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Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Gitmo Torture and Journalistic Bias

In response to this post concerning Newsweek's little Koran-flushing embroglio, Chefjef offers commentary and excerpts from a WaPo article by E.J. Dionne. I have shortened the Dionne excerpt somewhat in the interests of space. As usual, my own comments follow


Interesting. I'm not a Newsweek fan. Nor do I care about the Koran. And I couldn't give a rat's a** about the Gitmo detainees, other than that they don't deserve a smaller portion of my tax dollars than they currently receive. But your delving into the "motives" of the media folk, with concomitant assertions that they lied - while offering as little empirical evidence as Newsweek offered in its hastily made assertion that the Gitmo guards, some of whom are friends fo mine and with whom I currently serve, mistreated the "detainees." Thus, I offer this piece written by a Washington Post (not my favorite rag) writer. I don't agree with everything in it, but I offer it as a counter-point:

E. J. Dionne, Jr.
Washington Post Writers Group

Power 101
Newsweek Flap Offers Lesson In Conservative Ethics

WASHINGTON -- So it turns out that the FBI has documents showing that detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, complained about the mistreatment of the Koran and that many said they were severely beaten. The documents specifically include an allegation from a prisoner that guards had "flushed a Koran in the toilet."

And Thursday, Pentagon officials said investigators have identified five incidents of "mishandling" the Koran by military guards and investigators. It was the first time Pentagon officials had acknowledged mistreatment of the Muslim holy book, though they insisted that the episodes were minor and occurred in the Guantanamo facility's early days.

What, then, is one to make of the Bush administration's furious assault against Newsweek magazine for bringing allegations about the abuse of the Koran to popular attention?

The war on Newsweek shifted attention away from how the Guantanamo prisoners have been treated, how that treatment has affected the battle against terrorism and what American policies should be. Newsweek-bashing also furthered a long-term and so far successful campaign by the administration and the conservative movement to dismiss all negative reports about their side as the product of some entity they call "the liberal media."

I write about it now because of the new reports and because I fear that too many people in traditional journalism are becoming dangerously defensive in the face of a brilliantly conceived conservative attack on the independent media.

Conservative academics have long attacked "postmodernist" philosophies for questioning whether "truth" exists at all and claiming that what we take as "truths" are merely "narratives" woven around some ideological predisposition. Today's conservative activists have become the new postmodernists. They shift attention away from the truth or falsity of specific facts and allegations -- and move the discussion to the motives of the journalists and media organizations putting them forward. Just a modest number of failures can be used to discredit an entire enterprise.

But this particular anti-press campaign is not about Journalism 101. It is about Power 101. It is a sophisticated effort to demolish the idea of a press independent of political parties by way of discouraging scrutiny of conservative politicians in power. By using bad documents, Dan Rather helped Bush, not John Kerry, because Rather gave Bush's skilled lieutenants the chance to use the CBS mistake to close off an entire line of inquiry about the president. In the case of Guantanamo, the administration, for a while, cast its actions as less important than Newsweek's.

We now know that the conservatives' admiration for a crusading and investigative press carried an expiration date of Jan. 20, 2001.

When the press fails, it should be called on the carpet. But when the press confronts a politically motivated campaign of intimidation, its obligation is to resist -- and to keep reporting



"Furious assault"....."Crusading"....."Campaign of intimidation"...."Conservative attack on independent media." Everything but the scare-quotes around "ethics" in the title....

Note the breathlessness. E.J.'s got the vapors. Note also that "independent media" really means "media that agrees with my political point of view" (just as it does to many conservatives).

It is to Dionne's credit that he offers this disclaimer:

At this point, it is customary to offer a disclaimer to the effect that my column runs in The Post, is syndicated by The Washington Post Writers Group and that The Washington Post Co. owns Newsweek. I resisted writing about this subject precisely because I do not want anyone to confuse my own views with Newsweek's or The Post's.

But he doesn't tell the whole story. He doesn't mention that he's been one of the most vocal critics of the Bush administration in the MSM (even to the point of nearly becoming unglued). He is the very model of the modern big media hack. He speaks the talking points of his masters, the Lords of Establishment Journalism. I would be surprised and even somewhat worried if he were to be on my side on any issue. He exemplifies what is wrong with the MSM: the portrayal of a media establishment with overwhelming, undeniable ideological and political biases as "independent," balanced, and objective. In fairness, he probably really believes it's true. Many otherwise decent Russians believed to the core that scientific socialism was true, after all. E.J. probably doesn't actually know anyone with a different perspective. All those he grew up with, went to college with, practiced his profession with, and sipped Absolut with over the years agree with him. There are those of his crowd and then those poor benighted hoi poloi who don't live in DC, NYC, LA, or Miami. They drink beer. Oh my. The very idea that some of these proles think they can lounge about in their pajamas, eating Wheaties and drinking Bud, and "do" journalism on their home computers ("I'll bet they're not even using Macs!") is an insult to Dionne's High and Sacred Calling.

Chefjef should also have noted columns like the NYT's Dionne-clone, Tom Friedman, who says, "just shut it down." If there is a conservative "campaign" and "conspiracy" to undermine the "independent press," then there must equally be one on the left to undermine the war. I don't believe there is, but then I don't believe in a conservative "campaign" or in the existence of an "independent press"--at least, not one outside of the blogosphere--one independent of the media establishment, but not without political bias. There is no part of journalism that is without normative bias--it would be impossible to create such a thing, given human nature. Even if a few pristine souls attempted to set one up, it would eventually come to represent the institutional interests of the organization that produced the news itself, which would incline it to take partisan positions at least some of the time.

As to the issue that engendered the Dionne and Friedman screeds, I think this says all that need be said on the subject. Case closed. Questions?


Lileks today has a good take on the liberal journalistic attitude I was trying to describe in this post: not conspiracy, just arrogance, insularity, and cynicism:

I speak as someone who did four years duty in DC happy hours..... It's not so much that all DC journalists are rabid Democrats - it's that they're addicted to cynicism and bemusedly contemptous of anyone who isn't in the press. Except for thier sources, of course. And their spouses who have government jobs. Everyone else is an object of pity or contempt. You think DC journalists are doctrinaire liberals? Get them talking about DC city government, and stand back lest ye be singed.... The CIA airline story plugs into the general idea that the role of the press is to reveal government secrets, regardless of their nature. That the Republic is served not by men and women in offices figuring out crafty ways to confound headchoppers, but by men in parking garages who tell reporters that funds earmarked for vending machine repair are actually going to airlift terrorists out of foreign capitals without proper extradition documents. Boy! Stop the presses!

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Son of Chefjef on Judicial Nominations

The debate on judicial nominations continues. Chefjef's latest first; my comments follow.


Great response, as always. I don't disagree with any of your analyisis; as usual - not always, but usual - your logic is as acute as a Vulcan's. What I take issue with is some of your premises. BTW, I am not a liberal, I'm a moderate. I have never been a liberal. I have been a conservative, though.

First, the underlying judicial philospohy of the left (as a whole) is not motivated by relativism. That just isn't true. No way to prove it to you than to have you read volumes of original-source legal writings, as oppossed to second source, biased material. [Same is true for the Left by the way, a number of whom think right-wing judicial philosophy is a form of conservative conspiracy which seeks to divide society by class and concentrate power and wealth among the "privileged," which of course isn't true; there is a core of moral, economic and philosophic principles that underly a substantial portion of the right's jurisprudence. A lack of thorough reading of origianl source material, again, serves (along with partisanhip) as the basis for believing otherwise].

Second, I don't think that her judgeship's belief was simply that the perpetrator had a "kill whitey" social agenda. In fact, I agreed with the majortiy opinion, overall, in the Dougan case. However, I may have been swayed byt he minority had they provided some specific empirical evidence to support a couple fo their assertions.

Third, you said "My concern throughout was simply that she might not be in such a state and that no court had ever taken the time to rationally and professionally re-examine whether she was, given that there were doubts about the husband's motives and the doctor's stake in saving his reputation if his diagnosis was amiss." Two problems there. Where di this "doubt" come from. After reviewing the extensive record - which neither you nor I have done -liberal, conservative and moderate judges at the local, state and federal level never had that doubt, which is why (under the letter AND spirit of the law dating back to our founding) they did not hold a de novo review. So, when you say there was "doubt," among whom? There was an emotional plea by loving family that was seized upon by professional PR folks paid for by certain other folks within conservative politics and purposely used the issue for political gain (with a concomitant movement among certain leftist political folks who thought it a good idea to seek to gain political ground by co-opting and misusing the circumstances (did you notice how all of a sudden Democrats a "precedential, rule of law" organization?)

