Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Head butts and No buts

Head bangin' and a lost cup. My dear niece loves soccer; she played for years, but 2 knees injuries ended her passion for the sport -- I cringed when she described resetting her knee each time it became dislocated. While on Holiday, the World Cup played out on TV, and she intently watched the games. Her "teams" were ousted late in the games. I like playing soccer with my son, but he's 3-1/2 years old, so it's a game, not a sport, but apart from his momentary enjoyment in running and playing with Daddy, the game draws a huge vacuum for me, but I guess that's because I'm uncultured. C'est la vie!

If I watched 15 minutes of the games, I'd be surprised, and it would have been more accidental than intentional. Thank Zeus, it's like presidential campaigns and it only occurs on a 4-year cycle.

Anyway, France is dancing to an odd tune this summer. Coup de Boule (Head Butt). I haven't a clue what they're singing, other than: Zindane struck, we blew the cup.

Next, we read France's summer smash reading hit is "Temoinage (Testimony), a hefty work of confession and stricture by the hyper-ambitious Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy." Some weeks ago, the Clearchannel disc scandal took off, it was reported that Sarkozy had accepted bribes. Later, the bank records on the disc were proven to be a fraud. The rumor mill suggested Prime Minister de Villepin's friends engineered the smear to discredit Sarkozy. And the speculation was, it occurred because of the pending release of Sarkozy's book.

The Dreyfuss Affair involved a half-Jew accused of treason based on forged documents. The Clearchannel disc scandal involved the half-Jew Sarkozy based on a "forged" bank records contained on a disc. The similiarities are uncanny.

Well, the French are at the beach lapping up Sarkozy's scolding. The initial release sold out within hours, and there's to be an "emergency reprint." We read Sarkozy tells his countrymen: "Among his more headline-grabbing suggestions is that the French should accept English as the modern world's lingua franca" (emphasis mine).

On Holiday

For the whole month of July, I was on Holiday with my son -- it was truly wonderful.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Land of the Setting Sun

BBC News reports alarms bells are sounding in Japan, for they have just overtaken Italy as the country with the highest percentage of population over 65 years old, 21% to be exact. The news report goes on to say, the percentage of unwed Japanese is growing. We are told, local city councils are beginning "new projects" to provide more child care, are encouraging fathers to take paternity leave, and are starting matchmaking services.

Recently, The Japan Times reported on "sexless couples" -- my comments are here. In various news reports discussing Japan's sexless syndrome, Japanese are saying sex is "tiresome"or they're overworked.

Only a bureaucrat could say this: "Unless Japanese people get more active in having children, the birthrate is unlikely to rise," Kunio Kitamura, director of the Japan Family Planning Association.

Japanese men are blamed for this trend. "'It's generally the men who're cutting back,' remarks. Dr. Tero Abe, psychiatrist at Abe Mental Clinic." Not surprisingly, marital infidelity among women is increasingly common.

In 1994, Stanford University reported Professor Carl Djerassi, developer of the first oral contraceptive, discussed the need for Japan to modernize their "birth control practices," for they were using condoms, rhythm, "excessive dependence on abortion," and a large percentage of women were illegally using "high-dose steriods pills."

In the article, the scientists went to say:
One source of opposition is a small sector of the medical community, which stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars from the abortions that are performed for about $1,000 in private clinics outside the universal health-insurance system. The official number of abortions performed in Japan is reported at around 440,000. But the actual number is higher - some estimates place it as much as three times greater - because a number of Japanese doctors perform such operations for cash and do not report them in order to avoid paying taxes. By comparison, about 1.5 million abortions are performed each year in the United States, which has twice the population. (emphasis mine)
Professor Djerassi was quoted as saying:
It is inevitable that, unless they are changed, domestic family- planning practices will adversely effect the Japanese government's ability to take an effective leadership position on birth control.
Twelve years later we know, the problem these Scientists were trying to fix -- and we should overlook Djerassi's economic self-interest -- wasn't really the problem that needed to be fixed.

For me, the most troubling thing was the "alarming" nature of Japanese doctors that perform abortions for cash, so they are not taxed, in a country with "universal" health care.

Let's see if I understand the Problem that Djerassi didn't fix: Dr. Saki kills a few unborn children by lunch, keeps the cash, doesn't pay taxes, doesn't have sex with his wife, but he's out banging his neighbor's, or he's out poking some little Geisha he met at Club Hedonism, while his wife's at Motel 6 getting bonked by GI Joe.

After Japan's defeat in the Second World War, Japan pledged themselves to pacifism; this principle is enshrined in their constitution. Two generations later, Japan has become a sexless society. Sixty years later, Japan's population grows older, young men and women delay getting married, and married couples are not having sex.

Of course, there cannot be a correlation, or is there? Perhaps, Fukuyama should study Japan's Last Sexless Man.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Fall of the House of Blair

Today, in the London Times, Anatole Kaletsky tells us Prime Minister Tony Blair final hour draws nigh. Kaletsky is uncertain whether "loyal" former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will administer the mortal blow.

Setting aside the theme of Kaletsky's commentary for a moment, we do find some observations worthy of note. It seems the British embrace Blair's policy of market reforms in health care and education. Tellingly, Kaletsky says his countrymen: (1) "want easier access to doctors and more choice in schools," (2) "expect to be treated as customers, not supplicants or subjects," and (3) resent "dirty hospitals" and "underperforming schools."

How very odd? We've been told, by so many, that we should adopt the British form of health care. Dirty hospitals? I think, not.

Returning to Kaletsky's comments, he tells us the sons of Brutus are conspiring because Prime Minister Blair is President Bush's lackey in foreign affairs. Kaletsky tells us, if Big Blu's fall on Natanz or Arak at dawn tomorrow, Blair will be dispatched by morning tea.

It seems the "subservient relationship with George Bush has been the real cause of Tony Blair’s downfall." Kaletsky does offer us this cheery news. Once Blair is replaced by Sir Elton John, Boy George, or another British Lion preening on the backbench, by "reversing Blairite foreign policy," this action would restore the imperial majesty of "Britain’s national interests," with the added advantage of convincing Americans how "isolated" we are from our so-called allies.

