Quick Roundup 103

Friday, September 29, 2006

Feed Burning

I don't anticipate this causing any problems, but some time in the next couple of days, I plan to join Feed Burner's syndication service. So if you follow this blog via RSS and your feed disappears or stops updating in the next few days, that would be why.

I plan to track the atom feed for a few days after that just to be sure. If I see a problem, I'll leave the URL for the new feed in a blog post.

But what did al-Gore smoke?

This morning's top Drudge Report headline: "Cigarette Smoking 'Significant Contributor' to Global Warming". Drudge links to one of those transient "flash" links he sometimes uses and it isn't even for the right story.

But I did find this.


Greenland, he also says, is going to split in two.

Please, Al. Do tell us more. Make sure anyone with a grain of sense knows you're a crackpot. Maybe they'll decide to look into the "science" behind global warming a bit more deeply.

Thanks. (That was said in Bill Lumbergh's voice.)

And speaking of Inhofe...

While Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) did a great job attacking global warming (link above at "more deeply") the other day, I learned via email that he is hardly a consistent advocate of science. Consider his stands on cloning and stem cell research:

In the area of research, I support a total ban on all types of cloning. There is much that is promising in the field of biotechnology but we must be wary of getting ahead of ourselves. The question is not "can we do this," but "should we do this." In the case of cloning, that answer is NO.

Additionally, I am opposed to embryonic stem cell research. However, I do favor aggressively pursuing alternative types of stem cell research. Much of the promising research in this field has come out of adult stem cell experiments. The experiments using embryonic stem cells have been inconsistent and unreliable and it is unethical to create an embryo only to kill it simply for its parts. [bold added]
This is just about as clear a way of saying, "I favor reason, but only if it doesn't clash with my religion," one can get without saying it outright.

Inhofe may have delivered a good speech, but he is about as reliable an ally of science as Pervez Musharraf is against Islamofascism.

Faith and Force

This leads in nicely to the Vatican's recent "defense" of reason against the Mohammedan hordes. The Vatican is now decrying religious violence because it "undercuts" religion.!
The Vatican's foreign minister said Wednesday that misunderstanding between cultures is breeding a "new barbarism" and expressed hope that reason and dialogue would stop those who use their faith as a pretext for attacks.

In a speech on the closing day of the U.N. General Assembly's ministerial meeting, Giovanni Lajolo said extremists are far from devout and undermine the very religion they claim to defend.

"Violent reactions are always a falsification of true religion," [Explain how, without recourse to a claim of divine revelation. --ed] Lajolo said in a passage devoted to the pope's Sept. 12 speech at Regensburg University in Germany.
Hmmm. Like a bolt from the blue, I am reminded of the following quote from Ayn Rand, taken from her 1960 essay "Faith and Force: Destroyers of the Modern World" (reprinted in Philosophy: Who Needs It):
Reason is the only objective means of communication and of understanding among men; when mean deal with one another by means of reason, reality is their objective standard and frame of reference. But when men claim to possess supernatural means of knowledge, persuasion, communication, or understanding are impossible. Why do we kill wild animals in the jungle? Because no other way of dealing with them is open to us. And that is the state to which mysticism reduces mankind--a state where, in case of disagreement, men have no recourse except to physical violence. [bold added]
In truth, Islam is ripping the benevolent mask off of religion and exposing it to all the world for what it is. And the jig is up unless the Musselmen can be persuaded to stop, at least as the Vatican sees it.

There is an interesting historical parallel going on here: Recall that the communists in the old Soviet Union needed a dose of freedom to keep their economy from total collapse. But they rightly feared freedom because the people would want more of it, endangering their rule. Now we see that the Vatican, leading a church in a secular civilization, needs to appear to be on the side of reason or it will lose all credibility. But since reason and faith are opposites, the Church must also contend with a "slide" of that civilization away from its moral prescriptions.

In fact, the jig is up for only one thing: pretending that faith and reason are compatible with one another.

A Cold, Hard Look at Arabic Culture

Via Issac Schrodinger, who actually emailed me about this, I learned of an astoundingly good article about Arab culture by someone who lived there for awhile, Stephen Browne.
I went to live and work in Saudi Arabia in 1998, and I "made my year" as expats there put it. That phrase means that I actually stuck out the whole year, instead of "running" from my contract, an occurrence so common that you only have to say "he did a runner" to explain why someone isn't showing up for work anymore. And while my experience wasn't nearly as unpleasant as Jill Carroll's, I could have told her a thing or two before she went to Iraq armed with her overflowing good will.

In Eastern Europe and the South Balkans, whenever I have gone to live in a place which I had formed opinions about, the actual experience of living there has always radically changed those opinions, sometimes into a completely contradictory ones. Most often, my academic research led me to form a beautifully coherent model which experience turned into a semi-coherent collection of observations and tentative conclusions.

In the case of the Kingdom, I went there with a certain sympathy for Arab grievances, a belief that America had earned a lot of hostility from "blowback" from our ham-handed interventionist foreign policy and support for Israel etc.

I came back with the gloomy opinion that over the long run we are going to have to hammer these people hard to get them to quit messing with Western Civilization. And by the way, among "rational, fair-minded" non-interventionist libertarians, not a damn one of them has asked me, "What in your experience caused you to change your mind?" Instead what I get are gratuitous insults followed by insufferably condescending lectures about how wrong I am. [bold added]
It is all very good. Read it ASAP.

Out of Pocket

I will be almost without Internet access from later today until some time Sunday. responses to comments and email will be slow. And my blogroll sidebar may still be goofed up in Internet Explorer.

-- CAV


Well, I just finished making the changes to my blogroll, pretty much following "option 2", the approach of grouping bloggers together by "community" when possible rather than (often wrongly) by their update frequencies. What a nightmare! I knew that with all the rearranging I'd have to do -- in Blogger's clunky template editor no less -- it would be hard. But on top of that, publishing problems related to spammers made implementing the changes hard. I'm not really entirely sure my blog completely republished, either, but it looks like it did, anyway.

I'd forgotten this morning that I planned to add a few additional links: to blogs I simply find entertaining. The new groupings are as follows.

  • Recently Added -- This is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Fellow Travelers -- This will include bloggers I judge to be Objectivists or sympathetic to Objectivism.
  • Comrades in Arms -- This group includes ex-military bloggers and those strongly interested in the military. Most, but not all, are fellow ex-submariners.
  • Other Friends -- This includes everyone else -- friends who do not fall into one of the other two categories, heavy-hitters (aka "obligatory" links), and others with whom I reciprocally link.
  • Entertainers -- This is a brand new category. As a blogger, my main focuses are philosophy and politics as they pertain to current events. I do some autobiographical blogging as well. The blogs in this list do not really fit in with my usual themes here: I simply find them interesting. Some -- like Engrish and Wordspy -- I've known about for years. Others, like Geek Press and Lower Case L, are new to me. Since I follow them anyway, why not share them with my readers?
  • Retirees -- These are blogs I used to follow whose owners moved on to other blogs or quit blogging altogether.
In case you forget, just move your cursor over the section heading and a descriptive blurb will show up as with an individual blog. (Except in the case of "Recently Added".)

Other changes....
  • If your blog starts with an "a" or a "the", it's in the title now, but I ignore it for purposes of alphabetization. I alphabetize by the first word in the title of the blog or, in the case of excessively long titles, what I call the blog instead.
  • PSU Objectivist Club is now listed as Penn State Objectivist Club.
  • Alexander Marriott is now listed as Wit and Wisdom, the correct title of his blog.
That should be it.

If your blog was here before, it should still be here. Please let me know if you notice that anybody has gone missing, any links do not work, I have made any other typos, something is misalphabetized, or anything else stupid like that. (I already know that there is a pair of close quotes after "Anger of Compassion". But I am done fighting with Blogger tonight.)

