Saturday, September 29, 2007

On Municipal Bans

Not to be confused with "Municipal Bands" which I unequivocally enjoy...

My co-worker and friend Brian and I had a great conversation last night over dinner, and the topic came up of food bans (like Chicago's foie gras ban) and also, libertarianism. I shared with him my thoughts on the two subjects (for the record, you can read them here, a recent post on growing external government and here on libertarianism).

The tension between license and liberty in a dependent society is a fascinating one for me. While my position may seem inconsistent upon only a superficial analysis, one would quickly see that self-government is the point on which my position hinges.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

That's a Message?

Do we employ men, any longer, in the diplomatic service of the government?

A'jad was at the United Abominations and the U.S. delegation walked out, to "send a message." Well, sort of. One guy stayed behind to take notes. If only I were making this stuff up.

Here's a message: as soon as this guy lands on our soil he's picked up and put into the general population of a really nasty hell-hole, like, I don't know, Cook County Jail. Then you hold him for 48 hours and see what happens.

Honestly: if any regular American (let alone President Bush) were found on Iranian soil, how long before that person is locked up, tortured, and/or murdered? Minutes? Hours?

What a Coincedence!

This article I saw online today discusses the sale of the Magna Charta, which the auction house figures will fetch around $30 million.

Heck, for much less, you can own a US Senator. Maybe even the Constitution. Talk about buyer's remorse.

Funny, that same $30 million is what Newt recently said he needed to raise in the next three weeks if he's going to run for President. From a strictly ROI standpoint, I'd say buy yourself a President. Odds are, Newt's in, but it's just a matter of time.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Duplicity of Liberals

When someone is an unfit parent, they lose custody of their children. If you drink and drive, you lose your license - and if you're lucky, nothing more. That Liberals are dangerous for America's survival is manifested daily, and in numerous ways, and fortunately for them, the only thing we can do is vote them out.

Check out this great column by Hugh Hewitt, Columbia's Disgrace. I especially liked the retrospective of Eisenhower's efforts to expose the Nazi murder machine. I've been sitting on this for a day or so and wanted to blog about it, and wouldn't you know it, the timing actually worked out perfectly.

I say so because of this headline today, where lefties are protesting Rumsfeld's appointment as a visiting Fellow of the Hoover Institute. Especially disgusting? These comments:

An online petition contesting the appointment on the grounds that Rumsfeld clashed with the university's core values had more than 2,500 signatures Friday.

"He contradicts the fundamental standards of the university, which are order, morality, personal honor and most importantly, the rights of others," said Pamela Lee, a Stanford art history professor who helped write the petition. "This person has played a critical role in a disastrously failed military policy. He has aggressively abused international law."

Yes, folks, we're being lectured on morality and personal honor - not to mention "the rights of others" - by a Stanford art history professor. As far as liberal nuttiness goes, about the only person to the left of an art history professor is a women's studies professor. But I'm sure - absolutely certain - that Ms. Lee is also protesting for the "rights of others" by picketing abortion mills, so I should give her a break.

I don't know that much more needs to be said about the insane positions of the left, that academia simultaneously welcomes the Hitler of our time, and protests a former Secretary of Defense. Except for this: we need to take away the car keys from these folks.

The Spirit of '76

I got this quote e-mailed to me by the Patriot Post the other day, and saved it for today 9/22.

"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

- Nathan Hale (before being hanged by the British, 22 September 1776)

There are too few Americans who share this love of country. Would that there were more.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

When Israelis Attack, Part II

The Iranians must be a little nervous right about now. I posted the other day about the Israeli strike in Syria. Now comes word that Iran is prepared to retaliate in the event Israel strikes them first.

(pauses for dramatic effect)

Look, nobody wants to get blasted back into the stone age - even if it's not a terribly long trip as far as Iran goes - but if you're going to keep rattling your sabre, eventually someone is going to take you at your word and deal with you appropriately.

Humorously, according to Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press Writer, Iran's Revolutionary Guard is "elite." Sort of like Saddam's elite forces? I just realized that his name is Ali Akbar Dareini - "Ali is Great" Dareini?

Timely and Timeless Quote

I have had this topic on my mind for a couple of days now, and I went back through my e-mails because I had every intention of posting on this when I saw it.

While time is precious and I won't be able to wax poetic on this, the quote is too good not to share:

"[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes - rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments."

