Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Saturday, June 28, 2003

Pleistocene Liberation Organization Environmentalism Adds Fuel To The Fire

And at FrontPage Magazine, Michael Reagan and Greenpeace cofounder Patrick Moore address a significant contributing factor to the spread of wildfires: the environmentalist movement's opposition to forest management programs involving the removal of dead trees and the thinning of forests. The fanatical drive to eliminate human contact with much of the nation's forests has put those forests - and the wildlife (and people) that dwell within or nearby - at risk.

The Next Constitutional Right Could Be...

Lap dancing, according to George Will.

It's Miller Time!

National Review columnist Duncan Currie writes about Dennis Miller, a man who defies being pigeonholed into either the conservative or liberal camps.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Thoughts On Lawrence v. Texas

As stated in my original post on the topic, although I oppose sodomy laws as bad policy, the Constitution provides no legitimate precedent for overturning them. My opposition to such laws was explained thus:

Let's look at drug prohibition for a moment. Support for the federal drug war hinges on the claim that it curtails the spread of drug abuse; if this claim is discredited, the argument for prohibition collapses. This issue is debated hotly by intelligent people on both sides, and isn't about to be settled any time soon. But can anybody with half a brain say with a straight face that sodomy laws have had any value as a deterrent?

Virtually no social conservatives clamor for criminalization of unmarried adult heterosexuals having sex. Such people view that participation in the Sexual Revolution tends to dissipate one's ability to establish intimate, secure relationships. But they see something wrong with arresting people for it; probably very few of them can really put their finger on what it is that they find troubling. Perhaps they fear that if law enforcement is encouraged to interfere with social trends they don't like, it might eventually interfere with those that they do. Perhaps they sense that criminalization will actually reinforce this social phenomenon, breeding among sexual moderates and liberals a resentment that would vastly increase their alienation toward social conservatism. These are valid concerns, whether the Revolutionaries are gay or straight. When people refrain from turning to the law to settle cultural disputes, building bridges is easier and violence is less likely.

I predicted that the Fourteenth Amendment would serve as Exhibit A in the case, and explained how it may or may not be applied legitimately to Lawrence:

The Fourteenth Amendment can be applied to this case legitimately if one of two situations can be proven (guess which one Lambda Legal will pursue):

  • Homosexuality is not inherently dysfunctional; therefore the law should not treat homosexual acts differently from heterosexual acts
  • Acts of both heterosexual and homosexual sodomy are necessarily symptomatic of sexual dysfunction; both forms can therefore be legally banned (Update: If homosexual sodomy is banned so must heterosexual sodomy, and vice versa)

This places the judiciary in a position that it must never ever be in: arbitrating scientific dispute. Many behavioral scientists accept the evidence (much of which was produced long before NARTH ever existed) that casts homosexuality as a psychosexual dysfunction; many others do not. Courts must judge the law, not science; interpreting science for the sake of policy falls under the jurisdiction of legislatures.

In this post I restated this argument:

If the Court can establish that Texas criminalizes gay sex but not some other sex act that is no less dysfunctional or has no less negative impact on society, then the "equal protection" clause of the Fourteenth Amendment kicks in. But the Court is not authorized to make rulings on [hotly-contested claims regarding] sociology and sexology, which would be necessary to draw such parallels.

That post drew the attention of blogger Sean LaFreniere - I responded to his posts here and here. Sean brought to my attention a legal concept that is critical to cases such as this: substantive due process - defined by Merriam-Webster as "a judicial requirement that enacted laws may not contain provisions that result in the unfair, arbitrary, or unreasonable treatment of an individual." I explained that "there is no clear, objective standard for judges to determine 'when...actions would jeopardize the rights of your fellow citizens.'" Substantive due process has been used to invent rights out of whole cloth - as evidenced in the minority opinion of Slaughterhouse Cases and in the majority opinions of Dred Scott v. Sandford and Roe v. Wade.


The closing words of the majority opinion of Lawrence upholds the authority of the Supreme Court to unilaterally expand the definition of rights that are not already stated in statute or in the federal or state constitutions:

Had those who drew and ratified the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth Amendment or the Fourteenth Amendment known the components of liberty in its manifold possibilities, they might have been more specific. They did not presume to have this insight. They knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.

In his dissent, Antonin Scalia takes on some faulty logic in Sandra Day O'Connor's concurring opinion:

JUSTICE O’CONNOR argues that the discrimination in this law which must be justified is not its discrimination
with regard to the sex of the partner but its discrimination with regard to the sexual proclivity of the principal actor.

While it is true that the law applies only to conduct, the conduct targeted by this law is conduct that is closely correlated with being homosexual. Under such circumstances, Texas' sodomy law is targeted at more than conduct. It is instead directed toward gay persons as a class. Ante, at 5.

Of course the same could be said of any law. A law against public nudity targets "the conduct that is closely correlated with being a nudist," and hence "is targeted at more than conduct"; it is "directed toward nudists as a class."

Scalia also has some words to say about the democratic process:

Social perceptions of sexual and other morality change over time, and every group has the right to persuade its fellow citizens that its view of such matters is the best. That homosexuals have achieved some success in that enterprise is attested to by the fact that Texas is one of the few remaining States that criminalize private, consensual homosexual acts. But persuading one's fellow citizens is one thing, and imposing one's views in absence of democratic majority will is something else.


This points to the two great ironies of Lawrence. First, the greatest democratic achievement of gay activism has been the abolition of sodomy laws; since 1960, all but twelve states have gotten rid of them. Second, the issue presented the greatest opportunity for gays and social conservatives to build bridges; many social conservatives already oppose such laws, and in a better world the two could have worked together under the mutual understanding that a) sodomy laws offer precedents for government hyperactivity that could threaten everybody, and that b) supporting a law that is vastly ineffectual in influencing mores is a waste of resources.

The Supreme Court has made peace between gays and social conservatives much more difficult. The gay lobby is widely perceived as an enemy of democracy and due process, having achieved most of its victories by steamrolling its agenda through the courts and by forcing dissident voices (not just Dr. Laura) into silence. ("Friend of the Internet" Bill O'Reilly looks like Nat Hentoff in comparison.) Lawrence strengthens this image, discourages among Lawrence's opponents faith in the democratic process, reinforces among Lawrence's supporters the legal delusions that brought about the decision, and takes away a bargaining chip that sodomy-law-opposing social conservatives have to offer.

Gay activism has two other albatrosses around its neck. One is the North American Man-Boy Love Association. NAMBLA has a long history of showing up at gay events without being turned away by event organizers. Some try to distance themselves from the group, but few, if any, show any interest in actively campaigning against NAMBLA. (There sure were a lot of 'em that were interested in campaigning against Dr. Laura - I guess she posed the greater threat.) Many people are already prone to judge gays at large by the activist outfits that purport to represent them; you can figure out the sort of backlash that this tacit support for NAMBLA represents.

The other albatross is gay activist involvement in education policy. Mandated "tolerance" curricula is couched not toward teaching children that people can get along despite real or perceived shortcomings, but that students must swallow one particular view of homosexuality without question. Mandated sex education continues this practice, and programs sponsored by groups like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educational Network often involve graphic instructional material on how to conduct various sexual practices (warning: mature content).

So why should it surprise anyone that when Mark Racicot met with the Human Rights Campaign, many saw him meeting with totalitarian pedophile enablers? Is this a fair perception of gay activists? I suspect that there is a lot more diversity of opinion within gay activism (and certainly within the gay community at large) than the largely monolithic voice of the activist leadership implies.

(I also suspect that a lot of NAMBLA enablers are really people who hate NAMBLA but choose not to make public pronouncements against it for whatever reasons - disbelief that it is a real threat, belief that the best way for NAMBLA to lose influence is to not talk about it, fear that mentioning NAMBLA even in protest risks reinforcing the perception among some that gays tend to support pedophilia, fear of reprisal from within the gay community, etc.)