In conclusion, I [link to] the full appellate opinion in the Dougan case (BTW, in reading the forward, note that at some point, even the majority had vacated Dougan's death sentence - see paragraph 12 - and remanded the case for rehearing, then affirmed the second, subsequent death sentence): JOHN JACOB DUGAN vs. STATE OF FLORIDA


I have read the decision and, again, defer to Chefjef's superior grasp of the specific legal issues involved, but--also again--reiterate that the two liberal justices' dissenting opinion fails to meet any "reasonable man" test and that the appointment of people with such beliefs represents a potential threat to liberty. If Dugan's "civil rights activities, his community, social, health, and welfare work, and...the racial unrest at the time of this murder" offer ANY exoneration of what Dugan did, thus warranting a lesser sentence, then Hitler could have (had he not turned his brain into a spray of Teppischfresher jelly) claimed the same defense. After all, he built the Autobahn and made the trains run on time. How's that for "community service?"

And if a morally relativist materialism (in its modern American left-wing incarnation) didn't inform these two judges dissenting opinion, what did? I can't speak for the entirety of the liberal legal establishment, but I can say that much of what I have read and read of is informed by the deconstructionist, legal positivist, legal realist, and/or critical legal studies schools; that these perspectives are taught in many of our nation's prominent law schools (including my own alma mater, George Mason); and that these schools of thought are explicit outgrowths of relativist materialism (even though some are quite old). Now, perhaps Chefjef, having attended a smaller Southern, Christian law school, didn't encounter much of this during his education--good on him! It may help to account for his superior judgement in some matters. But many lawyers do embrace these schools, most of them are liberal activists, and their particular intellectual disorder is part of the same old relativist enemy Christianity has been fighting for two centuries now. The judges in question--and Chefjef, in their defense--may not acknowledge their perspective as relativist (and, it seems, CLS in particular), but if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, burps feathers when you step on it, and goes well with wonton wrappers and hoisin sauce, chances are it's a duck.

As to the Schiavo case, I believe I said that it might have been an error from a legal perspective to give Terri's family what it wanted, but that I believed that it was at least possible that the legal establishment's perspective was in error too, from a medical perspective, and that the court should err on the side of defending the life of one who was unable to defend herself. There was at least circumstantial evidence throughout the last rounds of the case that the medical fact-finding primarily involved the judgement of one physician only, one who might have had professional reasons not to wish his diagnosis contradicted. All Terri's family and supporters were asking (the reasonable ones among them, at least) was an independent medical determination of her mental condition. A PET scan. Some additional CT work (the one submitted in evidence wound up on the internet awhile back and was thought, by independent professionals, to have been primitive (late-80s equipment, very fuzzy), inconclusive, and to have included the possibility of some higher brain function--I wish I could find the links again). I believe it was error on the judges part not to have allowed this--it would have cleared up the case in everyone's mind and then perhaps we wouldn't have had all the media BS, clothes-tearing, and wailing and gnashing of teeth. It might have been legal error in the strictest sense, but error on the side of defending defenseless human life is not such a very bad thing.


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Monday, May 30, 2005


Encouraging news from France: the EU constitution is rejected, 56% to 44%. Excellent! There may yet be hope for the Gauls. We cannot expect endorsement of an American model of personal liberty with personal responsibility, but at least it seems a resounding rejection of the Vogon-like cultural death-rattle that is the EU. Kudos, my froggy confreres!

Glenn Reynolds has an excellent summary of links:


French voters were said tonight to have resoundingly rejected the EU Constitution, sending a defiant message to France’s political establishment and dealing a blow to plans for further European integration.
As polls closed around the country, the three major French polling organisations all reported a “no” vote of around 55-56 per cent, in line with opinion polls before today’s vote.

The rejection of the treaty, drafted by a panel headed by Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president, leaves the Constitution effectively dead in the water and the 25-nation European Union in crisis. It also means that Tony Blair may no longer need to argue the case for a Constitution in a UK referendum that had been due next year.

“It’s a massive ‘no’, a heavy rejection of the Constitution and a huge humiliation for President Chirac,” said Charles Bremner, Times correspondent in Paris. “It’s also a huge repudiation of the political establishment – all the major parties were in favour of this document.”

It's possible that this is a mere bump in the road, although it's a big one. On the other hand, it's possible that this is the beginning of a significant political shift in Europe, which I suspect will be a good thing if it happens.

Certainly some folks are battening down the hatches.

UPDATE: Perhaps this response: "Your votes say no no no, but your better classes say yes, yes, yes!"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Smith emails: "I have yet to see an american blogger that has recognized that a lot of people that voted Non want France to be a MORE socialist state. It's a fear that the EU will be more capitalist."

Well, that's been a theme of a lot of the coverage I've linked to, and it certainly seems to be true. In fact, though I can't find a working link to the story now, I seem to recall that French free-market activist Sabine Herold supported the EU because she thought that only an external institution could break the power of the French unions.

As for the defeat on two grounds, it seems an obvious consequence of the EU's general strategy of obfuscation -- this works well in a bureaucratic environment, but in the context of referenda, where people tend to vote their fears more than their hopes, it's been self-defeating. Transparency tends to work better under such circumstances, and transparency has not been the Eurocrats' forte.

And some people are paying the price:

PARIS - French voters rejected the European Union's first constitution Sunday, President Jacques Chirac said — a stinging repudiation of his leadership and the ambitious, decades-long effort to further unite the continent.

Ouch. Meanwhile, Daniel Drezner has thoughts -- presciently ahead of the vote -- on the consequences of a French no.

MORE: Over at ChicagoBoyz, these comments:

This is almost as good as the purple fingers in Iraq. It is a step in the right direction. . . .

The fact that anti-Americanism drove much of the vote doesn’t bother me at all. I don't want people to like us nearly as much as I want them to be able to govern themselves the way they see fit, have real elections with real consequences, and get the benefits and bear the consequences of those decisions. If the French don't want capitalisme sauvage or anglo-saxonisme or hyper-liberalisme, OK by me. They are free to have as much socialism as they can get away with.

Indeed. Greg Djerejian has more thoughts, including these:

And it's certainly not a great day for Jacques Chirac, is it? One might say that he's now completely damaged goods. Pity. Meantime, let's now keep an even closer eye on Sarkozy as '07 looms. Truth be told, it's silly and sophomoric to emptily cheer-lead this historical repudiation of the EU constitution solely because it's such tremendously poor news for Jacques. . . .

There will doubtless be yet another referendum a few years hence on the issue. Giscard d'Estaing, for instance, is already on the record stating there will have to be a re-vote going forward. But this is a tremendous setback indeed to the entire process of European integration, of course, and it also showcases a massive failure of leadership by the Chirac Administration. They simply were not able to convince their country on the merits of their vision of Europe's future. And carping on about "multipolarity" and the big, bad Anglo-Saxon meanies didn't do the trick, it seems.

Interesting times ahead for French politics. Read this post by Djerejian, too, for some additional background.

STILL MORE: TM Lutas wonders how the French Muslims voted. And the Eclectic Econoclast doesn't expect the pro-EU forces to take no for an answer, in spite of their prior statements.

MORE STILL: Mark Steyn joins the list of skeptics who doubt that the Euro-establishment will give up:

So, a couple of days before the first referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker, the "president" of the European Union, let French and Dutch voters know how much he values their opinion:

"If at the end of the ratification process, we do not manage to solve the problems, the countries that would have said No, would have to ask themselves the question again," "President" Juncker told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

Got that? You have the right to vote, but only if you give the answer your rulers want you to give. But don't worry, if you don't, we'll treat you like a particularly backward nursery school and keep asking the question until you get the answer right.

A pretty safe bet. On the other hand, The New York Times calls this a "crushing defeat" for the E.U. Constitution. We'll see. I suspect that a lot depends on whether the politicians who pushed it have a political future, or get hammered. In the meantime, I note that both Chirac and Schroeder have tried to prop up their political fortunes by playing the anti-Americanism card, and both have found that gambit insufficient to the task.

And if the last paragraph of the last quote isn't reason enough to oppose everything the Eu stands for, then liberty under law is indeed in danger everywhere.

...oh, and take that, Chirac!


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Friday, May 27, 2005

Christian Carnival LXXI

The latest Christian Carnival is up at TechnoGypsy.

This week, an interesting rundown of Christian reactions to the new Star Wars movie, with lots of links. I have written of George Lucas' essentially innocent-but-annoying New Age silliness several times before. Making fun of George is easy and it brightens up the day. And he cries all the way to the bank, I'm sure (often carrying some of my money...)

The theme around which this week's carnival is structured is the teaching of the 4-7th century "Desert Fathers," some of the earliest bishops among the Copts and Arabs. This is an unusual subject, but makes for interesting reading. Here's an extract:

Abba Nonnus was visiting the great city and, standing with other Christians, saw the prostitute Pelagai riding by in a litter barely dressed and all made up on her way to a client. The other christians averred their eyes, but he did not. Instead he wept. When asked why, he said: "Two things make me weep. The first is loss of the woman to hell and the other is that I am not as concerned to please Christ as she is to please her lover".