-- Alexander Hamilton (letter to James Bayard, April 1802)

The Mighty Hamilton, no secret that he's one of my favorite Founders.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

When Israelis Attack

Check out today's posting entitled "Israelis 'blew apart Syrian nuclear cache'" from the Jihad Watch.

Great blog, and a valuable resource on the conflict. 50 miles from the Iraq border is awfully close. Didn't see this story anywhere else, for that matter. Maybe US outlets are just slow to pick it up...?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Two New Blogs

Have made the list... The Maritime Sentry and the Age of Treason. Both very good blogs, go check them out. DR at the Maritime Sentry is practically me, except for the fact that I'd never voluntarily live in Green Bay. If imprisoned there, I would break out. If accidentally killed there, and buried, I'd make a point of haunting my surviving relatives until they returned me to the Land of Lincoln. Or I'd have Papa Bear pay them a visit, and maybe bring Sweetness along for good measure.

Tanstaafl at the Age of Treason has a cool blog. You might find it a little edgy if you're a sensitive type, but I dig it.

BTW, suggested spellings for "Tanstaafl" included "tasteful."

Grand Old Pandering

Something's been on my mind for a while and I need to put it out there.

Maybe I've not been aware of them in the past, but does it seem like more and more, there are "diversity groups" proliferating even among organizations like the GOP? There's a hispanic group, there are black GOP groups, and local women's groups. I'm sure there are Muslim groups. Here's the "teams" page for the GOP.

Perhaps, I will admit, I don't understand these minority groups because, well, I'm not a minority (at least I think not; I better go check the census statistics). But doesn't their existence seem to say something about the party? What, I'm not sure, but could you imagine Ann Coulter at a Women's GOP event? Or sitting at the kid's table for Thanksgiving dinner?

And on that page linked above, there's the standard comment about increasing diversity. Here's the thing: I want a party that welcomes people based upon their principles, shared values, creative ideas in support of those shared values, and the ability to contribute. If you want to call creative thinking "diversity" then fine by me. But let's not bow to cultural marxism like the rest of the automatons.

Thanks to Katie's Dad for turning me on to that link above.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

When the Self Abdicates Responsibility

A silly topic, perhaps, but what's the proper role of government in the food choices of its citizens?

I found this article interesting, and it got me to thinking (pardon the delay in posting).

For that matter, when one weighs the societal costs of brain injuries, are helmet laws a good thing, after all? Anecdotally, I am rather risk-averse when it comes to my health. I have also never ridden a motorcycle. In a candid self-appraisal, I am an aggressive insurer. I like to mitigate my risks; I probably over-insure.

Is it fair to say that bikers, accepting different degrees of risk, are less likely to insure as aggressively? I'd be interested in thoughts from the readership.

I happen to know 5 different entrepreneurs (none of whom know each other) that are bikers. The risk profile seems to be consistent: entrepreneurs are risk-takers, and getting on a motorcycle - or flying a plane, for that matter - involves accepting a certain amount of risk. Yet, I have no evidence to draw a connection between risk-taking and the costs to society for coming up short on the risks one takes. It simply seems intuitive: if you're a risk taker, and you take certain types of risks, sometimes you're going to come out ahead and sometimes, well, the house takes your money.

I think the point, at last, is that government should be silent on these issues to the extent that a person's choices aren't infringing on the liberty of others. There's an intersection where a person's lack of self-government meets up with the rights of others who are affected by this lack of self-government. A good example of this is the biker who doesn't have health insurance. If he/she gets in an accident, they will get the treatment they need; you and I will bear the cost.

As long as people aren't self-governing to a reasonable degree, there's going to be a push for external government to step in and fill the role that properly belongs to the self. I've long thought that "the government" has no business in telling people what to eat. Or if they can smoke. Or if they should wear a helmet. Acknowledging of course that if people were self-governing we wouldn't have to worry about this problem, we must also admit that the urge to enforce restraint through external government when the individual abdicates his/her responsibility is a natural reaction. I'm not yet ready to endorse it, even if I understand it.

And interesting to me is this: if our Founders could see the "issues" that occupy the public space, how do you think they'd react?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cultural Survival

Russians want Russia to not only survive, but to grow and prosper. They recognize the demographic problem that is facing non-Islamic societies, and are rewarding people for having babies. Talk about pro-family.