The main thing left in this template overhaul I will probably unveil in about another week.

Update: I will have very limited internet access from some time this afternoon until Sunday, so I will probably be very slow getting to comments and email until then.

-- CAV


Today: Corrected some typos. Added note about being unavailable.

Around the Web on 9-28-06

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bleg 1

Ever since changing jobs, I've had less time than I used to to keep up with my favorite blogs. I have been using netvibes, but it slowed down my browser so badly this morning that I had to close it, losing all my work.


I want to switch to another feed aggregator and if you use one you really like, I want to hear about it so long as either (a) it can run in a web browser (like netvibes -- or should I say "better than netvibes"?) or (b) if it is a stand-alone application, it is native to or has been ported to Linux. It should also cost me nothing or a low, one-time fee to use.

Bleg 2

I will be rearranging the blogroll soon. Rather than using the present division by frequency of updates, I will do one of two things. (1) I will lump all blogs together, except for newly-added blogs. (2) I will divide blogs into three broad categories (aside from newly-added blogs): "Milbloggers" (mainly fellow ex-submariners), "Fellow Travelers" (Objectivists and those sympathetic to Objectivism), and "Friends and Benefactors" (big guns like Instapundit, friends who aren't in either of my two "communities", and reciprocal linkage.

Which do you prefer and why? And if you like the second scheme, would you suggest different names for any of the categories?

New Yorkers Told What to Eat

Ed Morrissey gives us an update on something I noticed earlier in the week.

...New York City decided that consumers and food preparers couldn't be trusted to make their own decisions. The health board imposed trans-fat limits on restaurants in the Big Apple, transforming the debate from health to politics...
The Big Apple, as I said earlier, has been heading this way for awhile.

.667 may be a great batting average, ...

.. but it is not good enough in philosophical matters, as Andy points out at The Charlotte Capitalist.
[Radio anchor Jeff Katz said] something like, "If you take religion out of the equation, all you have left is moral relativism."

Jeff's point being: There is only one choice for morality and it is religion. Without religion, there is nothing -- no other alternatives.

Jeff made the mistake that most make -- that there are only two choices. The mistake begins with metaphysics. Jeff''s options are two variants of the primacy of consciousness -- that either the universe is controlled by a supernatural force or by the whims of men on an individual or group basis.
He then posts links to his fisking of The Purpose-Driven Life, for anyone who might have missed it.

Venezuela Update

We in the United States recently got to see why Hugo Chavez is known in some quarters of Venezuela as "El Loco". But at least he's not in charge here. Indeed, it might be easy after his antics to dismiss him as irrelevant. As The Counterterrorism Blog points out, that would be a mistake.
Chavez's financial support has been key to supporting extremist allies from Argentina to Cuba and everywhere in between. Venezuela has received thousands of Cuban doctors, sports trainers, and other operatives. When Bolivia, under new President Evo Morales, allied with Venezuela and Cuba, Boliva too began receiving Cuban doctors. No doubt some of these programs do some good (they are also a safety valve for Castro - doctors use the trip to Venezuela or Bolivia to slip Castro's grasp.) However, it appears the Cuban agents are mostly organizing citizen militias that Chavez and Morales can rely on in a civil conflict.

But the biggest worry is the guns. Over the summer Hugo went on an arms buying spree in which he purchased high-performance jets and helicopters (not terribly useful for a nation with no real enemies) and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles. Chavez also obtained a license so he could manufacture his own assault rifles. The first client for these weapons will probably be Chavez's own Bolivarian Circles (his citizen militia) and the second will be the FARC. But beyond that there are numerous latent, and not so latent, conflicts that could erupt throughout the region. In Peru, defeated Presidential candidate and Chavez ally Ollanta Humala, is founding a movement which is best described as Inco-fascist. A few months ago, Sao Paulo, Brazil was wracked with massive gang violence which left over two dozen dead. Highly organized and extremely violent Central American gangs operate across national borders and into the United States. The combination of financial support, technical know-how, and tens of thousands of easy to use, extremely deadly, assault weapons could turn these low-level conflicts into civil war and insurgency. [links dropped]
This bothers me, and I've been keeping an eye on Chavez for some time.

Bill Clinton makes a comeback of sorts.

It would appear that Bill Clinton's famous outburst during a recent interview with Chris Wallace has put the "Comeback Kid" back on the political map -- by drawing attention not just to his failures against Islamofascist terrorism, but also to his cozy ties with certain unsavory characters.

First, via Glenn Reynolds, I learned of a Dick Morris piece referenced by Gateway Pundit. As of now, the second link does not work and I cannot find the original of the article on Clinton's possible ties to the emir of Dubai -- though it appears here.
Last February, Sen. Clinton was out front in condemning DP World, a Dubai government-owned company seeking to take over key operations at American ports. But, at the same time, Bill was advising the emir to hire his former press secretary, Joe Lockhart, to get the deal approved.

Back then, Lockhart denied working for the emir. And when Bill's role became public, Hillary claimed that she had no idea that he had any involvement in the DP World issue.

Now, it turns out that the emir's Dubai International Capital Corp. hired Lockhart's company, Glover Park Group, by last April to help with another U.S. deal -- a takeover of two defense firms. (Besides Lockhart, Glover Park's partners also include Hillary's chief political gurus, Howard Wolfson and Gigi Georges. Dubai paid the firm $100,000 for its services.)

Oddly, the lobbying contract came through a California law firm -- Morrison, Foerster. One of that firm's partners is Raj Tanden -- whose sister is Neera Tanden, Sen. Clinton's former legislative director and still a top Hillary adviser. No six degrees of separation here.
And then, of course, we have a timely reminder that Clinton pardoned some Puerto Rican terrorists in order to help his wife get elected to the Senate. Joe Connor, man who lost his father in a terrorist attack on a pub in New York, wrote the piece. (If I recall correctly. I read this yesterday.) As of now, this article appears to have been pulled, but it was referenced at RealClear Politics just yesterday as "Clinton Didn't Kill Terrorists, He Pardoned Them". These three missing articles are almost enough to make me wonder what the hell is going on.)

Privatization? In Sweden?

Martin Lindeskog blogs on the article, "Sweden's shift to right points to privatisation".

Mmmmm. Barbecue!

Bothenook recently visited Austin, a city I haven't visited in years, and reviews a couple of barbecue places I might want to check out whenever we finally do make the trip.

And if you might be in Austin some time soon, you might want to see what he says.


I made this once. The man knows his barbecue. Trust me.

Updates on the Eurpoean Front

Little Green Footballs reports on two developments: Ramadan rioting in Brussels and Germany's debate -- At least there is one! -- over self-censorship.

Is California Half-Crazy or Half-Sane?

Greg Perkins's opinion is that the glass is half-full rather than half-empty with regard to California's recent idiotic decision to sue automakers over "global warming".
Remember the recent lawsuit regarding Intelligent Design in the science classroom (a.k.a., "Scopes II" or the "Dover Panda Trial")? The top theorists and proponents from the ID movement were put on the stand and under oath, where they were definitively exposed as dishonest, fraudulent, creationist pseudo-scientists with a religious agenda. Dover was a crushing blow to the ID movement: confident and influential from long taking epistemological liberties in the court of public opinion, they were finally brought into a context where obfuscation, shoddy reasoning, and populist appeals carry no weight. (I highly recommend reading that decision. Written by a Bush-appointed judge, I didn't expect much and ended up impressed with his ability to grasp and relate the scientific and philosophical issues. His obvious anger at their mendacity was icing on the cake.)

