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Wednesday, December 31, 2003
The Envelope, Please
Andrew Sullivan's annual media awards are out. The Derbyshire and Poseur awards are here. The Sontag, Von Hoffman, and Begala awards are here. Bll Moyers has refused his award; he won the Begala award for extreme liberal hyperbole, for writing this statement in the Nation about the Bush administration: "I think this is a deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States of America."
Richard J. Rosendall fisks the holiday. He notes the irony of its use of Swahili words - a holiday nominally for the descendents of West Africans (as describes all American blacks descended from slaves) bathed in an East African language.
He also makes mention of the collectivist attitudes reflected in Kwanzaa:
Even if these values can be traced to African roots, there is nothing liberating in the embrace of doctrines that have succeeded nowhere in the world, certainly not in Africa. Ujamaa, the fourth principle of Kwanzaa (Swahili for "familyhood," from the Arabic for "community," translated by Karenga as cooperative economics), was the very word used by former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere when he forcibly relocated tens of thousands of his citizens to collective farms in a disastrous socialist experiment. Nyerere actually suppressed an existing coffee cooperative that did not conform to his theories, while demonizing the Swahili concept of soko huria, or free markets.
Last year, Paul Mulshine explored Ron Karenga's criminal background. He also reports the sevenfold path Karenga proselytized during his days as a radical activist: "think black, talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black, and live black."
Maybe it's just me, but holidays started by black separatists known for beating naked women with karate batons don't appeal to me.
While Christmas is officially a celebration of the birth of Jesus, for much of the Western world December 25 has come to be a celebration of family and community. No other time of the year is so thoroughly saturated with images pointing to our highest hopes for such relationships - and no other time of the year so effectively highlights the difference between our ideals and the world as it really is. Jesus came to Earth to bridge not only the chasm between humanity and God, but also that rift that separates people from each other. Christmas reminds us that we live in a broken world, and it seeks to encourage us by showing us through religious and even many secular trappings how that brokenness can be fixed.
All About Latvia reports the retirement of Radio Free Latvia, and recalls the Orwellian world of radio during the days of the Soviet occupation of the Baltics.
Tim Blair is posting notable quotes from the past year - start here and scroll down. Here's one from March that is priceless, especially in the wake of Saddam's capture:
"First we'll coax Saddam out of his bunker with a trail of delicious candy. Then, once his belly is full and he's all sleepy and happy, we'll calmly explain that we don't approve of what he's been doing and it's not very nice and we wish he'd stop. And he'll be like, ‘Whoa, I never thought of it that way. You guys are my friends! I like you!’ And then everybody will hug and cry, and then get a little embarrassed about crying, and then make some jokes to cover up being embarrassed. And then a beautiful rainbow will appear, and a shy unicorn will walk down it, and Saddam will ride it to the North Pole, and he'll spend the rest of his life helping Santa make wonderful toys for all the good little girls and boys, and there'll be hot chocolate, and, and, and nobody will ever ever die again for any reason ever." -- Jim Treacher
According to the Geneva Convention, the only information that a prisoner of war is obliged to give his captors is his name, rank and date of birth.
The convention states that physical or mental torture or other forms of coercion to obtain any kind of information cannot be inflicted on prisoners of war… and that prisoners who refuse to answer cannot be threatened, insulted or exposed to any kind of disagreeable or disadvantageous treatment.
Those rules don't apply to domestic prisoners, though - eh, Fidel?
The main tower looks okay (see image here), but those four smaller towers off to the right are ugly as sin.
Update: Columnist Deroy Murdock has an article that displays silhouettes of the new tower and the Sears Tower, original WTC, Empire State Building, and Chrysler Building. The Freedom Tower is topped with an 831-foot steel latticework structure. I didn't realize this at first; I thought the artist's conception was merely drawn a bit too lightly at the top. Almost half of the structure will contain no office space. We're going to commemorate the fallen with wasted resources?
Update: The latticework won't be empty. Jay Manifold emailed the details:
The latticework is to contain wind turbines, which are projected to generate up to 20% of the electricity used in the building. I haven't investigated this, but I hope they're doing something to manage the risks of 1) noise and 2) dead birds.