After all, who can blame the Brits for offing a bootlicking, lackey toad. Kaletsky, slit his throat and be done with it!

For me, I welcome the day when Americans can no longer delude themselves by calling a wobbly neighbor stalwart, a foe an ally, or an enemy a "strategic partner."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

BooMan snarls with a whimper

Earlier today, I did an unwise thing. I posted BooMan's thoughts contained in an email without first getting his permission. When my transgression was pointed out, I apologized. And he graciously accepted my apology.

However, it is more than passing strange, for someone who blogs and says on his "About me" page, "The BooMan is not anonymous, and my true identity is not a secret" to complain that I used his name. As I know all so well, my excuse does not justify my careless actions.

BooMan was kind enough to post his rebuttal to my comments.

First, BooMan defended his earlier assertion that Islam is not expanding territorially. BooMan would have us believe there is no difference between Turkey, under AKP's leadership, and pre-war Afghanistan, under Taliban leadership. As Burckhardt taught us, there is a profound difference between a nation governed by the State, and a nation governed by its Religion. We see the former in Turkey, and we see the latter in pre-war Afghanistan. Perhaps, BooMan does not see the difference, but if Turkey was under Taliban leadership, I'm quite certain EU nations in Brussel would not be considering Turkey's application to become a member state.

Secondly, BooMan complains that I mischaracterized his statements, by conflating different thoughts, to produce an effect he never intended to convey. BooMan objected to me saying:
[BooMan] suggests our troubles with radicalized Muslims would end if we figured out "how to get our oil and gas to markets" from the Middle East. This notion defies common sense.
However, what I should have quoted was this:
If we want to stop being attacked, we need to figure out how to get our oil and gas to market without creating generation after generation of jihadists.
In my original comments, I did not point out BooMan's absurd notion of ownership of Middle Eastern natural resources, when he said "our oil and gas," which he tells us bin Laden finds so objectionable. But since he said it twice, that false claim of ownership shall not pass unnoticed. Seemingly, only in a progressive community is another man's property claimed as one's own.

More to the point, I added nothing to BooMan's original thought that wasn't already there. I merely exchanged the notion of "stop being attacked" with the notion of "our troubles would end."

BooMan is correct when he says "the fight will go on." And this very statement points to the fallacy of his entire argument. In BooMan's original rebuttal to Barone, he told us he knew why bin Laden attacked us. And BooMan believes if we "leave them alone" they will "leave us alone." All we have to do is "listen" and not create "generation after generation of jihadists." Try as I might, I have found no suggestions in BooMan's commentary instructing us how to achieve the ends he desires; that is, "getting [his] oil to market" without us being attacked.

In my comments, I pointed out Burckhardt's statement regarding the "detrimental" effects of trade between the West and Muslim nations. BooMan offered no rebuttal to Burckhardt's assertion. At best, BooMan offered an opinion that Muslims were being "insulted."

Next, BooMan returns to his "thesis" that bin Laden "was angry at the Saudi regime first, and America second," which surely explains why a "propagandist" attacked the militarily stronger nation first.

Finally, BooMan brands Bertrand Russell's and Jacob Burckhardt's comments as "insulting" to Muslims. Since BooMan has "read all those books," he knows full well they were equally "insulting" to Christianity and Judaism.

But BooMan complains, "Somehow, these racial assessments and historical opinions are supposed to be relevant to my article on Michael Barone's asshattery."

My dear Mister BooMan, the relevance is easy to explain: they described the Nature of Islamic civilization.

Long before we invaded Iraq, long before we blockaded Iraq, long before we had an airbase in Saudi Arabia, long before we were engaged in "economic exploitation" of the Middle East, long before the House of Saud sat on the throne -- Did I miss any of your causes of bin Laden's fatwas? -- these scholars (Russell and Burckhardt) told us about the Nature of Islamic civilization.

In the works of Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Livy, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Hume, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, and Tocqueville, each one these Thinkers has commented on the Nature of people living within a given culture. For example, Livy told us Hannibal said the Gauls were perfidious by Nature. For example, Machiavelli told us about the religious and law abiding Nature of the Romans. For example, Professor A.T. Olmstead told us the Persian emperors knew the Greeks would sell their country for gold, for that was their Nature.

Even in your BooMan Tribune progressive community, we see banded together like-minded spirits that share a common Nature. As an aside: I took particular delight in some of the more refined "debate," that some might easily mistake for petty insults. Perhaps, that's part of the Natural charm of your progressive community.

No, Mister BooMan, you don't undertand Hume's chiming clock theory of causation, you don't know why we were attacked, and you don't understand why they "hate" us.

Your assertions are only opinions, not causes. Your arguments are mere whimpers.

Bring 'em to justice, Russian style

On June 3rd, 4 Russian diplomats were abducted near their embassy in Baghdad. On June 26th, the hostages were butchered. Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a fatwa.

BBC News reports, "The head of Russia's security services immediately pledged to see Putin's order carried out." There was no mention of "bringing them to justice."

The Kremlin press service was quoted as saying, "The President gave the order to Russian special services to take all measures for finding and eliminating the criminals who carried out the murder of Russian diplomats in Iraq." (emphasis mine)

Why can't President Bush issue a fatwa to the CIA commanding them to hunt down and eliminate those responsible for the deaths of Americans.

All or nothing

Today, Der Spiegel's headline is: Israeli Forces Push into Gaza Strip. The story continues,
A hostage crisis has plunged relations between Israel and the Palestinian to the lowest point since Israel pulled troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip a year ago. Israeli tanks backed up by helicopters and artillery advanced into Gaza on Tuesday night to pressure Palestinian militants into releasing kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, 19.
Writing in Der Spiegel, Henryk M. Broder discusses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he tells us,
Now, however, the conflict has reached a new level. The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza last summer has more than anything motivated militant Palestinians to demonstrate to Israel that the conflict is not primarily about territory, the end of the occupation and the return to the 1967 borders. Rather, it's about all or nothing. It's about the control, not the division, of the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

... And the Israelis? Those who believed that unilateral action and the construction of a fence would result in the security that negotiations have been unable to provide are now being confronted with the bitter reality. Fences and walls cannot provide absolute security -- and no matter how high such barriers are, they can still be dug under.