So the Church of Global Warming wants to be put on the stand? I say that's great! Prepare for another Dover.
Mother Earth, I hope he's right!

Andy B on YouTube!

The PSU Objectivist Club has footage of their recent visit by Andrew Bernstein available for your viewing pleasure!
Yup, excerpts from the September 11th lecture we hosted are finally available online. View it above or visit the YouTube page here. Here's the breakdown:

Why small nations can be wealthier than large ones. (1:38)
Why we're the fattest people in history. (2:30)
Why conservatives can be knuckleheads. (2:59)
Why we should boycott China. (3:36)
Why Ayn Rand opposed Libertarianism. (5:18)
Why we're not running out of resources. (7:29)
And finally…a leftist making a fool of himself. (8:58)


Vote Republican

I think I will do what Zach Oakes and Robert Tracinski plan to do. Quoth Tracinski:
The best thing we can do in this election is to crush the left--because the Democratic Party adds nothing of value to the American political debate.
That will be me, holding my nose with one hand and casting votes with the other.

Where's a daisy-cutter when you need one?

This is how I would have titled this entry at Principles in Practice.

Classic Top 100 List

Bubblehead, whose blog recently turned two, puts out a list of "100 Reasons Why McDonald's is Better than Submarines". My favorite? "33) If McDonald's catches fire, you LEAVE."

-- CAV

Pipes on Death Threats

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Daniel Pipes discusses the increasing frequency of Moslem violence (and where it occurs) "provoked" by various incidents in which Westerners had the temerity to exercise their freedom of speech. He lists the most outrageous incidents and follows with this.

These six rounds show a near-doubling in frequency: 8 years between the first and second rounds, then 5, then 3, 1, and 1/2.

The first instance -- Khomeini's edict against Salman Rushdie -- came as a complete shock, for no one had hitherto imagined that a Muslim dictator could tell a British citizen living in London what he could not write about. Seventeen years later, calls for the execution of the pope (including one at the Westminster Cathedral in London) had acquired a too-familiar quality. The outrageous had become routine, almost predictable. As Muslim sensibilities grew more excited, Western ones became more phlegmatic. [bold added]
Or was it the other way around? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Pipes continues.
No conspiracy lies behind these six rounds of inflammation and aggression, but examined in retrospect, they coalesce and form a single, prolonged campaign of intimidation, with more sure to come. The basic message -- "You Westerners no longer have the privilege to say what you will about Islam, the Prophet, and the Qur'an, Islamic law rules you too" -- will return again and again until Westerners either do submit or Muslims realize their effort has failed.
He is right about that last, and he earlier complains about Moslems failing to show "reciprocity" towards Western tolerance. But he also partially answers himself by noting the anemic Western response each time.

The Moslems may think of freedom of speech as a "privilege", but it is, in fact, a right. And just as we are not guaranteed our lives against threats, we are also not guaranteed our rights. We must protect each by force. We have not done so, instead allowing our ability to speak freely to depend on the willingness of superstitious primitives to suffer it. In other words, we have taught the Moslems that freedom of speech is a privilege that they grant us.

It is high time we begin teaching them otherwise. but then, we could have started this lesson much sooner.

Many think or hope that the increased frequency and violence of Moslem aggression will wake up the soporific West. But will it do so alone? Compare Pipe's timeline of years to Leonard Peikoff's timeline of decades.
Fifty years ago, Truman and Eisenhower surrendered the West's property rights in oil, although that oil rightfully belonged to those in the West whose science, technology, and capital made its discovery and use possible. The first country to nationalize Western oil, in 1951, was Iran. The rest, observing our frightened silence, hurried to grab their piece of the newly available loot.


After property came liberty. "The Muslim fundamentalist movement," writes Yale historian Lamin Sanneh, "began in 1979 with the Iranian [theocratic] revolution . . ." (New York Times 9/23/01). During his first year as its leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, urging a Jihad against "the Great Satan," kidnapped 52 U.S. diplomatic personnel and held them hostage; Carter's reaction was fumbling paralysis. About a decade later, Iran topped this evil. Khomeini issued his infamous Fatwa aimed at censoring, even outside his borders, any ideas uncongenial to Muslim sensibility. This was the meaning of his threat to kill British author Rushdie and to destroy his American publisher; their crime was the exercise of their right to express an unpopular intellectual viewpoint. The Fatwa was Iran's attempt, reaffirmed after Khomeini's death, to stifle, anywhere in the world, the very process of thought. Bush Sr. looked the other way.


After liberty came American life itself. The first killers were the Palestinian hijackers of the late 1960s. But the killing spree which has now shattered our soaring landmarks, our daily routine, and our souls, began in earnest only after the license granted by Carter and Bush Sr.
Will we in the West just become used to being pushed around, or will our enemy over-play his hand so badly that we will wake up? The historical trend suggests the former, but if people resent enough the loss of freedom and security they remember once having had, perhaps they will be more likely to fight back.

This is the kind of speculation we have come to in the West thanks to the fact that we historically have never had a firm intellectual grasp of what our rights are and why they are important. The sooner we fix this problem, the better. We should have never gotten into this position. The only way out is to work to make our culture once again value freedom. Furthermore, if the West blindly rebels against Moslem domination, what will replace it may not be what we have now.

This is, I think the point I was grasping at the other day when I decided to have an "Islam-free" meme.
I was going to say that every blogger should do this as an act of defiance -- but that would be permitting these people to set terms, which they are not entitled to do. The value of the "Gus Van Horn Condition" has nothing to do with them. It is to remind yourself that your life is yours alone to live. What a bunch of superstitious morons think is, in the grand scheme of things, completely irrelevant, and that is something we forget at our own peril. It is, after all, why we fight them.
The West must realize that our fight is bigger than "not being dominated by Islam".

We are fighting for our freedom and our lives. If we forget this, that is how the Moslems will win. Life isn't about not getting hassled. It is about pursuing goals and values, and all this ugliness -- which the nihilism of leftist hippies in the sixties and the atmosphere of cultural asphyxiation of the seventies afterwards have helped pave the way for -- threatens to make us forget that. And without positive values in our lives, intellectual arguments will not be enough.

This last is the psychological dimension of a concept I called "creeping dhimmitude" awhile back. If our world is as psychologically miserable as that of the Moslems, why would we resist them?

I have just realized this last very important aspect of the war. I will have to ponder its implications a bit, but I strongly suspect that this is at present the chief advantage owned by the West (although compromised by the Left). Also, I think that this is what will ultimately buy us time to win the intellectual battle that must be won before we will give the Islamofascists the appropriate (and overwhelmingly disproportionate) response their actions deserve.

-- CAV


Today: Robert Tracinski makes a similar point in today's TIA Daily, but in the sense that love of life is also an offensive weapon for the West. In support of his contention, he references an article about a popular movement in Bahrain founded by a man defending his "right to party".
Civil rights activist Abdullah Al Madani has drawn a line in the sand within this tiny desert island kingdom--and stockpiled plenty of whiskey and beer well behind it. "Let them try and take away our simple pleasures," he warns over a cold one. "We won't go down without a fight." Behind this frothy threat to prohibitionists in Bahrain stand 31 civil society organizations and a new grassroots movement Madani leads called We Have a Right (Lana Haqq). The group has signed up feminists, labor organizers, musicians, and other typical victims of Islamists' restrictive social agenda to a platform espousing equality of religions, genders, lifestyles, and every skirt length. ...
Well, then! I think I'll crack open an Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout and drink to Abdullah!

Quick Roundup 102

Blogroll Additions

I've added some new links to the sidebar.

Victor Davis Hanson needs no introduction, but you may need to be reminded that his blog is named Works and Days.