That's one way to control the pigeon population :-)
The Clintons' policy has been A.B.D. - Anybody But Dean. They don't want Dean, or anyone else they can't control, getting control of the Democratic apparatus. The party machinery, now firmly run by Terry McAuliffe, directs funds to favored candidates and pays for much of the Clintons' political operation.
So if Dean is the candidate, how can he avoid the McGovern problem - getting knifed in the back by his own party leaders? Take a hostage, Hillary, and put her on the ticket.
She would bring him a cachet he now lacks, give him support from the party's center and guarantee the full and enthusiastic support of the popular ex-president and his backers. And putting a woman on the ticket would, by itself, make a big difference.
So why would Hillary run?
She suddenly has a new potential rival for the 2008 nomination - Al Gore.
The former vice president's un-retirement, signaled by his endorsement of Howard Dean, makes him a potent possible rival for Hillary. With his bold support of the peace movement's darling, Dean, Gore may get an edge among the party's new masters - its left wing.
Hillary may also worry that Dean might choose someone like Gen. Clark as VP. Such a choice would immediately lift Clark into contention for the 2008 nomination, making it a tough three-way race where it had once appeared a cakewalk for the former first lady.
If Hillary ran with Dean, she'd eliminate Clark from contention and would overshadow Gore in her support for Dean, regaining ascendancy on the party's left. The national exposure would acclimate people to her running for national office and their defeat would be chalked up to Dean, not to her.
There is no way she becomes the 2008 candidate if the Dem candidate wins in 2004, barring some scandal (real or manufactured) that allows her to step in to successfully challenge an incumbent president in the Democratic primaries. Morris would have us believe that she would willingly associate herself with a losing ticket in 2004 to launch her presidential aspirations.
Since when has a veep candidate on a losing ticket become President of the United States? Al Gore? Dan Quayle, who actually did serve one term as Vice President? Lloyd Bentsen? Geraldine Ferraro? Walter Mondale? Bob Dole? Edmund Muskie? William Miller? Henry Lodge? Estes Kefauver? You have to go all the way back to the election of 1920, when Franklin Roosevelt served as the running mate for James Cox against the Harding/Coolidge ticket.
Update: Unsuccessful Presidential aspirant Bob Dole was once a veep, too. I always forget that - but then, the Ford administration didn't do a whole heck of a lot that was memorable, aside from pardoning Nixon, beaning a few Secret Service agents with golf balls, getting almost shot at by Squeaky Fromme, and pushing those silly "Whip Inflation Now" buttons.
Update: Oops, Nelson Rockefeller was Ford's veep, not Dole. Dole was on the 1976 Ford ticket. I was just a teenager at the time, so I really wasn't paying attention. Then again, as I illustrated earlier, there wasn't much in the Ford administartion worth paying attention to.
I forgot to mention another recent running mate: Jack Kemp. Now there's an example of a failed veep candidate diving into political oblivion. Even Al Gore is making more noise than he is. Ouch.
The Wright Brothers weren't the only men trying to develop powered flight at the time. Samuel Pierpont Langley received federal grants for his project - and failed miserably. Rand Simberg tells this story and explains how it relates to the space program.
Meanwhile, a vision for new space initiatives was announced by - Jay Manifold: The President's speech, as I suspected, includes no new initiatives in space. But he did say: "Orville Wright lived to see the days of barnstorming and military aviation, the jet engine, commercial airlines, and the DC-3." Yuri Gagarin, like Wilbur Wright, died prematurely; but Alan Shepard lived until 1998.
But he did not live to see mass-produced rocket engines, routine passenger spaceflight, or an inexpensive, reusable rocket become a metaphor for reliable transport.
And neither have we.
Mr President, your space initiative suggests itself. Take low Earth orbit away from NASA, and give it to the American people. We'll do the rest.
