Wednesday, March 29, 2006

FISA Judges declare terrorist surveillance to be Constitional


FISA judges say Bush within law


Now do you think the screaming left, and especially Senator Feingold, will shut up about it? Neither do I.

Our condolences, Canada.


Statement by the Prime Minister on the passing of Private Robert Costall
March 29, 2006
Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement on the passing of Private Robert Costall:

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Private Robert Costall, killed in a firefight in Afghanistan.

“Private Costall died while participating in our mission to bring democracy and stability to the war torn country of Afghanistan. His sacrifice, for which we are deeply grateful, will be remembered.

“On behalf of the people of Canada and our government, I extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and co-workers of Private Costall. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

“Our UN-mandated mission in Afghanistan is not without risk and we are so very proud of our brave men and women who daily face these dangers while carrying out their duties. They represent the best of our country and I am proud to honour them.”
My condolences to Private Costall's family and my gratitude for the courage of a fallen ally. My thanks to Prime Minister Harper for his steadfastness.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Funeral protests


We already restrict the rights of non-participants in regard to Funeral processions.

Florida, for example;
(a) Regardless of any traffic control device or right-of-way provisions prescribed by state or local ordinance, pedestrians and operators of all vehicles, except as stated in paragraph (c), shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which is part of a funeral procession being led by a funeral escort vehicle or a funeral lead vehicle.

(b) When the funeral lead vehicle lawfully enters an intersection, either by reason of a traffic control device or at the direction of law enforcement personnel, the remaining vehicles in the funeral procession may follow through the intersection regardless of any traffic control devices or right-of-way provisions prescribed by state or local law.
Pennsylvania law requires "vehicles to stop for a funeral procession."

North Carolina restricts the rights of drivers too:
(h) The operator of a vehicle proceeding in the same direction as a funeral procession shall not pass or attempt to pass the funeral procession, except that the operator of such a vehicle may pass a funeral procession when the highway has been marked for two or more lanes of moving traffic in the same direction of the funeral procession.
(i) An operator of a vehicle shall not knowingly drive between vehicles in a funeral procession by crossing their path unless directed to do so by a person authorized to direct traffic. When a funeral procession is proceeding through a steady or strobe-beam stoplight emitting a red light as permitted by subsection (c), an operator of a vehicle that is not in the funeral procession shall not enter the intersection knowing a funeral procession is in progress, even if facing a steady or strobe-beam stoplight emitting a green light, unless the operator can do so safely without crossing the path of the funeral procession.
As does Michigan:
You must yield for vehicles in a funeral procession
If we can have these traffic laws protecting the mourners, I can see no reason why we cannot prohibit protestors from
shouting "Your child will burn in Hell!", closer than 500 feet from a military funeral.

As another example, what's the distance we enforce for pro-life protestors around an abortion clinic?

The funeral procession laws have attracted no criticism on the basis that they restrict free expression, though they certainly do, and though the arbortion clinic rules attract criticism, it is not from the ACLU. The ACLU, rather, raises "unintended consequences" that might affect abortion protestors as part of their criticism of laws proposing to restrict funeral protests. Ironic.

There is no reason that small limitations on the ability of
homophobic protestors to attract press attention should cause any stir. The ability of military family members to address their bereavement privately is not a Constitutional issue.

If shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater is a example of a limit to free speech, then so is shouting "He deserved to die!" at a soldier's funeral.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Doing Della. A favor.


Della Sentilles
(Yale '06) is nicely representative of the
intellectual disintegration and moral vacuum that is American feminism. In apology for the Taliban she wrote:
As a white American feminist, I do not feel comfortable making statements or judgments about other cultures, especially statements that suggest one culture is more sexist and repressive than another. American feminism is often linked to and manipulated by the state in order to further its own imperialist ends.
Ms Sentilles has complained that Wall Street Journal reporter John Fund did not interview her and that he lifted(?),
from her blog(?), her comments out of context. The missing context? - State manipulation of feminism “in order to further its own imperialist ends.” Leaving that out was doing her a favor.

Mark Steyn presents another view of non-relativist cultural attitudes:
Steyn: Will we stick our necks out for his faith?

...In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of "suttee" - the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Gen. Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
One wonders how Ms Sentilles feels about suttee - cultural-crit speaking - and, for example, forced female genital mutilation as topics appropriate for judging the treatment of women. The judgmentalism, that is, that she purports to be her expertise.

Ms Sentilles and her ilk have only needed 30 years to degrade the meaning of the word “feminism” to the point where most people consider it to be the very definition of pseudo-intellectual, hypocritical, anti-capitalist - and, as demonstrated, racist - harridanism. If a small cadre of females can do so much damage to women in so short a time, and be proud of it, female superiority in masochism is a given.

It took 250 years to similarly damage the word “liberal.” We have Ted Kennedy, Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore as the result of that devolution. For "gender" balance, Cynthia McKinney, Harvard professor Nancy Hopkins and Barbra Streisand have been no slouches.

Without the torturous deprecation of the word “liberal” the demeaning of the word “feminist” would probably not have occurred, but the people who confiscate ownership of an ideological label end up defining the ideology itself. Feminism is “Liberal”, and grew from the perversion of that tradition. Islamofascism is a parallel example.

A counter-example is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a person who can easily define what feminism ought to mean, and whose courage in so doing weighs a order of magnitude more,
morally, than the sum of all those Americans who proclaim “Feminism” as their virtue. Hirsi Ali in The International Herald Tribune:
Women go 'missing' by the millions

…Every year, from 1.5 million to 3 million women and girls lose their lives as a result of gender-based violence or neglect.

How could this possibly be true? Here are some of the factors:

In countries where the birth of a boy is considered a gift and the birth of a girl a curse from the gods, selective abortion and infanticide eliminate female babies.

Young girls die disproportionately from neglect because food and medical attention is given first to brothers, fathers, husbands and sons.

In countries where women are considered the property of men, their fathers and brothers can murder them for choosing their own sexual partners. These are called "honor" killings, though honor has nothing to do with it.

Young brides are killed if their fathers do not pay sufficient money to the men who have married them. These are called "dowry deaths," although they are not just deaths, they are murders.

The brutal international sex trade in young girls kills uncounted numbers of them.

…What is happening to women and girls in many places across the globe is genocide. All the victims scream their suffering. It is not so much that the world doesn't hear them; it is that fellow human beings choose not to pay attention.

…The Islamists are engaged in reviving and spreading a brutal and retrograde body of laws. Wherever the Islamists implement Shariah, or Islamic law, women are hounded from the public arena, denied education and forced into a life of domestic slavery.

Cultural and moral relativists sap our sense of moral outrage by claiming that human rights are a Western invention. Men who abuse women rarely fail to use the vocabulary the relativists have provided them. They claim the right to adhere to an alternative set of values - an "Asian," "African" or "Islamic" approach to human rights.

This mind-set needs to be broken. A culture that carves the genitals of young girls, hobbles their minds and justifies their physical oppression is not equal to a culture that believes women have the same rights as men. [Get it, Della?]

(Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Dutch legislator, lives under 24-hour protection because of death threats against her by Islamic radicals since the murder of Theo van Gogh, with whom she made the film "Submission" about women and Islam. This Global Viewpoint article was distributed by Tribune Media Services.)
American Feminists can’t be bothered outside of their cultural redoubts, but if Della Sentilles had any balls, she’d be first and foremost protesting the murder, mutilation, torture and rape of WOMEN. It really doesn’t have anything to do with culture. It’s murder, torture and rape. They’re women. QED.

Ms Sentilles should try to get those bits of patriarchal malfeasance addressed before she worries about the composition of the hard sciences faculty at Harvard, the imperialist uses of the feminist blather she dispenses, or even date-rape at Yale; at least while her sisters are having forced back-alley clitorectomies.

American Feminists aren’t really afraid to criticize other cultures, they’re afraid their own complaints will be revealed as trivial. They are cowards and hypocrites. They betray the common-sense purposes of their own purported cause for political gain and cultural sabotage.