Carl Svanberg writes in Swedish, which I do not know, but since he draws on lots of good English-language commentary, I plan to check his blog regularly. You may recall that he pointed me to a couple of good things yesterday.

Finally, my Objectivist readers will probably already know Joseph Kellard from his impressive body of work over at Capitalism Magazine. But did you know he also has a blog? I didn't -- or at least needed reminding -- until yesterday, when he stopped by here. So be sure to visit The American Individualist. And tell him I sent you.

One Small Flaw

On rereading Senator Inhofe's brick-by-brick dismantling of the entire global warming myth, I have to take issue with one point: He is wrong to blame the profit motive for poor reporting by the media on global warming.

We can certainly afford to cut the good Senator some slack, but if what he said were true, our war reporting would be far better than it is. Moslem atrocities would not be that hard to "sensationalize".

It is the dominant subjectivist-collectivist philosophy of journalists as a whole that is to blame for poor reporting on both global warming and the war.

Schwartzenegger: GOP Pragmatism in Action

The Republicans should be pressuring Schwartzenegger to get off the global warming bandwagon and opposing his various disastrous economic policies -- which they should do on principle anyway if they really do favor capitalism.

But they are not, and they look like they will pay big time down the road for this temporary ability to brag about holding the governorship of California. For one thing, Arnie isn't done attacking the Californian economy, in case they thought appeasement or evasion might work.

California's landmark effort to set a cap on greenhouse gas emissions is just one step in a long-term strategy by the nation's most populous state to combat global climate change, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in an interview.

The governor said the state will push for further industrial reductions and initiatives such as placing greater emphasis on renewable energy and hydrogen-fueled cars. [bold added]
The bold refers, of course to reductions in emissions, but these will come through reductions in productivity through the expense of complying with new regulatory burdens.

This inevitable contraction in the economy will further lower the standard of living (i.e., raise the cost of living) in the Golden State, causing an acceleration of a trend of out-migration into neighboring "red" Western states as this recent editorial noted.
The trend is so pronounced that demographer William Frey says Arizona and Nevada "are essentially now becoming appendages of California." Nevada stands out in particular, with 18% of its residents (as of the 2000 census) having been born in California. In Arizona, the number is 8%. The other Mountain states post some impressive numbers too: 9% of Idaho, 7% of Utah, 6% of Colorado and 5% of Montana. In New Mexico, where Bush won in 2004 by about 6,000 votes, 79,000 ex-Californians lived there as of 2000.

So, who are these migrants?

People who can't afford to live in California anymore, Frey says, typically Generation-X types in search of jobs and affordable homes.

"A lot of them are from very blue parts of California," he told me. "My gut feeling," he said, is that migrant Californians "will hold on to their cultural ideas" even if their economic needs might change. Even "red" Californians leaving the state as part of "white flight" aren't likely to be anywhere near as socially conservative as voters from the South. [bold added]
So the Republicans, who clearly stand to lose badly as a result of today's decision to sacrifice capitalism to "power" (if "power" consists of holding an office only to enact policies to which one is opposed), really ought to consider opposing or disowning the Governator even if all they want is to continue holding power.

It is amazing to me that those obsessed with power so frequently pay so little attention to the power that principles have over our lives!

Anniversary of Rita

I thank Brendan "Mr. Hurricane" Loy for sending his readers over to my account of the Great Evacuation of '05.

-- CAV


Today: Added section on Brendan Loy.

"No one will miss it when it's gone."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The title to this post is a direct quote from one Thomas Frieden, Health Commissioner of New York City.

According to this article, Frieden is taking about trans fats, but don't let the sloppy, concrete-bound journalism fool you. He's really talking about what he hopes is the attitude of the people of New York City towards their freedom.

Not to be outdone for paternalistic foolishness by Chicago, New York City is considering a ban on a common and perfectly legal food additive, trans fats, in its restaurants.

Under the New York proposal, restaurants would need to get artificial trans fats out of cooking oils, margarine and shortening by July 1, 2007, and all other foodstuffs by July 1, 2008. It would not affect grocery stores. It also would not apply to naturally occurring trans fats, which are found in some meats and dairy.
Carnivores will, I suppose, be spared until Frieden or some other busybody decides that eating meat is unhealthy for us. Or, more precisely, that he can get away with banning it.

This is not entirely new in New York. Back in July, I blogged about a similar proposal, that the city use zoning to prevent fast-food restaurants from opening new stores in certain neighborhoods. What I said then remains true:
Not in any way to condone what he is doing, but [city councilman Joel] Rivera and his fellow fitness fascists have a point. Lots of people do make stupid choices. But the government telling them what to do is a violation of individual rights, and would-be dictators like Rivera are destroying one necessity of life, freedom, in the name of promoting another, good health. We need both to survive, and it is Rivera's job to provide the first. That's what government is for. The second is up to each of us individually, as our medical bills should be. But what the hell is a busybody like Rivera doing in office? He got elected. By the same people who, apparently, are already extremely indifferent about their own well-being.

When the predominant trend of a culture is to shirk personal responsibility, it will get what it deserves one way or another.

In order to live, one must think. And in order to act on his judgement, one must be free. This is why each of us should do what he can to fight silliness like this. An individual can be rational or not, but if most of his society is irrational, his rationality may do him no good. [emphasis added today]
If you regard the government "taking care of" people -- any people -- as one of its proper functions, then you have no room to complain when it does just that.

-- CAV

A One-Man Wrecking Crew

Drop whatever you're doing and read Senator James Inhofe's spectacular speech against global warming hysteria. Here are just a few highlights.

Since 1895, the media has alternated between global cooling and warming scares during four separate and sometimes overlapping time periods. From 1895 until the 1930's the media pedaled a coming ice age.

From the late 1920's until the 1960's they warned of global warming. From the 1950's until the 1970's they warned us again of a coming ice age. This makes modern global warming the fourth estate’s fourth attempt to promote opposing climate change fears during the last 100 years. Recently, advocates of alarmism have grown increasingly desperate to try to convince the public that global warming is the greatest moral issue of our generation. Just last week, the vice president of London’s Royal Society sent a chilling letter to the media encouraging them to stifle the voices of scientists skeptical of climate alarmism.


The National Academy of Sciences report reaffirmed the existence of the Medieval Warm Period from about 900 AD to 1300 AD and the Little Ice Age from about 1500 to 1850. Both of these periods occurred long before the invention of the SUV or human industrial activity could have possibly impacted the Earth’s climate. In fact, scientists believe the Earth was warmer than today during the Medieval Warm Period, when the Vikings grew crops in Greenland.


One final point on the science of climate change: I am approached by many in the media and others who ask, "What if you are wrong to doubt the dire global warming predictions? Will you be able to live with yourself for opposing the Kyoto Protocol?"

My answer is blunt. The history of the modern environmental movement is chock full of predictions of doom that never came true. We have all heard the dire predictions about the threat of overpopulation, resource scarcity, mass starvation, and the projected death of our oceans. None of these predictions came true, yet it never stopped the doomsayers from continuing to predict a dire environmental future.


If the alarmists truly believe that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are dooming the planet, then they must face up to the fact that symbolism does not solve a supposed climate crisis. The alarmists freely concede that the Kyoto Protocol, even if fully ratified and complied with, would not have any meaningful impact on global temperatures. And keep in mind that Kyoto is not even close to being complied with by many of the nations that ratified it, including 13 of the EU-15 nations that are not going to meet their emission reduction promises.


The Kyoto Protocol's post 2012 agenda which mandates that the developing world be subjected to restrictions on greenhouse gases could have the potential to severely restrict development in regions of the world like Africa, Asia and South America -- where some of the Earth's most energy-deprived people currently reside.


