Around the Web on 11-16-06

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A plate of humble pie awaits me.

I typically start my weekly roundups with whatever happens to be on my mind at the moment. Today, it is the election, thanks to last night's post. I'll get this out of the way right now. I was wrong to side with Robert Tracinski's idea of routing the left in this past election.

Although I modulated my position over time, I did not make a major effort to say so here. Furthermore, my position has changed even since Election Day as I have reviewed the positions of various other Objectivists, most notably C. Bradley Thompson, Paul and Diana Hsieh, and John Lewis. It isn't that I am any happier that the Democrats are now in a good position to ram their foolish agenda down our throats. It is that I have reached considered agreement with them that the Republican Party really has gone way downhill. Even many of the "small government" conservatives are just calling themselves that these days.

The GOP and the Democrats are now both pushing for the same goals in most cases, but at different speeds. If that is the way it is going to be, then let's at least have the people who are more easily seen as idiots pushing the foolishness. By analogy: If you were unscrupulous and wanted to sell one of your dogs, both cowards, would you feel more likely to get away with selling the one that barks a lot or the one that whimpers? On their prosecution of the war, opposition to environmentalism, and opposition to the welfare state, the Republicans have been barking a lot and the Democrats whimpering. It would be the GOP that would have the easiest time selling such idiocy as continued racial quotas and new carbon taxes because most Americans would not question their motives. At least with the Democrats in charge of Congress now, everything they do will be inspected with a fine-toothed comb.

Having said that, on with the show....


This old Cox and Forkum cartoon is especially apt for the following pair of news stories....

Via TIA Daily, it seems that we are "winning the peace" after essentially losing the Vietnam War. (But no, Vietnam did not defeat our military. Our own (oxy)moronic policy of "limited war" caused us to defeat ourselves.)
Communist officials give monotonous speeches warning the populace against "peaceful evolution" toward Western values and decadence. But many, including the revered Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, under whose command the Vietnamese defeated the French and then the Americans, send their children to study and live in the U.S. and Europe. (Many stay and launder their parents' ill-gotten gains in Western real estate.) The version of Vietnam the Vietnamese people like best is by far the one with America and its stuff.
Unfortunately, if we are "winning Vietnam after we lost Vietnam", we are "losing the American Revolution after we won the American Revolution":
The Belmont[, California, ] City Council voted unanimously last night to pursue a strict law that will prohibit smoking anywhere in the city except for single-family detached residences. Smoking on the street, in a park and even in one's car will become illegal and police would have the option of handing out tickets if they catch someone. [bold added]
Unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten that if you ban the smoking of tobacco, you must burn freedom to do so. Talk about some truly hazardous "second hand smoke"....


Andy might be interested in Rick Warren's newfound love for "Purpose-Driven" terrorism. FrontPage Magazine quotes a Syrian news account of a recent visit of the renowned evangelical to that state sponsor of terrorism:
Pastor Rick Warren, who yesterday met with [Syrian] President Al-Assad and Foreign Minister Al-Mu'allim, said: "Washington is wrong not to hold dialogue with Syria, which wants peace. I call on the Americans to visit Syria and meet its beautiful people. I will tell the Americans that their idea about Syria does not reflect the truth." This is what the American clergyman said after seeing the facts on the ground. It was not in his interest not to say the truth about what he himself and the accompanying Protestant delegation saw and felt. [bold added]
"Facts on the ground" is an argument that sometimes has merit, but as it is being used here, it is simply another variant of the "chickenhawk" fallacy. One need not actually go to Syria to know whether or not it is a state sponsor of terrorism. Nor does visiting the country transform someone into an expert. In fact, given that it is a dictatorship, such a visit will almost certainly make one less knowledgeable.


Call me crazy, but a "think tank that promotes thinking" that has already taken the wrong side in the global warming debate has already defeated its stated purpose.
While the speakers at the National Press Club unveiling were highly critical of Bush administration policies regarding stem cell research, global warming, abstinence-only sex education and the teaching of "intelligent design," they said that their group was nonpartisan and that many Democrats were hostile to keeping religion out of public policy. [bold added]
Although this group is right that, "This disdain for science is aggravated by the excessive influence of religious doctrine on our public policies," I would argue (and have) that it is far more damaging for organizations to push a leftist fad in the name of science. In fact, doing so makes the fundamentalists look more credible than they deserve. (HT: TIA Daily)


Diana Hsieh pointed out a fascinating interview with Judith Martin (aka Miss Manners), who has long been one of my favorite cultural commentators. If you haven't done so already, read it.

In addition, a commenter alerted me to a post from awhile back over there that quotes Frederick Douglass on slavery. That, too, is worth a look.

And that reminds me.... I still haven't read Andrew Bernstein's The Capitalist Manifesto! So much good reading. So little time.


Eric Ryle of The Sub Report offers some in-depth commentary (via Ultraquiet No More) on the recent incident involving the "stalking" of the USS Kitty Hawk by a Chinese submarine. He also discusses the Chinese military and espionage threats in general.

In addition, Michelle Malkin has updated her post on the subject with more input from submariners.