Ms Sentilles would learn something from listening to another woman under death threat, Dr. Wafa Sultan. From a previous TOC post, "Backward by choice":
Dr. Sultan is a psychologist and a Syrian expatriate who resides in the U.S. She recently appeared on Al-Jazeera television where she attacked Islamists as “backward.” The video is here. You should watch it.

She is articulate and relentless in her contention that the war with Islamofascism is not a clash of civilizations. To summarize Dr. Sultan’s position: To have a clash of civilizations, you’d need a minimum of two civilizations, and Islam is generally too backward to be so considered.
Mark Steyn explains:
Fate conspires to remind us what this war is really about: civilizational confidence. And so history repeats itself: first the farce of the Danish cartoons, and now the tragedy - a man on trial for his life in post-Taliban Afghanistan because he has committed the crime of converting to Christianity.

The cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad were deeply offensive to Muslims, and so thousands protested around the world in the usual restrained manner - rioting, torching, killing, etc.

The impending execution of Abdul Rahman for embracing Christianity is, of course, offensive to Westerners, and so around the world we reacted equally violently by issuing blood-curdling threats like that made by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack: "Freedom of worship is an important element of any democracy," he said. "And these are issues as Afghan democracy matures that they are going to have to deal with increasingly."

The immediate problem for Abdul Rahman is whether he'll get the chance to "mature" along with Afghan democracy.

…as the Canadian columnist David Warren put it: "We take it for granted that it is wrong to kill someone for his religious beliefs. Whereas Islam holds it is wrong not to kill him."
Read the whole thing.

We can, and must, make judgments. Many of them will involve culture. Culture is not more sacred than religious conviction, nor than a secular belief in the right to abortion on demand.

Ms Sentilles, do you understand what Mark Steyn is saying? Can you appreciate the risk Dr. Sultan has taken in defense of freedom – for men and women? Can you hear Ayaan Hirsi Ali?
We need a worldwide campaign to reform cultures that permit this kind of crime. Let's start to name them and shame them.
If you cannot hear
Hirsi Ali, did you hear Malalai Joya speaking on your own campus last week? The Wall Street Journal's John Fund did:
The BBC calls Malalai Joya the most famous woman in Afghanistan. On Thursday the 27-year-old women's rights activist, a member of the Afghan Parliament, mounted a stage at Yale and turned her fire on the university's decision to admit a former Taliban official as a special student.

"All should raise their voice against such criminals," she told a crowd of 200. "It is an unforgivable insult to the Afghan people that he is here. He should face a court of law rather than be at one of your finest universities." The Yale Daily News reported that the large attendance at her speech showed that the former Taliban official "continues to be widely controversial." Last night the Yale College Council, the undergraduate student government, began debating a resolution urging the university's administration not to admit Mr. Hashemi as a regular sophomore in the fall.

Ms. Joya has standing to speak for Afghan women. She ran an underground school for women during the Taliban's rule and today receives frequent death threats after giving speeches in Parliament against "fanatical warlords." She is strongly critical of U.S. support for her country's new government, which she claims is increasingly influenced by warlords, as evidenced by the now-abandoned attempt to try an Afghan named Abdul Rahman for the capital crime of converting to Christianity. "Why has $12 billion in foreign aid not made it to my suffering people?" she asked me during an interview. "Fraud and waste have largely diverted your aid to others."

But it was her criticism of Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, the 27-year-old Taliban ambassador-at-large turned Yale student, that stuck in the minds of some audience members at a reception afterwards. "Before I was like, who cares if the guy was Taliban or not?" Yigit Dula, a sophomore from Turkey, told the Yale Daily News. "But it means a lot more to [Afghans] to have someone like Hashemi educated at Yale." Aisha Amir, a physician who fled war-torn Afghanistan, told me she sympathized with the difficult choices people had to make to survive under the Taliban, but added that "there are so many more deserving Afghan students who belong in Hashemi's place."
For example, the women of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women.
...A small effort to help build a modern economy in Afghanistan was launched by Paula Nirschel in 2002, when she founded the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women. Her goal is to match qualified women with at least a GPA of 3.5 or more with U.S. colleges, where they can pursue a degree. The initiative grants all its women full four-year scholarships. They come to college prepared; none need remedial classes. (That's something that can't be said of all U.S. students. Last year, only 52% of entering freshmen in the California State University system passed the English placement test.)

As The Wall Street Journal reported in an editorial Friday, Ms. Nirschel sent a letter to Yale in 2002, asking if it wanted to award a spot in its next entering class to an Afghan woman. Yale declined, as did many other schools. Today, the program enrolls 20 students at 10 universities.
Yale has yet to admit these Afghani female applicants who possess better qualifications than the former Taliban Ambassador.

There's a real feminist cause in there Ms Sentilles; if you can get over your refusal to recognize Afghan women as humans victimized by a "culture" your purported principles would rationally leave you no choice but to condemn.

John Fund:
A documentary that aired on PBS in 2004, ["Afghanistan Unveiled"] ... is the work of young female Afghan video journalists working with a French director. ... The heart of the film is a searing journey to Bamiyan, a place that made headlines in March 2001, when the Taliban blew up giant 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha there. That month Mr. Hashemi visited me and my colleagues at The Wall Street Journal to launch an impassioned defense of the destruction of the monuments, which had been declared a world heritage site by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

At the time, no one knew what else the Taliban were doing in Bamiyan beyond blowing up Buddhas. Nearby, the Afghan video journalists found the remnants of the Hazara tribe. One survivor told them the Taliban had "tried to exterminate" the entire tribe, starting with the men.

Zainyab, a Hazara woman so thin and wrinkled that her age was indeterminate, was found by video journalist Marie Ayub living in a cave "like an animal." She told the filmmakers that "from hundreds of women here, not one has a husband. From 100 children, maybe just one still has two parents. They bulldozed houses with women and children inside; they cut off women's breasts." But despite the devastation, she hasn't given up hope. "Bring us looms," she tells the filmmakers. "Then we can be paid to weave rugs."
How do you answer her, Ms Sentilles? "No comment, wrong culture."?

Remember, the only reason Mr. Hashemi did not "launch an impassioned defense" of the butchery of females and the murder of children was that no one asked him about it.

Asking about it would have been a job for the culturally insensitive, as contrasted with the culturally insensate.


Update: 9:18PM. From the Yale Daily News. Read it all.

Afghan politician contrasts with student
...Outrage over religious fascism ought to be the province of American liberals. But in Hashemi's case it has been almost entirely trumpeted by Fox News, the Wall Street Journal editorial page and right-wing bloggers. A friend of mine recently remarked that part of his and his peers' nonchalance (and in some cases, support for) Hashemi has to do with the fact that the right has seized upon the issue. Our politics have become so polarized that many are willing to take positions based on the inverse of their opponents'. This abandonment of classical liberal values at the expense of political gamesmanship has consequences that reach far beyond Yale; it hurts our national discourse.

In a bold declaration that she will, with any hope, one day come to regret, Della Sentilles '06 wrote on her feminist Weblog, "Broad Recognition," "As a white American feminist, I do not feel comfortable making statements or judgments about other cultures, especially statements that suggest one culture is more sexist and repressive than another." While I cringe at the implications of this, I applaud its honesty. It lays bare a method of thinking that is quite pervasive on our campus, and that many, if not most, students claim allegiance to. It is at once racist -- for holding non-Westerners to a lower standard of behavior -- and dangerous in its cold abandonment of those who suffer under totalitarian and theocratic regimes. "They shamelessly defer to oppressive religious and cultural norms in the name of respecting diversity, betraying the victims of oppression in the process," British gay-rights activist and self-described "radical, left-wing Green" Peter Tatchell wrote of his comrades on the left who refused to condemn barbaric practices in Muslim societies. Joya has no problem saying Taliban Afghanistan was "more sexist and repressive than" the U.S. Why can't Sentilles?
Some of these Bulldogs can hunt.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Which do you think

... is more dangerous?