There are gay people who support parents' right to choose their childen's educational options, who respect the rights of private creed-based organizations to exclude gays or atheists or whomever from membership, and who accept that people don't have to like each other's ideas, actions, or psychological orientation in order to like each other. Likewise, there are social conservatives who feel the same about getting along with others, who believe that a few or many of the benefits associated with marriage could be extended to other relationships (not just gay ones) without insulting the institution of marriage, and who believe that, at least to some degree, the government has too much of its hand in (nominally) defending cultural values - that some of that "defense" should be assumed wholly by the private sector. These people need to find each other somehow.

Update: I neglected to address a third albatross around the neck of gay activism - its leading role in the Political Correctness movement. Campus PC pursues the institution of speech codes to combat "hate speech" - which many of its proponents would like to see enacted in law, and in some capacity are already law in Canada and the UK. Lecturers and student publications that do not contradict the pillars of PC are suppressed. Elite universities are some of the most totalitarian institutions in Western civilization.

Regarding my closing statement...gays and social conservatives who can get along with each other do find each other, and in greater numbers than is commonly expected. What is sorely lacking is an organized movement shared by the two groups that seeks non-statist political compromises that do not require compromises in values, that pursues political issues that have nothing to do with gay issues, that confronts the bigoted notion that gays should be hated or stigmatized for their psychological orientation, and that confronts the bigoted notion that social conservatives should be hated or stigmatized for being critical of homosexuality.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

All Utopias Are Dystopias

Yesterday was George Orwell's 100th birthday, and in honor of this occasion I would like to pose the following question:

Why are utopia and dystopia treated as separate concepts?

Merriam-Webster defines utopia as "a place of Ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions," and dystopia as "an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives."

These are not two different political systems but opposite sides of the same coin. Utopia's requirement for perfect social conditions means no separation of culture and state. All cultural avenues that contradict the Ideal - which is to say most cultural avenues - must be criminalized. Optimally, all citizens must agree with each other and the State on what constitutes paradise. Since that is a human impossibility, the utopian State must use coercion to force conformity and to prevent nonconformist activities. Utopianism is totalitarianism.

Lester Maddox Is Gone, But The Assault On The 1964 Civil Rights Act Is Still With Us

Clayton Cramer offers an interesting perspective on Grutter v. Bollinger:

Gee, if "diversity" was the real reason for this, the [University of Michigan] Law School would have an affirmative action program for stupid people. After all, stupid people "have been historically discriminated against" and are discriminated against today. You don't find a lot of subnormals sitting on the Supreme Court (though there are decisions that make you wonder), or running major corporations (Enron: the results of corporate affirmative action for stupid people?). And it is certainly true that having 30% of the law school entering class filled with those of normal or subnormal intelligence would give the law students "differing perspectives" that they aren't going to hear from their fellow smarties. (Before you start sneering, I'm sure that none of the students admitted through the Law School's affirmative action program would qualify as "normal or subnormal" in intelligence.)

Read the whole thing.

Update: If associating a segregationist with affirmative action seems loony, note that I am looking at means and not ends. One discriminated to fight diversity, the other discriminates to ensure diversity. If only the affirmative action hawks would pay more attention to ideological diversity.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Kelsey Grammer Knows How To Have Fun

The Left Coast Report reports on Grammer's recent appearance on David Letterman:

The actor went on to describe what a small group of Hollywood Republicans that he hangs out with did recently for kicks. He quipped, "Last weekend, just for fun, we kidnapped Michael Moore and gave him a decent haircut and some clothing."

Which Post-WWII Conflict Has Been The Deadliest?

The war in Congo:

There are no firm figures on the death toll, but the range is believed to lie between 2 million and 4.7 million. Assuming the low end estimate, that's equivalent to a 9-11 every day for 666 days. The International Rescue Committee estimates that 3.3 million people have died throughout Congo, most of them from war-induced famine and disease.

Of course, peacetime can be just as deadly, if not more so.

This Day In American History

1788 Virginia became the tenth state to ratify the US Constitution.

1868 Back in the US of A: the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, and North and South Carolina were readmitted to the Union. This site lists dates of admission of the original states, years that all other states were admitted, and the Confederate states' dates of secession and readmission.

1876 US Seventh Cavalry under General George Armstrong Custer is completely wiped out at Little Big Horn.

1921 Jock Hutchinson becomes first American golfer to win British Open. Yeah, he was born British, but he had to move to the States to win the Open. So there :-)

1951 First color television broadcast in the US, by CBS.

1973 John Dean testifies before Senate Watergate Committee. Trivia question: which former First Lady worked on the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry staff?

2003 Former Georgia governor and segregationist leader Lester Maddox passed away today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

What Defines Christianity?

Peter Cutbertson posted on the subject on the issue of homosexuality as it relates to the Anglican Church. Someone named Ralph posted a comment, which Andrew Ian Castel-Dodge posted on his and Sasha's site. Ralph claims that Christianity should be based only on the words of Christ - that the Old Testament and the writings of Jesus' apostles have no authority with regard to the philosophy Jesus taught.

This common misunderstanding fails to take into account several points. For those of you who brought your Bibles, turn to Matthew 5:17. During the "Sermon on the Mount," Jesus states:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Point 1: Jesus claimed to have authority documented by the Pentateuch and by what we call the Major and Minor Prophets (the former being Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, the latter being the authors of the last 12 books of the OT). Most of not all of the Prophets foretold of the Messiah. Jesus claimed to be the Messiah before the Apostles (Matt. 16:13-20) and before the Sanhedrin (Matt. 26:62-64). Matthew was especially concerned with this claim, referencing OT prophecies throughout his gospel, because he knew that Jesus' legitimacy rested in the accuracy of this claim. If Jesus draws authority from "the Law and the Prophets," then Christians must recognize that authority.

(This post explores the relationship between Christianity and Mosaic law in detail, explaining the reasons why the sacrificial and dietary laws and the theocracy existed, and why Christians are nor compelled to continue those practices today.)

Point 2: Buttressing the link between Jesus and the OT, Jesus claimed to be the very same God who gave the Law and the Prophets their authority. Turn to John 8:54-59:

Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

Jesus didn't stop there. He noted that King David equated Messiah with God (Matt. 22:41-45, Mark 12:35-37, Luke 20:41-44).He claimed attributes only God could rightly claim: to be the way, truth, life, and resurrection (John 11:25, John 14:6), and to be greater than the temple and Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:6-8, Luke 6:5).

Point 3: The Apostles are essentially prophets. A prophet is one appointed by God to deliver a message about past, present, and/or future reality. The words of prophets have always been regarded as canon.

Point 4: Paul of Tarsus was such a prophet. Saul/Paul was appointed an apostle by Jesus; and the appointment was confirmed miraculously through Ananias of Damascus (Acts 9:1-17).

Point 5: Christian doctrine is drawn primarily from the Bible, but not solely. It also draws from empirical research, particularly in the behavioral sciences. There is much research into such topics as sexuality and child rearing, for two examples, that many churches accept despite those findings contradictions with the politically correct conventional wisdom. For related websites, Google and ye shall find.

On a final note, Ralph made a lame attempt at illustrating Christian hypocrisy with this:

And as for that most sacred of Christian instititions for the Faithful, the Communion, well, it must be said that in Leviticus Ch. 10 v. 9, it quite explicitly states: "Do not drink wine or strong drink, thou nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations."

And yet we have the Christian Lord seeming to directly countermand the instructions of the God of Moses in the NT Gospels, by instructing His discliples to eat the bread and drink the wine in rememberance of Him - the former being a representation of His body, and the latter of His blood, which He was intending to 'shed' for the 'many.'

For 'tabernacle' please let us read 'church.'

That last sentence explains Ralph's error. The tabernacle was the "tent of meeting," the precursor to the Jewish temple - neither of which is synonymous with the modern-day church. The tabernacle and temple were not generic places of worship as Christian churches are. It housed specific rituals, with specific requirements, that have been fulfilled in Christ; see the Old Testament post I referred to earlier.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Trivia Question

A man learns one day that the world he has known all his life is not real. What is the name of the illusion that this man is forced to confront?