This is truly amazing, because it almost exactly parallels some of my own earlier hermetic musings:

Major Monkius was visiting a great air base and, standing with other bluesuiters, saw a large transport flying by barely marked and all closed up on its way to perform a PNAF mission. The other bluesuiters averred their eyes, but he did not. Instead, he trembled. When asked why, he said: "Only two things really frighten me. The first is nuclear war." When they asked what the other thing was, he said, "carnies. Small hands. Smell of cabbage."


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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bride of Chefjef on Judicial Nominations

Sorry for paltry blogging of late--have been TDY and on leave with no WiFi. In this post, Chefjef continues our ongoing conversation concerning judicial nominations. My comments follow his.


I understand your point. Personally, I find conservative activism a broader danger than liberal activism. Yes, liberal activism tends to be softer on crime than I care for, and a little to quick to redistribute my miniscule wealth. But more alarming to me, conservative activism tends to give the government too much power in restricting personal freedoms, paves the way for corporate bodies to abuse the market, the consumer and its employees and gives law enforcement WAY too much power.

Also, while I honestly do understand your concern for that judges implicit argument that the defendant should receive a lighter sentence because he saw the murders as some sort of social justice, that is not a “wacky leftist” idea. An extreme emotional state (I’m not saying that defendant had one) has been a basis for lighter sentence for centuries. For example, a “heat of passion” murder – e.g. you catch your wife in bed with some other guy and in an immediate rage kill them both – is classified in most states as voluntary manslaughter, not murder, and has a lighter sentence than murder. Furthermore, this sort of mercy comes not from the left, but is an indirect by-product of the old equity courts – ecclesiastical bodies (which we’ve previously discussed).

Still, whatever the precise legal definition, it's clear that the phrase “activist judge” has become a conservative code-word for "liberal" judges whose decisions don't toe the conservative ideological line.

Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist has for years been railing against the alleged dangers presented by "judicial activism." But recently, as was seen with the Terri Schiavo case, many conservatives have ratcheted up the rhetoric, giving the impression that the American legal system is being run by liberal neo-Nazis who are so evil that they want to starve the disabled. Since I never weighed in on the issue, I’ll use it as an example.

First, a 1990 Supreme Court decision established that a person in a "consistent vegetative state" has a right to be removed from a feeding tube. That decision dealt with the case of Nancy Cruzan and was supported by liberal and conservative judges.

In a 1997 case, Mr. Originalist himself, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, wrote that the Constitution protected "the traditional right to refuse unwanted lifesaving medical treatment." (where is this in the Constitution? Must be one of those liberal penumbras). Liberal judicial activism? "The district court's carefully thought-out decision to deny temporary relief is not an abuse of discretion," wrote appellate judges Ed Carnes, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, and Clinton appointee Frank M. Hull.

Who was the dissenting judge? Charles R. Wilson, a Clinton appointee, who wrote, "I fail to see any harm in reinserting the feeding tube."

The full appeals court, by a 10-2 vote, also declined her parents' pleas.



Of course you think "conservative activism" is a greater threat than "liberal activism"--You're a liberal! There's a larger context here, though, that transcends "conservative" and "liberal" labels, except in the most short-term sense. The left's current errors of commission in our courts and underlying judicial philosophy are motivated to a large extent by relativistic materialism and this worries me far more than partisan specifics--who's on what side of which issue and who "wins"--do. This is not a problem that is unique to the left. Every fascist in history--including Saddam Hussein, who, we should be reminded, was an enemy born of the "right," not the "left" (if those terms have in meaning in this context)--has looked at the world from a similarly Godless, relatvist perspective. I've made a point of examining others from time to time.

As to "extreme emotional states"--I'm sorry, but in common-sense terms the idea that a perp should get a lighter sentence because he killed in the name of his pet social cause is patently absurd. If anything, he should get a stiffer sentence (I know, I know: how? electrocute him, then dig him up and hang him?). This is not the same as killing "in the heat of the moment," however. Crimes of passion I grant. The perp in question killed in cold blood, made colder by his notions of "social justice" (which seem to have amounted to, "kill whitey"). If this is a defense that gets the murderer any lenience, then Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot should have a shot at insanity defenses. If anything, in modern touchy-feely, warm-squishy parlance, this was a "hate crime."

The judge who wrote the opinion and his concurring associate put on the Urim and Thummim of relativism to somehow translate what should have exacerbated the crime into something that argued for leniency. I don't care what the letter of precedent says, this is clearly contrary to the spirit of the law. "Whacky leftist" or "rightist," it's ridiculous.

Of course, as a military man, I would prefer a more direct solution: take the rat-bastard out behind the courthouse and shoot him. Issue Resolved. Questions? Sadly, we can't even do that in the military any more. What's the world coming to?

With respect to Terri Schiavo, I've never doubted that the various courts were right within the strict letter of the law. Further, no sane person on the pro-Terri side of that debate questioned the right of a third party to terminate feeding of an individual who truly was in a "persistent vegitative state." My concern throughout was simply that she might not be in such a state and that no court had ever taken the time to rationally and professionally re-examine whether she was, given that there were doubts about the husband's motives and the doctor's stake in saving his reputation if his diagnosis was amiss. If it came back from qualified professionals (which the judges weren't) that she was a flatline, then fine: pull the plug. If she was just a severely retarded individual, however, then the courts should have erred--note that word carefully--on the side of life, regardless of relativist judgments concerning her "quality of life" or lack thereof.

Make no mistake--relativists on left and right saw the issue perfectly. The case was about the maleability of man and the definitions of "human" and "non-human." They sought some leyway, however small, in being allowed to redefine "human." All relativist materialism eventually involves an exercise in redefining humanity into "mine" and "not-mine" groups. Of course, everyone does this, but relativists often enthrone the philosophy behind the "mine-not mine" decision as a god and thus give the categories the cachet of divinity, whereas our God tries to restrain us from acting on these self-defined categories. He loves us all equally--even that murderer--and thus we are all joined in a fundamental sense--and enjoined not to devalue the life of another--at least not without damn good reason.

And finally, no...I don't see any inconsistency between shooting the perp and saving Terri, although you can certainly hold a morally defensible position that killing both was wrong. See C.S. Lewis' Humanitarian Theory of Punishment for my position on the subject.


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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Chefjef on Judicial Nominations

Referring to this post, Chefjef expands the debate on judicial nominees.

The article in National Review is not excellent, it is a joke. First of all, any aticle purporting to examine a judicial nominee's record would have to be much longer of an article, and include much longer quotes from the nominee's writing. The tiny blurbs in the the article are no different than small blurbs from the Bible that I see on atheist and supremicist websites that easily twist the meaning of the verse, given the lack of the the entire verse being quoted and the lack of perspective available if one is not familar with the book or chapter the verse comes from. The bottom line is, like Monk likes to say, if you don't read the whole thing--and that includes a judicial opinion--then you don't know wht's what.

Second, the article ignores the pedigree of some of Bush's ridiculous nominees, thus there is no perspective. Some of Bush's nominees have been so activist and questionable in their legal work that, at the time, they were criticized by other conservatives in the legal community.

Third, it is a common political tactic for Presidents to nominate some ideological fanatics in order to increase the percentage of their nominees who are appointed; the idea being with attention focused on a couple of nuts, it should be smooth sailing for the others who are comparatively mild.

But lastly, and more importantly, the Dems have confirmed a larger percentage of Bush's nominees than the Repubs confirmed of Clinton's, and despite what you may think of past nominees, most of those being opposed in the here and now should be opposed, just as most of Clinton's nominees who were opposed should have been. The National Review article was in no way informative; it served as an article written by those with a pre-determined position, for those with a pre-determined position, and provided no sufficient empirical material to draw a definitive conclusion about its targert subject's legal acumen or objectivity, either one way or the other. It was a puff piece.

As to the qoute - well, I guess not exactly a quote - from Burkette in your article, it is not as illuminating as you make it seem. I don't completely agree with it. Still, there is no endorsement of murder. She didn't write that he should be acquitted, merely given life in prison instead of death. The topic of the blurb was the defendant's emotional state, which must be discussed as a part of his mens rea, or state of mental intent, which is an element of homicide and MUST BE DISCUSSED AS AN ELEMENT OF THE CRIME AND SENTENCE AS A MATTER OF LAW, DATING BACK TO ENGLISH COMMON LAW. Thus, it is important to understand, even if you disagree with her position, that the issue she was discussing was not a tangential social ranting by a lefty sympathizer (though that may be her ideological leaning), but it had to be addressed (even at the trial stage) as a matter of law, and I'm certain, even without reading the opinion, that it was discussed by the majority (obviously with a different [take]).



Monk here.

I will concede your point on reading out of context--you may very well be right concerning the nominees in question--on whom the Senate has finally agreed to vote, in a deal some on both sides are regarding as a devil's bargain--I have not read enough of their own writings and don't have the requisite legal training to make an informed judgment.

That said, I certainly can, as an informed and concerned citizen, make judgments regarding the larger social issues involved. These may or may not be relevant in the cases at hand. There are two that come to mind.