The UAE managing a few more ports than they already did, or a quadrupling of Saudi students, sent by their government, at US universities?

Just asking.

Here's a letter that might contribute to the decision.

Election commission takes light touch with Net regs


This is a headline at CNET.com, a technology publication. I suppose they are able to take this view because they don’t publish articles about politics. Even then, considering ninety-six pages of regulation to be a “light touch” is idiotic.

Maybe someone should go count the number of pages in the Constitution. There are six. There are only forty-five words in the First Amendment.

CNET reports that under these regulations:
“...bloggers can enjoy the freedoms of traditional news organizations...”
This is by no means clear if it requires ninety-six pages to delineate, and in fact, seems highly unlikely. Where did the idea come from that exemptions granted to “traditional news organizations” are the standard for free speech? See “the press?” for some analysis the so-called “press exemption.”

We are also informed that:
“...one prominent advocate of Internet free speech said the rules are preferable over what could have happened”
Yep, there could have been a call for blogger internment camps, but we're not ready for that yet. Whether these regulations remain "preferable" is an open question. One thing McCain-Feingold has accomplished is public acceptance of the anti-Constitutional chopping up of free speech into categories. Some speech is more equal than others.

Ninety-six pages of regulations are not meant to prevent future incursions into our liberties; they are stepping stones to more regulation. Once we get used to a bridle, we’ll soon see the saddle.

“A light touch?” The touch of a pickpocket is light, but when you buy a wallet that can be chained to your belt, he’ll have to step up to armed robbery. And he’ll blame it on you.
The FEC's internal deliberations are taking place against an unusual backdrop of congressional action. Bloggers of all political stripes, many politicians and even FEC Chairman Michael Toner have thrown their support behind a proposal in Congress that would amend current law and largely immunize the Internet from election law.

An effort to do just that was defeated by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives last November. In a second attempt to enact the same proposal, a House panel this month approved the bill again, but the release of the FEC rules could delay it indefinitely. (A similar measure is pending in the Senate.)
Emphasis mine. The Democrats want it delayed indefinitely.
Critics of a broad exemption--including the New York Times editorial board--say that excluding all Internet communications is a recipe for corruption, giving candidates the green light to coordinate unfettered soft-money online spending with corporations, labor unions and wealthy donors.
Emphasis mine. And excluding the New York Times from the regulations is a way to ensure what? Biased reporting masquerading as free speech?
The three Republican commissioners--including Smith, who's now a law professor--had wanted to appeal the Internet-related sections. But because they couldn't get even one of the three Democrats to go along with them and give them a majority, that didn't happen and the FEC began the current proceeding.
Emphasis mine.

"Freedom of speech on the Internet", indeed. The point of McCain-Feingold was to keep the incumbent money trail secret. To the cheers of the Pew Trust, the New York Times and professional politicians, and with the acquiescence of George Bush and the support of the Supreme Court, that's exactly what we've got.

What part of “Congress shall pass no law” don’t they understand?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Privileged Organisms and the Incumbent Preservation Act


Everything I Know is Wrong points out that Civil disobedience is in our future.

The US House of Representatives is considering an attempt to subvert HR 1606 – The Online Freedom of Speech Act, in favor of more regulation as described in HR 4194. This bill masquerades as an appropriate protection for our First Amendment rights. In fact, is no such thing.

The Online Coalition offers this summary:
H.R. 4194 purports to protect “bloggers” from campaign finance regulation. But, in fact, it is so riddled with exceptions and exclusions that it is worse that nothing.

• It offers no guidance as to the treatment of group political activity, potentially treating all group websites that discuss federal candidates as political committees

• It would stifle technological innovation. H.R. 4914 specifically mentions “blogging”, but ignores such as already-widely used technologies like podcasting, wikis and peer-to-peer networks, let alone the technologies of tomorrow.

• Its alleged protection to incorporated bloggers offers no real protection. In comments filed before the FEC, supporters of H.R. 4194 have stated explicitly that those websites which endorse, expressly advocate, and urge readers to donate funds to the election of preferred candidates do not qualify for protection under the law. This would force bloggers that speak forcefully about politics to seek legal counsel – a complete disaster.
Write your Congresscritter to oppose HR 4194.

If you need more ammo than you already have, The Other Club has written about this many times. Some of those links:

Anti-Constitutional - Business as Usual 30-Mar-05

Lessons ignored? 13-May-05

The Blogton Tea Party 19-Jul-05

This is How it Begins 21-Sep-05

Campaign Finance Revolt'
23-Sep-05

See also: McCain-Feingold. 25-Sep-05

Civil Obeisance 24-Nov-05
&
...(if you will read only two of these, make it these two)
"the press?" 28-Nov-05

"Speakeasy" to be redefined 25-Jan-06

Friday, March 24, 2006

Homicide Trinity


The headline of this post is also the title of a collection of three Nero Wolfe novellas by Rex Stout.

Many of Stout's Wolfe tales were collected into threesomes for hardcover publication. Death Times Three, Three Doors to Death, Trio for Blunt Instruments, Trouble in Triplicate, Three Witnesses, and Curtains for Three, for example.

My favorite Stout trilogy is Three Aces, so this post, a collection of three Scandinavian clerics representing the Religion of Peace,
is subtitled Crawling to an Inside Hate.

Danish Imam Abu Laban knew about planned Martyr operation

Danish Imam Ahmed Akkari: Kill Naser Khader

Mullah Krekar: Islam will be Victorious against the West

This is the same rhetoric you'd hear in Wahhabi funded madrassas here in the United States, or from Imam Umar Abdul-Jalil, executive director of ministerial services for the New York City Department of Correction.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Values


++ relapsed catholic ++ religion politics entertainment blog has the best two posts on the rescue today of 3 Christian Peacemakers in Iraq by the coalition military.

The
Christian Peacemakers are not the ethereal beings they pretend to be, otherwise their praise of their enemies who were their rescuers would at least equal their praise of their enemies who kidnapped them - and intended to kill them - those same enemies who had already killed one of them.

Ungrateful, anti-military remarks to follow, no doubt

If these three had been true to their principles, they would have refused to accompany their "evil" military rescuers. So much for pacifism.
Christian Peacemakers and moral exhibitionism
One of the snarky lapel pins I used to wear read JESUS IS GREAT! IT'S THE PEOPLE WHO WORK FOR HIM WHO ARE ASSHOLES.
I recommend reading both posts in their entirety.

The moral relativism displayed here indicates a disdain for human life. Worse, it indicates disdain for their own lives - the only non-supernatural excuse for defending their existence. Why bother to rescue them?

Others risked their lives to rescue these "Christian" "Peacemakers", and they can't even summon a tiny gratitude. Despicable. It tells you that they value their polemics above your life, too.

let’s give them an entire wing


Raskolnikov has a post worth viewing at Dust my Broom just for the pictures: Don’t worry, you’ll be included.

But read the post and the comments.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Whiners in the newspaper's morgue


The Toronto Star has
dredged up a 2003 study by UC Berkeley Professor John Jost, the results of which indicate that "whiny, insecure" children have a great propensity to grow up to become conservatives. Liberals, on the other hand, start as "confident, resilient, self-reliant kids".

On the surface it appears that duct taping whiny little blighters inside their nap-rugs might result in the Democrats regaining a Congressional majority. "Whine now you little bastard! Tom Delay can't help you here!" But cooler Berkeley
heads, where the term really means something, prevail.

So, rather than the almost new car smell and instant gratification of the "skrriiik" of that gray tape stripping off a new roll, and the small "shtucking" sounds during a 4 year old's futile struggle to escape merely indicating further entrapment, we are driven to ask: Is the NRA more whiny than NOW? Are the ACLU and the AARP less whiny than the Heritage Foundation? Are conservatives more happy than liberals, a characteristic one might reasonably expect to correlate with confidence, reslience and self-reliance? (Yes.)
Was this study a good use of tax dollars?