... The Europeans are once again trying to whitewash things. One hears a lot these days about the so-called "prisoners' document" -- that mysterious paper in which representatives from Hamas and Fatah have agreed on a common position on Israel. It is said to be nothing less than an "indirect recognition" of Israel.
Two weeks ago, Der Spiegel interviewed Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Hayineh. He was more interested in getting invited, by German Chancellor Merkel, to the World Cup games. When Hayineh asked what he had to do to get tickets, Der Spiegel replied he had to recognize Israel's right to exist. Not surprisingly, Hayineh decided he'd rather watch the games on television.

Today, Broder reminds us,
One shouldn't forget that the PLO was founded in 1964 with the goal of freeing Palestine fromm the Zionists -- three years prior to the Six Day War when Gaza was still under Egyptian control and the West Bank was part of Jordan.

... The only difference between Hamas and Fatah ... is the question of how Israel should be defeated: either militarily or through the implementation of a "right of return" policy. Israel therefore has the choice as to whether it is wiped from the map either in battle, or by peaceful means.

... For this reason a "ceasefire" is the most Hamas is prepared to offer Israel, which the Europeans insist on misinterpreting as the first step towards recognition. Rather, it's merely a tactical pause in the war against Israel.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

BooMan's reasoning is flawed

On June 26th, Martin Longman (BooMan) responded to Michael Barone's editorial, "The New York Times at War With America."

Barone began with what he considered a self-evident truth, for he said,
... We know why [Islamofascist terrorists] hate us: because we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion, because we refuse to treat women as second-class citizens, because we do not kill homosexuals, because we are a free society.
BooMan took exception to Barone's explanation. "Every single word of it is dishonest," BooMan asserted.

"In order to determine why the so-called Islamofascists hate us," BooMan said, "I am going to go straight to the main source. Usama bin-Laden laid out his reasoning in a 1996 fatwa and a 1998 fatwa."

BooMan pointed out: (1) the 1996 fatwa "complains mainly of the corruption of the Saudi regime," and (2) the 1998 fatwa "is more specific to America's perceived faults." BooMan stated, "bin-Laden is critizing what he sees as economic exploitation by the West."

BooMan asserted:
It is true that bin-Laden subscribes to a kind of medieval version of Sunni Islam ... and he's hostile to modern innovations in Islam, including some what we rightfully refer to as human rights.

... there is nothing there, nothing even hinted at, to suggest that he hates America because of our freedoms, or the way we treat women and homosexuals ... His concerns are economic, political, and geo-political.

... And it is the refusal of the neo-conservatives to be honest about why Islamists are targetting U.S. civilians that has led ... to the total collapse of American credibility on the international stage.

The Islamists are not angry about the freedoms that Americans enjoy. They are perfectly content to let us go on enjoying them ... Islamists will leave us alone the moment we leave them alone.
After reading BooMan's commentary, I sent Mr. Longman a response:
In 1905, Professor Jacob Burckhardt told us Islam was a religion of conquerors. His critique of Islam and its civilization was harsh, but he was equally harsh on Christianity and Judaism. (Reflections on History and Judgment on History and Historians)

In 1918, Professor Oswald Spengler told us the same thing. (The Decline of the West)

In 1920, Professor Max Weber told us the same thing. (Economy and Society)

In 1945, Lord Bertrand Russell told us the same dang thing. (The History of Western Philosophy)

In 2006, you foolishly tell us: "They are perfectly content to let us go on enjoying [our freedoms]."

Your comments are the product of a shallow, lazy, and an historically uneducated mind.
Mr. Longman responded to my barbed criticism: (emphasis mine)
Funny, because I've read all of those books.

I don't know if you are even interested in debate, but you are taking one part of a comment and using it to make a rebuttal of all my thinking. Islam is gaining demographically, not territorily. Europe needs to worry about its inability to secularize its Muslim population, but that is the only area where they might make territorial gains, and it won't be done militarily, but through differential reproductive rates over centuries. Not really our army's concern, right now.

My point is that al-Qaeda does not intend to kill American citizens for the hell of it. They have specific goals. I didn't BTW advocate giving in to their demands, or leaving them alone. I advocated listening to their demands, so that we behave in an educated manner. We were attacked because we had an airbase and other troops stationed in Saudi Arabia and because we were blockading Iraq. Not because Usama has a problem with Pamela Anderson's tits, or because you and I can vote and watch porn and gamble.

If we want to stop being attacked, we need to figure out how to get our oil and gas to market without creating generation after generation of jihadists. Occupying Iraq isn't helping, and leaving Iraq is going to have a mixed effect, both positive and negative. But staying will only increase the negative and diminish the positive.
Well, I cannot speak to whether Osama bin Laden has a "problem" with Pamela's undeniable charms; however, I will say BooMan's reasoning is critically flawed.

In BooMan's response to me, he said Islam is expanding "demographically, not territorially." Islamic territorial expansion did not end at the Battle of Tours (732), or with the fall of Constantinople (1453), or at the siege of Vienna (1529), or with the Battle of Vienna (1683), or with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire (1919). In recent memory, we have witnessed Mullah Mohammed Omar seize control of Afghanistan (1996). And less than one month ago, the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) seized control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu. UIC Chairman Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmed's statements are not so different than Osama bin Laden's statements, for Ahmed blames the United States for his country's bloody tribal factionalism.

BooMan would have us believe our present difficulties began with Osama bin Laden ("main source") and have been excerbated by our invasion of Iraq, and he suggests our troubles with radicalized Muslims would end if we figured out "how to get our oil and gas to markets" from the Middle East. This notion defies common sense.

Clearly, bin Laden is one among many that clings to a what BooMan calls a "medieval version" of Islam. As I stated in my initial response to BooMan, some of greatest minds of 19th and 20th Centuries have told us Islam is a "religion of conquerors" (e.g., Professor Jacob Burckhardt, Judgment on History and Historians). As recently as 1990, Professor Bernard Lewis discussed the folly of believing as BooMan does.

