in Iran Press News, the ongoing public challenge to the regime itself continues unabated.
Faster please.

Good news on Iraq

John Murtha will again take the lead in opposing the war.

Now that's what we voted for!

Rangel boots Cheney from his office in the Capitol and moved in himself.

News you can use

The headline reads "Nixon vowed to 'ruin' diplomatic corps". Too bad he didn't follow through.

Oh, please!

Bush can open your mail? Only if you are a suspected terrorist.

Who owns the rights to the Saddam snuff video?

He should have hired an agent. They could have made a bundle selling CDs on the streets.

No. I'm wrong. The terrorists would have just copied them and cashed in. Maybe they could start a new website, GhoulTube just to recycle all the murder videos and martyrdom videos coming from the Arab world. They must be so proud.

Failing to learn from history

J. R. Dunn "On Going Roman." Rome was known for its brutal, efficient legions and the will to use them. We have legions of our own and single weapons that can do more damage in an instance than they could in weeks.

But our nuclear deterrent is worthless. We wouldn't use it, even if Al Qaeda detonated a nuke in the East River, because we'd be killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people who don't support Al Qaeda.

I would have sworn after 9/11 that partisanship and mewling pacificism was dead. I no longer believe that we have the will to fight for our own survival. Look how quickly we've gone from republic to decline, and unless we wake up, to timorous, feckless weenies.

Membership in the Roman legions was the ancient way for poor people to rise in the world. Eventually, they were composed of the peoples Rome had conquered, and when Rome no longer perceived any threats, it succumbed to the barbarians, even as they sought to become more like the Romans.

"A problem to be solved".

Memeorandum and RCP are full of articles returning us to the same dreary arguments about Iraq, politics, etc. Now it's the Democrats' show, and the harridans of the anti-war left were out in force to demand that they shut down this war just as they abandoned South Vietnam to the tender mercies of the Communists.

What I haven't heard from anybody is what the Democrats propose to do after we come back with our tail between our legs. Assume that Iraq is lost, that Bush will be prohibited by some unconstitutional bill or resolution from using force against Iran's nuke project. We still have the terrorist problem, and it will be invigorated and encouraged by our backdown.

Most Democrats I've heard can only gripe that we haven't captured Osama bin Laden, but that would involve invading Pakistan which already has nukes. Maybe they think we can teleport him out. But I can't believe that they really think that capturing him would put an end to Islamist terrorism. First, they wouldn't want him killed. That would show how weak our commitment to human rights is. They wouldn't want him kept at Gitmo. I guess they'd give him a trial and sentence him to room with the Unabomer for the rest of his life.

But then what? They turned 9/11 into an excuse to expand the federal unionized work force. They demand that every shipment into this country be scanned for radioactivity, as if the terrorists would be that dumb. John Kerry would just declare terrorism a nuisance and go back to the days when embassy bombings and attacks on our naval vessels were just background noise. Speakerette Pelosi would redefine it from a war to be won to a problem to be solved. That's right, when life hands you lemons turn them into lemonade!

They keep grousing that we went into Iraq without a plan. What's their plan? I have a sinking feeling that it's to deal with terrorism by providing national health care.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Angels Weep

Whose bright idea was it to invite Notre Dame to play in the Sugar Bowl? They've lost their last 8 bowl appearances and tonight, they lost 41-14 to LSU. Once again we see the transparent hypocrisy of the BCS which is about money and keeping out the teams who don't command vast audience bases. They get another huge payday for turning in a lackluster performance.

I'm not in favor of a playoff system, because this is, after all, college football, and students should have some time to attend school, if only for appearances. The fun is in the arguing. You'd have to add about two months to the season, and even then, there'd be a lot of grousing about strength of schedule and other imponderables.

The Dicker Priniciple

Debra Saunders notes this fatuous claim:
Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's International Justice Program, said in a press statement, "The test of a government's commitment to human rights is measured by the way it treats its worst offenders.
Think about that a little bit to see how truly stupid it is.

(HT: Best of the Web.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Seeing it through

If Bill Sammon is correct and Bush has no intention of going quietly into his final two years in office. If he wants to take on the Democrats, though, he'd better have a better team than in the past at getting legislation passed.

No thanks, we're doing that ourselves.

Iran Vows To 'Humiliate' U.S.


Debra Saunders notes how the catchphrases of the left are likely to be jettisoned now that they have responsibility. You could write a book on logical fallacies quoting politicians.