Of course, Russians can thank Communism for crushing the human spirit to such a degree that people found it too burdensome to reproduce. Let's hope that these actions are not too little, too late. I loved this quote from the winner from last year:

"Andrei Kartuzov, who won the last "make a baby" grand prize along with his wife, Irina, said they had been planning to have another child anyway.

The campaign "is a good help for people, especially for those living in villages," he said. "If they hold such actions every year, then maybe we will have (more children) growing up and Russia will be bigger."

And isn't that the idea, really? To make our respective nations "bigger" - more powerful, thriving and successful?

Western Europe, of course, is going through the same problems. The question is: do they have the will to fight for cultural survival?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Book Review: America Alone

Yes, I know this has been out for a while and I'm a little late to the party. Nevertheless, in the event you haven't read Mark Steyn's brilliant America Alone, I recommend it without reservation.

Well, on second thought, maybe with one reservation: the night I first opened the book up and began reading, it so unnerved me that I tossed and turned all that night. And I'm not one to lose sleep over much.

Briefly, and then I'll share my favorite parts, Steyn looks at the Islamist threat from a demographic perspective, something I hadn't heard any other commentator do. The replacement birth rate is 2.1 children per woman, and Steyn educates us on the birth rates of Western nations vs. Muslim nations. It's not pretty. Spain, for example, has a birth rate of 1.1; this means that the population will decrease by half every 35 years, an astounding statistic.

Some favorites...

P. 45 - Steyn addresses the dynamic in modern societies, particularly Europe: "Somewhere along the way these countries redefined the relationship between government and citizen into something closer to pusher and addict. And once you've done that, it's very hard to persuade the addict to cut back his habit." Sound like a growing problem of ours, as well?

P. 85 - "But Islam's appropriation of the gay lobby's framing of the debate is very artful. It's the most explicit example of how Islam uses politically correct self-indulgent victimology as a cover. You'll recall that most Western media outlets declined to publish those Danish cartoons showing the prophet Mohammed. Thus, even as they were piously warning of a rise in bogus 'Islamophobia' - i.e., entirely justified concerns over Islamic terrorism and related issues - they were themselves suffering from genuine Islamophobia - i.e., a very real fear that, if they published those cartoons, an angry mob would storm their offices. It was a fine example of how the progressive mind's invented psychoses leave it without any words to describe real dangers."

P. 159-160 - Steyn discusses what he calls "defense welfare" as part of the cause of Europe's problems. With no need to spend money on defense, they spent ever more on social programs. Says he: "Like any other form of welfare, defense welfare is a hard habit to break and damaging to the recipient."

P.187 - Steyn discusses the role of the state in failing to "protect" us. "But the only reason 'a box cutter can bring down a tower' is because on September 11 our defenses against such a threat were exclusively the province of the state. If nineteen punks with box cutters had tried to pull some stunt in the parking lot of a sports bar, they'd have been beaten to a pulp." Quite so.

P.193 - the importance of will. "In a culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of 'suttee' - the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural: 'You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.'" Non-judgemental multiculturalism, he obviously notes, is a fraud.

Overall, very well-done and both insightful and witty.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Birds of a Feather

Just when you think you've seen and heard it all, comes this story yesterday, that OBL has a new video out. Now, this in itself isn't so unusual, but the facts surrounding it are just plain weird.

You can read the whole thing here, if you'd like, but I'll highlight the most, let's say, interesting aspects of it.

He claims the media is a "tool of the colonist empires."

He criticizes the Maliki government.

He criticizes "neoconservatives like Cheney, Rumsfeld and Richard Pearle."

He speaks directly to the American people acknowledging that they supported the "Democratic (sic) Party" to end the war, but that they "haven't made a move worth mentioning."

He discusses Vietnam and JFK, suggesting his death was orchestrated by major corporations that were benefiting from the war.

He praises Noam Chomsky, and criticizes capitalism, "interest related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes..."

Sound like any major party you know? If I didn't know any better, I'd say these were the talking points of a candidate (Obama bin Laden?) for the DNC nomination. I was struck by just how similar the messages are, right down the line.

Except for one important part of his message: the enticement to appeasers. He suggests in his message that all of these problems can go away if we just simply convert to Islam. We've discussed this before in other posts and other places, but this is the endgame. This appeal will become more frequent, and more spineless appeasers will take up the jihadists on this. It's happening on a large scale in Europe, and will eventually begin happening here at home.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Another Victory for the Good Guys

Old news by now, but thankfully the German police thwarted what appears to have been a serious terrorist plot. They're still looking for more people who were involved in the plot or aiding the suspects.