Professor Jost's study seems to miscast the question of who is defined as a "conservative", a "liberal" or even what the word "whiny" means. I mean, who is whinier for the nanny state to take on ever more control of everyone's life than a Dennis Kuchinich voter? Who is less secure than someone who needs to be in front of news cameras 15 minutes out of every hour like Chuck Schumer or, on her good media days, Cindy Sheehan?

The Star neglects to mention that professor Jost suggests in his article that Stalin was a conservative. Ah Ha! Berkeley is a place where it is not at all unreasonable to find people who think communism failed because Stalin didn't go far enough. He was too tied to traditional concepts like justice, and the value of the 23 million
odd Kulaks who he starved to death. Talk about willingness to change. Stalin was your man!

I was afraid that Bill Clinton would have been asked to adjudicate the definitions here, but fortunately John J. Ray has already clarified this for us.
... conservatives have always resisted attempts to curtail their rights and liberties -- particularly from the incursions of tyrannical governments. THAT is what has often made them resist change -- as governments do have a habit of trying to curtail the rights and liberties of the individual. But to say that conservatives resist change for its own sake is something that only a Leftist would believe. Conservatives believe in liberty. Leftists believe in the State.
Read the whole thing at the link above.

The Star isn't really fit for wrapping fish, unless the fish were caught in 2003.

H/T Dust My Broom

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Don’t miss


Your mission, should you wish to accept it...

or

A New Low for Loven

The PNB at its most blatant.

Swarmer


Iraq the Model describes Operation Swarmer as a way to build the morale of Iraqi forces.

This analysis prompts two thoughts; 1) if the Iraqis end up being trained half as well as US forces they'll be formidable enough, 2) one reason it is taking as long as it is to train them is that the training targets are world class. A most un-Vietnam-like US behavior before we leave them on their own.

Free expression?

The war against Islamofascism proceeds apace. "A pace" being different depending what you think the word "freedom" means. Perhaps Bill Clinton could assist.

Agora interviews (tries to) Tariq Ramadan. Ramadan can be found here in his "own" words, here in a softball interview, and here and here in a more skeptical light.

On the evidence, suspending
Ramadan's visa is the least the US could do. Minimally, he cannot now launch Notre Dame into the same Islamofascist apologee (apology+apogee) as Yale and Harvard. Is free speech threatened?

Let us stipulate that free speech is important at Universities. It is important enough that "academic freedom" has been made hostage to the faction who can mount the greatest sense of having been offended at the moment. The pendulum doesn't swing, it flails; and it is flailing at freedom of expression. Generally, this is because Universities are overwhelmingly composed of narcissist statists who confuse their outrage about how the universe is unfolding with reality. Thus "Political Correctness" has been embodied in the formal speech restriction codes of Western Universities. That doesn't stop the tea-pot controversy, of course. In Canada there's talk of shutting down a student newspaper over an anti-Christian cartoon. In Illinois they fire an editor over a caricature of Muhammed.

But, real issues require real statist governments, not just some University dilettantes.

In Egypt they jail a blogger and then expel him for "his writings about Islam's reform, lack of freedom for women in the Muslim world and how few have hijacked the religion to carry terrorist crimes".

In Yemen they threaten an editor with the death penalty.

In Iran you spend 6 years in jail for suggesting unnamed government officials may have been involved in assassination.

Free speech is apparently not implemented equally world-wide and seems to be more threatened where Islamists hold sway.
ACLU, please take note that defending the public employment of Umar Abdul-Jalil;
The head of Islamic chaplains in the New York City Department of Correction [who] said in a recent speech that the "greatest terrorists in the world occupy the White House," Jews control the media, and Muslims are being tortured in Manhattan jails.
...does not defend freedom of speech in the long run - the long run being when the Dhimmi are entirely subjugated.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Harmony Database

Let us hope for a Symphony to result.

Others have been thoroughly covering the recent release of some documents seized from the Hussein regime subsequent to the liberation of Iraq, so I have not felt any urgency to comment. However, there are interesting things emerging and if you have not seen the following links, you may find it worthwhile to visit them:

Foreign Military Studies Office Joint Reserve Intelligence Center
Operation Iraqi Freedom Documents
At the request of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the US Army Foreign Military Studies Office has created this portal to provide the general public with access to unclassified documents and media captured during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The US Government has made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents, validity or factual accuracy of the information contained therein, or the quality of any translations, when available.
How Saddam Fooled Everyone, Including Himself
Strategy Page

Saddam's Philippines Terror Connection

The Weekly Standard
Stephen F. Hayes

Hayes has been dogged in his pursuit of these documents and has played a major role in getting them released.

It is very puzzling why these documents were not released earlier. It may not be that they would have shut down the "Bush lied!" lies. It is certain that they would have damaged that campaign.

"Bush lied" has become a viral meme. It is entrenched enough that not even having Saddam brag about hiding his WMDs in Syria or his Al-Qaeda training camps will kill it. Why did releasing these documents, which support the Bush administration's arguments about the reasons for the Iraq war, take so long? Open the Iraq Files

Update: 12:25PM 19-Mar-2006. This is also not new, but if you haven't heard of it by now you should. Released Saddam papers hint at links to Al-Qaeda

Friday, March 17, 2006

A warming story


The Ottawa Citizen manages a very nice discussion of the theories of a distinguished Canadian scientist about Global Warming.

It is not hysterical and it presents the information in a mostly balanced way. Kudos.
A prominent University of Ottawa science professor says what we know about global warming is wrong -- that stars, not greenhouse gases, are changing Earth's climate.

Jan Veizer says high-energy rays from distant parts of space are smashing into our atmosphere in ways that make our planet go through warm and cool cycles.

...he has published his theory in Geoscience Canada, the journal of the Geological Association of Canada. The article is called "Celestial Climate Driver: A Perspective from Four Billion Years of the Carbon Cycle."

In his paper, Mr. Veizer concludes: "Empirical observations on all time scales point to celestial phenomena as the principal driver of climate, with greenhouse gases acting only as potential amplifiers."

...The Royal Society of Canada called him "one of the most creative, innovative and productive geoscientists of our times," and added: "He has generated entirely new concepts that have proven key in our understanding the geochemical history of Earth."

He was the director of the Earth System Evolution Program of the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research. He held a special research chair at the University of Ottawa.

He won the 1992 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, worth $2.2 million, and representing the German government's highest prize for research in any field. The judges said he "has in front of his eyes the overall picture of the Earth during its entire 4.5 billion years of evolution," and he is "one of the most creative ... geologists of his time."

...Mr. Veizer felt uncomfortable with the idea that high levels of carbon dioxide alone are causing hot spells. For one thing, he says, Earth would have needed vastly more carbon dioxide than today to change temperatures so much. For another, his reading of the graphs shows that some rises in carbon dioxide came after increases in temperature, not before. And in one case at least, we appear to have had very high carbon dioxide at a cold time -- an "icehouse," not greenhouse.

He wondered: What if something else makes the temperature go up and down?

And he was able to do the research because of that $2.2 million grant from Germany. ;)
The $2.2-million German prize ended up financing his research. The professor says he would never have found financial support any other way; the prize gave him "absolute freedom."


Read the whole article.

H/T Strong World

Illini editors are suspended


Actually, at least one of them is now fired.

What I want to know is how many lawyers the ACLU has dispatched to aid Acton Gorton?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Social Change in the United States: A Canadian anal -ysis


I am quite certain that in my 22+ years as a resident of Ontario, I did read a Macleans magazine or two. I say I'm pretty sure I've read Macleans because you spend a lot of time queuing up for free health care in Canada. Like bread or meat in the former Soviet Union. And for similar reasons.

In most doctors' offices you had scads of time to read those 6 month old magazines that are a feature of North American health care. Macleans must have been among them, and reading a Macleans would be preferable to the idle thoughts you might otherwise entertain during the 2 hour wait preceding your vasectomy.

Anyway, maybe a link to Mark Steyn's book review
, in Macleans, of American Backlash: The Untold Story of Social Change in the United States by Canadian Michael Adams has not appeared in any of the Canadian blogs I visit because "everybody" reads Macleans these days, so there's no point in a post.