Is there any doubt Russians are engaged in oppression of Muslims in Chechen? Is there any doubt regarding Russian and Chinese desires to exploit Iraq's and Iran's oil and gas reserves for their own selfish ends? Since the end of the Persian Gulf War, has there been a greater "economic exploitation" of Iraq than the French and Russian involvement in Saddam Hussein's oil-for-food scandal? Where are bin Laden's fatwas on France, Russia, and China, Mr. Longman?

In 1996, bin Laden was expelled from Sudan and sent to Mullah Omar's Afghanistan. As Homer and Plato taught us "likes attract likes," so these kindred spirits made common cause.

BooMan analyzed bin Laden's fatwas against Saudi Arabia and the U.S. while ignoring Mullah Omar's words. Two months after September 11th, the BBC News interviewed Mullah Omar: (emphasis mine)
BBC: What do you think of the current situation in Afghanistan?
MO: You (the BBC) and American puppet radios have created concern. But the current situation in Afghanistan is related to a bigger cause - that is the destruction of America. And on the other hand, the screening of Taleban [for those who are or are not loyal] is also in process. We will see these things happen within a short while.

BBC: What do you mean by the destruction of America? Do you have a concrete plan to implement this?
MO: The plan is going ahead and, God willing, it is being implemented. But it is a huge task, which is beyond the will and comprehension of human beings. If God's help is with us, this will happen within a short period of time; keep in mind this prediction.

BBC: Osama Bin Laden has reportedly threatened that he would use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against America. Is your threat related to his?
MO: This is not a matter of weapons. We are hopeful for God's help. The real matter is the extinction of America. And, God willing, it [America] will fall to the ground.
Professor Jacob Burckhardt said, "Any importation from Western culture, however, seems to be detrimental to the Muslims, from loans and national debt onward" (Reflections on History). Mr. Longman, how does a Muslim country trade with the U.S. or Europe without importing a modicum of Western culture? Just as Commodore Matthew Perry's Black Ships irrevocably changed Japan, Muslims buying Western foundry products, Western oil and gas extraction and refinery technology, Western nuclear power plants, Western computers and telecommunication equipment, Western aircraft and motor vehicles, Western pharmaceuticals and medical technology, and Western armaments and munitions, each product and service we provide is "detrimental" to Muslim civilization, for Muslims are faced with the stark realization they cannot do what we do. Burckhardt said, "Something very peculiar and rather unparalleled in the history of religion is the enormous degree to which pride is taken in this religion, the feeling of absolute superiorty over all others, the utter inaccessibilty to any influences; these characteristics grow into innate arrogance and boundless presumption in general" (Judgments on History and Historians).

Burckhardt analyzed the struggle for primacy between the "three great powers" in a civilization: the State, the Religion, and the Culture (Reflections on History). In the West, two centuries of bloody war were required to end the Church's brutal mastery of Europe. Muslim nations have not resolved Burckhardt's conflict, which is nothing more than Plato's question: Who shall govern?

In BooMan's response to Barone, he correctly noted that bin Laden's concerns "are economic, political, and geo-political." Like the Muslim raiders and brigands (e.g, the Prophet Mohammed) that preceded him, bin Laden desires economic power, so he despoiled modern-day caravans as he could. In The History of the Western Philosophy, Lord Bertrand Russell stated: "The Arabs, although they conquered a great part of the world in the name of a new religion, were not a very religious race; the motive of their conquests was plunder and wealth rather than religion." Russell's characterization of Arabs aptly describes Osama bin Laden.

BooMan believes if we "leave them alone," while "getting our oil and gas to market," while Muslims obtain goods and services they cannot produce, then radical Muslims will not attack us. This notion defies common sense.

Professor Hannah Arendt said, "men are unable to forgive what they cannot punish and they cannot punish what has turned out to be unforgivable. This is the true hallmark of the offenses which, since Kant, we call 'radical evil' and about whose nature so little is known, even to us who have been exposed to one of their rare outbursts on the public scene." (The Human Condition)

Mr. Longman, is there any doubt that the events of 9/11 was the manifestation of "radical evil"? If you concede that point, then how can you know the "nature" of those involved to be able to foretell, with any certainty, they will stop attacking us if we do as you suggest ("listening to their demands, so we behave in an educated manner")?

Perhaps, Barone's overly simplistic explanation of Muslim "hatred" was too imprecise. However, contrary to the teachings of David Hume (A Treatise of Human Nature), you have established a causal relationship, for which you have no empirical evidence, other than the words of a so-called "propagandist," as you described Osama bin Laden.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bring 'em home

Today, The Japan Times' lead editorial is about the realignment of American forces. Japan government was concerned with reducing their "burden of hosting U.S. military installations." We're told "important issues" have yet to be resolved.

Interestingly, when Congressman Murtha is calling for a "redeployment" of our military forces to Okinawa, the Governor of the Okinawa prefecture is unhappy Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station's "relocation" has been delayed for another 8 years.

The Japanese are unhappy that they must pay "60 percent of the costs of transferring 8,000 U.S. Marine personnel from Okinawa to Guam." The Japan Times is miffed that they are required to "help pay the cost of building military facilities on U.S. terrority is in itself unprecedented and the issue is likely to stir intensive debate in the next Diet."

The editorial concludes, "Japan must pursue independence in security and economic policies. Excessive loyalty to the U.S. will be ridiculed by the international community and by Americans themselves."

After 50 years of defending Japan, I couldn't agree more. Pack our troops up and bring 'em home! Just as with Europe and South Korea, it's time our so-called friends and allies pay the cost of defending their own freedom and liberty.

Bruno the Bear: Rest in Peace

Der Spiegel reports Bruno the Bear (Codename: JJ1) met a "tragic end." In the early hours of Monday morning, the brazen outlaw was cornered by Geman elite paratroopers, from the 1st Buggery Brigade.

Manfred Wölfl, a member of the Bavarian anti-terrorism task force, stated, "The shooting has happened, the bear is dead."

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Bruno the Bear - Update

The BBC News is reporting German authorities have issued a fatwa regarding legendary terrorist, Bruno the Bear. Elite German paratroopers, of the fabled Buggery Brigade, have been issued orders to "shoot on sight."

