Archive for May 2006

VDH: A War To Be Proud Of

Victor David Hanson lays out the reason for our sacrifice better than anyone else in this Memorial Day article.

Our soldiers fought for the chance of a democracy; that fact is uncontestable. Before they came to Iraq, there was a fascist dictatorship. Now, after three elections, there is an indigenous democratic government for the first time in the history of the Middle East. True, thousands of Iraqis have died publicly in the resulting sectarian mess; but thousands were dying silently each year under Saddam—with no hope that their sacrifice would ever result in the first steps that we have already long passed.

Our soldiers also removed a great threat to the United States. Again, the crisis brewing over Iran reminds us of what Iraq would have reemerged as. Like Iran, Saddam reaped petroprofits, sponsored terror, and sought weapons of mass destruction. But unlike Iran, he had already attacked four of his neighbors, gassed thousands of his own, and violated every agreement he had ever signed. There would have been no nascent new democracy in Iran that might some day have undermined Saddam, and, again unlike Iran, no internal dissident movement that might have come to power through a revolution or peaceful evolution.

Read the entire thing. It’s worth it.

Some People Have No Souls

I occasionally wonder if there are some people born without a soul – presuming a soul is necessary for such human qualities as a conscience and vessel of morality.

Heinous crimes – like this one in Missouri – seem to prove that there are indeed people who lack any shred of humanity, who view the world and those within it as existing for their own amusement. Such people are incapable of remorse, or of feeling empathy for their victims.

Worse than the monsters, are those who cover for them. Check this out:

The Missouri State Highway Patrol interviewed a woman at the complex, Susan Summers, about the couple’s disappearance on Sunday. Police later learned the couple had been hiding in the back room of Summers’ apartment at the Perryville complex and escaped after officers left. Summers has been charged with two counts of hindering prosecution.

And this:

Several family members and friends of the suspects have told detectives the couple had hopes of carrying out similar acts on others, but police say they’re unsure how valid those claims are.

So family members and “friends” knew what the couple was doing – and did nothing or worse, actively assisted in their escape.

It reminds me of scum like the guy who watched his friend molest and kill a 7 year old girl in a Las Vegas bathroom. We can perhaps understand the madness of the killers, but the apathy of those who support them still amazes me.

Would the world be worse off if these people were simply euthanized? If someone walked up to that guy and dropped him to the pavement with a single bullet to the brain, would he be charged with murder? There is more to being a human being than carrying a sackful of human DNA around for 80+ years.

I can easily imagine a SF story about a “soul detector” being used to separate those with souls from those without – with the latter losing “human rights” since they are in fact, not human.

Target: Venezuela

Some people drink to relax. Others watch TV or meditate. I become a Mercenary in the PS2 game, Mercenaries. For well over a year I have played and replayed this game, which takes place in North Korea run by a fictional strongman Kim il-Song. Interestingly, I play the game with a strong moral code – meaning that I avoid hurting civilians, hate running the missions against the South Korean forces (and try to minimize casualties when I do), and most recently played a game in which I captured – not killed – most of the deck of 52 including Song himself.

That said, I was happy to learn that a sequel was in the works. Even better this story reports that it takes place in Venezuela – thereby pissing off supporters of Hugo Chavez.

“I think the U.S. government knows how to prepare campaigns of psychological terror so they can make things happen later,” Congressman Ismael Garcia said, citing the video game developed by Los Angeles-based Pandemic Studios.

Being that I am no fan of Chavez, we can only hope he’s right. If not, I’ll remember that the next time I have Chavez in the sights of my anti-armor sniper rifle.

A9: An Interesting Search Engine

Ever since Google rolled onto its back for the Chinese, I have avoided using it. In fact, the few times that I have used it I have felt guilty. Guilt, in my opinion, is a good thing. For those of us who have been brought up with consciences, it can be an accurate “reality check”. So, I was pleased when Dean Esmay mentioned A9 today. Granted A9 is powered by Microsoft, but in a world of evils, MS makes no pretence to being anything but.

I like that about Microsoft. I respect honesty much more than hypocrisy, and Google is definitely on an extended hypocrite-trip. “Do no evil,” is their corporate motto, but they are doing evil left and right as they attempt to turn their virtual popularity into economic prosperity.