Well, few Americans have probably ever heard of Macleans, and that would seem to be one of Steyn's points.

Here's an excerpt, but check the link above for all for the best bits.
...Americans at least come by their ignorance of Canada without effort. Michael Adams has analyzed reams of data, cited thousands of examples, and the cumulative effect is only marginally less dotty than a discussion of Judaism by an Islamic scholar. As it happens, I agree with one of his larger points -- that the red state/blue state divide is much exaggerated -- though for different reasons. Democrats may think they're Europhiles, but only in the same sense that John Kerry thinks he's fluently francophone. Outside the godless coastal redoubts and college towns, few blue-staters would willingly join the Continentals in a moribund economy on the brink of a demographic death spiral. In the end, the blues are closer to the red states than they are to anywhere else on the planet.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Mendacritocracy - Government by herds of accidental liars?


Cathy Young informs us, in Educating the Taliban at Yale, that Della Sentilles, a Yale senior, recently complained in the Yale Daily News:

[of] rampant misogyny at Yale... [indicated by] the shortage of tenured female professors and poor childcare options.

...On her blog, a reader asked Sentilles about the presence at Yale of a former spokesman [Jihadi Turns Bulldog] for one of the world's most misogynistic regimes. Her reply: ''As a white American feminist, I do not feel comfortable making statements or judgments about other cultures, especially statements that suggest one culture is more sexist and repressive than another. American feminism is often linked to and manipulated by the state in order to further its own imperialist ends."

I wonder if Ms Senilles could deign to comment on this, since British culture is more or less similar to her own?

City Journal
Theodore Dalrymple.
British Freedom and Muslim Discipline
The real plight of Mrs. Blair’s clients
13 March 2006

The British prime minister’s wife is appearing in court as counsel for two girls who are suing their local education authority for having allegedly denied them an education, because it prevented them from going to school in their full Muslim regalia. It is, of course, the right of everyone under our legal system to try to obtain redress in the courts. But Mrs. Blair is not just another lawyer, because of who her husband is. Nor can she possibly be unaware of the social meaning and implication of the kind of clothes the two girls were trying to wear at school, at an age when they were not qualified to make the choice.

She must (or at least ought) also to know that there is a genuine problem about the availability of education for Muslim girls in
Britain. Parents often keep their girls away from school after the age of 12, or send them to Pakistan for a few years so that they may not be educated, and they may wind up married against their will. The school inspectors, whose job is to ensure that children attend school, never intervene.

It is difficult to establish the scale of the problem, of course, but since, from the vantage point of one ward in one hospital, I became acquainted with scores and even hundreds of cases, it is possible that it is quite large. It is a subject on which Mrs. Blair, no doubt aware of her husband’s electoral situation, has remained silent.

There was a strange paradox about the young Muslim women I saw in the hospital, usually after they had tried to kill themselves. Their manners and deportment were infinitely better than those of young white women of the same economic class, and they were better educated than their white peers, although they had received at least four, and sometimes as many as seven, years fewer education.

In fact, they often were often estimable young women. They wanted desperately to learn, to accomplish something, to enter a profession, and to earn a living. If I had been an employer, they were just the kind of people I would hope to find. But their truncated education clearly had the purpose—usually achieved—of thwarting any ambition they might have. The young women found themselves in an utterly wretched position: hence the suicide attempts.

Yet the Muslim families clearly were doing something right, or at least much better than the white, non-Muslim families around them (if you could call the loose patterns of association found among the whites “families”).

Here, then, is proper material for reflection, of the kind that the opportunistic Blair couple will never give it. Discipline without freedom leads to misery, but freedom without discipline leads to chaos, shallowness, and misery of another kind.

Misery, moreover, of a kind Ms Sentilles refuses to even acknowledge in her crusade to ensure that more than 50% of female professors possess vaginas, or perhaps are possessed thereby, whether said females want to make that choice or not.

Misogyny is, in fact, outside Ms Sentille's experience. Which is what allows her to maintain that her feminist "principles" only apply to white American females, who are preferably also classmates of one-time Taliban ambassadors. Profiling on the basis of skin-color, on the other hand...

Her mendacrity (defined by Paladin as: Characteristic of someone who lies for the reason that he/she does not think critically. Accidental lies of those who follow the herd.) does indicate that she should not comment about other cultures, however vile may be their treatment of women.

The wonder is that she feels qualified to comment about her own.

Monday, March 13, 2006

People hearing without listening


Yale has adopted a new policy that perfectly opposes Bill Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" mantra regarding gays in the military.

That policy is: "don't answer, don't listen." This is Yale's response to questions about its admission of the ambassador of the most homophobic, misogynist, religiously fanatical government... arguably of all time.

Practically speaking, it can be summarized as; "We're not discussing it, and those of you who keep talking about it are retards." The MTV version, to which
Della Sentilles subscribes (see below) is; "Lalalala, I Can't Hear You!"

In the Wall Street Journal's OpinonJournal.com, John Fund recounts the intellectual vigor with which those soliciting donations for Yale respond to questions regarding freedom of expression in academia. Update on Intellectual idiots:
He [Alexis Surovov, assistant director of giving at Yale Law School] also largely defended Yale's refusal to answer questions on the ex-Taliban official by saying, "We can't respond to every political case. We need to show the university isn't here to make political decisions." When I asked him if admitting a key propagandist for the Taliban was a political decision, he claimed he was "only vaguely aware of Taliban practices." (He clearly shares that information deficit with some other Yale officials.)
If piling on were actually even possible in this case, then Cathy Young would be guilty of it in The Boston Globe, Educating the Taliban at Yale,
One striking aspect of this controversy is the reaction from Yale's liberal community. Della Sentilles, a Yale senior, recently wrote a piece for the Yale Daily News denouncing such manifestations of rampant misogyny at Yale as the shortage of tenured female professors and poor childcare options. On her blog, a reader asked Sentilles about the presence at Yale of a former spokesman for one of the world's most misogynistic regimes. Her reply: ''As a white American feminist, I do not feel comfortable making statements or judgments about other cultures, especially statements that suggest one culture is more sexist and repressive than another. American feminism is often linked to and manipulated by the state in order to further its own imperialist ends."
Transliterated from Gynidiot this renders as: "If it damages my petty case to look outside my relatively trivial set of complaints: A) I'm not qualified to discuss the stoning of women because of their choice of clothing in some other culture, and B) it's the fault of the patriarchy anyway. Besides, Hashemi was just following chauvinist orders.

Americans, this is an example of what passes for education at an elite University. And you thought the boomers were self-absorbed.

Where is Galt's Gulch when you need it?


Update: 7:41PM
Maybe
Della Sentille could comment on this from Rantings of a Sandmonkey?
Religious scholars have issued a fatwa prohibiting women from using the Internet without the presence of a mahram (a close relative they are prohibited to marry). This was followed by a call from Saudi businessmen to sue Web sites that call for freedom of thought and secularism, such as the aforementioned Web sites.

The Fatwa was issued by 2 saudi sheikhs called Othman Al Khamees and Saad Al Ghamdy, and it states the following: " It's Haram to let women use the internet because of their inside wickedness, and a woamn shouldn't be allowed on the internet without the presence of a Moharam (close male relative) who is an expert in the deceptive and sexually corrupt nature of the women!". I am not making this shit up, people. That's what it said.
She could start with defending her own use of the Internet, I suppose.


I guess they got my letter ;))


Outstanding!
Address by the Prime Minister To the Canadian Armed forces in Afghanistan

March 13, 2006
Ottawa, Ontario

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

Introduction

Thank you for your warm welcome.

I want to begin by telling you how proud I am of the work you’re doing.

You have put yourself on the line to:

* Defend our national interests;

* Protect Canada and the world from terror;

* Help the people of Afghanistan rebuild their country.

I thank you.

Canadians thank you.

And I know that the Afghan people thank you.