German Basket Cases

During the jubilation of the Games, German Chancellor Angela Murkel called Germany an "economic basket case." Not surprisingly, the Huns were offended, so the barbarian hordes swarmed.

A seemingly unencumbered wit, Thomas Fricke sniffed and scoldingly responded,
Germans happily packing stadiums and city centers to watch matches and celebrate the tournament are disproving predictions of economic doom from politicians and killjoy commentators.

... there's no reason to think, as many commentators are expecting, that the nation will revert to its self-doubt and fear of economic decline once the World Cup party is over on July 9.
For some it seems, Germany's fortunes are symbolized by scurrying feet chasing after a silly white ball once every 4 years.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Virtual lynching

A young Chinese man was betrayed by his wife. The man told his neighbors about his wife's unfaithfulness. Virtual sleuths discovered the identified of the man's wife's lover. Thousands demanded they be punished. Chinese netizens cried "chop off their heads."

This remarkable story appeared in an editorial in the China Daily. Raymond Zhou discusses how common place virtual lynchings are in China. Zhou could just as easily been talking about America, when he said,
Trial by virtual lynching has become the norm in China's cyberspace. When a controversy erupts, the rational voice is usually drowned out in vociferous condemnation.

I'm not saying our netizens are always wrong. As a matter of fact, they have a strong sense of justice - so strong that they see the world in only black and white. There's no room for shades of gray.
We have witnessed our own unique brand of flaming. Congressman Murtha is a true Flamer, for he's already convicted our troops of "cold blooded murder" in Haditha.

Murtha and others foolishly believe they can control an outraged mob. Like others that came before so inclined, they will be devoured by the beast of their own creation.

China's WTO flop

In July 2000, William Greider, writing in The Nation, heaped scorn on the NY Times ("bell cow for the media") and in particular: Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman.

Amusingly, Greider writes:
Thomas Friedman's views on globalization, reiterated twice a week, are simple: "Shut up and eat your spinach. Globalization is good for you, even if you're too stupid to understand why. Besides, there's nothing you can do about it." He resolves complex disputes on large matters with words like "crazy" and "ridiculous," accusing globalization's critics of being "quacks" and "extremists." His colleague Paul Krugman relies on a loftier form of condescension. "Economists are smarter than most people, and I'm smarter than most economists. Anyone who disagrees is an unlicensed hack or a hired gun with an economics degree from a second-rate university." Regular readers of the Times can attest that my mild caricature does not exaggerate. (Greider's caricatures are dead-on accurate.)
Greider's complaints were swallowed up by 1.26 billion Chinese consumers needing McDonald's Happy Meals. As Thomas Friedman fondly reminded us, wars are not fought between McDonald franchises.

Indeed, the Mandarin Sispyhus, with the help of so many others, pushed their boulder to the lofty summit of WTO membership.

In December 2001, after an epic, 15-year struggle, the BBC News hailed a mighty achievement: China joins the WTO - at last. China's "Official Gateway" told us: "China's WTO membership is expected to promote the country's own reform...."

That was then, this is now. CEIP's Minxin Pei writing in the Taipei Times tells a very different story. Pei begins by reciting his well-learned catechism:
Most Westerners believe in a theory of liberal evolution, according to which sustained economic growth, by increasing wealth and the size of the middle class, gradually makes a country more democratic.
In ancient times, Zeus bowed to Fate. Later, Hegel bowed to "rational" progress in the history of men (The Philosophy of History). Like those that came before, Pei, Friedman, Fukuyama, and so many others believe there are unremitting and implacable Laws of History, for their philosophies have been shaped by blending Hegel, Darwin, and Spencer. And as we shall see from Pei's commentary, he bows to Marx's class struggle theory.

Today, Pei admits China's "liberal evolution" has stalled. Oddly, Pei suggests Heraclitus' stream has stopped flowing, or Hobbes' upward or downward motions have ceased. Not surprisingly, Pei is flummoxed. Pei tells us,
Instead of democratic transition, China has witnessed a consolidation of authoritarian rule. Since 1989, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been pursuing a two-pronged strategy: selective repression that targets organized political opposition and assimilation of new social elites.

This strategy emphasizes the maintenance of an extensive law enforcement apparatus designed to eliminate organized opposition. Huge investments have strengthened the People's Armed Police (PAP), a large anti-riot paramilitary force whose specialty is the quick suppression of anti-government protests by disgruntled industrial workers, farmers and urban residents. Frequent deployment of the PAP is a major reason why the tens of thousands of collective protests that occur each year (74,000 in 2004 and 86,000 last year) have had a negligible impact on China's overall stability.
Unmoved by facts, Pei clings to his "rational" theories and believes events will unfold as he has seen, while staring into his bowl of mead, for he tells us:
Although the CCP's carrot-and-stick approach has worked since 1989, it is doubtful that it will retain its efficacy for another 17 years.

... When things go wrong -- as is likely, given mounting social strains caused by rising inequality, environmental degradation, and deteriorating public services -- China's alienated masses could become politically radicalized.

... So it may be premature for the party to celebrate the success of its adaptive strategy. China's rulers may have stalled democratic trends for now, but the current strategy has, perhaps, merely delayed the inevitable.
Or Fukuyama's End of History creed was just so much idle nonsense?

Thursday, June 22, 2006


As John Locke taught us, our knowledge comes from our experience. The mayhem of war is something I do not understand, for I have not experienced it.

Thus far, I have refrained from commenting on these situations (e.g., Haditha). However, there are many that are consumed by these events: Michelle Malkin and Congressman Murtha, to name but two, for nobler or lesser reasons. Both are engaged in promoting their brand of factionalism.

The New York Daily News reports,
The new cases bring to 12 the number of servicemen facing the death penalty for actions on the battlefield.

Military law experts could not recall a previous time when so many troops faced capital punishment, suggesting the heightened awareness of commanders to the impact of atrocity allegations on the Iraq war effort.
Other investigations are on-going. Regardless of the outcome of the resulting court martials, I will not stand in judgment of these soldiers.