First, I think it unlikely that any Democratic senators have read any more of the opinions of Owen, Pryor, et al, than I have. They are busy folks and don't have the time. Staffers may have read them; certainly lobbyists for leftist causes read them and submitted talking points. The bottom line is that most if not all Dems oppose these nominees not based on considered judgment of their qualifications or their "activism," but for their ideology--what they are "activists" for (if indeed they are activists). Democratic senators opposing nominees for "judicial activism" is beyond the pot calling the kettle black--it's almost Beyond Irony, as my original post was intended to show. That post pretended no great legal insight or knowledge of qualification details; it was just intended to show that this nomination furor is ideologically motivated and is being carried on in the Senate by the type of folks who probably do sympathize with the opinion I quoted from.

Secondly, I suspect that one of the issues that so irks the Dems specifically and the left in general relates to the nominees' physical and cultural characteristics more than anything else. Most of the nominees threatened by filibuster represent Democratic pet constituencies: African-American, Hispanic, women, Catholics. It's much easier to muster majorities against conservative male WASPS. You can play the race or culture cards against them. The idea that truly conservative nominees come from groups the Dems claim to speak for is like sand in the collective Democratic underwear. And it's a threat--a threat to their status as Official Self-Proclaimed Spokespersons for "Minorities" and the "Oppressed." If women, blacks, Catholics, and Hispanics buck the Party Line, people in those groups--and other groups too--may begin to believe thay have actual freedom of conscience and thought. Dangerous, that. Threatens the powerbase, doncha know. This accounted for some of the most vocal opposition to Justice Thomas' nomination, too: "he can't be a real black man--he doesn't believe what a black man should." What price Janice Rogers Brown?

Underlying all of this, of course, is a fundamental tenet of the left's ideology: that group identity determines both "worth" and thought. All denominations of the relativist religion have believed this, even if they disagreed as to which groups were "good" and which were "bad." Even the determining criteria differed: French Revolutionaries--French class status; socialists & communists--economic class; fascists & many modern leftists: race and/or culture. This deserves fuller treatment in later posts, however.

The bottom line here, from a macro perspective, is that Bush's nominees threaten the left's campaign to stock the courts with judges willing to enact a leftist agenda by judicial fiat that could not be won by popular vote.

PS: I concede that the quoted opinion was directly relevant to the defendant's mens rea, but am still more concerned about the mens rea of the opinion's author--it clearly advocates reducing a sentence because the defendant believed he was murdering out a sense of "social justice." This is the kind of thing we can expect much more of if the left gets its way in our courts.


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Thursday, May 19, 2005

"I'm Enraged, Ya, Yu Betcha!"

Enraged members of the dread Uffdahadin rush police in La Crosse

David Burge of IowaHawk once again proves why he's the best humorist on the internet right now:

Newsweek Lutefisk Story Sparks Fury Across Volatile Midwest

Decorah, IA - The debris-strewn streets of this remote Midwestern hamlet remain under a tense 24-hour curfew tonight, following weekend demonstrations by rock- and figurine-throwing Lutheran farm wives that left over 200 people injured and leveled the Whippy Dip dairy freeze. The rioting appeared to be prompted, in part, by a report in Newsweek magazine claiming military guards at Spirit Lake’s notorious Okoboji internment center had flushed lutefisk down prison toilets. Newsweek’s late announcement of a retraction seems to have done little to quell the inflamed passions of Lutheran insurgents in the region, as outbreaks of violent mailbox bashings and cow tippings have been reported from Bowbells, North Dakota to Pekin, Illinois.

“It could be months before we get the area back under control,” said Brigadier Gen. Glen Hastings of the US Army’s Southern Minnesota Command. “We’re hoping the tractor pull and swap meet seasons will help calm down some of the violent elements.”

“It is important that we remember that Lutheranism is a religion of peace,” said Army spokesman Maj. Richard Lehrman. “And we need to remember to avoid insensitive behavior and remarks that will cause these peaceful Lutherans to go on another bloody killing rampage.”

Despite officials’ claims of intensified sensitivity, rumors have persisted of continued prisoner abuse at Okoboji, including lutefisk desecration – an especially heinous crime under Lutheran doctrine. Some analysts have viewed the rumors skeptically, pointing to the Uff Da insurgent training manual “How To Lie About Lutefisk Desecration By Infidels.” Still, dozens of news organizations continue to investigate the charges.

In its May 6 “Midwest Quagmire Wire” section, Newsweek appeared to have confirmed the lutefisk rumors. Bylined by Senior Correspondent Michael Isikoff, the magazine cited an unidentified source claiming that Okoboji guards had deliberately flushed an entire batch of the pungent cod-and-lye concoction that prisoners had been aging in a specially prepared commode. “The guard smelled it and thought it was prison burrito night,” the source was quoted as saying.

News of the desecration spread quickly from Iowa to the Dakotas to Minnesota and Wisconsin, fanned by radio soybean reports and Lutheran clerics in fiery pancake breakfast sermons. Soon, enraged farm wives, clad in their traditional sweater vests and Disney jackets, had taken to the streets and begun a wild spree of destruction, overturning hundreds of rusty Blazers and Pontiac Grand Ams and hurling flaming Lladro porcelain figurines. Decorah was particularly hard-hit, as a frenzied throng of ululating Iowa women were seen looting needlepoint geese and rabbit tchotchkes from a Victorian craft shop. In a chilling moment caught on Army night vision cameras, their plus-size leader urges the mob to attack the near-by Pamida.

“Ya, you betcha!” came the chant of her enraged coreligionist.

As soldiers patrolled the streets of Decorah, Faribault and La Crosse Sunday, Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker issued a surprising, terse clarification of the original story, saying that the magazine could “no longer vouch for every detail of the story, including the brand of lye used, the number of soldiers and prisoners present, or possibly whether any of it actually happened.”

While retracting the Okoboji accusations, Whitaker said Newsweek stood by the original article’s final two sentences, “Boo-yah! In your FACE, Chimpy!”

Lutefisk: To some, not just jellied cod soaked in lye...


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"The Religion of Peace" [#1]

From last Friday's officially-endorsed khutba (sermon) televised by the Palestinian Authority. Excerpted without further comment (except to say that this sentiment is hardly unusual--check out MEMRI's site for other examples):

With the establishment of the state of Israel, the entire Islamic nation was lost, because Israel is a cancer spreading through the body of the Islamic nation, and because the Jews are a virus resembling AIDS, from which the entire world suffers.

We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again. The day will come when we will rule America. The day will come when we will rule Britain and the entire world – except for the Jews. The Jews will not enjoy a life of tranquility under our rule, because they are treacherous by nature, as they have been throughout history. The day will come when everything will be relieved of the Jews - even the stones and trees which were harmed by them. Listen to the Prophet Muhammad, who tells you about the evil end that awaits Jews. The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew.


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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Christian Carnival LXX

The latest Christian Carnival is up at A Penitent Blogger.

This week, the Vita ab Alto link on CC features part of the discussion between Izmud and me on the merits of the late Pope John Paul and, by way of that, modern relativism and many other topics besides.

This week's theme deals with an issue that Izmud brings up in his last post to me: How can there be a personally-interested God if there's so much suffering in the world?" Several posts deal with this issue very well.

Here's one from Dr Ray Pritchard of that admirably sums up the Christian argument:

Jonathan Edwards said that in eternity, we will marvel at how God used evil on the earth to bring forth good to his own glory. For the moment, and most of the time, we see only the evil and the pain. But that's not the end of the story. God will have the last word and it will be good.
Pastor Louie Marsh of Marshian Chronicles points out a trap many Christians fall into when dealing with the type of sins Dr Pritchard writes of:
In the middle of all this O’Reilly was discussing the rage and how it drives sick people to extremes and finally to actually kill not only children, but their own children! Then he said something like, “it’s at that point where he departs the human race.”

That’s a common and comforting thought, and it’s said in various ways by almost everyone. Unfortunately it’s also completely and profoundly untrue. It’s not just an unimportant error either, it strikes at the very heart of the human condition, and on our understanding of it hinges not only the future of the human race, but our own salvation as well.

The ugly truth is that humans and only humans do this kind of thing. You don’t see animals torturing and burying their young alive after sexually assaulting them do you? Oh there are examples in the animal kingdom of the eating of the young, but that’s rare and done for survival reasons.

The Bible tells us that apart from God the human condition is sick indeed. It’s no wonder we see this happening all around us, in fact if you know your Bible you ought to expect this kind of thing.

I agree. He says that this kind of horror seems to be happening more often these days, but as I read the Old Testament, there was plenty enough bad going down--I doubt very much that the per-capita incidence of this sort of thing has ever been much different, regardless of the age.

Lots of great stuff at CC this week! Enjoy!


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You Can't Be Sidious, Part II--The Episcopalians Strike Back!

Okay, so he's got his own blog, but what price this?