1. Kant (100%)
2. John Stuart Mill (94%)
3. Ockham (73%)
4. Prescriptivism (73%)
5. Aquinas (71%)
6. Jean-Paul Sartre (71%)
7. Epicureans (69%)
8. Ayn Rand (68%)
9. St. Augustine (65%)
10. Jeremy Bentham (60%)
11. Aristotle (56%)
12. Spinoza (56%)
13. Plato (31%)
14. Nel Noddings (30%)
15. Nietzsche (26%)
16. Cynics (15%)
17. Stoics (14%)
18. David Hume (10%)
19. Thomas Hobbes (5%)
The ultimate shortfall of this quiz is that it doesn't accommodate all the possible answers. Sometimes my answer was not up there (and, so I'm told, "none of the above" answers favor that idiotarian existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre). In one case three of the selections were right. Here's how I would address each of the issues, as I posted in Pej's comments:
Moral statements are statements of truth.
The purpose of life: all of humanity shares a few purposes, every individual has many individual ones.
The origin of morality is God's will.
Society plays a role in influencing morality, but it is not the sole determinant.
We should primarily make moral distinctions according to revelation and inherent and empirical knowledge.
Proper morality doesn't always result in happiness. (Ask anybody who survived the gulag.)
Universal law: there are moral absolutes; if one absolute seems to conflict with a second, one must discern the third absolute that states the priority of the one over the other.
Means trump ends and intent.
Conflict between self- and other-interest: the quiz is screwed - "interest" means what is truly beneficial, NOT what is desired. The self must equate the interest of self and others, and must prioritize them over the desires of self and others.
Liberty: I went off on tangent about how every node of political power - each individual and each office of government - should be accountable to all the other nodes. What the entire network seeks to preserve is the individual right to life and physical safety, to property, to choice and expression of personal beliefs, and to choice and pursuit of personal interests. My point is that I champion liberty within a thorough system of checks and balances.
Asceticism is a desire, not an interest.
A virtuous person is humble, spiritual, rational, caring and loving.
Does this set of beliefs really make me a Kantian?
Whatever happens to Saddam Hussein from this point on, he can consider himself a lucky man. History tells of similar tyrants who did not emerge from a hiding place to medical examinations, humane treatment and judicial protections.
The Byzantine Emperor Andronicus I Comnenus seized the throne in 1183 and ruled with terror and violence, much like Saddam. As the historian Edward Gibbon told it, one day in September 1185, a crowd gathered in the church of Sancta Sophia in Constantinople to commiserate about their oppression. "But their lamentations were soon turned to curses, and their curses to threats," Gibbon wrote. "They dared to ask, 'Why do we fear? Why do we obey? We are many, and he is one: our patience is the only bond of our slavery.'" They rose up and deposed Andronicus, who was captured trying to flee the city.
He was brought in chains before the new emperor, who left him to the tender mercies of the citizens. The crowd proceeded to remove Andronicus’ hair, teeth, one eye and one hand. He was then tied to the backside of a mangy, sick camel and paraded through the streets, where people hit and spat at him. Andronicus was finally suspended upside-down between two pillars, where people continued to strike at him. He cried to the crowd, "Why will you bruise a broken reed?" At last, two soldiers, whether through anger or pity, plunged swords into him, putting a final end to his torture.
And now for the International Football Leage games scheduled this weekend. The Paris Revolutionaries will host the Berlin Axis. The Tokyo Kamikazes are headed across the Pacific to battle the Alamagordo Fallout. The Spanish Inquisition will play the Jihad in Riyadh. The Washington Snipers will be on the road against the Oklahoma City Bombers. The Moscow Commissars hope to continue their three-game winning streak when they face the Chicago Machine in Soldier Field. The Mongolian Horde has the bye-week. Back to you, Chet.
I'm not sure what the Chicago logo would look like, but I sure know what the theme song would be.
Update: Regarding the original article, considering that Muslim teams in Los Angeles were going by names like "Intifada" and "Soldiers of Allah," "controversial" is a more apt description than "politically incorrect."
Iraq's coalition government claims that it has uncovered documentary proof that Mohammed Atta, the al-Qaeda mastermind of the September 11 attacks against the US, was trained in Baghdad by Abu Nidal, the notorious Palestinian terrorist.