One of my favorite articles was written by the late Hugh W. Nibley called "Victoriosa Loquacitas: The rise of rhetoric and the decline of everything else." In it he traces the history of the Sophists, the Greeks who developed the art of persuasion to the point where the truth of a proposition became irrelevant. They were the original rock stars, making lots of money demonstrating their skills in oratory and laying the foundations of modern lobbying, debate, advertising and lawyering. We've all been hearing, watching and reading rhetoric and sophistries all our lives. The problem is that most of us are so used to false "logic" and rhetorical tricks that we have to make a conscious effort to spot the fallacies and avoid using them ourselves. Without the ability to separate truth from falsehood, national debate does us no good. It's as bad as being illiterate, and may destroy our democracy and our freedoms.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Getting some respect

WAC Champion Boise State is ahead of Oklahoma 28-10 in the Fiesta Bowl, although OU just got a turnover when a punt bounced into the back of a BSU player and OU pounced on it and scored, then kicked a field goal, so it's 28-20.

Last year it was Utah from the Mountain West Conference breaking the BCS velvet rope. Utah, beating Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl, has won 6 bowl games in a row. BYU, this year's champ of the MWC whipped up on Oregon, 38-8, in the Las Vegas bowl.

Isn't it about time for this BCS cartel to be opened up? BYU was national champion in 1984, but the BCS has locked these teams out of the big money.

Oh, and by the way, Hugh, I notice USC humbled Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

Update: Boise State weathered its own mistakes, after OU scored a late touchdown and scored 2 points to tie the game. In the last minute or so, Boise threw an interception which the Sooners ran back for a touchdown. But in the time remaining, BSU scored again and tied the game. In overtime, OU handed the ball to Adrian Peterson and scored quickly. Then BSU had to match it or lose. The Broncos brought the ball down the field and scored 6. On the extra point, they set up for a normal kick, but it was a fake, with a twist. They used a Statue of Liberty play, with the QB pump-faking a pass to the right, but handing off to a runner to the left who scored two points, winning by one point. They took the best of the Sooners and then answered it twice.

That's what happens to teams who think they're too good for their opponents. OU was supposed to win by 21 points, but it took them a while to realize they were in a real game. They showed power and poise, where BSU made some mistakes that reflected inexperience in a national bowl, but in the end, the underdogs made them pay. Best game of the bowls, so far.

Making Saddam a Martyr

That's what Don Surber rightly accuses The New York Times of doing. He also directs us to this fine essay by J. R. Dunn of American Thinker.

This more typical lefty behavior, indecisive second-guessing and hand-wringing, leading only to fecklessness. It's what has reduced the greatest power in world history to a bumbling, dithering, absent-minded codger.

The correct questions for a tribunal should be is has the state demonstrated by competent evidence that the defendant guilty and what is the appropriate punishment. For the Times, there can never be enough evidence or enough wickedness to justify capital punishment. Thus any decision to hang such an evil man would always be a rush, and by opposing the death penalty, people like the Times' editors have already ruled themselves out as incompetent on the issue of whether the decision was too hasty.

As Surber notes,
The question is not why the rush? Rather it is why was this not done in 1991?

The future of Somalia

Why is it that the Ethiopians are making it look easy? Partly because we forget how we were able to drive the forces of Saddam into hiding. The real question is, will the Islamists stay defeated?

For a decent Somalian government to hold, it will need to use ruthless means against the Islamists, but we know that the U.N. and others will press it to go easy and respect the "human rights" of those who seek to deny them to others. It doesn't have the luxury to worry about such matters. The first duty of government is to assure the safety, peace and quiet for its citizens, what we call police power. This isn't simple in a society so recently in the thrall of warlords. The government must be able to assert power and it apparently doesn't have the arms or the army to do yet.

Our hopes for peace will not be met through force of arms, especially when we lack the will to exercise our power. Only the power that can cnange mens' hearts can assure that. The world is full of evil people and the worst are full of passionate intensity. Until he rules whose right it is, the good must renew our convictions that we are good and strengthen our resolve to stand strong against evil. (See Samuel Butler Yeats, The Second Coming.)

To Bury Ford, Not to Praise Him

Nolan Finley's remembrance of Gerald Ford pretty well sum up my thoughts about him. "As an Ex-president, Ford Was a Dandy:"
Since his death Tuesday, the Ford presidency has been analyzed by just about everyone, with the consensus being that while he was the right man for the job at the time and gave the nation what it needed, his was not a momentous presidency.

He was a pinch hitter who kept the inning alive, but didn't reach the seats.
He was a good person, but he did not have the vision, charisma or boldness of a truly great leader like Ronald Reagan. He followed too many of the bureaucratic assumptions of his time, such as thinking that you could cheer-lead the nation into reducing inflation. But he handled himself well, despite the ridicule and rejection and he was wise enough not to become a crank the way Carter, and to some extent, Bill Clinton have.