I firmly believe that when the history of our era is written, future generations will look back with puzzlement and wonder why we spent so much time and effort on global warming fears and pointless solutions like the Kyoto Protocol.

French President Jacques Chirac provided the key clue as to why so many in the international community still revere the Kyoto Protocol, who in 2000 said Kyoto represents "the first component of an authentic global governance."
This is just a taste of this blistering, fact-filled masterpiece of political debunkery. Not only does Inhofe provide references thoughout his speech, he leaves no stone unturned. Among the many targets he completely mows down is Al Gore's recent book, An Inconvenient Truth.

I am very grateful we have at least one rational voice speaking in the Senate on this important issue. This is about a good as a speech of its kind can get.


-- CAV

Quick Roundup 101

Robert Spencer on the Intelligence Brouhaha

Yesterday, I commented on how the left will try to make political hay out of some partially-leaked intel. Robert Spencer has the following additional thoughts.

If the report had argued that Iraq has weakened the U.S. position because we are effectively abetting an Iranian-backed Shi'ite takeover of the country, and thus aiding rather than weakening the global jihad, that would be a defensible, indeed a cogent, position. But instead, the report just seems to be noting that Iraq has become the latest pretext for jihad recruitment, and buys into the false assumption that if we just address the pretext, the jihad will end. It won't, however. It will just find another pretext, because ultimately the jihad is not being waged because of Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Abu Ghraib, or Israel, or any other commonly-retailed pretext. It is being waged to extend Sharia over the world, in accord with imperatives spelled out in the Qur'an and other core Islamic sources.
Spencer sums up the entire operating premise of the global jihad here. The jihadists, of course, want nothing less than totalitarian rule, and see each small battle as a means towards that end. Their opponents naively take them at their word every time. In the process, they either yield on what may seem in isolation like some small point or fight (only) a battle whose victory, taken in isolation, is not seen as the minor setback for the Islamists that it is.

It is only when we see this war for what it is and fight it accordingly that we will turn the tide. Compromise is not an option. (HT: Carl Svanberg).

Dr. Hurd on Separation of Church and State

Also through Carl Svanberg's roundup, I learned of a short, but very good piece by Michael Hurd on the value of the secular state.
The separation between church and state is essential for civilization, freedom and human progress. Without it, the United States would not have progressed so far. Contrast the experience of the United States, where separation of church and state has been so strong, with the record of Islamic third-world countries, who either slowly perish in starvation or place all their hopes in the destruction of others through power, as Iran is seeking to do.
Nice lead-in. See how quickly and effectively he makes his case.

Monetizing Blogs

I no longer recall how I encountered this list, but it is an A-Z guide to making money from your blog. The most logical one for me to try would appear to be Amazon Associates.

I consider trying things like this from time to time. My criteria are: (1) Any ads should not clutter up the appearance of my blog, force readers to scroll down to read my posts, or cause pop-up type windows. (Rollovers are even worse.) (2) Implementation is painless, does not take an inordinate amount of time, or require proprietary software. (3) I do not have to incorporate scripts that cause my page to load slowly.

Having said that, I am interested in hearing from anyone (happy or not) who has monetized his blog.

Hilarious Cartoon

Stop by The Devil's Excrement to see a good anti-Chavez cartoon from Venezuela. Its dialogue translates roughly as:
Chavez: "You are a devil. You smell like sulfur. You are a drunk. You are the demon. You are genocidal. Mr. Devil, you are a Dictator. You are an assassin Mr. Devil. You are..."
Bush:"Yeah!Yeah!, whatever you say. Fill 'er up boy!"
I replaced "everything" with "whatever" because that is more colloquial in English to show indifference to what has just been said.

But does he know INTERCAL?

I ran into this Sunday. I think it was at Instapundit, but I can't find it again. In any event, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that a blog has declared Mark Chu-Carroll "King of the Nerds". In the sense of someone having very esoteric interests, they have a pretty good case with their selection of the computer scientist-cum-math blogger. Among other things, his blog has a semiregular feature about "pathological programming languages".

So far, however, I have found no mention of INTERCAL. Hmmm. Perhaps he finds it passe.

-- CAV

Complete the Thought ...

Monday, September 25, 2006

... The Islam-Free Edition

I didn't sleep terribly well last night, so I'm way out of gas at the moment. This evening's blogging will consist of a meme I found over at Mountaineer Musings, the blog of Sarah K (aka Frank J's wife, aka Tee Shirt Babe). I stop by there once in a blue moon for a laugh.

Normally, I add a question -- often having something to do with beer -- whenever I do a meme, but this time I have an even better idea: I will impose an initial condition. I will answer every question as if Mohammed (Merciless, Implacable Justice Be Upon His Followers) never existed.

Why? This thing is about thirty questions long and Moslem fanatics got two of Sarah K's answers. (And they could get more of mine if I allowed it.) This is supposed to be fun. Of course the answers to "The world could do without: " and "What worries me most:" are some variant of "Islamofascists" and "We're not killing them fast enough."

The Moslems are pissed at me. So what? The sky is blue, too. I'll take those as given and I'll be damned if I'm going to let any further consideration of those bastards harsh my mellow this evening.

I was going to say that every blogger should do this as an act of defiance -- but that would be permitting these people to set terms, which they are not entitled to do. The value of the "Gus Van Horn Condition" has nothing to do with them. It is to remind yourself that your life is yours alone to live. What a bunch of superstitious morons think is, in the grand scheme of things, completely irrelevant, and that is something we forget at our own peril. It is, after all, why we fight them.

So here goes....

1. Never again in my life: will I visit Belgium without tasting as much beer as possible.

2. When I was five: I decided that one of my kindergarten teachers was my "girlfriend". A few years later, my mother ran into her at the store and, when she reintroduced us, I didn't even remember who she was. Was I a little cad-lad or what?

3. High school was: where shyness, Catholic repression, and my work ethic conspired to stunt my social life severely. I'm glad I didn't go overboard with my social life then, but still....

4. I will never forget: how excited my wife was after we decided to get married.

5. I once met: Leonard Peikoff about a decade ago when stopping by a lecture by his wife (which I could not attend) to pick up a friend of mine. I had no idea Peikoff might be there. The lecture was running over and he asked me something as I waited outside the auditorium for the talk to let out.

I didn't know the answer to his question. I am introverted by nature anyway and was in a bad mood besides, so his persistence annoyed me. I am afraid, in an effort to get him to leave me alone, that I was quite brusque.

Of course, I kicked myself later on when I realized who he was!

6. There's this girl I know who: I used to tend bar with while I was in grad school. Two or three years later, on my way home from the previously-mentioned trip to Belgium, I run into her at Heathrow Airport!

7. By noon, I'm usually: Ummm. Awake.

8. Last night I: slept poorly.

9. Next time I go to church: it will be, I hope, to attend a good friend's wedding. Otherwise, I will be attending a funeral.

10. What worries me most: is the lack of respect for reason that permeates every aspect of our culture.

11. When I turn my head right, I see: my scanner, a copy of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, and Tougher Than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music.

12. When I turn my head left, I see: a huge stack of books and papers that needs organizing due to my recent removal of a bookshelf.

13. You know I'm lying when: I tell you how to catch me lying. Why would you want that information, anyway?

14. If I was a character written by Shakespeare, I'd be: Hamlet. This is not because I normally have trouble making decisions. It is because of a very unfortunate set of circumstances in my life that I have not quite "solved", for lack of a better term.

15. By this time next year: I may find myself living in (gasp) New Orleans.

16. A better name for me would be: Jerry?

17. I have a hard time understanding: how the hell anyone can support Kinky Friedman.

18. If I ever go back to school I'll: be getting paid to do so.

I have a PhD. I love to learn new things, but I have done my time in our broken educational system. I am done performing this activity as an amateur.