A9 has several intriguing features – and it’s guilt-free. I especially like the rollover “site info” pop-up that shows stats on the link. Being curious, I searched on this site and was surprised to find that it’s stats were accurate. The Razor has been online since October 5, 2001 and has 208 links. It ranks 3 millionth in traffic, which is better than the ITPAA - which ranks 5 millionth.

A9 also shows that this website was mentioned in this book: Handbook of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Administration and Policy (Public Administration and Public Policy) . The book refers to this story I wrote about Act Up that criticizes the myth that the US government doesn’t spend enough on AIDS research.
The Razor.org

My guess is that it’s supposed to represent some kind of vicious attack on Gay Rights activists by the Left – which is humorous to me considering that:
1. I support gay rights including gay marriage.
2. I have lost two friends to the disease (one in Africa, one in St. Louis).
3. I grew up in the gay culture of the 1980s – clubs, theater, etc – and while not gay myself have always had friends who are.

Since I can’t read the book online, I can’t see what it says about the article – but I find it’s premise interesting:

One cannot be a gay rights supporter AND question the dogma of AIDS funding.

I’ve even gone as far as to question the entire HIV-> AIDS hypothesis (although I tend towards the conventional wisdom on the matter at this time).

I suppose we’ll really know that the “gay rights” movement has succeeded when one can speak against such sacred-cows as Act-UP and AIDS funding – not when men can marry each other in Utah.

Linda Turner Photography

Caffeinated Poodle
Caffeinated Poodle

Moths and Flames: “Thank You My Foolish Friends”

Why are Leftists fond of dictators? This op-ed in the Times explains why. It ends:

The left has a proud tradition of defending political freedoms, at home and abroad. But this tradition is in danger of being lost when western intellectuals indulge in power worship. Applause for autocrats undermines the morale of people who insist on fighting for their freedoms Leftists were largely sympathetic, and rightly so, to critics of Berlusconi and Thaksin, even though neither was a dictator. Both did, of course, support American foreign policy. But when democracy is endangered, the left should be equally hard on rulers who oppose the US. Failure to do so encourages authoritarianism everywhere, including in the West itself, where the frivolous behaviour of a dogmatic left has already allowed neoconservatives to steal all the best lines.

Hattip: Rudy Rummel

Euthanize the VA

So the VA loses the records of all living veterans since 1976 to the stupidity of a single data analyst (link). I’m still pissed at them for a fire that happened in 1973 and destroyed my father’s service records. This comes on top of the disgrace veterans hospitals have become, with patients waiting years to see a physician. Then there’s the matter that the VA can’t seem to hold on to physicians to begin with.

Note to the government:
If you really want to help America’s veterans – close down the VA and start from scratch.

Gerbil Theater: Treasure Island

Gerbil Pirate copyright 2006 Anklebitermedia.com
“Well, many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese—toasted, mostly . . . ”

It’s Nitwit Graduation Time

And John Gibson nails it:

When it comes to the students we have to consider some facts. These are students whose parents have paid upwards of a $1,000 a week for them to be in the school. They have lived protected and sheltered lives. They didn’t suffer an attack on 9/11.

They haven’t fought the wars that followed. They have virtually no experience in life, except what happened before they left home and what happened when the college professors got hold of them.

Condoleezza Rice helped free more women in Afghanistan and Iraq than anybody has ever freed in the history of man. She is playing a major role in a solution to the war in Darfur.

Condi Rice doesn’t represent their values. I should say not, since their values seem to be intolerance, closed-mindedness and the cocksureness of youth that allows a college student to pass judgment on a secretary of state.

New Clues to Edmund Fitzgerald Disaster

Some weather forecaster has “hindcasted” the storm that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald on Nov. 10, 1975 (good-for-a-day-Yahoo! Link here). As a kid I had the ‘45 of the Gordon Lightfoot song about the sinking, in which 19 sailors died on Lake Superior. I still love that ballad even today, and credit it for nursing a keen interest in wrecks and merchant shipping.

Amir Taheri on Iraq:

(link)

Since my first encounter with Iraq almost 40 years ago, I have relied on several broad measures of social and economic health to assess the countrys condition. Through good times and bad, these signs have proved remarkably accurateas accurate, that is, as is possible in human affairs. For some time now, all have been pointing in an unequivocally positive direction.

