Quick Roundup 126

Monday, December 11, 2006

Good One by Mencken

Via Trey Givens is the following quote by H.L. Mencken:

The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous. Is it, perchance, cherished by persons who should know better? Then their folly should be brought out into the light of day, and exhibited there in all its hideousness until they flee from it, hiding their heads in shame. True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force. He has a right to argue for them as eloquently as he can, in season and out of season. He has a right to teach them to his children. But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them. He has no right to demand that they be treated as sacred. He has no right to preach them without challenge....
This was taken from "Aftermath" (coverage of the Scopes Trial) in The Baltimore Evening Sun on September 14, 1925.

Caroline Glick: Israel Must Act!

Caroline Glick writes another must-read on the situation in Iran. Here is how it starts:
When the history of our times is written, this week will be remembered as the week that Washington decided to let the Islamic Republic of Iran go nuclear. Hopefully it will also be remembered as the moment the Jews arose and refused to allow Iran to go nuclear.
This is a follow on to a previous column in which she excoriated the American and Israeli governments for preparing to sell out Israel on the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group.

If this is upsetting, even the most optimistic interpretation I have seen, that of Meryl Yourish, of what is going on doesn't help much.
I think we've all been had, and that the Iraq Study Group was never meant to be taken seriously. Perhaps that explains the lack of depth and the keen grasp of the obvious in some parts of the report, as well as the baffling advice to engage with Syria and Iran, two nations who are supplying the money, weapons, training, and manpower for the insurgency that is murdering American soldiers, and who have no reason or incentive to stop.
Maybe so, but if Bush is using this as a ruse so he can sell "staying the course", he is still the man who has failed to make Iraq keep religion out of its government and who seems remarkably unworried about Iran. It also speaks volumes that the Leader of the Free World feels the need for such a ruse in a war being fought in our nation's self-defense.

"Freedom" from Selfishness

Glenn Reynolds links to a Libertarian who seems impressed with an "economic argument" to the effect that Charles Dickens's miserly character, Ebenezer Scrooge, is "protecting" Mother Gaia.
Of course, Scrooge is still vulnerable to ethical criticism, even if Landsburg's argument is correct. Ayn Randian "virtue of selfishness" libertarians (of whom, by the way, I am not one) could criticize him for neglecting his own self-interest by consuming so little. Utilitarians could argue that overall social utility might be increased if Scrooge consumed more. Communitarians could argue that Scrooge doesn't involve himself in the community enough (though his miserliness leaves more resources available for community involvement by others). However, Scrooge definitely has a strong case against the standard view that he harms others by being too miserly. Moreover, there is also a left-wing environmentalist case for Scrooge, in so far as he minimizes his use of nonrenewable resources and energy sources (e.g. - coal) that create pollution. Thanks to Scrooge, nineteenth century London had more resources and less air pollution! [bold added]
First of all, as I have argued in a different context, just because someone chooses not to use a resource does not mean that said resource does not get used, so the economic argument fails even if we ignore whether the goal is worthwhile. (Which, by the way, it isn't.) Second, I just love the way Somin epitomizes the parasitic (yet antagonistic) relationship between Libertarianism and Objectivism observed by Peter Schwartz (search "Voice of Reason") when he (a) makes damn sure his readers know he isn't some nasty, brutish, selfish -- and probably short -- "Randian" and yet (b) attempts to coopt whatever prestige Objectivism may have in their minds by claiming that "Randians" are Libertarians. We are not Libertarians.

Well, I didn't need Somin to tell me he is no Objectivist, and I'd appreciate him not pretending Objectivists are Libertarians. Some of us realize, unlike the Libertarians, that reason and individual rights form the basis for capitalism and want no truck with those who act as if freedom is something uncontroversial that "everyone wants" (and so there is no need to make serious intellectual arguments in its favor) -- especially in this day and age.

Home-Grown Terrorist Thwarted

Guess his religious affiliation!