For me, I am thankful the United States is not a signatory to the Rome Statue.

In December 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the Rome Statue during the final days of his presidency, and on the very last day the statute was open for signing, knowing it would not be ratified. In May 2002, President George Bush "nullified" that signature. Arguably, one of Bush's finer moments.

Later, Ambassador John Bolton was quoted (NYT) as saying "abrogating the American signature" was "the happiest moment in my government service."

Internationalists and NGOs were indigant. For example, William Schultz, executive director of Amnesty International, claimed we were driven by "unfounded fears of phantom prosecutions...." (emphasis mine)

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) tells us:
Since 2002, the United States has launched a full-scale multi-pronged campaign against the International Criminal Court, claiming that the ICC may initiate politically-motivated prosecutions against US nationals.
The CICC's 2,000 NGOs were apoplectic our government obtained Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIAs) and enacted the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA) to protect our troops from being subject to the conventions of the International Criminal Court.

Does anyone seriously believe, if we were signatory to the Rome Statute, the ICC would not be investigating these events as war crimes?

21st Century Silk Road

Turkish Daily News reports Prime Minister Erdoğan said,
... he remains the same man he was yesterday and had not, and couldn't have, changed, in contradiction to earlier statements about having changed and developed at the same time.
However, more importantly, he said:
[Erdoğan] also called on the energy world to accept the fact that oil transportation through the narrow Turkish straits was not sustainable. The tanker traffic in the waterway has reached a level that poses a serious threat to the safety of Istanbul. “It is no longer possible for us in Istanbul to live under this threat,” he said.
Prime Minister Erdoğan continued:
We have developed our energy strategy primarily based on this vision, taking into account global developments and expectations. We aim to make Turkey a transit country in the East-West and North-South axes. Our target is to transform the Ceyhan terminus into a center of commerce,” he said.

“As you know, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan [BTC] pipeline has become operational. Next are the Samsun-Ceyhan bypass pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum (Şahdeniz) natural gas pipeline via the Caspian,” the prime minister said.

“On the one hand, Turkey is leading in the implementation of the East-West energy corridor, also named the ‘silk road of the 21st century,' and on the other, by means of the Nabucco and Turkey-Greece-Italy natural gas pipelines, we are taking important steps on the road to becoming the fourth natural gas artery of the European Union by transporting Caspian and Middle East natural gas to Europe,” he added. (emphasis mine)

... Erdoğan said the Samsun-Ceyhan bypass pipeline would be added to the Kirkuk-Yumurtalık pipeline and the BTC pipeline and that the latter would be connected to Kazakhstan. “Ceyhan will become one of the most important energy centers in the world. Those tankers docking at Ceyhan will be able to simultaneously load Iraqi, Azeri, Kazakh and Russian oil,” he said.

Another dimension in Turkey's energy strategy is transporting Iraqi natural gas to Europe and the United States via Turkey, Erdoğan said. A project designed to transport the rich natural gas reserves of northern Iraq to the European Union and the United States through a newly built pipeline on to Ceyhan will be finalized in a few years, the prime minister stated.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Insular News

China Daily reports Iraq insurgents say they "[have] decided to kill four kidnapped Russian Embassy workers after a deadline for meeting its demands passed." (I didn't realize the Russians had troops in Iraq, which necessitated butchering Russians to compel their troops to be withdrawn.)

Graciously, China Daily exhibits some rare treasures of Western civilizations for their devoted readers.

In more good news: China Daily reports "No [Bush] administration official has publicly raised the possibility bombing the North Korean missile before it could be launched." However, Jan Lodal -- a Defense Department official during the Clinton administration -- did say, "that he would not rule out a pre-emptive strike."

Xinhua reports "China pursues no selfish interests in Africa." Today, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is in South Africa. Wen stated "China provided more than 900 infrastructure projects to African countries, including a railway line between Tanzania and Zambia." (Altruism, my ass!)

The Korea Herald reports:
North Korea yesterday made it clear that the motive behind its missile diplomacy is to draw the United States into dialogue.

...The United States has chosen to ignore Pyongyang's brinksmanship diplomacy, insisting it will only speak to the North at the six-nation nuclear talks that have been stalled since last year.

... Thomas Schieffer, U.S. ambassador to Japan and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said last week that they would close ranks on the missile launch matter to seek sanctions from the Security Council should Pyongyang execute the test-fire.

Analysts see this as unlikely, mostly because China, Pyongyang's main benefactor, and Russia, a former supporter of the North, would likely use their veto power over the issue.
Today's edition of The Japan Times front page does not even mention North Korea's "missile diplomacy." The Japanese are apparently more interested in sex. Nope, strike that! They're not interested in that either, but at least the Japanese have figured out that "sexless couples" don't have kids.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The lamps are still out

As Europe plunged into the First World War, Great Britain's Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey observed, “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

In 2002, the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) "accused Iran of hiding a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak." The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began investigating these charges.

In June 2003, President George Bush stated, the United States "will not tolerate the construction of a nuclear weapon in Iran." In October 2003, the EU-3 (Great Britain, France and Germany) began negiotation with Iran on their nuclear program. Specifically, the EU-3 was seeking Iran's agreement to forego uranium enrichment.

In November 2004, Iran formalized an agreement with the EU-3. Their agreement stated: "Iran has decided on a voluntary basis, to continue and extend its suspension to include all enrichment and reprocessing activities." The EU-3 acknowledged Iran's actions were a "voluntary" suspension as a "confidence building measure" and was not a "legal obligation."

Since then, the European charade has only become more disgraceful. Europe's lamps remain unlit. Their wicks have dry rotted from a malaise of moral turpitude that has settled upon them. Quaintly, all Europe cares about is soccer games and a military prison for terrorists in Guantanamo.

Europeans suck!

Today, Paul Reynolds, writing for the BBC News, discusses "issues" that will be raised during tomorrow's US-EU annual summit in Vienna.

Charmingly, Reynolds tells us, Europe "has found some common ground in criticism of the US." Europeans are consumed by Guantanamo, and sort of concerned about Iran.