  1. The Matrix
  2. United Nations Commission on Human Rights
  3. Professional wrestling
  4. New York Times
  5. The Guardian
  6. CNN
  7. Election laws of the State of New Jersey
  8. Public education
  9. The Social Security trust fund
  10. The nation of Palestine

So Be It...Jedi

 photo DarthLileks.jpg

James Lileks is inviting one and all to high-tech doodling on his picture (registration required for latter link). I dug into the ol' memory vault for this inspiration. Back in March, a session of Jedi Knights 3 inspired Lileks to muse over the Dark Side of the Force. Pejman Yousefzadeh had a bad feeling about it.

What Does Hamas Stand For?

In this post, NZ Pundit links to a website that displays the charter of Hamas ("Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamia" - Islamic Resistance Movement).

Article Eleven states that Palestine is the rightful property of Islamic Arab nations (emphasis added):

The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. No Arab country nor the aggregate of all Arab countries, and no Arab King or President nor all of them in the aggregate, have that right, nor has that right any organization or the aggregate of all organizations, be they Palestinian or Arab, because Palestine is an Islamic Waqf throughout all generations and to the Day of Resurrection. Who can presume to speak for all Islamic Generations to the Day of Resurrection? This is the status [of the land] in Islamic Shari'a, and it is similar to all lands conquered by Islam by force, and made thereby Waqf lands upon their conquest, for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection. This [norm] has prevailed since the commanders of the Muslim armies completed the conquest of Syria and Iraq, and they asked the Caliph of Muslims, 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab, for his view of the conquered land, whether it should be partitioned between the troops or left in the possession of its population, or otherwise. Following discussions and consultations between the Caliph of Islam, 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab, and the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, be peace and prayer upon him, they decided that the land should remain in the hands of its owners to benefit from it and from its wealth; but the control of the land and the land itself ought to be endowed as a Waqf [in perpetuity] for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection. The ownership of the land by its owners is only one of usufruct, and this Waqf will endure as long as Heaven and earth last. Any demarche in violation of this law of Islam, with regard to Palestine, is baseless and reflects on its perpetrators.

This excerpt from Article Thirteen reveals Hamas' position on peace processes:

There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility. The Palestinian people are too noble to have their future, their right and their destiny submitted to a vain game.

Hamas appreciates the efforts of the PLO, but it has a complaint, documented in Article Twenty Seven

...the PLO has adopted the idea of a Secular State, and so we think of it. Secular thought is diametrically opposed to religious thought. Thought is the basis for positions, for modes of conduct and for resolutions. Therefore, in spite of our appreciation for the PLO and its possible transformation in the future, and despite the fact that we do not denigrate its role in the Arab-Israeli conflict, we cannot substitute it for the Islamic nature of Palestine by adopting secular thought. For the Islamic nature of Palestine is part of our religion, and anyone who neglects his religion is bound to lose.

In short, Hamas demands the military conquest of all Palestine, which means all of Israel and the "Occupied Territories," and the institution of Islamic Shari'a government over the region.

This site has further background on Hamas. Another translation of the charter can be found here.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Tweaking The Template

I decided to make a few changes in the template. Decided the Henderson Prize information would look better on the sidebar, so it's swapping places with the Rummy quote. I got tired of the yellow background for the sidebar; the flags (esp. Estonia) show up better against the grey background. By the looks of my email inbox, the spambots haven't been too active at the site, but I figured it's never too early to disguise the email address. Still need to work on adding sites, esp. non-blogs (like the Day By Day comic strip) to the sidebar. Hope y'all like the changes.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Corporate Welfare From The Political Left

Governor Gary Locke and the Washington State legislature approved $3 billion in tax breaks that Boeing will receive if it builds its 7E7 "Dreamliner" passenger plane there.

I'm all for tax breaks, but not the sort that only one business can take advantage of. This is a bribe, comparable to the tax breaks for and direct funding of sports arenas.

If I were the CEO of Boeing, I'd tell Governor Locke that I don't want tax breaks he's not willing to offer the rest of Washington State industry.

Wit And Wisdom From My College Alma Mater

The University of Texas at Arlington's student newspaper, The Shorthorn (get it?) has a guest column by history major James Gallini:

The other day I was filling out my law school applications and kept running across the same non-optional boxes wanting me to declare my race.

Well, I looked in the mirror and an American was staring back at me. But American is not an option on those stupid, limited, little boxes. I was perplexed because I am Italian, German, Cherokee, Comanche, Irish, English, Scottish and Blackfoot.

In other words, he's white - as far as the people who put these stupid boxes on admissions forms are concerned. He notes a double standard:

Mexican-Americans have their own box and other Spanish speaking groups (Latin-American or Hispanic) have a separate one. But should Mexicans have their own box, really? They are simply a mix of European and Ancient American. Well, so am I. So can I mark Mexican-American? I could because I don’t have to provide proof of pedigree.

He spends some time cataloguing the oppression of his ancestors by his ancestors. My favorite moment:

I cannot forget the unquenchable grief I suffer because of my Irish blood that fought and was murdered at the Alamo by the Mexicans. I have yet to receive compensation from the Mexican government for this crime against humanity. But I was just informed by my Comanche self that we brutally killed many Mexicans on the Comanche war path. I guess we’re even, and Vicente Fox, president of Mexico, does not have to write that check.

Gallini is checking the "other" box. I wish I could be a fly on the wall of the law school admissions office.

This item was linked as the June 19 "Column Du Jour" at WorldNetDaily.

It's Official - Mahmoud Abbas/Abu Mazen Is A Thug

LGF reports that the Palestinian prime minister plans to include members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad among his staff.

While I have your attention, I predict that Abbas will win this year's Nobel Peace Prize, illustrating once again that the award has no honor.

Sofia Sideshow Scoops New York Times

Read about it here.

Anticipating this journalistic coup, in March Maureen Dowd stated, "Bulgarians...outdo the...United States"

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Adventures In Visual Arts

Jason Kottke should enter this in next year's Cannes Film Festival.

(Linked via InstaPundit)

A New Twist On An Old Idea

WorldNetDaily contributor Ellen Ratner has a suggestion regarding the recent conviction of ImClone honcho Sam Waksal:

You see, Sam Waksal is also a physician. Rather than 7 years in the clink, Waksal ought to be sentenced to 7 to 15 years in a halfway house located in a place where people don't have doctors.

In this country, we have a one-size-fits-all sentencing system. But is that the most efficient when it comes to non-violent offenders? Clearly, for the murderers, rapists and armed robbers, well-built prisons are the answer. When it comes to non-violent offenders, I have a different solution.

It's simple: Before sentencing, non-violent offenders should be assessed for their skill sets. If the offender has a skill to offer, they should be offered a choice – so many years doing hard time, or up to double the number of years living in a halfway house doing what you might call soft time. This means they would be forced to spend their days contributing to areas that need them.

She is hitting on the ages-old institution of prison industry, one that has declined over the past few generations due to the influence of powerful special interests. A remark in a Kansas State Historical Society document identifies a conflict that was typical of all prison systems that wished to continue the institution of prison industry:

Mining and manufacturing interests as well as labor unions resented what they considered to be unfair competition from prison industry.

Charles Colson has been involved in setting up prison industry programs all over the world. He argues that prison industry (as well as faith-based ministry) reduces the rate of recidivism. Prison industry keeps inmates busy and (ideally) teaches them real-world skills that will make it easier to get honest jobs on the outside. There are some job skills I'd rather not see prisoners get their hands on - processing credit card orders comes to mind.