Plug-in Cars and Bio-fuels

James Woolsey lays out the alternative fuel choices and possibilities for new technology to lower our dependence on foreign oil. But first a qualification:
But in spite of the technological promise of alternative liquid fuels, skeptics rightly point out that it will take time to build production facilities and learn the practicalities of operating biorefineries and shifting industry from hydrocarbons to carbohydrates. Most of all there is a sense of investor caution, driven by memories of the mid-'80s and the late '90s when sharp drops in oil prices, driven in part by increased production from Saudi reserves, bankrupted such undertakings as the Synfuels Corporation. Also, industry support for moving away from oil dependence has long been weak outside agribusiness, and consumers see little immediate savings from using alternative liquid fuels.
That being said, improvements in battery technology, plug-in hybrid vehicles and bio-fuels could increase MPG to as high as 500, and effective costs to $.70 per gallon.

I'll believe it when I see it, but the piece seems to take the objections I've heard into account. (He discounts the future of hydrogen as an immediate panacea, for example.) Such projections seldom live up to the hype, but even if they fall short by half it will be a huge thing, and I, for one, would love to cut off the funding for international terrorism and people like Hugo Chavez.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Almost 2007

As this year closes, I remember that a year ago, I began my retirement. I'd hoped to work three more years, but it wasn't to be. It's been boring and frustrating, but tempered by the birth of our first grandson, the thrill of which has been overwhelming. Miracles surround us, yet we fail to see them. Life goes on. Reason can't explain it, but the emotions of seeing my sons pass through their own stages tell me that it has great meaning and that nature, which disallows the loss of the slightest amount of energy or matter, would be quite profligate and irrational to bring us into being only to snuff us out.

Is all the sorrow and pain unbalanced by joy and sweetness? Are only those whose lives are written about given any immortality? Somehow, that strikes me as a violation of natural law, and it whispers that the greatest scientist of all is God.

The Ghouls Rejoice

The three thousandth death of an American soldier has occurred in Iraq. The point of reporting such figures is to suggest that we've paid too high a price for what we've accoomplished, but it also makes me wonder, given the refusal of our media to report without bias and partisanship, whether we really know how much we've accomplished. I don't see many reports I trust that can answer that, but I believe, from reading the reports from military bloggers, that it is a great deal. How many hundreds of thousands of innocent lives have been saved despite those lost? Americans alive today enjoy the fruits of sacrifices of many generations who came before us, probably more than are good for us. We are free of diseases that still plague much of the world.

We have made a lot of mistakes, but I can't feel that ending the cruel reign of Saddam Hussein is one of them. Fleeing just when the end is in sight seems about the most foolish waste I can imagine.

Bret Favre finishes the season with class.

He choked up in the postgame interview as he struggled with the possibility of this being his last game. I don't know why we insist that boys don't cry, but maybe it's because when grown men weep we know that they mean it. If you cry too easily you're not tough, but if your reserve is never tested, you have no heart.

Iraq Redux

Michael Barone examines the choices before us in Iraq and the War on Terrorism and concludes that
any attempts at appeasing them–like the multicultural policies Britain and some European countries have been following–tend to take away our freedoms. Figuring out how to fight back and prevail is not easy and there will be errors along the way (as there have been in all our wars, and in great abundance). But it's better than sitting back and seeing what is the worst they can do to you.
I think that the press and Democrats (Pressocrats?) are starting to realize that Bush may have been right all along and that if they hadn't been so focused on vengeance they might have recognized it. Of course, they'll only cling tighter to their demands that we pull out.

More people are pointing to the Sunni-Shia split as an important factor, after ignoring it for the past 3.75 years. I think that it may be necessary to arrest Muqtada al-Sadr, but I'd be opposed to killing him. I'd like to consider telling them that he'd be released only if his militias submit to the elected government and quit freelancing. They don't like having the U.S. dictating anything to them, but this is one area where we have to, in order to save the country. It's difficult to understand the nuances of strategy in dealing with these folks. Proposing one thing and waiting for a response from al-Sistani is way too cumbersome.

Greatly Exaggerated

Is Conservatism finished? Before reading the piece, but my answer was that the Republicans were not defeated for being too conservative, but for not following conservative principles in governing.

Indeed that seems to be the point of the essay, but it also rebuts the criticisms by some "conservatives" that Republicans had abandoned Reaganism. "In short," writes author Wilfred M. McClay,
it is still unclear that the achievement of a majority of congressional members with the letter “D” after their names means a shift in the ideological balance of the nation. The internal Democratic fissures that opened up immediately after the election—as in the struggle between Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer over leadership of the House, and the patent discomfiture within the party over certain likely appointments to key committee chairmanships—suggest that electoral victory has not automatically conferred a durable majority, let alone a governing vision.. . .

[T]he 2006 election results may even turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Republicans in particular and conservatives in general. This is how democracies are supposed to operate. Moreover, the ability of conservatives to engage in self-criticism is surely a salutary thing—so long as the self-criticism is both honest and accurate.
Another point one might add is that in order to win control of the House, Rahm Emmanuel recruited a number of "Blue Dogs," conservative democrats in districts where liberals clearly couldn't be elected. This suggests that Bush might have a working majority on some issues.