I never knew the National Cathedral had a Darth Vader gargoyle. I guess it was put up long after I haunted the place (back in the 70s it was a favorite place for me to go while skipping school in NW DC).

Perhaps he can add his potent midichlorians to the worship below. Perhaps his presence is intended to convey the Episcopalian acceptance of everything: "hey, we're New Age, too!" Perhaps he's intended to ward off invaders from space (in line with a gargoyle's original purpose): "Yo--dis Vader's crib; we outta here!" Perhaps, though, his presence (not well known, after all) is more darkly conservative and sinister: "I find your lack of faith disturbing...."


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Perspective on Judicial Nominees

National Review has an excellent little article that sheds some light on the types of judicial nominees the Democrats prefer to the "right-wing extremists" who they threaten to filibuster. This little story also tells us something about the honor and respect for law exhibited by the two parties, since the Republicans did not filibuster this candidate's nomination, although they had ample justification for doing so.

The person in question is Judge Rosemary Barkett, a former nun of the liberation theology stripe who left her vocation to become a trial lawyer (her true vocation, appropriately enough). She became a circuit court judge and was appointed by then-governor Bob Graham (ADA 75 as a US Senator) to the Supreme Court, where liberal Miamians and Gay West types voted her back to office twice more. She eventually became Chief Justice, on the power of sterling opinions like this:

Dougan versus State is a 1992 Florida Supreme Court case. Dougan was the leader of a group that called itself the Black Liberation Army and that, according to the trial judge, had as its `apparent sole purpose to indiscriminately kill white people and thus start a revolution and a race war.' One evening in 1974, he and four other members of his group, armed with a pistol and a knife, went in search of victims. They picked up a white hitchhiker, Steven Orlando, drove him to an isolated trash dump, stabbed him repeatedly, and threw him to the ground. As Orlando writhed in pain and begged for his life, Dougan put his foot on Orlando's head and shot him twice — once in the chest and once in the ear — killing him instantly. Subsequent to the murder, Dougan made several tape recordings bragging about the murder, and mailed them to the victim's mother as well as to the media. The following excerpt from one of the tapes aptly illustrates the content: “He was stabbed in the back, in the chest and the stomach, ah, it was beautiful. You should have seen it. Ah, I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved watching the blood gush from his eyes.”

The Florida Supreme Court upheld the death penalty for Dougan. Justice Barkett and another Justice joined a remarkable and very disturbing dissent by Justice McDonald in which she voted to reduce the death penalty to life imprisonment, with eligibility for parole in 25 years[:] “This case is not simply a homicide case, it is also a social awareness case. Wrongly, but rightly in the eyes of Dougan, this killing was effectuated to focus attention on a chronic and pervasive illness of racial discrimination and of hurt, sorrow, and rejection. Throughout Dougan's life his resentment to bias and prejudice festered. His impatience for change, for understanding, for reconciliation matured to taking the illogical and drastic action of murder. His frustrations, his anger, and his obsession of injustice overcame reason. The victim was a symbolic representation of the class causing the perceived injustices.

“To some extent, [Dougan's] emotions were parallel to that of a spouse disenchanted with marriage, full of discord and disharmony which, because of frustration or rejection, culminate in homicide. We seldom uphold a death penalty involving husbands and wives or lovers, yet the emotion of that hate-love circumstance are somewhat akin to those which existed in this case.

“Such a sentence reduction should aid in an understanding and at least a partial reconciliation of the wounds arising from discordant racial relations that have permeated our society. To a large extent, it was this disease of racial bias and discrimination that infect an otherwise honorable person and contributed to the perpetration of the most horrible of crimes. An approval of the death penalty would exacerbate rather than heal those wounds still affecting a large segment of our society.”

Note the words in italics. Not hers, but she explicitly endorsed them.

"A Social Awareness case." Not much of a Catholic, perhaps, but she'd make a hell of a muslim--justifying political murder for an overarching "cause" is right down their alley. But then, it also accords well with her own religion of leftist relativism, since the murder was justified in her mind by "racial injustice. " Oh, and murdering husbands is kinda sorta not all that bad either (never mind that the death penalty is not imposed in most of those because they're "crimes of passion" and not premeditated, as the Dougan case definitely was).

So....this is the kind of justice the Democrats rate as "outstanding" when condemning the likes of Priscilla Owen. The latter may (or may not) have delivered some specious decisions over the years, but she didn't implicitly endorse politically-motivated murder and the murder of husbands by wives as a sitting state Supreme Court justice.

Here is some additional background from Thomas on Judge Barkett's nomination hearings when, in 1994, Hillary blackma...excuse me, President Clinton nominated her to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (which recently refused to overturn Terri Schiavo's death sentence), in order to liberal it up a bit.

Bottom line, the would-be filibusterers have no moral or ethical leg to stand on when complaining of "judicial activism." Oh...and the Republicans' past decency in deal with nominations like Judge Barkett's justify any actions on Senate rules they may take in the next few days. It's time for the nonsense to end. Nuke 'em 'til they glow!


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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Yoda Say, "Better It Is To Remain Silent and A Fool Be Thought...."

"Wesa in twubble nowsa, boss! Maybe wesa shoulda kepts our mouthses shut. Yassuh!"

A friendly note to George Lucas:

You weren't content to have created some of the finest literary characters and most memorable dialog in movie history (okay...sorry for the sarcasm), you've now cast yourself (before the French, no less) as political prophet, Guardian of Our Liberty, and Spokesman For Our Troubled Times. The casting job on this one was about as good as other recent casting choices you've made.

The London Free Press has the lowdown:

Star Wars is a wakeup call to Americans about the erosion of democratic freedoms under George W. Bush, George Lucas said yesterday....

Thanks, George. Subtle genius, that. Now let me push the snooze button...

Lucas, at a Cannes film festival press conference yesterday, said he first wrote the framework of Star Wars in 1971 when reacting to then-U.S. president Richard Nixon and the events of the Vietnam War. But the story still has relevance today, he said, and is part of a pattern he has noticed in history....

The Great Director...also an historian. Yes, George, we figured you created the Imperial Storm Troopers to be stand-ins for jackbooted American troops My-Lai-ing their way through innocent Ewo....uh...Viet Cong villages. It's the kind of thing we've come to expect from Hollywood--the sort of intellectual rigor that gave us Die Hard III, Alien vs Predator, oh, and Attack of the Clones. Just one problem: Ronald Reagan turned your infinitely subtle little jab on its head with his "Evil Empire" speech, didn't he? Fit better too, didn't it? That's how most Americans regarded the "Empire" anyway--Soviet Russia, know, the real threat to human liberty at the time.

"It is just one of those re-occuring things. I hope this doesn't come true in our country. Maybe the film will awaken people to the situation of how dangerous it is . . . The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we are doing now in Iraq are unbelievable." "At the time I did that, it was during the Vietnam War and the Nixon era. The issue was: How does a democracy turn itself over to a dictator? Not how does a dictator take over, but how does a democracy and Senate give it away?" "They all seem to happen in the same way with the same issues: Threats from the outside; they need more control; and a democratic body not being able to function properly because everybody's squabbling."

Stuff for the ages! I'm glad we have supple minds like yours to figure this sort of thing our for us. Who needs Madison and Jay? Just by-the-by, George, dictatorship didn't come about in Rome, Nazi Germany, or Soviet Russia by the means you describe--your analysis is purile oversimplification. And the US didn't fall into dictatorship under Nixon (last time I looked), although we might have fallen under Soviet dictatorship after Vietnam if Reagan hadn't reversed the defeatist mindset this country was sunk in at the time. I'd be happy to elaborate on each case, but wouldn't need to if folks like you would actually, y'know, read a little history before pontificating on it so confidently.

Congratulations, George! You've now done for political allegory what your forceful midichlorians did for New Age religion--taken it from pseudo-intellectual niche magazines and late-night college dorm discussions and dressed it up suitably for a cereal box. It wasn't good enough to give us mindlessly fun space-opera--you felt you had to be Significant. We ignored it when Peter Jackson compared Bush to Sauron because art often transcends the artist. It certainly does in his case. But George, I've seen his movies and I've seen yours--and you haven't earned the same privilege.


The NYT reports SWEpIII "is quickly polticized:"

More a measure of the nation's apparently permanent political warfare than of a filmmaker's intent, the heroes and antiheroes of Mr. Lucas's final entry, "Episode III - Revenge of the Sith," were on their way to becoming the stock characters of partisan debate by mid-Wednesday, hours before the film's opening just after midnight.

As a rule, Hollywood studios go to great lengths to ensure that their projects - both in the development stage and especially when they are positioned in the marketplace - are free of messages that could be offensive to any great swath of the moviegoing public. Like, say, people who vote for one political party or the other.