Ratner is, of course, thinking of what prisoners have to offer the civilian public with their talents. And that is all fine and good. But perhaps she should take a peek at another age-old institution that has largely gone by the wayside: victim restitution. Instead of sticking Waksal into some anonymous town, maybe he should be providing medical services to all those creditors, shareholders, and employees whose fortunes went south because of his misdeeds.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

The Fairness Doctrine - European Style

 photo Comply.jpg

Samizdata's Perry de Havilland reports the latest Eurostatist brainstorm. He links Declan McCullagh's column on a proposal put forth by the Council of Europe, an EU-centric "intergovernmental agency":
The all-but-final proposal draft says that Internet news organizations, individual Web sites, moderated mailing lists and even Web logs (or "blogs"), must offer a "right of reply" to those who have been criticized by a person or organization.
Perry has a response:

We have a comments section on in which people can and do comment about what we write, but access to that comment section is at our capricious discretion. If we decide we want to IP ban someone or want to delete their remarks from our comments section because we think they are offensive, or even if they are not offensive but we just bloody well feel like doing it because we have a headache, then we bloody well will. This is our private property...

If these regulations become the law of the EU (as seems likely), we will not obey, we will not cooperate, we will not accept that anyone has a 'right' to reply on our blog. Do you think we have said nasty things about you and want to reply regardless of our unwillingness to let you use our comment section? Fine...go to, sign up (for free), click on 'create a new blog' and voila... you have your own blog on which you can scream about how those mean old Samizdatistas 'done you wrong' to your heart's content.

Perry has some further musings on the statist dream (identified by the coined word "Communitarianism") of a society in which government plays the role of intercessor in all social transactions:

If I write something and plonk it on the Internet, I cannot compel someone else to read it just as they could not have compelled me to write it in the first place. Yet the notion of a freely offered opinion via an almost universally available medium and a freely choosing reader assumes that individual choice (mine as writer and yours as reader), rather than some collective political will, is an acceptable basis for social interaction.

What the people at The Council of Europe find so offensive is that this simple process (I decide to write, you decide to read (or not)) is totally non-political. If you read my article and decide to leave a comment, and I decide to delete that comment, and you then decide to start your own blog to decry the things I write, where is the 'political community' in all this? Nowhere of course, because the actions described are purely social. There is no use of the collective means of coercion by either me nor the disgruntled reader. You do not get a vote on what I write and I do not get a vote on what you read... and if you start up a blog of your own to criticise me, I do not get a vote on what you write either and if I leave comments on your blog pointing out the errors of you ways, you can delete them if you choose to.

The understanding that civil society (the several actions of affinity and dis-affinity) and the political sphere (the control the collective means of coercion) are materially different is hardly a new observation. Yet it is the refusal to accept this by people who see force (politics) as the only legitimate means of interaction which lies at the heart of attempts to legally impose certain forms on how people express views on the Internet. It is not about enabling wrongs to be righted, or giving voice to the voiceless, or sharing the means of expression. As blogs are more or less free to set up and the Internet has essentially infinite in capacity to support them, that argument is simply a bare faced lie. This proposed regulation is just a particularly overt example of how the power elite in Europe will not tolerate anything which disintermediates the state because to deny any role for politics in something is to deny them any role. After all, they are not threatening to ban us (provided we comply with their directives), they are just demending we stop acting as social entities, following the customs and manners of the Internet, and start acting as political entities, comporting ourselves according to the politically formats laid out by the superstate's expresion of what they see as the collective will.

This is because if there is one thing communitarians hates above all, it is being ignored and excluded. A communitarian thinks not only is my business everyone's business, but the plurality has the right to use political interaction (which means force backed law) to vote on my every action... there is no real 'private life' to a communitarian, just a political one. In a quite literal sense, popularity is mandatory: you may only do what a plurality allows you to do.

Samizdata already has a mirror site here, and a lot of European bloggers might start looking to transatlantic hosting should the Council of Europe's hypothetical law come to fruition.

(EuroBorg cube design by Aussie blogger Sam Ward)

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Monday, June 16, 2003

Sloganeering For The Iranian Demonstraters

Pejman is doing his part. And his efforts are getting noticed. El Gato has added visuals.

On another note, Jay Manifold suggests a strategy for the mullahs that involves playing cards.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

The Road From Serfdom

Yesterday was a special anniversary for Volokhdom.

Christians In Cinema

Christianity Today (thanks to blogs4God for the link) has an article about the portrayal of Christians in the movies "good, bad, and ugly." I have seen four of the films in the "good" category.

  • Ben-Hur. In a key scene, the title character speaks of Rome having killed Messala, his best friend since childhood. Messala had come to regard Rome as a false god, the first and the last of his duty and purpose in life. Ben-Hur saw the true Rome and not the idealized myth; as a result of this division Messala severed a lifelong friendship. Both men are driven to vengeance - Messala, for Ben-Hur's blasphemy against Rome, and Ben-Hur, for Messala's treachery agains his family. The former dies bitter and defiant; the latter recognizes the tragedy in his old friend's intransigence and in Jesus' forgiveness that he witnesses at the Cross.

  • The Sound of Music. It's more than just a hokey movie with a lot of musical scores you'd rather forget. It's a parable of the Christian duty to resist the State when the State does evil to its citizens.

  • Sergeant York. Alvin York discovers through faith the folly of his pugnacious ways, and through World War I that violence is sometimes necessary when the lives of allies are at stake. I do not expect a Tim Robbins remake any time soon.

  • X2: X-Men United. Nightcrawler is a humble penitent who, ironically, resembles somewhat the traditional Western concept of a demon (with pointy tail but without the horns and with blue skin instead of red). His faith is a source of peace in far from peaceful circumstances, starkly contrasting Magneto, Mystique, and Pyro, each of whom is embittered toward non-mutated humanity, and the short-fused Wolverine, who prefers to slash everything in sight and ask questions later.

Of the "bad and ugly" films, I have seen two:

  • The Shawshank Redemption. A lot of Christians love this movie, despite the fact that the only character espousing any faith is the corrupt warden. Evidently they are willing to overlook this tired stereotype of the dour, joyless "fundamentalist" (and can tolerate the cursing) and appreciate the messages regarding individual meaning and purpose. One reviewer had an interesting comment:

    "I don't actually care that much how Christians are portrayed," admits J. Robert Parks, "which is why I don't have a big problem with the admittedly nasty warden in Shawshank Redemption. I've unfortunately known people like that. What really gets my goat is when Christianity itself is portrayed in a harmful or negative or stereotypical light-which is why I loathe Chocolat.

  • Contact. Palmer Joss on screen was intended to be a positive Christian portrayal, but in fact he is a shallow, touchy-feely intellectual lightweight. The Palmer Joss of the book is a solid "fundamentalist," not a '60s reject, and does a better job of grappling with philosophical issues than his screen counterpart. (In fact, in the book it is Palmer who first raises the "Occam's razor" issue.) Rob Lowe has a cameo in the film as a stuffy Religious Rightist who is not intended as a positive Christian portrayal but who raises a vital issue: that the intentions of the aliens are unknown and must not be taken for granted. The most satisfying scene in the book is the revelation that the "black box" that had been placed in the contraption recorded many hours of footage durig a trip that supposedly lasted seconds. Sagan's conclusion is mind-boggling - check out the book and read it for yourself. One memorable chapter featured a meeting between Arroway, Joss, and Joss' mentor, the Rev. Richard Rankin. I have forgotten the particulars, but I recall that Arroway and Rankin each were talking about two separate issues but were trying to conduct a dialogue at the same time - something that happens all too often in the real world. I also recall Arroway's frustration with Christians - how ironic that she's eager to meet aliens from other worlds but can't deal with the aliens from this world.

The Segway May Still Have A Few Bugs In It

Good thing that President Bush has quick reflexes.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Look, Up In The Sky

On the night of June 12, a bright green meteor lit up the skies over New Zealand.

In other news, several sightings of a strange gelatinous substance have been reported in the town of Edendale. Authorities discount these as unfounded rumors, but the Ministry of Health cautioned against poking any pools of unidentified goo with a stick.

Morris vs. Clinton

Dick Morris takes exception to something Hillary wrote in her book, Living History. The full text of the letter is here. We report, you decide.

Update: A Clniton aide backs up his story.

