Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Necessary Narrative

"life, as both Nietzsche and Ibsen knew, requires life-supporting illusions; and where these have been dispelled, there is nothing secure to hold on to, no moral law, nothing firm. We have seen what has happened, for example, to primitive communities unsettled by the white man's civilization. With their old taboos discredited, they immediately go to pieces, disintegrate, and become resorts of vice and disease. Today the same thing is happening to us." - Myths to Live By by Joseph Campbell.
 The reference for Ibsen is The Cherry Orchard , and re-reading Nietzsche as an adult it was shocking how he was praising and calling out for a new religion. His greatest creation, after all, is Zarathustra (a law giver coming down from the mountain). It hit me when reading The Closing of the American Mind: Religion is the necessary narrative that gives will and purpose to Life and Art.
I just heard something Campbell said about Spengler, so he was familiar with the 'exhaustion of civilization' idea.  But Campbell is anti-literal-interpertation-of-the-Bible  and anti tribal Judaism and I just don't believe he understood what civilizational confidence looks like. Atheists and those on left have their own shibboleths. Man does not live by bread alone.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Best Buy sponsors terrorists

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Derb

I have enjoyed John Derbyshire for years.  The book on Euler, We are Doomed, his personal blog, NRO and Takimag, etc. Maybe because he is a mathematician as well as curmudgeon conservative, I had a soft spot for him. I didn't mind his atheism any more than Chris Hitchens'. Some writers and personalities are enjoyable despite certain (in Hitchs' case most) views.
So, as someone very familiar with his writing, I think the article that did him in was out-of-character, and likely a result of his chemotherapy.
The meaning, and of course the reality, of race differences in IQ is as difficult to discuss as it important.
When you adjust for IQ, is prison population 'fairly' racially mixed? Do our schools do good job of educating when normed by IQ? Just typing these last two sentences is difficult in our PC age.  There is no question, adjusting for sarcasm his final article crossed the line. Shame, he is a great man.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

First Names

Amid all the reports and blog posts and 300-comment threads about the Zimmerman/Martin affair, one aspect struck me, and I haven't seen anyone else notice it. Every single report, article, post, and comment refers to the shooter as "Zimmerman", and almost every one of them refers to the deceased as "Trayvon". I haven't seen any talk of "George", and very little of "Martin". Why is that, I wonder. If the people doing so were suspect of being white racists, I might have suspected that this is an attempt to belittle Mr Martin by reducing his status to that of a mere boy, while dignifying Mr Zimmerman with the status of an adult who is referred to by his surname. But many of these reports are by people sympathetic to Martin and hostile to Zimmerman, so that explanation doesn't fit. Of course there's also the fact that Martin was a boy, but the distinction in status between minors and adults is not usually observed so punctiliously. Nor do I suppose that any of the reporters, bloggers, and commenters who employ this usage actually knew Mr Martin at all, let alone well enough to be on a first names basis with him.

I've noticed a similar phenomenon with women in the news; people seem to assume the right to refer to them by their first names, while similarly-situated men are referred to by their surnames. Why were the main candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2008 constantly referred to as Obama, Hillary, and Edwards? I mean, it's not as if anyone thought Bill Clinton was a candidate, so "Hillary" wasn't necessary in order to distinguish them. And again, it's not just right-wing sources, who can be expected to be hostile to Mrs Clinton (though no more so than to Barack and John) who did this, it was left-wing sources too. So what explains it?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The inestimable Andrew Breitbart

When telling others about the death of Andrew Breitbart,  I surprisingly described him as one of the most important conservatives.  It hit me: as important as thinkers like George Will and the good doctor Krauthamer are, creating a space in the new media, a place in the culture, is much more important. "Politics is downstream from culture".

The Fluke 'controversy' is a a classic example of losing control of the narrative. Andrew where are you? How can you read things like this and not think of our dear, sweet prince:

"Conservatives need to reclaim some of the discourse by standing up to these crude thugs. If it’s not venturing too far into Salon.com’s favored linguistic territory to say so, conservatism needs to grow a pair."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

US Attorneys Politicised

On NPR right now, my neighbour Chuck Schumer is waxing indignant about how in 20 years of oversight over the Justice Dept (he must be counting some of his time in the House, where he served from 1981 to 1999), he'd never seen anything like this.