And while the media reported accurately that these were Islamists, there seems to be some factions of the media that are calling these guys Germans.

Point of clarification: it doesn't matter if these guys were born in Germany. Doesn't matter if they're as white as the driven snow. They're Islamists. That's what counts. We'd do well to recognize that this isn't an Arab problem any more - simply profiling Middle Eastern males might catch a number of jihadis, but it won't get them all. This is a problem with Islam.

We ought to recognize that this is also a problem with the West in general. We're losing an ideological battle with an enemy who espouses 7th century thinking. That just might be an indication that the strength of "modern ideas" - specifically Western liberalism and politically correct permissiveness - leaves a little to be desired.

So He's In

So Fred made his announcement... on Leno? I can sort of understand why Arnold made his announcement on Leno - it was a bit of a surprise and he was running for Governor of California, after all. But the non-candidate candidate (guess I can't call him that any more) has always been in the running, at least as far expectations go. And announcing on Leno seems... I don't know, maybe not becoming of the office you're seeking? I mean, the next thing you know, he's going to be playing a saxaphone on the Arsenio Hall show.

While I neither fear nor welcome a Fred Thompson candidacy, I cast serious doubts on his ability to "invigorate" a dispirited GOP. After all, we're looking for more conservatives, thankyouverymuch, and not more well-phrased platitudes without any meaningful substance behind them.

Hmm. I wonder...? Does that make Fred our Barack Obama? Says all the right things, but a little long on the sizzle and a little short on the steak?

Monday, September 03, 2007

How do we deal with the threat of liberalism?

Mike has put up a couple of nice posts the last few days concerning the nature of Islam, and how best for we Americans and the West to deal with the threat it poses us.

We've both been thinking along the same lines of late it seems. And we've both been searching for answers to the dilemma we face. Perhaps you've been assaulted by the same kinds of thoughts. How do we deal with Islam effectively?

Lawrence Auster of VFR asks the question this way: If we can't democratize Islam, and we can't destroy it, then what? But Auster goes further, he provides the answer. And with my friend, Mike, I strongly suggest that you read Auster's article. Mike has provided the link in his entry below.

Also, Mike's post on moderate Muslims has been a fruitful piece of work in itself. Mike and I had an exchange in the comments section that not only led to this post, but to the one preceding it. Like I said in my comments to Mike, I see some real similarities between Islam and Western liberalism. Both belief systems would destroy us. And the whole problem common to them both may be stated this way:

"There are moderate Muslims as well as moderate liberals, but there's no such thing as a moderate Islam, nor a moderate liberalism."

Both of these are extreme belief systems which are destructive fundamentally. The similarities between them, which I won't go into here except in the general sort of way that I have above, suggested to my mind that perhaps both of them could be dealt with effectively by use of the same separationist strategy Auster suggests concerning Islam, yet customized to and applied in a different way to the problem of liberalism. So I put the question to Mr. Auster, and here is his answer.

Now, I don't necessarily think Auster's reply to me is the end of it. I didn't go into much detail in the way that I posed the question to him because I was having a hard time articulating what I was thinking. But I think he's put this entry up for a reason. And I think part of that reason is to get responses from some of his readers who may have an idea of how to customize the separationist strategy to utilize it effectively against the threat of liberalism. So if any of you have any ideas on the matter, do send a comment to Auster concerning this entry.

I want to be clear. I'm not suggesting that we isolate liberals in the way that we'd isolate Muslims according to Auster's separationist principles. I'm suggesting that the ideology of liberalism be somehow isolated so that it can pose a serious threat to us no more. Because as Auster has noted elsewhere, as long as Islam has an ascendancy into our counsels, it is a threat to us. The same can be said of liberalism, as long as liberalism is a dominant power in American politics, it works to destroy our tradition, our culture, our way of life; our very existence.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Rational Strategy for Dealing with Islam

I'm going to claim any number of reasons for not having put together a coherent position on our problems with Islam up until today. For example, my report cards as a kid routinely were fine, but remarked that "Michael needs improvement in exhibiting self-control." See, I'm clearly suffering from ADD, which I guess would make me an "early adopter" - I was even into pseudo-disorders before they become popular (look, don't send me a bunch of hate mail just because I made a joke about ADD being a pseudo-disorder; I'm in a stream of consciousness mode right now and I was just having a little fun).