Colin Powell Wants Cooperation From Our Arab "Friends"

Fox News reports Colin Powell's latest diplomatic adventures:

Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) asked Syria on Friday to help stem terrorism in the Middle East.

Powell telephoned the request to Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa as he widened his appeal to Arab countries.

Syria, itself, is listed by the State Department as a sponsor of terror. Spokesman Richard Boucher said Hamas and other groups had offices in Damascus.

Powell on Thursday made similar appeals to the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

In all the conversations, including the one with the Syrian minister, Powell's message was "to stop the violence, to stop the violent groups," Boucher said.

"I think it is clear what we want," Powell said Friday. "Hamas to stop it. Palestinian Islamic Jihad, al-Aqsa Brigades, all of them to stop it."

The article doesn't say if Powell said how the "violent groups" should be stopped. One would hope for something comparable to his "cut it off and kill it" line that he used during Gulf War I.

Hamas Declares War - So What Else Is New?

From Yahoo! News:

After four airborne attacks by the Israeli military in three days, the Hamas militant group ordered an all-out assault on Israel and urged foreigners to leave.

Hamas declared war on Israel when it was founded in 1987. Now the war is "all-out."

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pressed a "war on terror" while ridiculing the new Palestinian government.

The PA should be thoroughly condemned for not waging literal war against the region's terrorist groups.

The United States on Thursday called a meeting of its fellow Mideast mediators to try to salvage their "road map" peace plan, which is in danger of disintegrating

If the peace plan is in danger, it's because it's flawed. The people who are trying to kill Israelis need to be apprehended or liquidated - and the Palestinians must desire peaceful coexistence with Israel - before peace can even begin to take place.

Israeli helicopters on Thursday killed a Hamas commander and six others, including his wife and 2-year-old daughter in Gaza. Later, Israeli soldiers went to the West Bank town of Jenin and killed two Islamic Jihad activists.

This is the war zone Hamas and other terrorist scum created. Innocents get caught in the crossfire.

Between those two operations, Palestinians shot and killed an Israeli motorist in the West Bank. Early Friday, Israeli tanks entered the Tulkarem refugee camp in the West Bank, residents said, blocking roads.

Israelis spent Thursday burying victims of a Hamas suicide bombing on a bus in Jerusalem the day before. Seventeen passengers and bystanders were killed.

Here is that battlefield - the intentional targeting of civilians.

With the "road map" plan leading nowhere because of the surging violence, the U.S. State Department announced that Secretary of State Colin Powell would meet in Jordan next week with leaders of U.S. partners in the "Quartet" of mediators sponsoring the peace plan - The European Union, United Nations and Russia.

Oh, great. The US is going to discuss "peace process" with three appeasers of Saddam Hussein.

Powell called on Abbas to work harder to rein in militants. "We want him to use that limited capability as effectively as he can," Powell told The Associated Press in an interview after talking to Sharon and Abbas on the telephone.

Abbas isn't omnipotent. He can't control every single terrorist wannabe, whether he wants to or not. But he could declare total war on Hamas, Hezbollah, et. al. - which would involve the sort of military escalation that makes you people nervous, Mr. Powell. This "Israel must make peace with people who are shooting at it without shooting back" crap must come to an end. We didn't go to the bargaining table after the OKC bombing - we hunted down the perps. Let Israel do its perp hunting so it can have real peace.

Responding to four Israeli air strikes in Gaza that killed 20 Palestinians, including several senior Hamas commanders, Hamas issued one of its darkest threats yet, ordering "all military cells to act immediately and act like an earthquake to blow up the Zionist entity and tear it to pieces."

The group said foreigners should leave for their safety. Hamas has generally acted on its threats.

Looks like the roadmap forgot to take into account that not all Arabs want peace with Israel.

Sharon, in turn, said he would fight militants "to the bitter end," regardless of the road map.

Addressing his own Cabinet, he ridiculed Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas' ministers, calling them "crybabies" for saying that they can't crack down on Hamas. "If I need to choose between the war on terror and supporting Abu Mazen, I will chose the first option," Sharon said, referring to Abbas by his nickname.

If Abbas doesn't support the war on terror, he is the wrong person to lead the Palestinians to peaceful coexistence with Israel.

Abbas, noting that Israeli strikes have decimated his security services, prefers to persuade the Islamic militants to stop attacks against Israel, but Hamas pulled out of truce talks last Friday.

Why is it that his security services are getting decimated? They're not active participants in terrorist attacks, are they?

The Israeli air strikes against Hamas leaders infuriated the militant group and pushed away any thoughts of a cease-fire, weakening Abbas' already shaky political position.

So, it's Israeli retaliation, not Hamas leaders' willingness to let the murders continue, that is weakening Abbas' position.

In Cairo, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said U.S. observers must be sent soon. "We all have to stop the violence and the bloodshed or at least freeze the situation for sometime until things are cooled off ," Moussa told reporters after meeting PLO official Farouk Kaddoumi.

Assistant Secretary of State John Wolf is to arrive in the coming days with a team of American observers, part of the road map plan.

Observers, pah! Did we send observers when the Weather Underground was blowing up buildings, or when the Black Panthers were gunning people down, or when the Ku Klux Klan was lynching blacks? No, we sent armed force. Peace ain't possible when only one party wants it.

In Thursday's strike, Israeli helicopter gunships fired missiles at a car carrying Yasser Taha and Ibrahim Abu Srour, two Hamas fugitives from the group's military wing.

Here's an example of perp hunting.

In all, seven people were killed, including Taha's wife, Fatima, 25, and their 2-year-old daughter, Asnan, doctors said. A baby bottle and baby shoes were pulled from the burning car. Twenty-nine people were hurt in the strike.

Refer to earlier comment about who created the war zone.

Israel army spokeswoman Maj. Sharon Feingold expressed regret at the civilian casualties and pledged an investigation. "A result of a mistake, family members were also killed," she said. "They were not targets."

Unlike these people.

The car was targeted in Gaza City's Sheik Radwan neighborhood, just as mourners were leaving a nearby cemetery, where 11 dead from two previous air strikes were buried. Witnesses said one missile struck as bystanders surrounded Taha's car.

LGF has pictures of the scene. The article doesn't say how close the throng was to the car at the time the missile hit. Still, I think the Israeli Defense Force should choose its weaponry more carefully. Fewer missiles and more sharpshooters.

Thursday's funeral procession was attended by about 35,000, who chanted: "Abu Mazen, listen closely. There is nothing except jihad (holy war)."

There's yer pothole on the roadmap, Mr. Powell. Not Israeli law enforcement. Palestinian lawlessness.

After nightfall Thursday, Israeli forces killed two Islamic Jihad activists who drew guns on soldiers who came to arrest them in the West Bank town of Jenin, the military said. Witnesses said special forces entered the town and opened fire on the two.

Resisting arrest ain't kosher.

In the same area, Palestinian gunmen shot and killed an Israeli motorist as he left the village of Yabed after shopping. The Israeli was violating an Israeli ban on its civilians from entering Palestinian areas.

The motorist did an idiotic thing and got murdered for it. If Abbas doesn't arrest the gunmen, that alone shoudl tell the Bush administration that his roadmap is a waste of paper.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Naming Airfields After Flowers Is For Pansies

Washington Times reports the latest Pacific Rim lunacy:

A proposal to rename Henderson Field on Guadalcanal after Japan's national flower - the chrysanthemum - has angered Marines, who say the "revisionist history" dishonors Americans who fought and died for the pivotal airfield.

Guadalcanal, part of the Solomon Islands, was the site of the Allies' first Pacific offensive during World War II. After taking the island from the Japanese in 1942, the 1st Marine Division completed construction of what is now an international airport for the Solomon Islands.

The Marines named the airstrip for Maj. Lofton Henderson, the first Marine pilot killed in action by the Japanese during the historic Battle of Midway.

A consultant group from Japan, hired by the Solomon Islands' government, has proposed that the name be changed to one symbolizing their country. The consultants are working on restoration projects to make runway and terminal repairs at the airport, which is frequented by Japanese tourists, according to the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp.