Canada’s National Interest

Your work is important because it is in our national interest to see Afghanistan become a free, democratic, and peaceful country.

Before its liberation, under the Taliban regime, Afghanistan often served as an incubator for Al Qaeda and other terror organizations.

This reality hit home with brutal force on 9-11, when two dozen Canadians lost their lives suddenly and senselessly in the destruction of the World Trade Centre.

Those were ordinary Canadians. People with families, partners, children and dreams for a better future. Just like all of our citizens, people who died suddenly and for no reason at the hands of fanatics.

Since that time, Al Qaeda has singled out Canada as one of the countries targeted for terror.

And beyond the threat of terror there’s the threat of drugs.

An unstable Afghanistan represents easy pickings for drug lords who would use the country as a safe haven for the production of heroin, which wreaks its own destruction on the streets of our country.

Our Canada is a great place, but Canada is not an island.

And what happens in places like Afghanistan threatens and affects all of us back home in our own country.


Canadian Leadership Tradition

Your work is about more than just defending Canada’s interest. It’s also about demonstrating an international leadership role for our country. Not carping from the sidelines, but taking a stand on the big issues that matter.

You can’t lead from the bleachers. I want Canada to be a leader. And I know you want to serve your country. A country that really leads, not a country that just follows. That’s what you are doing. Serving in an un-mandated, Canadian-led security operation that is in the very best of the Canadian tradition:

* Providing leadership on global issues;

* Stepping up to the plate;

* Doing good when good is required.


Humanitarian Mission

Finally, but no less important, is the great humanitarian work you’re doing. Working with the Afghan government and Afghan people to enhance their security helps them. It helps them rebuild their country to make a better life for themselves and their children.

Already a great deal has been accomplished. Reconstruction is reducing poverty; millions of people are now able to vote; women are enjoying greater rights and economic opportunities that could have been imagined under the Taliban regime; and of Afghan children who are now in school studying the same things Canadian kids are learning back home.

These are important victories for the people of Afghanistan, and the represent things worth standing up for.


Standing up for Canadian Values

Of course, standing up for these core Canadian values may not always be easy at times. It’s never easy for the men and women on the front lines. And there may be some who want to cut and run.

But cutting and running is not your way.

It’s not my way.

And it’s not the Canadian way.

We don’t make a commitment and then run away at the first sign of trouble.

We don’t and we won’t.


Conclusion

Friends, we have made real progress here. You’re work is vital to Canada.

To the free world.

To the Afghan people.

As you get ready to go back to work, know that I am behind you.

Your government is behind you.

And, most importantly, the Canadian people are behind you.

Thank you. God bless Canada.

CTV has a decent piece on the visit.
"It's a very, very dangerous mission, and I think the prime minister just wanted to come over and say, look, thank you for what you're doing here."
Me, too.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Successful humanities majors. Really.


If you have not read the no-confidence resolution against Lawrence Summers written by a tiny subset of the Harvard faculty... well you can't anymore. It's apparently been taken off the Web.

The good news is that you can read the introduction, probably as much as your stomach could handle anyway, as well as Jeff Goldstein's great comments here.

People talking without speaking


It has now been six days since the Supreme Court ruled that colleges that accept federal funds must also accept the visits of military recruiters.

This is a monumental affront to the principles and mores that led many colleges to spend megabucks on a legal battle intended to cement their right to admit Taliban ambassadors as students while dismissing the US Armed Forces as persona-non-grata homophobes. Apparently, the treatment of homosexuals under the Taliban is not spoken of at Yale.

It was an utmost principle of free speech that Yale, and others, be allowed federal money with having to follow federal law. So, follow your principles or shut up.

It's been six days. The sound of these universities following their principles is the sound of silence.

Update: 18-March-2006 Everything I Know is Wrong has the same question

Support Canadian troops and support their mission


12-March-2006

The Honourable Gordon O'Connor
Minister of National Defence
National Defence Headquarters
Major-General George R. Pearkes Building
101 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1A 0K2


Sir,

I wrote to you on February 15th of this year wishing Prime Minister Harper's government “every success.”

I also wrote to take you to task over your comment regarding publication of some “notorious” Danish cartoons in the Western Standard. You said,
"It doesn't help. Radicals in Syria and Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq, they get people roused up because their religion's being offended. We don't need any more risk in the area than we have."
I did not consider these remarks helpful; noting,
“I think you insult "real" jihadists, the ones who would be the attackers in the war-zone, by suggesting that they are spurred to more effective effort by some cartoons - several of which had to faked up. This is an invitation to attack Canadian troops; because a) as noted, it insults the jihadi, and b) it tells them attacking Canadian troops will have a significant political effect.”
Since I last wrote attacks against Canadian troops in Afghanistan have surged, and 43% of Canadians are opposed to a Canadian military presence there when polled in a certain way. As Agence France-Presse spun the question in their reporting:
“Asked whether Canada should participate in US President George W. Bush's "war on terrorism," respondents were split with 48 percent in favor, 43 percent against.”
This is the wrong question, of course. Another way to ask it would be, “Should Canada stand behind its military obligations to our NATO allies and to the fledgling democracy in Afghanistan?”

I write today to congratulate you on your intent to honour that pledge, and to urge you to continue, as noted by The Globe and Mail on February 24th,
“Yesterday, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor promised unflagging government support for the deployment of the 2,200 Canadian troops in the country. The soldiers are facing an increasingly dangerous insurgency bent on the downfall of U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai.

"Not only is our deployment to Afghanistan the largest and most important Canadian Forces operation at the moment, it's also quite representative of the type of missions that our military will be called upon to perform in the future," Mr. O'Connor said.”
I am certain your government will continue to suffer the stinks and bellows of a world press intent on its own anti-Western agenda. Please keep letting Canadians and the world know what Agence France-Presse would rather they not know.

In deepest appreciation for Canada’s defence of western standards,

Duane Hershberger
Williamston, MI


cc: Prime Minister Stephen Harper


Update: 1:59PM. Forgot to include this link from Dust My Broom.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

There are some ideas so idiotic, it takes an intellectual to believe them


H/T to George Orwell.

JPM's comment on yesterday's post was on my mind today, so of course I found many related essays and other bits in today's reading.

First off, there are these two directly related items from Tech Central Station (Uriah Kriegel) and Asymmetrical Information (Jane Galt).

Ladies first. Affirmative action and the academic labour market:
...the thought that the academic job market, as described here, is very close to what most academics think labour markets are like outside the economy: a sharply binary process in which there are clearly delineated winners or losers, the outcomes are somewhat arbitrary, and a very slight run of bad luck can land you in a place from which there is literally no hope of escaping. This might go a long way towards explaining academic leftism, in two ways: first, going through the academic job market might make you more left-wing; and second of all, people who think that the entire world works this way might be more predisposed to pursue jobs in academia.

Mr. Kriegel writes, in Autumn of the Humanities:
...Our universities have a double function, involving not only research, but also teaching. The correlate of the above trends on the teaching side of academic function has been the transformation of our universities from institutions of education to institutions of certification. Few students in a regular humanities class are motivated by curiosity and the desire to learn and understand. It's hard to blame them: they lack role models who do. In the absence of such motivation, the only rationalization they can make of their need to sit in classrooms for four years is the prize at the end of the road: the practical dividends of holding a BA, preferably from a top university.

Lawrence Summers, Harvard's outgoing president, understood all that. He understood that the advancement of knowledge across the humanities has been systematically sacrificed on the altar of what is essentially a political agenda, as have been the traditional incentives of wonder at the world, fascination with its inner working, and the determination to understand them all.
I recommend reading the whole things.

The general theme of the musing JPM's comment inspired is to do with the utter strangeness of academic culture, and the above two links certainly address that.

On the same point, there is this huge quantity of anecdotal evidence. I mean, there's enough of it to convict. I ran through
Harvard's firing (effectively by the Humanities faculty) of Larry Summers, the Taliban ambassador now attending Yale - where they want to refuse miltary recruiters access to campus and keep ROTC shut down - a protest at Oregon State University wondering how a campus newspaper is allowed to publish an OpEd Muslims don't like and the Capitalist Piglet controversy at the University of Saskatchewan. Not to mention Ward Churchill, Noam Chomsky and Juan Cole.