All of which calls into question Mr. Lucas's decision to have the premiere of the "Star Wars" finale at the Cannes Film Festival. France is sometimes called the biggest blue state of all, after all. And just what was Mr. Lucas - who could not be reached for comment Wednesday - thinking when he told a Cannes audience that he had not realized in plotting the film years ago that fact might so closely track his fiction?

Alluding to Michael Moore's remarks about "Fahrenheit 9/11" at Cannes a year earlier, Mr. Lucas joked, "Maybe the film will waken people to the situation."

Apparently in all seriousness, though, he went on to say that he had first devised the "Star Wars" story during the Vietnam War. "The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable," he told an appreciative audience.

The article goes on to quote those who believe that Lucas is stirring up controversy as a marketing ploy, "adding sizzle and relevance to a movie that otherwise might have earned publicity only by its effectiveness as entertainment." Nice slam! He has a point, too, but I still think that Lucas actually believes what he has said about the movie and his motives in spinning it as he has.

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There May Yet Be Hope For Europe

An encouraging survey released in France a few days ago demonstrates that Europeans are still capable of rational discernment and reasoned judgment, so maybe there's hope left afterall:

Language, history, cooking and support for rival football teams still divide Europe. But when everything else fails, one glue binds the continent together: hatred of the French.

Why the French are the worst company on the planet, a wry take on France by two of its citizens, dredges up all the usual evidence against them. They are crazy drivers, strangers to customer service, obsessed by sex and food and devoid of a sense of humour.

But it doesn't stop there, boasting a breakdown, nation by nation, of what in the French irritates them.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Britons described them as "chauvinists, stubborn, nannied and humourless". However, the French may be more shocked by the views of other nations.

For the Germans, the French are "pretentious, offhand and frivolous". The Dutch describe them as "agitated, talkative and shallow." The Spanish see them as "cold, distant, vain and impolite" and the Portuguese as "preaching". In Italy they comes across as "snobs, arrogant, flesh-loving, righteous and self-obsessed" and the Greeks find them "not very with it, egocentric bons vivants"

But the knockout punch to French pride came in the way the poll was conducted. People were not asked what they hated in the French, just what they thought of them.

Yes, if Europeans can come to consensus on something as fundamental as this, it might a) fatally undermine the EU--socialism's last, best hope, and b) betoken a new age of pro-American sanity on The Continent. Who knows? We might even get European countries to start deporting muslims!


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Monday, May 16, 2005

The Koran & Newsweek -- Down the Crapper

The May 9th issue of Newsweek carried this little item by Michael Isikoff and John Barry:
Gitmo: SouthCom Showdown

May 9 issue - Investigators probing interrogation abuses at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed some infractions alleged in internal FBI e-mails that surfaced late last year. Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash. An Army spokesman confirms that 10 Gitmo interrogators have already been disciplined for mistreating prisoners, including one woman who took off her top, rubbed her finger through a detainee's hair and sat on the detainee's lap. (New details of sexual abuse—including an instance in which a female interrogator allegedly wiped her red-stained hand on a detainee's face, telling him it was her menstrual blood—are also in a new book to be published this week by a former Gitmo translator.)

These findings, expected in an upcoming report by the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, could put former Gitmo commander Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller in the hot seat. Two months ago a more senior general, Air Force Lt. Gen. Randall Schmidt, was placed in charge of the SouthCom probe, in part, so Miller could be questioned. The FBI e-mails indicate that FBI agents quarreled repeatedly with military commanders, including Miller and his predecessor, retired Gen. Michael Dunleavy, over the military's more aggressive techniques. "Both agreed the bureau has their way of doing business and DOD has their marching orders from the SecDef," one e-mail stated, referring to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Sources familiar with the SouthCom probe say investigators didn't find that Miller authorized abusive treatment. But given the complaints that were being raised, sources say, the report will provoke questions about whether Miller should have known what was happening—and acted to try to prevent it. An Army spokesman declined to comment.

Well.... now that the inevitable jihad has been declared, the dead have been interred, the fires put out, the broken glass swept up, the crowds calmed down, the outrage denounced "in the strongest possible terms," the EuroPinkies' faces screwed into the most delicious sneers, the "false but accurate" lies all been attested to, and the spin machines of both US political parties reversed from High Dudgeon to Quick Backpedal modes, it's time to take some stock.

What happened?

First, Newsweek lied, people died. Using unconfirmed (and, in common sense terms, patently specious) sources, they rushed to print something they hoped would be a scoop comparable to Abu Ghraib. Part of their motive was just plain old personal and professional greed--as American as apple pie, but seldom an infallible guide to journalistic probity. Just ask Dan Rather. Oh, and while you're talking to Dan, ask him what his ultimate motives were in broadcasting a story he knew to be false. I bet they were similar to Isikoff's: journalistic flag burning. "Bush Bad. Must hurt bad man Bush by any means. Amerurikkka Bad too. Other peoples Good, even if other peoples are 12th Century, Ghat-stoked, throat-slashing, God-bothering thugs." Anti-Americanism is, of course, a sacrament of the left's secular humanist religion, but it is a peculiarity of this latest brand of moral relativism that it renders its faithful unable to make reasonable moral distinctions. So, to them, the devil they know--Bush in this case--seems worse than any devil they don't know--even a real devil that kills innocent people over a third party's alleged mishandling of a freakin' book. We can't blame Isikoff uniquely, of course--he's rather fair-minded for the circles he works in (he broke the Lewinsky story, for example). His "Showdown" piece is no different in tone and intent than half a hundred others that cross the newswires every day. Here are just a few of this morning's examples (last requires DOD ebird access or WSJ subscription). What these stories report is not much different than what goes on every day in Darfur, the Horn of Africa, on Ceylon, in the Punjab, in the Fergana Valley, in the Philippines, or in any number of other places, particularly those that that abut greater islam. The human toll in these conflicts does not get reported, however, because it does not further the political cause of the left--in fact, such reporting might damage the cause by pointing how islam is really an enemy. The aim of all reporting on Iraq is the same--undermine the war effort in order to undermine Bush; ensure those American heroes who've been killed died in vain, so that we can make political capital (like Soylant Green) from their corpses.

Secondly, the only "desecration" was committed by a muslim inmate. It seems the incident in question was lifted from a prison guard's log and Isikoff used it duplicitously, expecting no one would fact check him:

After the rioting began last week, the Pentagon attempted to determine the veracity of the NEWSWEEK story. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers told reporters that so far no allegations had been proven. He did appear to cryptically refer to two mentions found in the logs of prison guards in Gitmo: a report that a detainee had used pages of the Qur'an to stop up a crude toilet as a form of protest, and a complaint from a detainee that a prison guard had knocked down a Qur'an hanging in a bag in his cell

After all, as Newsweek's Howard Fineman said, Isikoff is no kid trying to break into the business with a scoop. He knew what he was doing; he was just working on an outmoded model of what the media is, thinking that no one would presume to check a major reporter's sources and information. Wrong.

The only other allegations of "Koran abuse" come from Gitmo inmates' lawyers or the likes of Bader Zaman Bader, "a 35-year-old former editor of a [muslim] fundamentalist English-language magazine in Peshawar [Pakistan]." There's an objective voice. BTW....where's the riotous outrage over the muslim detainee who desecrated the holy object at Gitmo? Doesn't Sharia demand his death?

This brings up the final point: What does this incident say about "the religion of peace?" What conclusions can we draw concerning a religion that explicitly endorses the killing of innocent people because of disrespect shown to a book? That this religion values words on a page more highly than human life, perhaps? Those killed weren't even involved in the "desecration." Or perhaps it just shows that muslims don't need much of an excuse to hold anti-US riots--or any other kind of riot, for that matter.

As a Christian, I would be upset if someone trashed a Bible in my presence, but I wouldn't riot...or kill the person who did it. I find it hard to get worked up about someone on the other side of the globe trashing a Bible, sad as it might be. There are a few other copies floating around, after all....

Delving further, what conclusions can we draw about a religion that holds words on a page to be more sacred than human souls? What conclusions about a religion that holds a book with billions of copies printed worldwide to have such totemic significance? In the first case, we can conclude that it is a harsh, inhuman, and arbitrary religion, which would make it a natural adversary to Christianity. In the second case, we can conclude that its representatives should be warned against condemning the "idolatry" of others, and against both real idolatry and real hypocrisy.

Lee Harris puts the underlying issues well:

The Koran does not claim simply to have been inspired by God, the way that Jews and Christians have traditionally interpreted their scripture; rather it is understood as having been quite literally dictated by God, word by word. Or, more precisely, Arabic word by Arabic word.

By this I don't mean that Allah reveals his Word and that this Word is then encoded into Arabic, as it might have been encoded into any other language; I mean that, according to Islam, Allah's Word is itself Arabic. The Koran is co-eternal with Allah; it always existed, and always will exist; and it has always been in Arabic.

This stands in profound contrast to the Christian concept of inspiration as symbolized by the Feast of the Pentecost in The Book of Acts. Here we find an explicit recognition of a God whose Word may be equally well expressed in a multitude of tongues, so that no particular language can be singled out as the language of God Himself. Divine thought transcends all human language, and yet can be articulated in all human languages.