Hey, none of our other airfields are named after foreign symbols. Build a Japanese-themed lounge with a Japanese name (don't name it Tora) and leave the tribute to Major Henderson (no relation) alone.

Smells Like Rock-n-Roll Poseurs

VH-1 has come up with it's list of 100 best songs of the past 25 years. As I am typing this I haven't even seen the list - but it annoys me already. The best decade ever of rock-n-roll ran from the late '60s to the late '70s. The VH-1 list covers the quarter century from 1978 - one year after the release of Saturday Night Fever (the other day the music died) - to present.

Now I'm looking at the list. It's a mix of the good, the bad, and the bland - heavy on the bland. The pleasant surprise is that there's so little disco on the list. There are no unpleasant surprises; everything unpleasant on the list was fully expected. VH-1 ranked in first place "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana, the depression-inducing nihilo-rock band that represents every negative Generation X stereotype there is. The song whose CD I'd be most willing to take a blowtorch to is Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" (#83). Bob Geldof's ad-hoc musical ensemble wanted to feed starving Ethiopians with the proceeds, but those idiots, along with their "We Are The World" counterparts, sent the relief supplied to the Ethiopian government - failing to do the slight amount of research necessary to discover that most of those who would be receiving the supplies were starving because the Communist regime wanted them to starve. There's lots more entries I'd like to see Cyclops use for skeet shooting practice, but that's a long list.

Every Breath You Take" by The Police (#9) is the top-rated song that I'd be willing to pay money for; others I wouldn't mind having (or in some cases already have) in my collection are Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" (#15), U2's "With or Without You" (#21), Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" (#34), The Clash's "London Calling" (#38), Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" (#55), Santana/Rob Thomas' "Smooth" (60), and Melissa Etheridge's "Come to My Window" (#91).

TLC (#13) is the top-rated musical act that I've never heard of. Eminem (#4, #85) is the top-rated musical act that I have heard of but whose music I've never heard.

Maybe He'll Make The VH-1 List Someday

Senator Orrin Hatch has been moonlighting as a songwriter.

Hillary Clinton Gets Decked

NewsMax is following up its Deck of Weasels with the Deck of Hillary. Each has a photo of Hillary Clinton and is captioned with quote - complete with documentation - by the former First Lady.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Take A Chance On Kucinich

Blog O'DOB recently had a contest for a theme song for the Dennis Kuchinich campaign. The winner is Abba's "Take a Chance On Me." The other nominees, currently listed on the left sidebar, are:

  • "Guns In The Sky" (INXS)
  • "Trouble Waiting To Happen" (Warren Zevon)
  • "Snowball In Hell" (They Might Be Giants)
  • "Red Sails In The Sunset" (Jimmy Kennedy and Hugh Williams)
  • "Proudest Monkey" (Dave Matthews Band)
  • "The Accident" (David Byrne)
  • "Earth Died Screaming" (Tom Waits)
  • "21st Century Schizoid Man" (King Crimson)
  • "Gotta Be This Or That (Undecided)" (Sunny Sklar)
  • "Too Much Of Nothing" (Bob Dylan)
  • "Fool To Think" (Dave Matthews Band)
  • "Creep" (Radiohead)

Speaking of campaign theme music, remembering the '92 Clinton campaign's adoption of "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," I always thought the GOP should have serenaded Clinton with a different Fleetwood Mac song at the '96 convention: "Go Your Own Way."

A Different Roadmap To Peace

Dennis Prager reveals an uncomfortable truth (emphasis added):

Like the proverbial broken record, some of us have been saying for years that only one thing can bring peace to the Middle East: a Palestinian civil war.

It should now be as obvious as anything can be that this is the case. A significant percentage of Palestinians do not want peace with Israel; they want peace without an Israel. If these individuals and groups are not fought by those Palestinians who want peace with Israel, peace is impossible.

Another Reason Why American Religious Discord Is A Blessing

Because it's a whole lot more peaceful than in, say, Pakistan.

I Guess They're Not Too Thrilled With Jimmy Buffet's "Cheeseburger In Paradise," Either

A British band is under fire from "health watchdogs" for glorifying fast food in one of its songs.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Idaho Senator Holds Military Promotions Hostage

NewsMax reports:

A U.S. senator won't allow the promotions of 850 Air Force officers, including veterans of the Iraq war, and he won't relent until the Air Force gives a base in his state four C-130 cargo planes for the Idaho Air National Guard, according to the New York Times.

Angry Pentagon officials said Sen. Larry Craig has single-handedly delayed the careers of hundreds of officers and stymied important Air Force business for a handful of commonplace planes for more than a month. They refuse to give into his demands, which they call "blackmail."

"If we say yes to this, Katie bar the door," said one top Air Force official.

Craig, however, insists that the Air Force has gone back on a 7-year-old promise to station a squadron of eight C-130s at Gowen Field, an Air National Guard base in Boise, his spokesman Will Hart said.

There are now four C-130s and another training aircraft based there. "This is a problem created by the Air Force that can be easily solved by the Air Force," Hart told the Times.

If Idaho was promised four C-130s, and if the federal government is obligated to procure and fund airlift capability for state National Guard units, then the Pentagon needs to fork over the planes. But blocking earned military promotions to pressure the Pentagon into delivering the cargo planes is heartless. And sadly, not unique:

Craig is taking advantage of a time-honored senate practice that allows a senator to block a nomination, promotion or even legislation and do so indefinitely and anonymously.

According to the Times, such secret holds are used frequently by senators of both parties to express displeasure not necessarily with a nominee but with an administration's action or policy.

Senators should not have the power to unilaterally hold up nominations, promotions, and legislation. It is especially crass to do this to get one's way on an issue that has nothing to do with whatever is being blocked. The promotions of 850 Air Force officers have nothing to do with whether or not Idaho gets four extra C-130s.

When Craig is up for reelection, his challenger in the primaries should promise not to engage in the "time-honored senate practice." It might also help if the challenger is an Air Force veteran.

Sports Quote Du Jour

WorldNetDaily contributor Les Kinsolving doesn't want gelding Funny Cide to spark certain precedents:

When you castrate horses they don't quite get that heavy growth up front. The front end is usually 65 percent of their weight and then you put a jockey on, and there is a lot of pounding on their front legs. Castrating a horse tends to distribute the weight a little more...Hopefully, no one will see if that effect can be produced for human male track teams.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Public Service Announcement

 photo Sahhaf.jpg

Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd have not resigned from the New York Times. Fox News and those bloggers, they always depend on a method what I call stupid, silly. All I ask is check yourself. Do not in fact repeat their lies. Lying is forbidden at the Times. Howell Raines will tolerate nothing but truthfulness as he is a man of great honor and integrity. Everyone is encouraged to speak freely of the truths evidenced in their eyes and heart. These bloggers, they have nowhere near our readership...they are lost in the desert...they can not find the F1 key...they are retarded. I speak better English than this villain Glenn Reynolds. The midget Andrew Sullivan and that Charles Johnson deserve only to be beaten with shoes by freedom loving people everywhere. God will roast their permalinks in hell.

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From The Home Office In Dusseldorf


  1. Himmler's List
  2. A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To The Reichstag
  3. Starship Stormtroopers
  4. Driving Miss Eva
  5. The Wehrmacht Strikes Back
  6. The Bormann Show
  7. How The Western Front Was Won
  8. Sieg Heil, Charlie Brown (title swiped from an old Johnny Carson bit)
  9. Mr. Hilter's Opus
  10. The Reich Stuff

In Honor Of D-Day...

...two French bloggers join the blogroll. Each of these sites has side-by-side English and French translations of each post.

Dissident Frogman. "If all Frenchmen were the Frogman, France would be Texas" - Cowboy Bob, Axis of Weasels. No apparent bio. The Frogman recently mused over parallels between pre-Nazi Germany and the modern European leftist intelligentsia. Axis of Weasels wallpaper can be found here.