Tellingly, Reynolds found a scholarly, soft-power player, John Palmer who says,
What has changed in Vienna is that the Europeans are clearer about the dramatic limitation of the reality of the US as a superpower. It has not escaped their notice that the US had to turn to the European strategy for Iran. The Europeans resent an overbearing hyperpower but are aware of the problems of an implosion of worldwide US power and are worried at the implications for both the future of real multilaterism and potential isolationism by the United States. (emphasis mine)

We are Isolationists

Today, Taipei Times has 2 interesting editorials: Martin Jacques and Richard Halloran see the world differently.

Jacques tells us our tough slog in Iraq has exposed America's weakness, he babbles about the "neoconservative view of the world, but he accurately states Iraq has:
[L]ed to an overwhelming preoccupation with the Middle East and, to a much lesser extent, central Asia, and the implicit relegation and neglect of US interests elsewhere.
Jacques continues,
China's search for secure supplies of oil and other commodities. To this end it has been acquiring a growing diplomatic presence in regions of the world like Africa and Latin America, making the US increasingly nervous about China's intentions ...

China is making it perfectly plain that it will not insist on the same kind of political strings as the US. We are only at the beginning of what will over time become a growing competition for the hearts and minds of the developing world. (emphasis mine)
Jacques leaves unstated what "strings" America attaches. And Jacques' commentary is simple-minded analyses if he believes affirmation of the PRC's raison d’être is not a "string." As we have recently seen, Afghanistan, Ghana, and Congo have all agreed with the central aim of China's foreign policy in their affirmation of a "one China policy." If that's not a "string," M. Jacques, then please tell us what it is?

Halloran offers us a solemn reminder that Australian Prime Minister John Howard lacks the insularity of many Americans and realizes the gluttonous ire of the wide-spread anti-Americanism is diminishing our resolve to remain committed to world affairs.

Halloran quotes Howard's commentary during a recent trip to the States, Howard said,
The world continues to need America, and the world will be a better place for the involvement and the commitment of the people of the United States of America in the years that lie ahead.

Those foolish enough to suggest that America should have a lesser role in the affairs of the world should pause and think whether they really mean what they say, because a world without a dedicated, involved America will be a lesser world, a less safe world, a more precarious world.

It is vital, for America's interests as much as those of the rest of the world, that America not retreat.

To the voices of anti-Americanism around the world, to those who shout `Yankee Go Home,' let me offer some quiet advice: Be careful what you wish for.
Halloran reports,
Political leaders and defense officials in Taiwan privately asked this correspondent a few weeks ago whether the US would keep its commitments to help repel a Chinese attack.
Halloran relates that Japanese officials are questioning America's commitment to their national defense. Recently, both President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfield have acknowledged many Americans want to travel the "broad and inviting" path of isolationism and protectionism.

Halloran relates,
The Pew Research Center in Washington asserted last year: "Anti-Americanism is deeper and broader now than at any time in modern history."

At the same time, Pew researchers found that more Americans believed that the US "should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own."
This tendency should surprise no one. Cicero reminded us, "As with men, so with nations." Most Americans are isolationists in their own communities. Driving through most residential communities, we see many homes with stockade and chain-linked fences to shield us from the unwelcome gazed and intrusion of our neighbors. Walking down the streets of our cities, thousands of people pass each other while studiously avoiding any or all eye contact. Standing in our mass transit rail cars, we see passengers avoid talking to the person that brushes into them due the jarring motion of the train, while carrrying on a meaningless monoluge with their cell phone.

We are isolationists. And we despise Ingratitude!

What are the Chinese doing?

They're building roads in Ghana; they're discussing "cooperation" in the Congo. They've formalized security arrangements with Afghanistan, "to fight the 'three evil forces' of separatism, extremism and terrorism as well as transnational crimes." And of course coincidentally, all three countries support a "one China policy."

Three years after they first sent a man into space, China announces they plan to put a man on the moon by 2024.

Next, we read on Strategy Page blog,
China has accelerated the installation of new anti-aircraft radars and missiles along its southeastern coast. This includes Chinese YLC2 3-D radars and Russian S300 anti-aircraft missiles. China has also revamped the air-to-air combat training for its Su-27 pilots, putting much more emphasis on realism, and tactics used by Taiwanese F-16 fighters. China has been working on improving its air defenses for years, but the sudden flurry of activity indicates a sense of urgency. Or maybe someone wants to show off by getting a job done on time, or ahead of schedule. (emphasis mine)

Asian News

The Japan Times reports,
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi warned, "If North Korea does not listen to us and launches a missile, the Japanese government would have to take severe measures in cooperation with the U.S.," Koizumi told reporters at his official residence.
Australia's Herald Sun reports,
Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, said that a launch would be "highly provocative."

Mr Downer said he sent a message to North Korea's ambassador to Canberra, Chon Jae-Hong, "to warn him against a long-range missile test and to explain the serious consequences that would follow such a firing."
Taipei Times reports,
Opponents of a possible North Korean long-range missile test stepped up a diplomatic drive to stop the launch yesterday, issuing a barrage of warnings to Pyongyang and threatening retaliation if it goes ahead.

North Korea has taken apparent moves toward test-firing a missile believed capable of reaching the US, putting the region on alert.

North Korean state TV made its first mention of a missile last night, with a report referring to a Russian media report that dismissed US claims about its missile capability.

The North Korean evening news broadcast, monitored in Seoul, said nothing about whether the North intended to test-launch a long-range missile.

The Russian commentary said "the US claim that North Korea has a missile that can hit the US is unconfirmed speculation," according to the North Korean announcer.

However, the report added that the editorial had said the North "has the due right to have a missile that can immediately halt the United States' reckless aerial espionage activity."

The North's state media has been silent on the missile issue.

The chances of a launch were unclear yesterday, in part because of the weather at the missile site. There were cloudy skies and chances of showers in the area, with fog along the coast, said Kim Duck-wan, an official at the South's Korea Meteorological Administration.

Japan, the US, Australia and News Zealand all cautioned the North that a test of a Taepodong-2 missile would bring serious consequences.

Japan has taken a lead in calling for a halt to preparations. North Korea fired a missile over northern Japan in 1998.