It seems that over the past two years, more than a dozen US Attorneys were fired, because their jobs were required for other people. Gonzales says the firings weren't for "political" reasons; what I think he means by that is that "political reasons" means reasons of policy, whereas these actions were for "patronage reasons", or "partisan reasons". Whatever. US Attorneys always serve at the president's pleasure, and he is free to fire them whenever he chooses, for any reason or no reason at all, just like cabinet Secretaries, or the staff of the White House travel office. The AP article I linked above acknowledges this, and it ought to be uncontroversial.

But what floored me, and prompted this post, was Schumer claiming he'd never seen anything like this, i.e. that even though the president clearly has the power to do this it had never been done before, and shouldn't have been done now. Could he have forgotten that one of Janet Reno's first acts in office was to fire 92 of the 93 US Attorneys? That act was unprecedented, and was not repeated when Bush took over in 2001. I don't see how Schumer can possibly have forgotten it.

I Aten't Dead

This is just a test post, sort of warming up the engine for a possible return to blogging.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

On the side of caution?

Eddie Compass, who was superintendent of the New Orleans police during Hurricane Katrina admits that he repeated unconfirmed reports of out-of-control crime, which turned out not to be true. The reports significantly hampered rescue efforts. Here's what struck me, though:
There was really no way for me to check definitively. So instead I erred on the side of caution. I didn't want people to think we were trying to cover anything up. So I repeated these things without being substantiated, and it caused a lot of problems.
Excuse me, how was the error on the side of caution? It seems to me like erring on the side of recklessness! If you're not sure whether a report is true, what good is done by repeating it? What harm would be done by keeping it quiet until it can be confirmed?

But then, I'm thinking of it from the perspective of minimising harm to the city's people, caught in the aftermath and desperately waiting for help. I suppose that's rather naïve. Compass's concern was that he not be accused afterwards of covering anything up; in other words, he was being cautious for his own political future, while reckless with the safety of the city. And apparently he's so unconscious of the distinction that he actually makes this point in his defense!

(H/T: The Anchoress by way of Instapundit)

Friday, August 18, 2006

That Wily Atta

Here's something I learned a few days ago. In discussing Said Bahaji's possible involvement in the recent airline bombing plot, Captain Ed recounts his involvement in the 11-Sep-2001 plot, including this:
While Atta traveled to Afghanistan for training, Bahaji maintained a false front in Germany, covering their absence in order to throw off suspicion.
Now this got me thinking.

Cast your mind back to Atta's alleged Prague visit. The 11-Sep-2001 commission blithely dismissed it, on the bases of two pieces of evidence, one negative and one positive: 1) nobody flying under that name left the USA or entered it on the dates in question, and Atta had never been known to fly under a false name before; 2) his mobile phone was used while he was supposedly away. Now the flaw in this argument is obvious, and it was lampooned from the day the report was released. He'd never been known to fly under a different name, as far as these remarkably uncurious commissioners knew, and he might well have left his phone behind (especially if it wasn't a WorldPhone), and someone else may have used it.

Now follow the logic. Thecommissioners seem to have believed that Atta was something of a creature of habit, and that they could look to his known history to know what he was or wasn't likely to do when out of sight. He wasn't known to have flown under other names, so we can assume he didn't do it that day. But now I learn that he had a history of having someone lay a cover for him while he took a trip that he didn't want anyone to know about. And that the commissioners knew this.
Given that history, how could they have given any weight to the fact that his phone was used in America while he's alleged to have been in Prague? Wouldn't that be absolutely consistent with his MO? As for his not having flown under false names, if his Afghan trip was supposed to be so secret that he had Bahaji covering for him, are we really to believe that he used his own passport?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Terminological Inexactitude

Once again the controversial NSA interception case is in the news, and all the bloggers are discussing it. Opinions differ widely on whether the program is legal, or even constitutional, but one thing is clear: the communications that are being intercepted are international, not domestic. There is no "NSA domestic surveillance program", or at least if there is one it hasn't yet come to light, and isn't at issue in this case. Most of the commentary at Volokh calls it the "NSA Eavesdropping Program", Instapundit calls it the "NSA communications intercept case", and the AP calls it a "President Bush's warrantless surveillance program"; even the NYT calls it "Warrantless Wiretapping" and "the Bush administration’s eavesdropping program". Whatever their opinion of it, they are calling it what it is.

Which is why I'm disappointed at Orin Kerr for repeatedly referring to it as a "domestic surveillance program". Ironically, he doesn't think much of the opinion that calls it illegal, so one would expect him to be more careful in defining what it is.