"Tumult" in Iran

Word from the Islamic world is that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is about to suffer a political defeat. Even if this is true, it is meaningless, though.
The two sets of elections are important not because they reflect the true wishes of the Iranian people. Elections in the Islamic republic are more like primaries within the same party in the United States. Also, since all election results could eventually be cancelled by the Council of the Guardians or the "Supreme Guide", the possibility of genuine opposition figures coming to power through elections is almost nil.

Nevertheless, elections in the Islamic republic must be treated as important for two reasons. The first is that they provide a more or less accurate picture of the relative strength of the various rival factions within the regime, thus providing an insight into the current mood of he ruling elite. The second is that the "Supreme Guide" and his security services could arrange every election in a way to reflect the new mood and open the way for policy changes. In 1997, for example, the "Supreme Guide" and his services felt the need for a smiling face and arranged for Khatami to be elected president. In 2005, shaken by student revolts, workers' strikes and growing American pressure in the region, they decided that a return to radicalism would be the better ticket. That helped Ahmadinejad become president, despite the fact that his initial mass base consisted only of five million votes, out of 46 million eligible voters. [bold added]
In other words, if Ahmadinejad "loses", it could be for no other reason than that the mullahs fear he might provoke an attack before Iran can nuke Israel. Oh yeah. And remember this the next time you hear someone touting a new, "popular" wave of "moderation" in that regime. The trappings of "democracy" in Iran are all for the benefit of the most naive Western audience imaginable: news reporters.

To wit:
The Iranian government has responded more positively than the Bush Administration has to the Iraq Study Group's proposal for talks between the two. And government sources in Tehran tell TIME that this reflects a sincere and calculated desire among the Iranian leadership for improved relations with Washington.
No shit, Sherlock! Maybe it's because the ISG's recommendations would hand the heads of Israel and America over to Iran on a platter. But such an obvious connection would get in the way of a good puff piece. Without batting an eye, the same reporter quotes an Iranian official saying, "If tomorrow the U.S. seriously -- and I emphasize the word seriously -- tried to engage Iran, in a way that accepted the 1979 Iranian revolution and engaged Iran in a respectful atmosphere, then Iran would welcome the chance to address mutual concerns." [my bold]

The 1979 "revolution" featured an act of war against the United States. Iran owes us an abject apology and a lot more than "respect". The nerve of this official is mode possible and exceeded only by that of the useful idiots in our news media and the treasonous officials who claim we should negotiate with Iran rather than engage them in the only appropriate way: militarily.

Carnival of Recipes

This edition of the Carnival of Recipes is Chicken-themed. Those of us who didn't get that memo are listed at the end.

For Al Gore, An Inconvenient Review

Daniel Rigby reviews Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth over at University Suckers.
[O]ne would think that [Gore] would leave some kind of way to validate his ground-breaking claims. Not so: Gore's 325 page book has a grand total of 37 in-text citations. Thomas Sowell's book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, has exactly 289 in-text citations within the first 63 pages alone; Gore's book has two. If global warming is such an eminent threat to the safety of all mankind and if it is as blatantly destructive as Gore says it is, why can't he - at least - provide a legitimate amount of references?
And speaking of global warming hysteria, this guy and this event (HT: Tim Blair) make it seem like I am really stretching my neck out to call this satire:
The act of birth is bad enough, with all the carbon and waste the hospitals produce. Then there are the disposable nappies that are now filling up every inch of what little green space is left between the motorways and airports in the entire country. And just try to imagine the environmental damage children will do as they grow up -- especially in our Western consumerist societies. According to one expert estimate, the environmental impact of giving birth once in America is equivalent to a woman in Bangladesh having 140 kids, or 280 in Haiti. I dread to think what the equivalent figure would be for our local council estate! Worse, our 'advanced' childcare system means that we no longer get the natural corrective of large-scale infant deaths.
Heck. I could even be wrong!

-- CAV

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