19. You know I like you if: I give you a hard time.

20. Darwin, Mozart, Slim Pickens & Geraldine Ferarro are: Correct, tolerable, a hick, and past expiration.

21. Take my advice, NEVER: rush into an unfamiliar church when you are late for a wedding. You may appear to be trying to give away the bride!

22. My ideal breakfast is: Eggs Benedict, tomato juice, coffee, cottage fries, and an English muffin. Barring that, I am fond of almost anything hot that I do not have to prepare myself.

23. A song I love, but do not have, is: Hmmm. There is an entire album, I am pretty sure, by a ska band (whose members were all Rice alumni) that I wish I had on CD. But the name of the band escapes me at the moment.... One of their songs was "Burrito Hell". Haven't heard it or them in ages.

24. If you visit my hometown, I suggest: making your visit short and taking precautions against crime.

The town where I grew up is falling apart. Visit Houston, instead!

25. Why won't anyone: stand up for his rights anymore?

26. If you spend the night at my house, DO: keep the door to your room shut unless you want Jerome to sit on you at some point during the night and try to lick you!

27. The world could do without: global warming hysteria.

28. I'd rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: defend the "right" of a cockroach to live!

29. My favorite blonde is: my wife, who is actually a brunette! She's not "bottled" and I'm not "sleeping on the couch"!

30. Paperclips are more useful than: anything when it comes to annoying your former customers. Yes, Bill. I'm talking to you!

31. San Diego means: "I'm done!"

-- CAV


9-26-06: Inserted two questions I missed.

Quick Roundup 100

An Intel Estimate They'll Believe

My clock radio is presently tuned to the local affiliate of NPR, so I woke up this morning to hear about the latest left-wing fad: respect for intelligence estimates. It seems that the New York Times has caused something of a ruckus by reporting on some leaked documents to the effect that the campaign in Iraq has "invigorated Islamic radicalism and worsened the global terrorist threat".

It should be interesting to hear this touted as gospel throughout the election season even as the left simultaneously continues to ridicule past intelligence estimates which indicated that Saddam Hussein was trying to get the bomb before we invaded Iraq as well as current ones that show Iran on the cusp of success.

Lets see.... So we should have ignored the stuff on Hussein. And our intelligence on Iran is not good enough for us to jump to conclusions just yet. But we should pull out of Iraq yesterday because we're fanning the flames of terrorism.

For the left, there is no such thing as actionable intelligence if by "action" one means "employ the military for its proper function". If military force is called for, the intelligence is obviously wrong. If not, then it is obvioiusly correct.

And since the role of Islam in fomenting terrorism is not really a question for intelligence agencies to answer, the left feels it can safely duck that matter altogether.

So tell me. Why do they hate the CIA so much?

Stupid Criminals, Part the Umpteenth

I found the following passage amusing. It comes from an article about a job recruiter who matches felons with hard-to-fill positions once they have been released from prison.

Jose Gomez expects to get out of prison during the latter part of this month and hopes to get another job driving a semi in the Dallas area. That's what the 38-year-old was doing before he landed in prison for a second time on a driving under the influence charge. [bold added]
Yeah. Right. The good news is that the job recruiter told him as much. The bad news is that the discussion moved to another option that sounded a little too similar: driving heavy equipment around at a construction site.

Of course, articles like this one suggest that our broken criminal justice system might have something to do with such ... expectations.
Facing the stiff costs and strict rules that come with probation, thousands of convicted drivers in recent years have decided spending time behind bars is the better option.

And in a county already struggling with crowded jails, that's a disturbing trend. Sentences can be short enough to mean losing only one weekend and a vacation day, but some end up behind bars as long as half a year.


One of the few incentives for taking probation is the fact that going to jail means automatically losing one's driver's license for 90 days to a year, Pelton said. First-time offenders on probation may be allowed to keep their licenses, depending on the judge, the circumstances and their attorneys.

Even when licenses are forfeited, judges sometimes grant occupational licenses so offenders can drive to and from work or make other necessary trips. Ross noted that judges can attach tight restrictions including supervision, alcohol-education classes, random urinalysis and alcohol-sensitive locks on offenders' cars. [bold added]
Splendid. Without consequences for their actions, the criminals are learning nothing. And they're free to endanger our lives.

Carnival of the Capitalists

I was remiss last week in failing to announce that Michael Wade volunteered to host an alternate version of the Carnival of the Capitalists on his Execupundit blog after seeing what a horrible job Noah Kagan did.

Thank you, Mr. Wade!

Beautiful Music

Having the alarm set to NPR is not a total disaster. Today, influential Piedmont Blues guitarist Etta Baker died. NPR made this sad announcement accompanied by some of her music, which I found quite good. (And for this, I must thank the folks at NPR.)

This caused me to see whether any of her work was available online, which led me to a web page touting her album Railroad Bill. Three tracks are available there in mp3 format. I highly recommend them. If you like bluegrass or blues, you'll like this.

And it's only ten bucks.

-- CAV

The Great Evacuation of '05 -- Part III

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The reason for the strange post title will soon become apparent....

Hurricane Lilies

Just recently, on the twenty-first, was the first anniversary of the evacuation of parts of Houston due to the approach of Hurricane Rita, largest evacuation ever to occur in the United States, a historical event in which my wife and I participated. I recalled, after hearing about the anniversary on the news, that I never finished recording my thoughts on the event. And then I forgot about it again until I saw these beauties Saturday morning when I went out to mow the yard.

And why did these remind me of the evacuation? For one thing, it is because they were in bloom upon our return and we were damned lucky they weren't the only things standing on our lot!

Not only that, these beautiful flowers are blooms of Lycoris radiata (illustrated), also known variously as the "spider lily", the "naked lady", the "schoolhouse lily" or, in the American South, the "hurricane lily", due to its tendency to bloom during hurricane season. This year is my second year to see these gorgeous blooms. I planted the bulbs, sent to me by my mother, three years ago, but the plants needed an extra year after planting to store enough energy to bloom.

Note in the image at the upper left that there is nothing but the naked flower stalk rising from the pot. This is why the plant is sometimes called the "naked lady". It exists as an unspectacular clump of grassy-looking foliage during the spring and early summer before dying down to nothing. And then, during hurricane season, you are pleasantly surprised one day to look out at your formerly empty pot to see it full of blooms -- if you aren't running for your life from a hurricane!

A Long Delay

Last year, upon returning from the Great Evacuation of '05, I photographed last year's blooms specifically for inclusion at the end of my series on the evacuation, but I hated how they came out. This caused me to put off finishing the series until I found some better pictures, ultimately meaning that I eventually forgot to complete the series. These pictures, which I took outside in the dark, turned out much better.

So now, I have pictures and they are prodding me to finish what little is left of the tale. I'd originally intended to editorialize about "price gouging", but this has already been done by Thomas Sowell, so I will not. I do have other thoughts on how deregulation would encourage better hurricane preparedness, but I will save them for later.

So, without further ado....

The Return Trip

The trip home, following the weekend, was delayed due to the city government staggering repopulation in order to avoid huge traffic snarls on the return trip. Recall that originally, I was planning to attend my high school class reunion that weekend anyway. If I recall correctly, I'd reserved the following Monday off from work for travel , but ended up having to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday.

The trip itself was mostly uneventful until south of Lufkin, where we began seeing the occasional damaged structure or tree. We took US 59 back most of the way, and this skirted an area that saw Category 1 winds when Rita struck. After our adventures with gas on the way out, we were very careful again, although we heard that stations along the route had been refilled.