My wonder at this leaked over into another free speech question. I'll get to that last.

The wonder is that any student at any publicly funded University in North America can even gain a minimum ability for critical thinking in exchange for $20-$40K per annum. If they do so, they would have done so anyway, and at far less expense while facing less active obstruction.

While the
University of Saskatchwan is apparently considering shutting down their undergrad newspaper because of a poorly drawn and humorless cartoon of Jesus fellating a pig, we simultaneously have protests at Oregon State University wondering how an ill word can be published about Muslims staging worldwide riots over cartoons of Muhammed.
On Thursday, about a dozen students -- including members of Muslim and Arab student groups -- held a vigil on the campus to protest both Blake's piece and the Danish cartoons.

They handed out flyers that stated "While staying loyal to the main values of freedom of expression that founded this country, we also feel the need to reflect on the values of tolerance and acceptance on this campus."

Among the students offended by the column was Nada Mohamed, a 20-year-old junior and the vice president of OSU's Muslim Student Association.

"It was amazing to me that they (the campus newspaper) were allowed to publish this kind of stuff," she told the Corvallis Gazette-Times.
"Main values of freedom of expression"?? "Allowed to publish"??
Why doesn't she know the definition of the words irony or parody? Why doesn't she wonder why Iranian newspapers are allowed to have a contest soliciting the best Holocaust denial cartoons, before worrying about her campus newspaperette? Iran is a hostile environment. As is Yemen.

Finally, on another frontier of free speech we have this.

Placing this problem on the spectrum of free expression concerns is left to the student. How would
Nada Mohamed react? Suggest a solution for Stacey Kelley and Westchase. Defend your answers.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Can't we all just get along?


H/T James Taranto, Opinion Journal:
At ... Syracuse University, meanwhile, students Jessie Kerr-Vanderslice, a senior, and Bobby Powers, a junior, show off the value of their education in a letter to the editor of the Daily Orange

*** QUOTE ***

Sadly, we must bring to your attention yet another example of offensive and insensitive programming sponsored by our university. On March 8, Ann Coulter will be speaking at the invitation of the College Republicans. If you are not familiar with her work, a quick Google search will let you know what's up. Ann Coulter's openly racist, sexist and hateful remarks violate Syracuse University's non-discrimination policy. Have we learned nothing from HillTV about respect for our fellow human beings? Evidently not.

This is not an issue of free speech and hearing "both sides" of an issue. Her remarks directly infringe upon students' rights to feel safe and included in the campus community. At this point, we find it unlikely that this kind of oppressive "entertainment" is due to white privileged ignorance and probably has more to do with overt, unashamed racism.

*** END QUOTE ***
This is semantically identical with the language of Islamofascist protestors ranting about caricatures of Muhammed. "Our feelings are most important. The rest of you have to shut up."

Call it Kumbaya-fasco-passive-aggressiveness. Unfortunately, the letter is intended
as a caricature neither of treacly pseudo-African folksongs, nor of the more "reality based" denizens of our campuses.

They're serious that free speech should not impinge on their privileged status as deaf students. You can just see them running around chanting "lalalalala, I can't hear you."

If only they would do that instead of putting it in writing.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Taligram for Gordon O'Connor


Does anyone think the recent upsurge in attacks on Canadian troops in Afghanistan might be a result of Canada's Minister of National Defence apologizing on behalf of a free press for publication of a Danish cartoon or two?

I suggested on 15-Feb that he might be inviting trouble here:
[Your comment is] an invitation to attack Canadian troops; because a) as noted, it insults the jihadi, and b) it tells them attacking Canadian troops will have a significant political effect.
I do not think these Taliban are sending a message to the Western Standard. That leaves... who?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Backward by choice


While the North American press (or parochial narcissist buffoons –PNB - in Mark Steyn’s felicitous phrase) continues to ensure that you can’t see the cartoons about which Islamofascists are rioting worldwide, others are more courageous. Much more.

Dr. Wafa Sultan is a psychologist and a Syrian expatriate who resides in the U.S. She recently appeared on Al-Jazeera television where she attacked Islamists as “backward.” The video is here. You should watch it.

She is articulate and relentless in her contention that the war with Islamofascism is not a clash of civilizations. To summarize Dr. Sultan’s position: To have a clash of civilizations, you’d need a minimum of two civilizations, and Islam is generally too backward to be so considered.

This isn’t mere semantics, she’s asking what “civilization” means, and it caused me to think about evidence that would support her contention of “backwardness.” Not simply evidence of religious frenzy that leads to uncivilized behavior; we have a surfeit of that sort of data; but, since it is possible to imagine an intellectually advanced civilization that behaves in a fashion similar to militant Islam, what would demonstrate “backwardness?”

It certainly isn't the presence of intellectuals. An intellectually advanced civilization may produce ethicists like Margaret Sanger or Dr. Peter Singer, who argues:
…the value of human existence can be ascertained by the amount of pleasure one derives from life. And sometimes the individual's pleasure is irrelevant and the pleasure of one's parents should decide the worthiness of one's life. He even advocates killing a child below the age of 28 days, if that child's life can be replaced by a happier one.

In his book, "Practical Ethics," Professor Singer writes, "When the death of a disabled infant will lead to the birth of another infant with better prospects of a happy life, the total amount of happiness will be greater if the disabled infant is killed. The loss of the happy life for the first infant is outweighed by the gain of a happier life for the second. Therefore, if the killing of the hemophiliac infant has no adverse effect on others it would ... be right to kill him."
-----------
Singer [also] claims that some people with life-long cognitive disabilities never become "persons" at any time throughout their lives. He claims that some people who acquire cognitive disabilities cease to be "persons." For example, Singer writes:

“Only a person can want to go on living, or have plans for the future, because only a person can even understand the possibility of a future existence for herself or himself. This means that to end the lives of people, against their will, is different from ending the lives of beings who are not people. Indeed, strictly speaking, in the case of those who are not people, we cannot talk of ending their lives against or in accordance with their will, because they are not capable of having a will on such a matter. ...killing a person against her or his will is a much more serious wrong than killing a being that is not a person. If we want to put this in the language of rights, then it is reasonable to say that only a person has a right to life." (Rethinking Life and Death (NY: St. Martin's Press, 1995): 197-198)
This may be considered merely as evidence that elite University professors can be morally confused, but it is manifestly not evidence of a lack of education. Not that “education” equals “advanced”, but we are looking for some basis to distinguish societies in an examination of Dr. Sultan’s claims.

For one thing, without a philosophical underpinning there can be no moral approach to life, and so no point to it. Peter Singer’s philosophical underpinning ends up defining morality as how much pleasure a being can experience, and leads to his claim that animals may be superior to severely disabled people merely because the animals can better experience suffering. A set of philosophical principles, then, is necessary, but not sufficient, to produce ideas generally defensible as moral.

Singer’s philosophy violates the Golden Rule, which I contend is all you need to know about moral codes. This prescription comes, apocryphally, from Rabbi Hillel of Babylonia who, when approached by an unbeliever requesting that the rabbi teach him the whole of the Torah while he stood on one foot, responded: "What you find hateful do not do to another. This is the whole of the Law. Everything else is commentary. Now go and study it."

Many Westerners equate the Golden Rule with Christianity, which is a cultural and historical blind spot. Its tenets are found in every religion (Satanism excluded) and the idea predates monotheism.
Plato: "May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me." (Greece; 4th century BCE)
Socrates: "Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you." (Greece; 5th century BCE)
Almost all religions pay homage to the Golden Rule, and Islam is not an exception:

"None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." Number 13 of Imam "Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths."