Via Glenn Reynolds is an excellent piece by Ralph Peters on what we ought to do, for a change of pace, to bring some semblance of security to Iraq. Money quote:
What really matters is what our forces are ordered -- and permitted -- to do. With political correctness permeating our government and even the upper echelons of the military, we never tried the one technique that has a solid track record of defeating insurgents if applied consistently: the rigorous imposition of public order.

That means killing the bad guys. Not winning their hearts and minds, placating them or bringing them into the government. Killing them. [bold added]
I think this has even been used in the past against Islamic insurgents by the American military itself!


The Gaijin Biker points out a real horror story from a Polish student who went to America for a year as an exchange student and got a high-pressure program of religious indoctrination from his fundamentalist hosts instead. He quotes Spiegel Online:
When Polish student Michael Gromek, 19, went to America on a student exchange, he found himself trapped in a host family of Christian fundamentalists. What followed was a six-month hell of dawn church visits and sex education talks as his new family tried to banish the devil from his soul.

..."When I got out of the plane in Greensboro in the US state of North Carolina, I would never have expected my host family to welcome me at the airport, wielding a Bible, and saying, 'Child, our Lord sent you half-way around the world to bring you to us.' At that moment I just wanted to turn round and run back to the plane.

Things began to go wrong as soon as I arrived in my new home in Winston-Salem, where I was to spend my year abroad. For example, every Monday my host family would gather around the kitchen table to talk about sex. My host parents hadn't had sex for the last 17 years because -- so they told me -- they were devoting their lives to God. They also wanted to know whether I drank alcohol. I admitted that I liked beer and wine. They told me I had the devil in my heart. [bold added]
GB links to the whole story at his blog.


Captain Ed says that the GOP seems so far to have learned nothing from its recent shellacking. "[The House and Senate] leadership elections show that Republicans have not listened to their constituents." I would have to agree with that assessment as well as with much of what he says about John McCain, the presumable front-runner for its presidential nomination.


As a child, I used to love to sit around poring through our family's set of encyclopedias for hours on end. As an adult, I sometimes find myself wandering through Wikipedia. During a recent visit, I found two very interesting links about Tom Bombadil, that most enigmatic character from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

To describe either link would be to spoil it, so I shall simply ask, somewhat in the manner of Linda Richman, "Tom Bombadil is either the reader or the Witch-King of Angmar. Discuss."

-- CAV


Adrian Hester said...

Yo, Gus, you quote the Polish exchange student, "They also wanted to know whether I drank alcohol. I admitted that I liked beer and wine. They told me I had the devil in my heart." But since he was Polish, he's likely Catholic, so to those types he automatically has the devil in his heart. --I put up a Polish student a couple months ago for a conference, and in return he gave me a bottle of wine and a couple of boxes of Polish cookies that must be sponsored by insulin manufacturers. Heh, I'd hate for him to go to a conference in North Carolina!

Gus Van Horn said...

Of course, that makes me wonder whether they specifically sought him on the basis of his religion!

Apollo said...

Ralph Peters sems to be making William S. Linds Point also,

"Saddam is guilty as sin.

Of what is he guilty? Saddam Hussein is guilty of governing Iraq. The specific charges against him—murders, massacres, wholesale slaughters, etc.—are subsets of the main charge. All these vicious crimes, and more, are what it takes to govern Iraq.

Like most of the world, Iraq has two possible states: tyranny and anarchy. You can have the one, or the other, but nothing in between. Of the two, for both Iraqis and the world, tyranny is vastly preferable."

I remember reading a book about Alexander the Greats Conquest of Persia and in the book there is a great line by the Spartan king Agesilaus about the Persians,

"They make good slaves but poor free men."

That seems to be the case in Iraq, the only way to rule Iraq is the same way Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq.

Guz, there is a great story that illustrates the whole problem in Iraq, its from Steven Pressfield who wrote 'Gates of Fire',

Capt. Nate Fick of the Recon Marines tells the story of that brief interlude when U.S. forces were still respected, just before the looting started. Capt. Fick went in that interval to the local headman in his area of responsibility in Baghdad; he asked what he needed. The chief replied, "Clean water, electricity, and as many statues of George W. Bush as you can give us."

The tribe needs a boss. Alexander understood this. Unlike the U.S., the Macedonians knew how to conquer a country. When Alexander took Babylon in 333 B.C., he let the people know he was the man. They accepted this. They welcomed it. Life could go on.

When we Americans declared in essence to the Iraqis, "Here, folks, you're free now; set up your own government," they looked at us as if we were crazy. The tribal mind doesn't want freedom; it wants security. Order. It wants a New Boss. The Iraqis lost all respect for us then. They saw us as naive, as fools. They saw that we could be beaten."

I don't agree with everything Pressfield says in this article(he doesnt think Islam is the enemy),
but its mostly right on.

Gus Van Horn said...

Correspondingly to Iraq's fundamental choice, if left alone, to have tyranny or anarchy (due to its primitive culture being unable to support anything better), we can either rule it with an iron fist for a long time or reduce it to rubble.

Thank you for stopping by and adding to this.