The first sign is refugees. When things have been truly desperate in Iraqin 1959, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1980, 1988, and 1990long queues of Iraqis have formed at the Turkish and Iranian frontiers, hoping to escape. In 1973, for example, when Saddam Hussein decided to expel all those whose ancestors had not been Ottoman citizens before Iraqs creation as a state, some 1.2 million Iraqis left their homes in the space of just six weeks. This was not the temporary exile of a small group of middle-class professionals and intellectuals, which is a common enough phenomenon in most Arab countries. Rather, it was a departure en masse, affecting people both in small villages and in big cities, and it was a scene regularly repeated under Saddam Hussein.

Since the toppling of Saddam in 2003, this is one highly damaging image we have not seen on our television setsand we can be sure that we would be seeing it if it were there to be shown. To the contrary, Iraqis, far from fleeing, have been returning home. By the end of 2005, in the most conservative estimate, the number of returnees topped the 1.2-million mark. Many of the camps set up for fleeing Iraqis in Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia since 1959 have now closed down. The oldest such center, at Ashrafiayh in southwest Iran, was formally shut when its last Iraqi guests returned home in 2004.

A second dependable sign likewise concerns human movement, but of a different kind. This is the flow of religious pilgrims to the Shiite shrines in Karbala and Najaf. Whenever things start to go badly in Iraq, this stream is reduced to a trickle and then it dries up completely. From 1991 (when Saddam Hussein massacred Shiites involved in a revolt against him) to 2003, there were scarcely any pilgrims to these cities. Since Saddams fall, they have been flooded with visitors. In 2005, the holy sites received an estimated 12 million pilgrims, making them the most visited spots in the entire Muslim world, ahead of both Mecca and Medina.

Over 3,000 Iraqi clerics have also returned from exile, and Shiite seminaries, which just a few years ago held no more than a few dozen pupils, now boast over 15,000 from 40 different countries. This is because Najaf, the oldest center of Shiite scholarship, is once again able to offer an alternative to Qom, the Iranian holy city where a radical and highly politicized version of Shiism is taught. Those wishing to pursue the study of more traditional and quietist forms of Shiism now go to Iraq where, unlike in Iran, the seminaries are not controlled by the government and its secret police.

A third sign, this one of the hard economic variety, is the value of the Iraqi dinar, especially as compared with the regions other major currencies. In the final years of Saddam Husseins rule, the Iraqi dinar was in free fall; after 1995, it was no longer even traded in Iran and Kuwait. By contrast, the new dinar, introduced early in 2004, is doing well against both the Kuwaiti dinar and the Iranian rial, having risen by 17 percent against the former and by 23 percent against the latter. Although it is still impossible to fix its value against a basket of international currencies, the new Iraqi dinar has done well against the U.S. dollar, increasing in value by almost 18 percent between August 2004 and August 2005. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis, and millions of Iranians and Kuwaitis, now treat it as a safe and solid medium of exchange

My fourth time-tested sign is the level of activity by small and medium-sized businesses. In the past, whenever things have gone downhill in Iraq, large numbers of such enterprises have simply closed down, with the countrys most capable entrepreneurs decamping to Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf states, Turkey, Iran, and even Europe and North America. Since liberation, however, Iraq has witnessed a private-sector boom, especially among small and medium-sized businesses.

Dancing Off The Edge

The Sister-in-law is in the final stages of her alcoholic dependency. Link to recent Dean’s post here.

I just discovered this comment on the disease that’s worth remembering:

Alcoholics and addicts not yet in recovery behave as if they were fighting to preserve life itself. They act as if they are citizens in a malevolent society where operatives are using every technique including authoritarian force, manipulation and seduction to attack their existence. They valiantly resist all efforts to effect change. They may not like to lie, but they will if necessary. They use specialized psychological defenses including denial, minimization, rationalization, blaming, intimidation and proclaiming the right to make their own decisions in life. Like victims of oppression, they go underground in their attempts to protect their freedom. Their defenses become habitual and function smoothly even when cognitive faculties begin to fail. – Dr. Jeffrey Smith, Commentary Alcoholism and Free Will . Hattip: The Downward Spiral

The Sister-in-law is slipping into paranoia now, believing that the reason she can’t hold a job is because the Wife is calling her employers and telling them lies. At her penultimate job she was found passed out in the parking lot, and her last one she was let go after being sent off to rehab for a month (after being found unconscious in her apartment and throwing several gran mal seizures in an apparent attempt at detoxing herself.