In Diboll, however, we learned that a full station is not necessarily going to be an immediate source of gasoline. Since we were nearing 3/4 of a tank and knew we'd be driving through some harder-hit areas, we decided to fill up at a station there we saw with a line. The tanks were full, alright, but the station was in an area that had lost power and everyone was waiting for a manager to show up to reset the pumps, which remained out of service from the power outage! We waited in the heat for about thirty minutes for him to show up, and then we got our gas. Lesson Learned #3: Don't forget that the status of electrical power will affect whether you can refuel as you drive back.

Since traffic was getting heavy and I wanted to keep moving, I used my back-road strategy again starting somewhere south of Diboll. This took us through areas of Liberty County that saw Category 1 winds. Although I recall hearing that most roads were open in the area I wanted to travel through, we did run into one road closure. Overall, though, considering the number of fallen trees and downed power lines, I'd say a lot of road clearing had gotten done in a very short amount of time.

This area was still without power, and many structures were damaged, the most severe we saw being similar to the damaged house pictured, which is actually one my brother took near Meridian, Mississippi after Katrina. That area, as far north as Interstate 20, had seen Category 1 winds as well.

We made it down to US 90, which had recently been improved to freeway standards, and drove home the rest of the way uneventfully.

The only problem we had upon our return was that we had one nasty refrigerator waiting for us at home. Lesson Learned #4: Chuck it before you leave.

A Civilized Affair

If there is one benefit of having set this narrative aside for so long, it is that I have since had the chance to compare notes with some fellow Houstonians on various aspects of the evacuation. I am rather introverted and have plenty of other things to talk about, but I do recall discussing the evacuation at length with at least four other people since then: a coworker who evacuated to Austin (10 hours by country roads), an acquaintance who used US 59, a friend who evacuated to Canton, and a barmaid who took US 290 to Austin. Everyone agreed that this was a remarkably civilized affair considering the amount of stress everyone was under, the heat, and the horrendously slow pace. Contrary to what one might expect based on the media chorus, no one I spoke to complained about the the job done by the government. It seems that people generally understood this to be an unprecedented event in its scale.

I love Houston, but I am not really a particularly civic-minded person. Nevertheless, I recall thinking about how orderly the evacuation was at one point that day and being very proud of my city.

Earlier Posts

I hope you enjoyed, if not this narrative, at least the pictures of the hurricane lilies!

For those curious about what the Great Evacuation of '05 was like, here are links to my earlier posts on the subject.

Five-Day Cone: "It's still a wee bit early to panic, but ...."
NOT a Frabjous Day: I have decided to evacuate.
The Great Evacuation of '05 -- Part I
The Great Evacuation of '05 -- Part II

-- CAV

Open Season on Reality

Friday, September 22, 2006

One Mansour El-Kikhia -- I am unsure whether this is a real name or his nom de guerre -- writes one of the most spectacularly evasive editorials I have seen in years. In the San Antonio Express-News, he asks, "When is this open season on Islam and Muslims going to end?"

For one thing, if it really were "open season", El-Kikhia wouldn't be free to publish such tripe. Furthermore, he and his fellow Moslems would, by now, be bowing and scraping towards a radioactive crater five times daily. This is whining at best.

For another, El-Kikhia, whose name must be an Arabic equivalent for Rip van Winkle, has nothing to say about anything members of the "Religion of Pissed" might have done since the massacres -- committed in the name of Islam and with the blessings of so many Moslems -- back in September 11, 2001. These he mentions offhand only as "9/11".


Instead, it's all America's fault. As usual.

The faith is vilified because it serves the needs of so many important actors on the international scene.

First, to a large number of conservative Americans and, by extension, the Bush administration, Islam has come to represent a threat more potent than communism.


There is no Islamic entity to pose a threat to the United States comparable to the Soviet Union; [Where have we heard that before? --ed] hence one had to be created. First, it was al-Qaida, but it soon became apparent that it was too small to make a viable opponent, resulting in the attempted links to Iraq and Iran that proved to be false.


Second, there are Israel's leaders, who agree with Huntington's position. The rise of Islamic fundamentalist groups that challenged their treatment of Palestinians necessitated a campaign to convince Americans that Islam is the single threat to the United States.


Third, a new security industry has emerged to piggyback on this issue. It is a multibillion-dollar industry that will not go away anytime soon. Indeed, this week, Boeing won a multibillion-dollar deal from the Department of Homeland Security for a virtual security fence on America's southern border to augment a proposed physical barrier.
Yeah, man. It's the military-industrial complex -- which anyone who has read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion by now would know.

On a more serious note, this article pretty well encapsulates the kind of "reasoning" we are seeing from the Islamofascist-Far Left axis: (1) Ignore what the Moslems do wholesale if possible. And completely evade any role the teachings of Islam might have had in whatever you can't ignore. (2) Use anti-semitism and the real danger posed to Israel to feed off one another in order to wall off Israel, as if it is not part of the West. As if the fighting there has nothing to do with anything else. This is made a lot easier when you can say, "Hamas who? Hezbollah what?" This way, the next time you see, say, Israel dismembering Lebanon for some reason, we all know it's the fault of those filthy Jews. (And how did they doctor all those photographs from Lebanon? Those all-knowing apes! Those omnipotent pigs! Those Zionists are frightening in their reach, Allah be praised!) (3) If Israel's unexplained need to go through the motions of what all other nations do for self-defense implies that Israel thirsts for Islamic blood, then the fact that corporations make profits by supplying the government of the United States must mean that they're in on the turban-shoot, too.

Take heart, El-Kikhia, in the knowledge that you will one day look down from heaven to see this whole sleazy affair collapse like a house of cards when the Military-Zionist-Industrial Complex sputters and lurches to an abrupt halt after having run out of the Islamic blood it uses for fuel. You'll be in heaven and we'll be in hell. Isn't that what's really important anyway?

Or open your eyes and consider what people the world over -- and it isn't just al-Qaida -- are doing in the name of your religion. Consider the crazy notion that not everyone wants to obey every word some smelly, cave-dwelling imam has to say. Some of those people will not just accept some "invitation" to do so. Goodness. They may even forcefully resist! Here's a sample:
Today's Islamists seem to have not even a sense of irony. They fail to see the richness of the following sequence. The pope makes a reference to a 14th-century Byzantine emperor's remark about Islam imposing itself by the sword, and to protest this linking of Islam and violence:
  • In the West Bank and Gaza, Muslims attack seven churches.
  • In London, the ever-dependable radical Anjem Choudary tells demonstrators at Westminster Cathedral that the pope is now condemned to death.
  • In Mogadishu, Somali religious leader Abubukar Hassan Malin calls on Muslims to "hunt down" the pope. The pope not being quite at hand, they do the next best thing: shoot dead, execution-style, an Italian nun who worked in a children's hospital.
"How dare you say Islam is a violent religion? I'll kill you for it" is not exactly the best way to go about refuting the charge. But of course, refuting is not the point here. The point is intimidation.
One needn't even employ Occam's Razor to discount El-Kikhia's crazy nonsense to see that maybe we simply want to defend ourselves here in the West. So, Mansour, be thankful that your charge that it is "open season" on Moslems is just libel. And apologize for it.

In Charles Krauthammer's wise words, religious tolerance is a two-way street. People like El-Kikhia would do well to wrap their brains around that idea. But for now, I'd be happy for them to open their eyes ,just for starters, while they're at the wheel.

-- CAV

Around the Web on 9-21-06

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Amit Ghate has been relatively quiet lately, but he links to some really good reading material by Noah Stahl, who is writing regularly at Iowa State Daily.


I love this Cox and Forkum cartoon about the latest round of rational persuasion from the Moslems.

I am glad to see that Phil -- Orenstein, anyway -- got the last word in their roundup.