Iraq, Syria, and Libya have all harbored the group and given it training, logistical support, and funding, often using the ANO as guns or hire. Abu Nidal began working with Iraqi intelligence while representing Fatah in Baghdad, experts say. He formed his organization with Iraq’s help and began by attacking Syria and the PLO. In 1983, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein expelled Abu Nidal and his group in an attempt to win American military support for Iraq’s 1980s war with neighboring Iran. Once the war ended, Iraq resumed its support of Abu Nidal.
After being expelled from Iraq, the organization moved to Syria, where it worked to undermine peace plans involving Jordan, Israel, and the PLO. In turn, Syria expelled the Abu Nidal Organization in 1987, probably under U.S. pressure to distance itself from terrorists, at which point Libya took it in. In 1999, in an attempt to rid itself of international sanctions, Libya kicked out the Abu Nidal Organization.
Is it to their credit that Libya kicked out Nidal's organization? No. If they were true friends to civilization, they would have annihilated Nidal and company.
Government Of The Weasels, By The Weasels, And For The Weasels
LGF has posted a draft of the European Union constitution that's just as good (?) as the real thing. I especially like Amendment V: "All EU children shall have the right to free public education, from age 5 through year 48." Hurry up and sign the thing so I can move to Paris and get my free doctorate!
By now, most of y'all have heard about the Bush administration's recent remarks on the matter:
"Our position on Taiwan and China remains the same: The president does not support Taiwan independence and opposes any unilateral steps by Beijing or Taipei that would alter Taiwan's status," White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
On the one hand, as Joshua Claybourn points out, the administration is rejecting the very principles of our Founding Fathers, who fled a tyranny far less severe than that of Communist China. On the other hand, if Taiwan makes any proclamations claiming de jure independence, it may lose the de facto independence it currently enjoys.
Those Tompaine Girls Realy Knock Me Out, And Joyneria's On My My My My My My My My My My My Mind
The Politburo Diktat recently produced this map of the blogosphere. Everybody wanted to be on the map, but there's only so much space, so the Commissar created more maps - one of the Baltic state of Munuvia, and one of the great city of St. Bloggersburg. (Both are clickable from the main map.) This blog appears on the latter map as Henderovich University, just down the street from the Agitprop Ministry. I'm not sure that the Central Committee will approve of some of the curricula I have planned...
WorldNetDaily (link via LGF) reports a controversy revolving around Paul Harvey's recent remarks:
In a news item in which Harvey described the bloody nature of cockfight gambling in Iraq, he said: "Add to the thirst for blood a religion which encourages killing, and it is entirely understandable if Americans came to this bloody party unprepared."
Commentators may point to the first few centuries of Islam, but what ultimately defines a faith is its founder. Mohammad was a man of totalitarian conquest. He expanded his religious empire by persuasion (as in Medina) and by the sword (as in Mecca). Medina is the second holiest city in Islam, and Mecca the first - that should tell you something.
The computer was prototyped by the United States government when we lacked the technology to make it commercially feasible. The computer couldn't become marketable until transistors, and later integrated circuits, replaced vacuum tubes and brought down the cost by several factors of ten. A few underemployed geeks launched the personal computer revolution, surpassing the computing power of the mainframes and making computing affordable and practical for the average citizen.
Space flight was prototyped concurrently by the US and Soviet governments. The manned programs and exploratory probes were like the vacuum-tube computers - they could be done, but the technology was too expensive for commercial space development to be practical. The satellite industry represents the "mainframe" phase of the space industry; launch vehicles are now affordable, but only to large concerns. Satellites have one other thing in common with mainframes; both merely scratch the surface of the potential for their respective industries.
Space flight is still in the early "mainframe stage." The market is severely limited in both the numbers of participants and the number of practical space-based commercial applications. Hopefully, the X Prize will turn out rocketry's equivalent to the minicomputer. The Gates-Jobs-Wozniak era is still far beyond the horizon.