Or maybe, I've been so busy with work, that I only have a couple of hours a day with which to devote myself to study on topics that interest me; I simply haven't had time , you see, to develop a coherent position on the subject. Or, as the parent of a toddler and a preschooler, there's so much racket and activity up in this house that even when I have time to devote to studies, it's so darn hard to piece together more than a couple of sentences before getting interrupted and having to rush off to broker a peace agreement.

There's a great post called "If we can't democratize Islam, and we can't destroy it, then what?" over at View from the Right - see the link to that site along our left sidebar (hat tip: Terry).

Here's the scary thing - Auster had this figured out in January 2005. If I'm an early adopter for ADD, Auster didn't adopt - he invented the solution to dealing with Islam. Smart guy. Probably has a whole mess of kids too, blowing one of my excuses out of the water.

Folks, I can't say it any more emphatically than this: read that link above. It should be required reading for every American who values his/her culture and way of life.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Moderate Muslims

I have, in the past, scoffed at the notion of such a thing as moderate Muslims. My thinking on that has been formed by what appeared to be a complete lack of condemnation of the actions of extremists, by practitioners of that faith; if indeed there were moderates, my reasoning went, why were they silent on atrocities committed in the name of their faith?

I was listening to the Michael Medved show this week and he devoted a segment to encouraging moderate Muslims. It got me to thinking about the issue some more, and I've refined some of my thinking on the matter.

Before going further, I'd disclaim that I share a slightly different perspective than someone like Dennis Prager when discussing religions: Prager asserts that it is most appropriate to judge the practitioners of a particular religion, and not the religion itself. While Prager makes a point of not criticizing the particular doctrinal aspects of a religion, I think it is appropriate to begin to shift the conversation in that direction. My blogmate Terry pointed out a post at VFR wherein Auster discusses liberalism, and how it manifests itself even in conservatives; particularly notable to me is the self-censoring that conservatives engage in on a given topic, such as criticizing another faith. Inasmuch as I reject moral relativism, I'm inclined to say that we should begin to make informed (righteous) judgments, yes, even with respect to other faiths. More on that in a bit.

I blogged a while ago on the South Korean missionaries who were taken hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Thankfully, the remaining hostages were all released just the other day, see here for details. At what price their freedom comes, the outside world will never know; let us hope that the deal was not a sell-out for immediate gain at the expense of long-term success against extremism.

Especially in light of the hostage crisis, I've been reflecting on the leadership of Hamid Karzai, and to a lesser degree, that of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. These leaders are, in fact, living, breathing, moderate Muslims. Karzai in particular was highly critical of the taking of the Korean hostages as being unjustified. He has also taken a leadership role in trying to settle tribal differences, knowing that it is local leadership that will bring Afghanistan out of the middle ages and thus improve life for all Afghanis.

Now here comes the dilemma. As I readily admit, I am not a Koranic scholar. I have read a few books on the religion and, along with anecdotal evidence, have enough data to conclude that there are fundamental problems with Islam. While this post isn't a critique of the tenets of that faith - and perhaps I may yet provide one someday - suffice it to say that if we begin with a fairly core belief, we're immediately at odds with reason.

Muslims contend that the angel Gabriel visited their prophet through which Allah revealed the Koran to Mohammad; they claim Allah is the same God of the Jews and Christians. The Koran - the supposed word of God - permits violence, slavery and the possession of concubines; and this is a short list of the contradictions between the Koran and the Holy Bible. God is a perfect being and cannot contradict Himself: he cannot be both God and the devil; He cannot be both the Truth and a lie; He cannot be inconsistent. So, of the three monotheistic faiths, two suggest that God is one thing and the third suggests He is something quite different.

An interesting discussion remains to be had - also not the point of this post - about the compatibility of reason with major world religions. Rodney Stark wrote a wonderful book called the Victory of Reason, which I wholeheartedly recommend.

At long last, here is where I have been headed with this post: while we're engaged in a battle for our existence with a large segment of Islam, it is worth noting that there are "moderates" in that faith - something I have not done, in a candid critique of my own rhetoric. While Islamic societies have been closed to outside influences for centuries, we should encourage and be encouraged that there are these people, many in leadership roles, throughout the Muslim world. And we should engage moderates where ever we meet them, in the hopes that the Divine gift of reason may enlighten a dark part of our world.