UPDATE: Dr Kerr defends his usage. According to him, while the calls were international, the surveillance itself was domestic, because physically it took place in the USA. I don't see how it matters where the wiretapping equipment was located; I can't believe that's what the fuss is about, or that many of the program's critics would change their mind if it was proven that the taps were outside the USA. But read the exchange and decide for yourself. I'm just honoured that he took notice of my comment...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Green Helmet Guy

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Credit where it's due

Over the years, and especially over the past week, many of us have come to expect little from the MSM but lies, disloyalty , and treason. Too often it has seemed that MSM journalists as a class were typefied by Mike Wallace, whose see reporting as a "higher duty" that comes before any obligations as either citizens or human beings.
When Brent Scrowcroft, the then-future National Security Adviser, argued that "you're Americans first, and you're journalists second," Wallace was mystified by the concept.
But we mustn't stereotype, and I was delighted to learn that among the ranks of the much-reviled MSM there remain some decent people, who not only put civic duty above disinterested "journalism", but actually use their professional skills to dig into a story, do their bit for the War on Islamic Terrorism, and put the government to shame at the same time.

Daniel Pipes reports that an NBC team helped expose a HizbAllah fundraising operation in the USA, and shut it down.

Maurice Iskandar, head of the Corporate Banking Division of the Lebanese-French Bank, informed NBC News on July 18 that the bank had closed the Hizbullah account. "Following the information in your e-mail, our Compliance Unit has closed the said account." NBC News then went to the Lebanese-French Bank's American partners, Citibank and the Bank of New York, and informed them of the situation. Both banks said they took the appropriate steps.
No doubt Mike Wallace and Peter Jennings are shocked. These guys are definitely not in the running for Pulitzers.

UPDATE: More honesty from NBC.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Give that man a Pulitzer

It seems to me that if anyone deserves a Pulitzer it's Charles Johnson, who exposed Rather 2 years ago, and now has done the same to Adnan Hajj and Reuters.

By the way, I've seen too many bloggers referring to this affair as Reutergate; if we must use that style of nomenclature, why not Reuterquiddick?

Speaking of staged and faked photos, remember that ambulance with the bulls-eye shot, allegedly by an Israeli missile? Read this.

As for the now infamous wedding photo shoot at Qana, if you haven't had the time to follow up all the links and discussion for the past two weeks, here's what must surely be the final word, all in one page.

PS: Let's not kid ourselves that the rot is confined to one photographer, or one news agency, or even one region.

Monday, July 31, 2006

A'hoy, hoy, all

CM Burns here, back after an extended respite at Dr. Malcolm S. McAllisters Health Sanitarium for the Old. Abusive and Rich. It seems that Smithers had acidentally given me a bit too much ether and after giving that fool Simpson in Sector 7-G a raise and promotion to VP of Marketing, the Board of Directors had me committed. No worries, as they've all been fed to the hounds and I now own 97% of the stock in Springfield Nuclear.

Anyway, I just wanted to post to give some props to Andrew Sullivan for at least being intellectually and morally consistent by posting about how Hezbollah counts on civilian deaths in Lebanon to curry favor with the media. Also, Mel Gibson's bizzare anti-semetic rant from Friday night is not whitewashed by Sullivan either as it has been a bit by Katherine Jean Lopez at NRO. I didn't think "Passion of the Christ" was intended to be anti-Semetic when I saw it. I just thought people were projecting their own feelings into the film, and while part of that is probably the case, it seems that the boys from South Park had Mad Mel pinned two years ago, as did the indespensible Charles Krauthammer, and Sullivan. He's not always right, but when Sullivan is right, he's always dead on target.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Refugees

Ira Sharkansky points out that
They are now saying that there are 800,000 Lebanese refugees caused by Israel's violence. They are not talking so much about the 1,000,000 Israeli refugees caused by Hezbollah rockets. They have been spending the last two weeks out of work, in shelters, have fled or sent their children to the center or south of the country, but not so far south where they would be vulnerable to the rockets coming out of Gaza.

One may quarrel about the relative suffering. Israel's refugees are complaining about the build-up of tension; a lack of air conditioning in some of the shelters; problems of keeping the children busy; the uncertainties of running out for food when the sirens may go off at any moment and most of the stores are closed; and the lack of clarity as to how much the government will compensate for damage and lost income. Lebanon's refugees may be suffering more, but that is due to their government not providing for them, having giving over much of their country to the Shiite fanatics, and Hezbollah's fighters not letting some people leave neighborhoods that serve as launching sites and storage places for their weaponry.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Acts of War

The WaTimes reports on rumours that Nasrallah is hiding in a foreign embassy.
If confirmed, the reports could lead to an Israeli air strike on the embassy, possibly leading to a widening of the conflict, said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Foreign embassies are sovereign territory and an attack on an embassy could be considered an act of war.
Yes, of course deliberately bombing an embassy would be an act of war. But so would be sheltering Nasrallah, or at least it would be if Israel demanded his surrender and his host government refused. If the Iranians have decided to commit such an overtly hostile act against Israel, it's because they're guessing that Israel won't escalate matters by retaliating; similarly, if the Israelis decide to bomb the embassy, it will be because they'll be guessing that Iran won't take it further, into open war.