This sounds fine until you realize that the definition of “brothers” is as important to the outcome as is Peter Singer’s definition of “person.” Singer would not agree that a human being can be defined as an animal, as do Islamists when they seriously describe Jews as pigs and apes, but Singer's ethics require placing animals’ right to live above that of certain human beings. It is but a small step, especially if supernaturally re-inforced, to defining infidels in general as non-human.

Western religion has historically had no qualms about treating those of a different supernatural persuasion as non-persons. Today, we see Christian religious fundamentalists killing people over abortion; and it has been worse, as those subjected to the mercies of the Inquisition found out. No one in the West today goes on television to cheer on the abortion bombers, however, or promotes videos of the atrocity.

To close the circle on Dr. Sultan’s points, I am led to suggest that science – practiced as a falsifiable, reproducible and open intellectual activity, is a reasonable surrogate for “advanced.” The most important part of this definition is the word “falsifiable” - one can at least imagine objective evidence that would refute a given idea. No argument from the supernatural can qualify. This is why Creationism, in any of its guises, is philosophy, not science, no matter what criticisms may be brought against Darwin.

If commitment to scientific method, and not even necessarily scientific achievement, is a place where one can identify “advancement”, what does it mean to be an Islamic scientist?
The scientific method in its modern form arguably developed in early Muslim philosophy, in particular, citation ("isnad"), peer review and open inquiry leading to development of consensus ("ijma" via "ijtihad"), and a general belief that knowledge reveals nature honestly. During the middle ages, significant advances in mathematics, medicine, astronomy, engineering, and many other fields originated from the Islamic civilization. During this time Islamic philosophy developed and was often pivotal in scientific debates–key figures were usually scientists and philosophers.
Muslim philosophy in this regard seems to have led the West by miles. Islamic science made marvelous contributions to the world, most of which seem to be unrecognized in Western histories of science. This lack of recognition may have more to do with the disappearance of Islam from science after about 1490, however, than with Western perfidy.

Evidence of Arabic contributions to science exist in the names of many stars, but I know of no Arabic equivalent to Galileo. The closest I can come is this blaming of the West, via Galileo, for the plight of Muslims today.
“Today one can find that Muslims have become increasingly marginalized. The literacy among Muslims is about thirty to thirty five percent on the average and among rural women it is only about two to four per cent. The status of Muslims in the present world is at the bottom. Economically Muslims are poor, in education they are backwards and in science and technology they are marginal. There must be a deep examination of what has gone wrong. Why non-Muslims particularly in the West have achieved supremacy in every field of human endeavor.

What is the reason that the Muslims have fallen from a position of top of the civilization to the bottom of civilization? One of the reasons or a major reason is OBSCURANTISM. What is obscurantism? Obscurantism is the act of obscuring, or striving to prevent enlightenment, scientific advancement, modernity or to hinder the progress of knowledge and wisdom.

Obscurantism in Christianity (2)

Galileo and the Holy Inquisition
Many scientists in the West believe religions to be irrational, obscurantist and anti-scientific. The problem goes back to Galileo, who discovered that the earth goes round the sun, rather than vice-versa as stated in the Bible. When he publicized his findings he was arrested by the church on a charge of heresy and threatened with torture and burning at the stake unless he withdrew them. He offered the chance for his accusers to confirm his findings by observation through his telescope. They refused - if the facts were contrary to holy scripture then the facts must be wrong.

The burning times
During the centuries when the church held political power, numerous other investigators of the natural world were tortured to death or burnt at the stake for their curiosity. The early pioneers of biochemistry and pharmacology paid a heavy price. Anyone who was adept at herbal healing (herbology or phytopharmacology) was particularly likely to attract the attention of the church as if he/she practiced Wicca --one variety of witchcraft. Successful practitioners of Wicca were in league with the devil. In most rural communities throughout Europe such expertise was in the possession of elderly women, who were persecuted mercilessly by the Inquisition and other ecclesiastical authorities. These witch-hunts continued until the eventual triumph of reason over obscurantism during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries (a period known as the Enlightenment).

A very famous example of obscurantism is the use in medieval Europe of Latin (an otherwise dead language) as the tongue of religious and intellectual discourse both verbal and written. This avoidance of the vernacular allowed the Catholic Church, and it’s approved adjuncts such as the cathedral schools and the universities, to retain an effective monopoly on the inherited knowledge of the Classical era. This control over the writings of the Greco-Roman philosophers, mathematicians and theologians allowed the authorities to maintain a stranglehold on higher education, scientific inquiry and the direction of European political and moral thought up until the advent of Humanism during the intellectual revolution known to us as the Renaissance. It may seem unlikely that a simple control over whom could read which book allowed the Church to maintain a leading position in Europe for several centuries. However the idea becomes less infeasible when it is remembered that there were quite simply no other sources of information on the wider world available at the time. No one in medieval Europe could gain an education that was not colored and constrained by the doctrine and taboos of the Church. Anything, which disagreed with doctrine, was likely to be either hidden away or destroyed as the work of the Devil. The Church, as keeper of the wisdom of the ancients was final arbiter over truth in medieval Europe and, as in the case of Galileo, could stifle entire 'unacceptable' schools of thought if it chose.

The intellectual monopoly of the Catholic Church over Europe is only the most famous example of obscurantism in action. During the same period the presentation of cases in courts of law commonly had to be made in the language of the learned (ie: Latin). This served not only to make cases involving peoples of different nations possible, but also to lend an air of majestic mystique to what was often little more than petty wrangles over money or land. Both the religious and the secular usage of Latin in medieval Europe serves to illustrate something about the nature of obscurantism: namely that it plays upon the ignorance of the person watching, or upon the feeling of superiority he may feel over the ignorant.
Left unexplained here is how Western repression of science was so much more effective against Islamic scientists than against the Western scientists to whom it was directly applied. An explanation blaming outsiders for losing such a massive lead - in an area most conducive to maintaining leadership - is suspect. This seems to fully support Dr. Sultan’s argument that Muslims are whining, as does this argument against attempts to pass off the Q'uran as scientifically prescient:
Muslim Fundamentalists are fond of claiming that the Koran miraculously predicted the findings of modern science, and that all of its factual scientific claims are flawless. There are two important objections to this claim that I will make, one pointing to a general problem, the other a specific example of the failure of the claim. The tactic in general has also been criticised by Muslim intellectual Imran Aijaz (see part 2 of "Evidentialist Apologetics in Islam) and I have criticised other examples of it elsewhere ("The Koran Predicted the Speed of Light? Not Really," "Predicting Modern Science: Epicurus vs. Mohammed," and a past forum discussion about ants).

Much of the fundamentalist's evidence for this alleged miracle is actually moot, since it represents scientific knowledge that had been known in both the Mediterranean and Middle East for centuries before the Koran was written. Things like this have proven hard to explain to fanatics who are more practiced at pious denials than in actual historical research. For what follows, I am repeating common knowledge in the field of medieval history, and I refer doubters to the bibliography at the end of this essay.
Such misdirection of intellectual capital into glorifying the Q’uranic gospel at the expense of reason, cannot “advance” one’s society. “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” is no longer interesting, even philosophically.

The question of the decline in Islamic science is, I suggest, answered by the continuing enforced ascendancy of religious dogma over rational thought. This is another of Dr. Sultan’s points.

My conclusion is that the modern ascendancy of the West is due to the ability of Judeo-Christian culture to have overcome tribalism and superstition during the Enlightenment. This may even have been an accident of history, but that is irrelevant, and it cannot be imagined to have been directed against Islam.

More fully accepting the Golden Rule distinguishes the West from Islam in many ways, science not least. Christianity had a hard time overcoming its biases; Islam has found it impossible. The Enlightenment – the birth of modern Western values – is based on a simple extension of the Golden Rule to include those of other “tribes” who may not share your dogma.

The strain of Islam which dominates today’s headlines never experienced its own Enlightenment. Until it does, a rational discussion will not be possible. I think this is also among Dr. Sultan’s points.

I thank her for the obvious courage it took to say such things on Jihadist TV.

Update: 5-Mar, 6:38PM - various minor corrections.