This is a difference between Christianity and Islam that is often overlooked by those who claim that both religions are equally universalist in their scope and aim. For while it is true that both religions have historically claimed a revelation that had universal import, the Christian religion has always been indifferent to the language in which this revelation was expressed. The Holy Spirit, according to Christianity, does not speak to us in his language, but always in ours.

But a God who only speaks Arabic can hardly be universal in the same sense as the Christian God. Yes, it may become universal if everyone forsakes his own native language in order to speak Arabic; but just how universal is a God who is that much entrenched in the ethnocentric particularism of a small sect of nomadic desert tribes? Not to mention the surprising coincidence, that the ruler of the universe should be a native speaker of their language.

And no, ancient Judaism is not guilty of that same ethnocentric particularism. First, Jews were more than happy to share their message in other languages--the best extant text of the Old Testament is still the Septuagent Greek. While the Tetragrammaton was sacred, the rest of the language was just a convenience--at least until some mediaeval Jewish mystics attempted to imbue Hebrew with greater significance. Second, ancient Israel provided a safe mechanism to bring forth a savior and His message--a point that all Old Testament prophecy makes clear.

The message of the One True God is universal and it always will be--and it is not preached by islam...or Newsweek


Update (17 May):
David Frum has the lowdown on how and why the little Newsweek item became a series of deadly riots. Seems it was incited by a self-serving Paki pol who has remade himself from a jet-setting playboy married to a wealthy Jew into Mr Jihad. Who'da thunk it?

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Friday, May 13, 2005

"I'm A Dummy, Ya, Yu Betcha!"

From the depths of Inner Canuckistan (known still to a nostalgic few as Minnesota) comes this add campaign for the new Minneapolis Public Library glorifying Mao Zedong as a "former librarian, who created the 3rd largest economy in the world:"

Now, I realize that this is probably an effective way to appeal to BlueStaters--tie your fundraising efforts to a popular icon or respected public figure , which I'm sure Mao is to the type who would donate to the MPL (other adds in the series feature Bat Girl and Casanova). I also know that most former-Americans-cum-"Jesusland"-haters were educated in Bluestate public schools and get their facts and opinions from CBS News and DailyKos, so they wouldn't know that, a) Mao didn't create China's bustling economy, his state-capitalist successors did, b) Mao, in fact, did his best to destroy China's fledgling economy during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, thus consigning millions of his citizens to starvation, and c) Mao was the bloodiest dictator in human history, killing upwards of 40 million people in his various purges, terror-famines, and "corrections."

But...I can't really hold MPL responsible--it's, like, society's fault, man! If we let elements of our population be raised, taught, and fed news by Democrats, this is the kind of thing we should expect. This ad led one of I.C.'s few remaining lucid citizens, James Lileks, to wonder if something similar would be likewise acceptable:

No, you say? Why not? What's the difference?

In fairness, the Friends of MPL organization that created the ads claimed they were just trying to "get people to look." Another of the ads features J. Edgar Hoover, the intent being to provoke the same "maydja look" reaction, according to FoMPL. When the Mao poster provoked angry reactions from as far away as Taiwan, MPL defended itself:

In the most politically charged ads, MPL, which is predicated on free speech, tolerance and the open exchange of ideas, is contrasted with Mao and Hoover, who both worked in libraries early in their lives but pursued policies antithetical to an open society (to put it mildly).


Let me see if I've got this right: Mao: 40-46 MILLION DEAD = JEH: Some ugly shenanigans over domestic spying, abuse of office, and cross-dressing. This is obscene, even by the weirdly obtuse standards of Planet Liberal. It is also insulting to the memories of the tens of millions of human beings who were ground into mountains of fertilizer at Mao's command. J-Ed spied illegally on MLK but....

**....liberal friends read this carefully now....**

....he didn't kill him (or 40-46 million other people). (Oh, and rumor has it that Mao did a little domestic spying of his own on occasion. Don't know about the cross-dressing. You'd think Bluestaters would like that part anyway.)

Am I the only one who thinks there is an important distinction here? I realize most Bluestaters have grown up with many "moral equivalents to war," like Jimmah Carter's "War on Inflation" or LBJ's "War on Poverty," and Bill Clinton's "War on Interns' Underwear," but is it really that hard to see the difference between a thuggish, pompous bureaucrat in an essentially healthy state and the greatest monster in human history in the genocidal hell-on-earth he created? I guess if relativist materialism is your religion, it makes seeing these things harder. "It all depends on your point of view," perhaps. "It all depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

Maybe it's like Lileks says:

They [liberals of the FoMPL type] may not like communists, but they really don’t like anti-communists. Communists may be deluded, but they meant well in some abstract sense that surely has to count for something. Whereas God knows what the anti-communists really want.

I just hope there are a couple of volumes on China's recent history other than the promised Little Red Books on MPL's shelves once it opens.


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You Can't Be Sidious!

It was only a matter of time, I suppose, before Darth Vader had his own blog, The Darthside. Here's the profile of this "engineer, pilot, and ruthless overlord:"

Darth Vader is an immaculately conceived knight-bastard imbued with magical powers who rules the known galaxy at the right hand of the merciless and brilliant Emperor Palpatine I. Though he maintains palaces on both Coruscant and Vjun, Vader spends most of his time travelling aboard Executor, the flagship of his deadly pan-galactic armada. He enjoys fixing things, listening to music, and crushing people's tracheas with his mind.

I rather admire his labor relations techniques. They appeal to my Inner German:

Cracking the whip. Setting a new tone of efficacy around the Death Star.

Due to the haste with which we are proceding through the latter phases of this battle-station's construction we have been forced to employ scores of civilian contractors from across the galaxy in addition to our own Imperial Corps of Engineers. This has led to a certain clash of working cultures.

For instance, this morning I critiqued a tragically sub-par piece of workmanship on a tractor-beam repulsolift inversion assembly by snapping the neck of the site supervisor and throwing his limp corpse down a disused elevator shaft.

Imperial engineers would have snapped to crisp attention, of course, but all these civilian contractors did was give me grief. "Oy, you do that again and I'll have the union on you!" barked one red-faced buffoon.

"It is vital that you enhance the inter-departmental syngergies of your operation," I said. And then I killed him.

The blog also contains telling insights into Darth's more vulnerable, endearingly inhuman side:

I am aboard the StarDestroyer Avenger, en route to the outlands of Mordell at the galactic rim -- but I started my morning on Coruscant. I was having my morning tea when the new girl came through to tell me the Emperor commanded my presence at the palace.

"Is your breakfast quite satisfactory, Lord Vader?" she asked.

It was not, but we shall let her next of kin worry about that.


I don't know if it's art, but I know what I like.

Today we put Captain Solo into the carbon freezing chamber, in order to test the system before capturing Luke Skywalker for delivery to my master, Sidious, on Coruscant. Everything went swimmingly -- the punk smuggler was put into perfect stasis. And people question the merits of human experimentation!

Captain Solo's body was half-visible, fused in mid-emergence from the face of the carbon brick. He was frozen in a cry of agony, hands grasping like claws, pelvis turned.

It made a beautiful sculpture. A perfect captured moment of a man in bondage, his heart blackened by hopelessness and pain.

It really spoke to me. Made me feel weird.


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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Big Sister Is Watching You

In the spirit of this post, I excerpt and link to one of the most telling indictments of modern relativistic materialism yet written. Neat thing: it was written nearly fifty years ago by Whittaker Chambers. This is not a new issue. I remember reading it long ago in some collection, but National Review has just re-published it online as part of their 50th anniversary celebration. It also takes on Ayn Rand, an icon to a certain part of the Right, proving better than I could that R.M., as an intellectual disease, infects all alike. Read the whole thing.


One Big Brother is, of course, a socializing elite (as we know, several cut-rate brands are on the shelves). Miss Rand, as the enemy of any socializing force, calls in a Big Brother of her own contriving to do battle with the other. In the name of free enterprise, therefore, she plumps for a technocratic elite (I find no more inclusive word than technocratic to bracket the industrial-financial-engineering caste she seems to have in mind). When she calls "productive achievement" man's noblest activity," she means, almost exclusively, technological achievement, supervised by such a managerial political bureau. She might object that she means much, much more; and we can freely entertain her objections. But, in sum, that is just what she means. For that is what, in reality, it works out to. And in reality, too, by contrast with fiction, this can only head into a dictatorship, however benign, living and acting beyond good and evil, a law unto itself (as Miss Rand believes it should be), and feeling any restraint on itself as, in practice, criminal, and, in morals, vicious (as Miss Rand clearly feels it to be). Of course, Miss Rand nowhere calls for a dictatorship. I take her to be calling for an aristocracy of talents. We cannot labor here why, in the modern world, the pre-conditions for aristocracy, an organic growth, no longer exist, so that the impulse toward aristocracy always emerges now in the form of dictatorship.