(H/T: Instapundit)

UPDATE: This article (H/T once again Instapundit) makes an important point:

There are circumstances, long recognized in customary law of jus ad bellum, in which states will make incursions or aggressions of a limited nature against another party. [...] The law of belligerent reprisal allows a party that has been the subject of an armed provocation to retaliate, in order to make clear to the other party that it will defend its sovereignty, but to do so in a way that sends a legal signal that it will not escalate the conflict if the other party does not. It is a form of legal self-help - responding with force, but force that is proportionate to the immediate provocation and intended to close the circle of violence and cut it off with a single tit-for-tat, rather than see it spiral upwards into full conflict. [...]It is intended to stop short of full belligerency, in which the war aims shift, and proportionality is no longer measured by the immediate provocation, but by a state's assessment of the underlying threat.
It seems to me that and Israeli strike on the Iranian embassy, following a clear demand for Nasrallah's surrender and a clear Iranian refusal, would be just such an act of proportionate reprisal – an act of war indeed, but one intended to do no more than cure the immediate problem and so keep the conflict from turning into a full-scale war.

Another Rovian Conspiracy

I saw this on LGF the other day regarding the founder of Air America :
Sheldon Drobny: Liberal/Progressive Anti-Semitism. (Hat tip: The American Thinker.)

“I came to the conclusion that the hostile comments about Israel on these liberal blogs are not coming from true liberals. Most of the anti-Semitism comes from racism and most of the racism I have experienced has come from the far right, not the left.

“So my conclusion is that the bloggers who violently hate Israel and see it in black and white terms are not really liberals. They may even be anti-Semites, but they are not representative of the liberal community that was so active in achieving racial and ethnic equality. It is a contradiction for a true liberal to be an anti-Semite.

Furthermore, I would not put it past the right wing to flood the liberal blogs with hateful criticisms of Israel to advance a perception that liberals are anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. And I see Karl Rove’s fingerprints all over this.”

Me: As things get uglier, they are getting clearer. You don't need a microscope to find anti-Semitism on the left. He cannot accept what he promulgates. He can't accept reality. Still, a Rovian Conspiracy seems so obviously far-fetched. One can actually imagine that the reality based community will have to deal with reality. Or am I dreaming?

Skimmed?

Day By Day and the Captain both comment on this story. The Captain's heading is "Hamas Skims Off The Top", while Chris Muir more accurately points the finger at Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen). I'm sorry to disagree, but with all the ill will in the world towards both parties, I just can't see anything sinister here.


Let's recap: when Hamas got elected and formed a government, its people became civil servants on the PA's official payroll, and all foreign aid was cut off. Not only did the USA and EU stop giving them money, the USA informed all banks within their jurisdiction that if they were to transfer money to the PA with which to pay these salaries, they could be prosecuted for providing material support to terrorists. So 165 000 civil servants (about half of them armed terrorists, er, "police officers") haven't been paid in months, and financial chaos has ensued. The USA's response has been that the matter is entirely in the PA's hands: as soon as it takes the terrorists off its payroll, it can have all the money it needs, but until then it can suffer. The Arab League – which doesn't share the USA's priorities, to say the least – has raised $100M to replace the missing aid; as far as it's concerned, the fact that much of the money will go to terrorists is a plus. But until now it hasn't been able to get the money to the PA, because of the USA sanctions.

Now the JPost reports that they have somehow managed to get the money through, and it has been used to make up some of the backlog in the payroll. All government employees have received a down payment on what they are owed. All government employees, including Hamas ministers and members of Parliament, because "there could be no discrimination in the payment of government workers".

Sounds fair enough to me. This is not skimming, this is what the money was donated for – paying salaries. The street cleaners have not been paid, and nor has the Prime Minister; when some money comes in, both get a little. I honestly don't see the problem with that. Yes, Abbas and Haniya and all his ministers should drop dead immediately. They're guilty of all sorts of horrible crimes. But as far as I can see, this isn't one of them. They're using the money for its intended purpose.

Move along, folks, nothing to see here.