For those who don’t understand this disease, it must be hard to fathom. I’ve been lucky in that I have seen life through the bottle and without it. Sometimes that’s just what it is: luck. I’ve been lucky to survive the insanity, and to find the… whatever you want to call it: higher power, god, Superego, Magic – that keeps me sane.

But the demon is in the recesses. I hear him breathing. Watching the destruction of my sister-in-law doesn’t fill me with feelings of superiority…

It scares the living hell out of me because I see myself dancing off the edge – while believing, truly deeply feeling that I could walk on the clouds.

Iran – My Proposal

Being the foreign policy genius I am, I came up with a proposal to end the Iranian nuclear crisis while stuck in stop-go-watch the idiot next to me try to race ahead in his overpriced, overpowered mass-produced luxury sports car-traffic. Here it is:

Iran claims that it’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. The United States publicly announces that it will take the Iranian’s word for this based on the following conditions.

1. Although Iran is currently not a direct threat to the US, it is a threat to our ally Israel. Any overt – or covert – nuclear attack on Israel will result in the treatment of the incident as a direct nuclear attack on the United States. We would then massively retaliate – not limited strikes – but massive complete nuclear annihilation.

Any suspicious nuclear explosion would assumed to be the product of terrorism supported by Iran. We would then hold Iran accountable for any such attack .

Any European ally wishing to may participate in this “nuclear umbrella” over Israel. This means that nuclearized France could join in our protection of Israel.

2. This umbrella can be extended to our allies in NATO on a state-by-state basis. A country could elect to be protected by our nuclear umbrella – or not – depending on its needs. Therefore if a nuclearized France opted out of our umbrella and if it was hit by a nuclear attack, the United States would not respond.

3. This umbrella would also cover Iraq due to our ongoing efforts to rebuild that nation. Any nuclear attack on that nation would be treated as a direct attack on the United States and be treated accordingly.

4. Should Iran become a direct threat to the United States (development of ICBMs for example), the nuclear umbrella would be extended to the United States territory.

While this is a bit melodramatic – as any discussion that has the word ‘annihilation’ in it must be – so are the risks of a nuclearized Iran. To limit these risks this proposal would
a) Encourage Iran to pursue peaceful nuclear technology – and be open about it.
b) Encourage Iran to police itself to prevent being held responsible for any technology falling into the “wrong hands”.
c) Discourage Iranian saber rattling – such as talk of “obliterating the Zionist Entity”.
d) Encourage the Russians and Chinese to exert control on Iran, since neither one of these states would be covered by the “nuclear umbrella”.
e) Remove the US from the forefront of these negotiations. The President of Iran has attempted to portray this crisis as little Islamic Iran vs. the Great “Crusader” Satan USA. Allowing him to pursue nuclear tech within these well-defined boundaries ends that.

Every Year Is Worse Than The Previous Year

At the same time, the Americans and the Government were able to absorb our painful blows, sustain them, compensate their losses with new replacements, and follow strategic plans which allowed them in the past few years to take control of Baghdad as well as other areas one after the other. That is why every year is worse than the previous year as far as the Mujahidin’s control and influence over Baghdad.

Captured Al-Qaeda documents you won’t find reported in the mainstream media. Why? Because the documents show that the only venua AQ has been successful in is in the American Press. (hat tip: Captain’s Quarters)

Al Qaeda is in a sorry state in Iraq – proof again that not only are we winning, we have won.

If only the AP, UPI, AF, New York Times, LA Times and Washington Post would acknowledge this.

Mark Steyn: New coalition of willing needed in Darfur

Link

What’s the quintessential leftist cause? It’s the one you see on a gazillion bumper stickers: Free Tibet. Every college in the US has a Free Tibet society: There’s the Indiana University Students for a Free Tibet, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Students for a Free Tibet, and the Students for a Free Tibet University of Michigan Chapter. Everyone’s for a free Tibet, but no one’s for freeing Tibet. Idealism as inertia is the hallmark of the movement.

Mark seems to think that Liberals are very good at rationalizing inaction while tolerating genocide. Kind of what the Right did during Spain’s Civil War and later when Europe became the Third Reich. Perhaps the people of Darfur will get lucky and Angelina Jolie will adopt them.