Nor has the author, apparently, brooded on the degree to which, in a wicked world, a materialism of the Right and a materialism of the Left first surprisingly resemble, then, in action, tend to blend each with each, because, while differing at the top in avowed purpose, and possibly in conflict there, at bottom they are much the same thing. The embarrassing similarities between Hitler's National Socialism and Stalin's brand of Communism are familiar. For the world, as seen in materialist view from the Right, scarcely differs from the same world seen in materialist view from the Left. The question becomes chiefly: who is to run that world in whose interests, or perhaps, at best, who can run it more efficiently?

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Christian Carnival LXIX

The latest Christian Carnival is up at Semicolon.

Here's a very cool post from a Shirt in Baghdad--reminds me that my burdens, even in the here-and-now, are pretty tame compared with what many are going through. God bless him and all "over there."

Here's another neat post that examines the differences between islam and Christianity, rightly pointing out that the latter has always had a tension between curch and state, but the former is geniunely theocratic.

PS: Sherry: "Vita ab Alto" means "life from above" in ungrammatical Latin.

PPS: Vita ab Alto is in this week's edition. [And there was much rejoicing...]


Sherry from semicolon comments:

I was guessing "life at the highest" or "life to the fullest." Alto means high in Spanish. I obviously don't know any Latin. I did enjoy reading your ideas about the filibuster, though. I think the Republicans ought to just get moving and get a vote. Period. Quit stalling, and quit holding their fire.

I believe it can take the meaning, "life at the highest," as well as "life from on high," which is probably the best translation and certainly agrees with my intent in using it. Not sure, though--my Latin's pretty rusty. Of course, if you know Spanish, you actually know a lot of Latin.
In re the filibuster, roger that. Looks like it may be coming to a head in the next few days over Judge Owen. Quit stalling, as you say.

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The Right Side of the Fever Swamp

Down here in Awhl'bama, there is a series of wildlife refuges that preserve the kind of swamp habitat that once flanked most of our rivers. They're really one entity, but are variously known as Tonawanda, Oak Orchard, and the Iroquois Refuge. Funny thing is, on State Roads 12, 52, or 57, the swampland extends about equally to the right as to the left side of the road.

In honor of that fact, I present today some recent idiotarian a$$hatery from deep within the fever swamps on the right side of the road, as it were. As a Christian, I must attempt to present a Christian perspective, not just a viewpoint that supports my own warped, narrow-minded, brutally fascistic political views (you know--mainstream Republican).

Well, the material is harder to find than comparable a$$hatery on the Left--one merely has to cull a day's comments on DailyKos to gather as much as you'll find here, but it is out there. There's been a fair amount lately.

First off, there's good ole reliable Pat Robertson. He can usually be counted on to prove why he received the Wittenberg Door's first-ever Lifetime Loser award and was one of the original models for the term "idiotarian." Recently on This Week with 'Lil Georgie Snuffaluffagus, Robertson agreed when questioned that abuses of the federal judiciary were "more serious than al-Qaeda, more serious than Nazi Germany and Japan. More serious than the Civil War." HairBoy's words, but Robertson affirmed them, adding,

George I really believe that. I think that they are destroying the fabric that holds our nation together. There's an assault on marriage. There's an assault on human sexuality as judge Scalia said, "They've taken sides in the culture war."

Here's a more complete rundown, with some additional testimony to Robertson's insane genius.* Joe Gandelman has it right: Robertson's a "skunk spraying inside the GOP tent:"

This kind of verbal overkill stops political debate — cold. So Robertson now says our judges are in some ways worse than terrorists. Why? Because they don't rule the way HE wants. And Republicans (rightfully) complained about some of the verbal excesses of Michael Moore?

What happens to a tent when a skunk sprays in the tent? The tent smells. And some people leave the tent.

I agree to some extent with where I think Robertson is trying to go with this, but he harms his case (and the truth) by his breathless overstatements and ridiculous hyperbole.

Another reliable source is Bill O'Reilly (I'm sure Rush has something available, but I can't stand to listen any more). Last night, he discussed the double child murder in IL with former FBI profiler Candace DeLong. Ms. DeLong tried to make a balanced argument that dealing with sex offenders required tough sentencing and (possibly) constant monitoring of offenders, but that these should be coupled with education of parents of children concerning prudent practices. O'Reilly wanted to have an argument about namby-pamby handling of sex-offenders and when DeLong wouldn't take his bait, he badgered her for five minutes, trying to accuse her of being "soft on criminals." He also accused her of wanting to "penalize" families by educating children to take prudent precautions. What a maroon.

Next, we have that perrenial favorite--yes, you guessed it--Westboro Baptist "Church" of Topeka KS. It's not my place to judge anyone's profession of faith or the condition of their relationship with the Lord, but I have never seen a site so filled with hate; so absent the Spirit. Whoever these guys are serving, I'm on t'other side. If you're so inclined, you can visit their site (I cannot, because I have my computers set to filter "hate_speech"), or you can check out the Anti-Defamation League pages on them. Here's a brief sample of their rich, fragrant, deep-delved swamp-floor loam:

Whatever righteous cause the Jewish victims of the 1930s-40s Nazi Holocaust had, (probably miniscule, compared to the Jewish Holocausts against Middle Passage Blacks, African Americans and Christians -- including the bloody persecution of Westboro Baptist Church by Topeka Jews in the 1990s), has been drowned in sodomite semen.

Yum. Here's more:

There is a difference between the sense of the sacred...and the goofy 'communal sensitivity' at Topeka's sodomite Mexican Catholic Church...Mexican idolaters worship bloody rectums...

Note a vibe here? "Sodomite semen," "bloody rectums..." Everyone who's taken Psych 101 is aware that obsessive reference to something in negative terms is usually a compensation for.... Yep.

(Oh....wait....does that mean I'm secretly a liberal?...or...that I'm in love with Jar Jar Binks?!! Nnnnoooooooooooooo!!!)

I was going to link to another site comparable to Westboro--"Landover Baptist Church"--but it turns out to be a leftist athiest hoax. Here's a page from their online store. Looks like they can still make common cause with Westbutthole Baptist, though--it helps that they seem to serve the same master.

Hmmmmmm.... I'm running out of real right-wing arse-wiggery. I guess there really isn't as much out there as there is on the left....

Oh, I know--I'll link to The Door's interview with The Original Atheist Moonbat, Madalyn Murray O'Hare. It's many years old, but, hey, I'm running out of material and it does bear on the subject of this post. Note how she ruthlessly purged wrong thinking from her organization; how she kept to a Puritan orthodoxy. Savonarola would be proud, as would any Byzantine iconoclast or extremist Roundhead. One doesn't have to even scratch her surface to find that she is worshiping her philosophy. False religion by any other name would'know.....false. Oh...but she was a Republican, of the Ayn Rand sort. Ruthless individualism and all that.

I invite my liberal correspondents to find me other examples. Real ones, though--don't just take Zuniga's talking points and regurgitate them.


As if on cue, the Grand Old Man of "conservative" (read: reactionary) a$$-hatery, Pat "I love the Bund" Buchanan, pinches this one off:

Was World War II Really Worth It?

...When one considers the losses suffered by Britain and France – hundreds of thousands dead, destitution, bankruptcy, the end of the empires – was World War II worth it, considering that Poland and all the other nations east of the Elbe were lost anyway?

If the objective of the West was the destruction of Nazi Germany, it was a "smashing" success. But why destroy Hitler? If to liberate Germans, it was not worth it. After all, the Germans voted Hitler in.

If it was to keep Hitler out of Western Europe, why declare war on him and draw him into Western Europe? If it was to keep Hitler out of Central and Eastern Europe, then, inevitably, Stalin would inherit Central and Eastern Europe.

Was that worth fighting a world war – with 50 million dead?

Okay...there's a kernal of truth at the core of even most Big Lies and there's one here too. Job left unfinished; Yalta consigned millions to decades of more tyranny; Stalin went on and his disease spread further--I grant all that. But does this mean it was a waste to confront the most satanically evil incarnation of moral relativism ever seen? Sshhheeeeesh! YGBSM. The average Einstatzgruppen NCO killed more per kepi than any four Gaypayushniki put together. Stalin and Mao wracked up more chits on the relativist Abacus of Death just because they had more time and citizens to play with. Yup...we coulda opened us up a can of Aryan whup-arse on them commies with our smilin', happy German buds, then gone on to colonize Mars together. Does Paddy the Talking Dog-Boy get together with Pat Robertson to dream this stuff up? They both must have wet dreams when "I was Hitler's toothbrush" night comes on the History Channel...

* I link to this post only because it has the most complete transcript of the relevant comments that I could find on short notice. The moderator's comments are...well...what one would expect from a man with "schizoaffective disorder" who is a "Zen Buddhist Mystic." That this and liberal politics go hand-in-hand is...well...what one would expect...

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