Merde In France. "more than 20 years behind enemy lines" No apparent info on the bloghost. Recent posts tell of terrorists in Paris and Tangiers and and illustrate the French government's appeasement-for-oil policy.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

It's My Blogiversary!

This blog was launched one year ago today. Many thanks to Jay Manifold for introducing me to the blogosphere, to the bloggers who linked my posts and blogrolled the site, to those who emailed responses to my posts, and to Donald Rumsfeld for providing a cool slogan for the masthead.

And of course, thanks to all my readers!

Seen At Barnes & Noble Yesterday

Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media?: The Truth About Bias and the News is in the "social sciences" section. Make up your own joke.

What If Mutants Exsted?

Yesterday I went to see X2. During my whole life I'd read maybe two or three comic books, none of which was Marvel's The Uncanny X-Men. All I know about the series comes from the two movies, plus some scant information from a website or two. So I have no idea how Stan Lee perceived the "what if" question about mutants, except that a great majority of the public would be terrified by and despise the mutants - which makes sense for 1963, when most people were already terrified by the specter of nuclear war, and when a conformist generation was deeply uncomfortable with change.

But what if they emerged in 2003? The social and political climate have changed, dominated now by Idealist Boomers instead of the Adaptive "Silent Generation," and hosting vastly different sets of issues.

Some might hastily suggest that the first thing to happen would be the driving of the final nails in the coffin of creationism. Not so. The fact that there's a lot of genetic information in human DNA that doesn't normally get used opens the door for this and all sorts hypotheses, including speculation that "mutations" actually represent abilities latent in all humans, and have either always been present in some (being the source of various legends, superstitions, etc.), or are emerging due to physical phenomena native to modern times (radiation from TVs and computer screens?) interacting with genes. The Creation Research Institute will tell you that mutation always results in a loss of information, and both young-Earth and old-Earth creationists agree with this assessment and will find whatever alternative explanations for what is largely regarded as "mutant phenomena."

The big question is public reaction. Naturally, certain powers would be more feared than others. Most frightening would be those that violate the human will (mind control) and the privacy of the mind (telepathy). Next would be those that make infiltration (chameleon ability, invisibility) and surveillance (x-ray vision) way too easy. Next would be those that make breaking and entering way too easy (teleportation, walking through solid objects). Telekinesis (including Magneto's and Storm's specialized forms) and anything that pumps out energy blasts would rank high on the list.

But how would the mutants themselves be treated? Many do not reflexively view all possessors of nuclear weapons as threats. Will they feel the same toward private individuals who are weapons of mass destruction, or who have abilities that can easily circumvent conventional protections against assault and theft?

Mutants' greatest enemies will be those who already do not trust civilians, mutant or not, to own firearms or to be able to engage in activities that the government cannot easily surveil. Such people do not trust even mere non-mutated humans to defend ourselves or to engage in commerce and communications without the government's knowledge.

Mutants' best political alliances will come from three sources, the first and obvious being libertarians and others who oppose heightened government surveillance powers. The rationale will be thus: "Without mutant control, we've got supervillains threatening our security; with it, we've got supervillains AND government threatening our security." And maybe some will perceive danger in government using the mutant registry to discover who isn't a mutant - or to recruit telepaths for Homeland Security.

The second source would be religious conservatives. Aside from the already considerable overlap with the first group on many government surveillance issues, these people would find themselves confronted with the fact that their own are among the ranks of the mutants - and certainly some mutant religious conservatives will make sure that their existence is known to their non-mutant kindred. Armed with creationists' credible or credible-sounding scientific alternatives to the evolutionary mutation hypothesis, Religious Right factions would conclude that mutant abilities are morally neutral, however threatening they may be. Many evangelicals might perceive mutants as a sign of the End Times, but not necessarily a menacing one - unless all mutants start siding with the global government crowd, which ain't bloody likely. (The global government crowd is quite sympathetic to the government omniscience crowd, after all.)

The third source would be those who properly grasp the analogy between mutant relations and foreign relations. This group overlaps the first two in varying degrees, and will produce the leaders of the anti-mutant-control forces. National governments have threatening powers in the form of conventional military forces and, in some cases, WMDs. No global governing body could possibly keep them in line, and a single nation can exert only so much pressure on malcontent states; political and military alliances must therefore be sought to influence the greatest possible number of problem nations.

This principle would be applied to mutants, by enlisting the "good" ones available for just force and diplomacy. Those respecting law and civility would be encouraged to band together to form superhero-styled neighborhood watch programs. (Mutant militias! Horrors!) Some of these groups would be deputized by governments, available to lend assistance in addressing major crimes and natural emergencies. On the diplomacy end, mutants more sympathetic with non-mutant society would be encouraged to engage in personal diplomacy with those who are less sympathetic. Ministries staffed by mutants, "normals," or both, would target mutant needs.

These three groups may push for a handful of laws to address mutant abilities (telepathy and privacy rights, being a big issue). In most cases the old laws will work - shape shifters can't impersonate officers, fireball slingers can't level half the neighborhood to stop one mugger, and Magneto can't rig the roulette wheel. Then there's ironing out procedures for proving in a court of law that mutant abilities were used in the commission of a crime...

All this speculation says little about how the public would respond to mutants personally. My guess is that, after an initial period of worry and fear, the public response would depend on the success of the aforementioned mutant relations efforts.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Blogiversary Is Tomorrow

Will break from blogging until then. In the meantime, I'll be playing a little Civ III. The mighty French have driven the English, Germans, and Russians from our continent. We have no designs on the other major continent, populated by Chinese, Japanese, Indians, and Aztecs, but the little American continent will soon taste French steel and gunpowder! Vive l'etat!

Nigerians Learn To Use Boldface And Multiple Fonts

Got this in my email today


Direct Tel; [omitted by yer blog host]

Direct Fax; [omitted by yer blog host].

My name is MR. JIDE LOPEZ; I am a staff of a bank in Africa. I will give you the name of my bank and Other important information if I receive a positive reply from you. For security reasons I cannot disclose my full identity to you now until I am sure of your cooperation And whom I am dealing with. I work in the operations dept where I serve as account officer to numerous customers.

Yes, many of my business partners have aliases.

One of the customers whom I worked as his account officer was a wealthy diamond merchant from a neighboring country, Sierra Leone. He lost his family in the war. He was lucky to escape alive and came to this country with his wealth intact. Unfortunately he died last year because this man was good to me when he was alive; I took it upon myself to travel to his country last month, to see if I could locate any of his close relations. On reaching there I discovered that his only surviving uncle died a few months back. I sponsored this trip on my own and nobody in the bank knew I was undertaking the journey so I did not present any official report of my findings in Nigeria

No diamond merchant, no next of kin, and no Sierra Leonese government agents in sight. Opportunity knocks!

Now there are two things I could do with regards to the dead mans money. First, as his accounts officer, I could formally notify the bank authorities that the man is dead and has no next of kin. In this case the money would be forfeited to the government after some time. As a matter of fact this is the proper thing I am supposed to do alternative and mutual thing I can do is to arrange for someone else, a foreigner, to act as the next of kin of the late man so that he will claim the money form my bank. This is the option that I can do to help anybody and myself since the money actually is a public fund due to the fact that my friend was a close ally to the late brutal military president that looted government treasury and that is why I have chosen to do it. I want you to be my partner.

By any chance, did the government treasury happen to include any diamonds in its inventory ?

All you would have to do is to act as the next of kin of the dead man and the whole money in the account will be transferred to your account. As the accounts officer to the late man, I will assist you with the document that will empower you act as the next of kin and to claim the money in the account .The total money in the account is USD17 million. Your share will be 30% while my own share will be 70%.

I'll check with my attorneys on which legal forms I will need for impersonating next-of-kin in overseas escrow cases. Perhaps the Volokhs have a post on the issue.

If you are okay with this proposal, contact me urgently via my direct telephone or fax numbers above with this information for the immediate claim.




I look forward to receive your urgent response

Yours sincerely,


A Nigerian with an email address on a British domain - Heh.