It's official: Angelina Jolie will star as Dagny Taggart in the cinematic version of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, which I see has a page at the Internet Movie Database.

Rumor has it that the actress is very excited about her role in "this exciting steam punk masterpiece" and plans to reprise elements of her character Franky from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, including the eye patch.

Rumor also has it that when David Kelley, who hints that he will safeguard the fidelity of the film to the novel and to its underlying Objectivist philosophy, was asked about the patch and other ideas for changes to the heroine proffered by Jolie, he was unperturbed. Sources say he just shrugged and said, "Nine out of ten new ideas will be mistakes, but the tenth will let in the light."

When asked whether an eye patch that "let in the light" was a mistake, he urged openmindedness.


Zach Oakes regales us with a second installment of "The Internets is Broken". He saves the best bit of Digg user wisdom for last:
Oakes your posts really do show you to be rather fascist-thinking - you seek to degrade others through manipulative argument and, as a result, make yourself look like you're correct. Like a child who makes fun of others to feel better. Why would be so needy? You've posted some seriously low-blows on here man. Be my guest and get sued for libel or slander at some point. [bold added]
Why do people whine about bloggers who "make themselves look correct"? Do they ever stop to think about why someone would bother posting something he thought was incorrect? Or do they simply care so little about truth that the question never occurs to them?

I suspect that they feel that certainty is impossible and take comfort in the excuse that the notion grants them from having to think very deeply about anything. Then they run up against an Oakes and hear something they don't like, along with an argument even they can't evade. Rather than considering the argument, they undercut it by bashing the whole idea of certainty.

People wake up to alarms, shut them off, mumble incoherently, and fall back to sleep all the time, too.


Nick Provenzo reports that Founders' College has cleared a major regulatory hurdle: It "has received degree-granting authority from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia" and thus can begin recruiting students.


Grant Jones makes some interesting points as he explores Christopher Hitchens's take on the Pope's recent remarks on Islam.

Jones notes that, "Hitchens, in the panel discussion, frames the issue not just as reason versus unreason but also as religion versus secularism."

Consistent with this age of greyness, this is both good and bad news.


I really must learn the secrets of Paul "The Oppressor" Hsieh! Look what he made Diana write about their marriage -- and on her own blog no less!

Willy Shake has some good news: Victor Davis Hanson has a blog!


Mike N and Andy both post on some recent good news you might not have heard: DDT is finally making a comeback!

Mike notes, "You'd think that something that could save the lives of millions of people a year would be front page news. Evidently it's not newsworthy in the Detroit area."

Maybe it's because, as Andy rightly points out, that, "The banning of DDT was the largest act of genocide in the history of man," and the liberals would have too much explaining to do if word got out.


I'm again plugging The Inspector's lineup of commentary on the recent fifth anniversary of the mass executions -- committed in the name of Islam and with the blessings of many Moslems -- committed in America in 2001.

The juxtaposition of so much good commentary is very thought-provoking. For example, I made a new connection when I came across the following excerpt of Jennifer Snow's post:
[T]his attack that is a disgrace to any creature that has ever laid claim to the title of human being. It is the essence of horror--delivery, unarmed, into a fate that you can forsee but not act to escape.
In my own reflections, I realized that:
The only thing I can imagine that could be an uglier, more unholy thing than what those reprobates did that day would be to do what they demand -- to join them in doing to myself what they did to my lost countrymen.
What I felt, but until I visited The Intellectual Watchman, I had not quite made explicit, was the following:

Since reason is man's means of survival, the demand by Islam to submit -- to cease making independent judgements -- is the demand to embrace a forseeably subhuman fate. The Islamists are threatening us with the concretization of what it would mean on the abstract, long-range level to accept their religion -- as a means of cowing us into accepting it! *

This is the evil essence of Islam.

We can refuse to submit. The full extent of the power of the Islamists lies in (1) the fact that they can make us have to kill them in order to refuse their "offer" and (2) our own desire to live and let live. In other words, Islam's great contribution to history is that it has made the blood of its followers the price we must pay to continue living our lives.

When we in the West finally understand this and realize that whatever we have to do to end this threat is not our fault, we will finally be prepared to fight Islamofascism successfully.

* This is made as effective as it is in no small part by the collapse of philosophy and abstract thought in the West: What will convince someone who cannot think in abstract terms? Put another way, physical danger is appreciated and the greater danger, of bad philosophic ideas, is easily dismissed.


Martin Lindeskog has some reflections on the recent elections in Sweden, including ramifications for the rest of Europe.

Among other things, he notes that the Pirate Party failed to win any seats.


I wonder if that put a damper on "Talk Like a Pirate Day"....


The Counterterrorism Blog considers the recent coup in Thailand in light of its ongoing Moslem insurgency.


Isaac Shrodinger has something that hearkens back to a simpler time when some people would "find" demonic messages in records when they were played backwards -- and be dismissed as crackpots.

Hmmm. Why am I fighting the urge to start a betting pool for when the "Coke Riots" kick off?

-- CAV

UN Follies

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Anne Bayefsky of National Review nails it on who was the biggest idiot speaking yesterday at the UN.

The real surprise of the day, however, was President George W. Bush. Last year at this time the president issued a list of reforms he expected from the U.N. in the near future: a new human-rights body which didn't count abusers among its members, a comprehensive treaty against terrorism, meaningful institutional reforms in the area of oversight, accountability, efficiency. Not one of those demands has been met, but instead of issuing a failing grade, the president said nothing at all about U.N. reform. On Iran, the most he could muster was "Iran must abandon its nuclear-weapons ambitions." No talk of sanctions. No mention of consequences for Iran's obvious refusal to abandon those ambitions. On Hamas he said "the world is waiting to see whether the Hamas government will "pursue an extremist agenda." Waiting to see? Just how many rocket attacks, kidnappings, speeches inciting racial hatred and violence, or murders does it take be an extremist? And on the Palestinian-Israeli front he said "the Palestinian people have suffered from "the daily humiliation of occupation" -- the exact language of -- yes, Kofi Annan.

No doubt, given the hostility of the U.N. forum toward America, nothing but obsequious babble from an American president would be well-received. Which is exactly the real and present danger of the U.N. -- only by running from who we are will we win a popularity contest at the U.N. It is a competition we shouldn't have entered.
Well, it's not too late to quit the UN and kick it out of New York. Until Madman Mahmood spoke, we did, I suppose, have that wild hope that our membership in the United Nations still served a useful purpose since Bush might suddenly grow a pair and use the lure of a prime-time audience to capture the Iranian president.

Of course, that never happened.

Instead, America got what good kids who try to kiss up to bullies always get growing up: more taunting.

Here's why. All a bully gives a damn about is knowing how much you will let him get away with. Often, simply standing up to him will do. Sometimes, five across the lips is needed for the more obtuse type. But those who treat a bully like they want to be treated themselves are in for a rude surprise: There is never reciprocation. There is no courtesy to a bully because all he comprehends is whether he has the upper hand or not. When he doesn't, he doesn't act confrontational. Naturally, he will project his own psychology onto others and so assume the same when he sees someone not being a complete ass. He thus reads any deference on your part as a confession that you do not have the upper hand. In other words, common courtesy, benefit of the doubt, and benevolence all read as "weakness" to a bully.

Bush could have saved a great deal of time by not delivering his speech at all. Instead, he should have just written "Kick me." in red crayon on its last page, pasted it the seat of his pants, and bent over at the podium. Indeed, all the other speakers yesterday, most notably the president of Iran, as well as the dictator of Venezuela today took their turns at taxpayer expense.

Last year was too late for Bush to address the UN, but this year, it was inexcusable.

We're "the devil", Mr. President. We might as well play the part.

-- CAV