Russian immigrant Tatiana Menaker decided that her degree from Leningrad University, earned during the Soviet era, didn't quite prepare her for the American workplace. So she went back to college. Unfortunately, as she writes in FrontPage Magazine, she picked San Francisco State University, which had too much in common with her previous alma mater:
Very few SFSU faculty members separate their political platforms from the professor's podium. When a professor in the Philosophy department teaches Marxism with the zealotry of a new convert, it is totally understandable; but when a Linguistics professor pushes socialist ideas instead of explaining sentence structure, or a Geography professor slaps slogans of the extreme left-wing organization International ANSWER on her office door (paid for by taxpayers with differing political views), it becomes another matter altogether.
Obviously, being busy with teaching and promoting world change, these professors have overlooked the well-known fact that Marxist ideology failed the test in every country where it was applied. Completely unchastened by the failure of socialism, these individuals still harbor the dream of a Union of American Socialist Republics. It is not my duty to enlighten them about the events of modern history or to correct their outdated '60s-era radical political views. But unfortunately, their obsession affects their job performance and ruins education systems all across the county.
These academics assume that all the students have the same anti-American and anti-Bush opinions they uniformly hold. So instead of the material listed in the syllabus, they present soliloquies about American imperialism.
Last summer, one of my professors started every class with Orwellian "Five-Minute Hate" condemnations of President Bush. The instructor did not understand how ridiculous he looked: a 50-year-old guy in sandals and a worn-out jacket with hanging threads, who didn't make it to an Ivy League university, giving hysterical speeches calling President Bush "a moron" and "a good for nothing idiot."
Well, there is at least one difference: the Soviet government forced professors to teach Marxism; at SFSU, Marxism is taught willingly. Ironically, SFSU wouldn't allow her to transfer credits from Leningrad U. "because as a professor of Marxist-Leninist philosophy, I had only gone through 'indoctrination.'"
Menaker observes an interesting visual cue to Political Correctness:
I noticed a recurring pattern in SFSU's anti-American professors: the degree to which a professor condemned American “imperialism” was usually in direct proportion to his lack of personal hygiene and steady decline in personal appearance.
I was especially fascinated by one middle-aged guy who had alcoholism written all over his face, in bathhouse flip-flops revealing dirty overgrown toenails, and with his belongings stuffed in a plastic grocery bag. If I hadn't seen him behind the teacher's desk, I would have mistaken him for one of San Francisco's deranged homeless, lost on the campus having wandered from the neighboring shower program...
Over time I found the inverse proportion worked as well: the more well-kept and professional the teacher was, and the harder he worked, the less inclined he was to get himself into the mess of quasi-political discussions instead of the work he was paid to do: teach.
Last Tuesday I received my second and final periodontal cleaning. I can already feel a difference in the health of my gums. Now I'm playing telephone tag trying to schedule an appointment with a gum specialist.
Lesbian women, said Midler, "they can look at each other from across a crowded room, and suddenly, they're mates for life. You know, they'll go out for a Coke, and they'll just be, you know, move in, and that'll be the end of it."
But for gay men, the songstress said, things are different.
"Many of the homosexual men that I know ... you know, they like to move around. They like to have – you know, they're – that's part of it. That's part of the fun of being a gay man.
"So if they're married," Midler wondered aloud, "does that mean they're not going to cheat, they're only going to be with one?"
NewsMax refers to her comments as "some rather ugly stereotyping." Which part of it? The part about the instantaneous and permanent soul-bonding of lesbians (it wasn't so permanent for Ellen DeGeneres), or the part about the hyperpromiscuity of gay males?
When it comes to relationships - both romances and friendships - women tend to be more empathy-oriented and men tend to be more activity-oriented. These tendencies are accentuated in same-sex relationships. Also, men tend to be more sexually aggressive than women. There will naturally be more sexual activity going on in an environment where everyone is equally "easy," which pefectly describes the gay bathhouses where Midler began her singing career. Her remarks abou gay men are certainly understandable, considering that her roots put her in the midst of the most promiscuous segment of the gay male population.