More On Child Martyrdom

LGF comes through again on the child martyrdom meme. Charles Johnson links to a Palestinian Watch page that has a video link to and background information on the 20-minute documentary "ASK FOR DEATH!" The Indoctrination of Palestinian Children to Seek Death for Allah – Shahada by Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus. The documentary relies heavily on Palestinian Authority television broadcasts. Eleven-year-old girls Walla and Yussra speak of their dreams of shahada (martyrdom):

Host: "You described Shahada as something beautiful. Do you think it is beautiful?"

Walla: "Shahada is very, very beautiful. Everyone yearns for Shahada. What could be better than going to paradise?"

Host: "What is better, peace and full rights for the Palestinian people, or Shahada?"

Walla: "Shahada. I will achieve my rights after becoming a Shahida."

Yussra: "Of course Shahada is a good thing. We don't want this world, we want the Afterlife. We benefit not from this life, but from the Afterlife... The children of Palestine have accepted the concept that this is Shahada, and that death by Shahada is very good. Every Palestinian child aged, say 12, says 'Oh Lord, I would like to become a Shahid.'" [PATV, June 9, 2002]

Parents rejoice:

The mother of Ashraf Zwayed: "Praise to Allah... I hold my head high. The honor is mine; the pride is mine. I have a son who is a Shahid. And not only is my son a Shahid, but all the Shahids amy children, Praise Allah.... The honor is mine; the pride is mine."

Man on the street #1: "Their death as Shahids is a source of great joy for us. They responded to the call of the country. May Allah's mercy be upon all of them. They are Shahids, close to Allah, in a position of the highest status."

Man on the street #2: "Praise Allah for giving us the Shahada. We are a people who love the Shahada and love defending our country..." [PATV, September 24, 2002]

2. A Child's Death – a Mother's Day Present

The Mother of Abbas Al Awiwi: "The best Mother's Day present I got this year was the death as a Shahid of Abbas.' The mother of the Shahid Munib says to the mothers of Shahids on Mother's Day: 'A blessed day and a blessed Shahada'." [PA official daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 21, 2001]

3. A Mother Encourages Her Son to Shahada

"She is interested in nothing, other than to encourage her sons to sacrifice and to die as Shahids for the sake of the land of Palestine."

[Al-Ayyam, November 1, 2000]

4. "Praise Allah, I Gave Birth to Heroes"– Mother of Dead Boys.

"After Fatma read this passage [her son's desire for Shahada] aloud, her expression took on a look of pride and honor at her sons' sacrifice, and her own sacrifice. Then she said: 'Praise to Allah, I gave birth to heroes'…"

['Voice of the Women', Al-Ayyam, February 28, 2002]

5. For the TV camera, a Mother Sends her Son to be Killed

Some of the suicide terror attacks were preceded by a parting ceremony of the terrorist from his mother. One such ceremony was filmed of a 17-year-old terrorist, who later killed 5 Israeli teenagers before he was shot dead. The following are the TV narrator's description of her hugs and kisses, and an interview after the attack, in which she explains her sending him to his death:

Narrator: "In a silence filled with tears, with a mother's warm longing, his mother embraced him good-bye, planting kisses on his cheeks before the moment of parting. She ordered him not to come back to her except as a Shahid."

The mother [after he was killed]: "I give my son to Jihad for Allah. This is a religious obligation for us. If I were to have compassion for him, or allow him to change his mind it would not be right. I do not want to follow my heart, a mother's feelings. I mean: I sacrificed him for something greater. Even something like this is connected to motherhood. How? Because I love my son and I want to choose the best for him…"

And yes, Yasser Arafat pipes in:

The child who is grasping the stone facing the tank, is it not the greatest message to the world when that hero becomes a shahid [martyr]?

Marcus sums it all up:

Today an entire generation of Palestinian children, victims of the PA's indoctrination and propaganda, believe that their death for Allah in war is the highest achievement attainable in life. This education is an indelible stain on Palestinian society, and places the Palestinian Authority among the greatest child abusers in history.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

NewsMax Offerings

Hillary Interview That Will Never Be: Here's a list of questions Barbara Walters won't be asking. NewsMax forgot to include one about an episode covered in one of its own stories - assaults committed by members of Hillary's Secret Service detail against reporters during a St. Patrick's Day parade.

RumSpam: Donald Rumsfeld is flooding Washigtonians with emails about his views on foreign policy. Hey dude, leave everybody's email in-boxes alone and get a blog.

Greenspan Speaks: he says the economy is turning around. The economy was bad? Yeah, I kept hearing that in the news, but I couldn't tell any difference - maybe because I have a job, don't work in telecom or dot-com, and don't live in a tax-infested kleptocracy like California or New York.

Monday, June 02, 2003

How Does A Nobel Laureate Mark International Children's Day?

Yasser Arafat, for one, urges children to become martyrs:

Arafat devoted his remarks to encouraging the children to be "shahid" (die for the cause), noting that one shahid who dies for the sake of Jerusalem has the power equal to 40 of the enemy dying.

(Link vis LGF)

I Am A Total Geek...

...according to this quiz. I should get extra geek points for pointing out that 30.57199% does not fit the definition of "total."

The quiz could have had a better selection of women in the "I want..." section. Rarely watch "Buffy" or "X-Files," Jean Grey is kinda bland, and Amidala and Seven of Nine need personality implants. A shield maiden of Rohan is more my speed.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Generic Commencement Address

Found via Vermont Reactionary. here's a sample:

Graduates of the College of Liberal Arts, you will embark on an important journey of self-discovery and truth seeking. This will abruptly end when your parents decide they would rather spend their money on their own journey, to Arizona, in a Winnebago. After taking the GREs, twice, you will continue this sacred knowledge journey in graduate school, and you will eventually discover the surprising truth that has very few listings for Lacanian deconstructionists. After your M.A. graduation, you will suffer the humiliation of working at Starbucks, but at least it has a health plan, and you can secretly sneer at the petit bourgeois customers for their pathetic ignorance of Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn.

One could always go with Tom Lehrer's Bright College Days:

Bright college days, oh, carefree days that fly,
To thee we sing with our glasses raised on high.
Let's drink a toast as each of us recalls
Ivy-covered professors in ivy-covered halls.

Turn on the spigot,
Pour the beer and swig it,
And gaudeamus igit-ur.

Here's to parties we tossed,
To the games that we lost,
We shall claim that we won them some day.

To the girls young and sweet,
To the spacious back seat
Of our roommate's beat up Chevrolet.

To the beer and benzedrine,
To the way that the dean
Tried so hard to be pals with us all.

To excuses we fibbed,
To the papers we cribbed
From the genius who lived down the hall.

To the tables down at Morey's (wherever that may be)
Let us drink a toast to all we love the best.
We will sleep through all the lectures,
And cheat on the exams,
And we'll pass, and be forgotten with the rest.

Oh, soon we'll be out amid the cold world's strife.
Soon we'll be sliding down the razor blade of life.

But as we go our sordid sep'rate ways,
We shall ne'er forget thee, thou golden college days.

Hearts full of youth,
Hearts full of truth,
Six parts gin to one part vermouth.

Packing List

Iain Murray has an interesting "what if" post

...I asked myself, what ten records, book (Shakespoke and the Bible excepted) and luxuiry item would you choose if you were to be marooned on a desert island. So, after much thought, I came up with this list.

Okay, here's my list, music first:

Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 9
Antonin Dvorak, Symphony No. 9
Gustav Holst, The Planets
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Requiem
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Scheherazade
Billy Joel, The Stranger
Dire Straits, Brothers In Arms
Genesis, Invisible Touch
Kansas, The Best Of Kansas
Procol Harum, Live (with the London Symphone Orchestra)

Luxury Item (other than music playing device) - a 36" Newtonian telescope

Book - something with a star chart in it

Annular Eclipse

Jay Manifold links to a BBC slide show of the annular lunar eclipse. Look at the sixth photo, taken at Shoeburyness, Essex, UK,. Doesn't it vaguely resemble the Czech flag?

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