"Japan has been urging North Korea to stop the attempt to launch a missile," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said yesterday. "We are making efforts to urge North Korea to act rationally and with self-restraint."

"If it does not listen to us and fires a missile, we have to consult with the United States and take stern measures," he said.

He refused to specify possible steps, but other officials have mentioned sanctions and an appeal to the UN Security Council.

US Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer, also said sanctions were an option.

In Seoul, the ruling Uri Party called on Pyongyang not to put its "friend in danger" by testing the missile, while the opposition accused the government of not leaning hard enough on the North to stop the launch.

Japan's Mainichi Shimbun reported last night that the fueling was apparently already complete. After fueling is finished, the missile has a launch window of about one month, the report said citing unidentified US officials.
You gotta love that comment about "reckless aerial espionage activity." Priceless.

North Korea, Missile Defense and Blogger Insularity

The Washington Times reports,
The Pentagon activated its new U.S. ground-based interceptor missile defense system, and officials announced yesterday that any long-range missile launch by North Korea would be considered a "provocative act."
The U.S. missile defense system includes 11 long-range interceptor missiles, including nine deployed at Fort Greeley, Alaska, and two at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice added that any launch would be a serious matter and "would be taken with utmost seriousness and indeed a provocative act."
For years, we've been told a national missile defense system would not work, because Russia and China could overwhelm the system with too many incoming missiles; therefore, those opposed to its development and deployment seemingly reasoned it's better to let them all land than to destroy any incoming missiles.

Many bloggers (Michelle Malkin, Instapundit, Pajama Media) are still obsessing over the antics of Congressman Murtha and the so-called massacre at Haditha. Pitiful!

Monday, June 19, 2006

CEIP and CFR are both pitiful!

Today, CEIP is seized by a potential threat to our nation. Indeed, CEIP provides a link ("Warnings of North Korean Missile Test") to a report they had issued in 2005. In fairness though, if you follow the associated link, you can get to some really swell maps. (Wonderful work, Jessica!)

Unlike CEIP, CFR actually prepared an article to highlight current events; albeit, CFR only linked to the work of others. Oddly, you will find buried in this article a link to a Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists -- the proud keepers of the Doomsday Clock -- article written in 2005.

I guess meaningful analyses is too much to expect from these foreign policy mavens.

North Korea's threat

Today, the NY Times and Washington Times woke up, for both papers are reporting on their front page North Korea's plan to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile. The Post is still snoring.

Some bloggers are still asleep: Michelle is still snoozing, and the Pajama Media guys haven't woke up yet. But now that Drudge woke up, I'm sure we'll see some cut & paste editorialism from them soon.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

European Disunion

Deutsche Welle reports the Unionists are having a tough row. After a 2 day summit, the European Union member states (25) have decided they need another 2 years to decide what to do, so they pushed off a final decision until 2008. The ever comical Jacques Chirac says, "We need more time to reflect." (If it was surrendering his country, he wouldn't take that long.)

Last year, citizens of Netherlands and France rejected the ratification of the EU Treaty. Other countries (eg Germany) didn't allow their citizens to vote, they had the treaty ratified by their parliament. As the Germans reason, democracy is such a messy affair, it is far better if their subjects are told what to do.

Forty years ago, Fernand Braudel pointed out the difficulties of unification. Braudel pointed out Europe has not solved their lingua franca problem. And does anyone believe the French will accept English as the official language of the EU?

Insular News

It was really quite comical. In 1998, Secretary of Defense William Cohen was testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Cohen said, "Based on intelligence estimates, the North Koreans are years away from multi-stage rocket technology." Three weeks later, the North Koreans lobbed one over Japan.

Now, the North Koreans are preparing to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile, which is capable of reaching our country.

News, you'd think, right? Wrong!

Just look at today's front page of the online editions of the NY Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, LA Times, or Chicago Sun-Times: Not One Word.

But the MSM hasn't totally failed us, the Chicago Tribune does have a front page story.

The NY Times mentions this news in their World section (7th item); the LA Times mentions this news in their World section (8th item). The Washington Post, the Washington Times, and the Chicago Sun-Times cannot even link to a story on the BBC News.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A passion for action

Alexandra van Maltzan discusses the questionable "sanity" of many in the Democratic party, for their seeming disregard of our national defense.

I would quibble with the reasoning offered by Mark Steyn ("they are motivated by Bush hatred"), Peter Beinart ("liberals have grown cynical"), and Alexandra ("taboo" politics). Keeping with the principle of parsimony, I would offer a simpler explanation: ambition.

Sounds bites ("Bush lied, People died") are more than rhetorical flourishes. As David Hume taught us, reason gives rise to no action. War requires action; therefore, passions must be aroused. And not all wars are fought on battlefields.

When Hannah Arendt began her discussion of action, she quoted Dante: For in every action ... is the disclosure of its own image. The image I see is: Democrats are ravenous, and their prey is within their grasp. Arendt told us, "men are unable to forgive what they cannot punish." This unrealized desire fuels great ambition.

Machiavelli began his Discourses with a truism, for he said, "envy [is] inherent in man's nature." He told us a story about a host of Gauls moved into Greece and Asia. The Gauls sought peace with the king of Macedonia. The king displayed his gold to convince them of his power. The Gauls desired gold more than they wanted peace, so they bespoiled the king of his treasure.

Ambition and envy engenders great action, while reasoning folks sit and dither. Hume told us, reasoning left unchecked destroys reason. Machiavelli told us, "necessity will lead you to do many things which reason does not recommend." Often, those without political power are the most ambitious. To assuage this great desire, some will take ruinous actions.

Arendt told us, "power springs up between men when they act together and vanishes the moment they disperse." Thus, it should surprise no one to witness Senator Lieberman being tossed from the Tarpein Rock, for he was diminishing their power.

Titus Livy told us about the Plebs' desire for Agarian reform, for the people wanted land. Even while the Volscians and the Aequians were marching on Rome, "it was only with great difficulty that the tribunes were persuaded to allow national defense to take precedence over party politics."

Like Plebs sulking on the Sacred Mount, this past week progressive factionalists mustered in our nation's capital, for they want to seize the throne and banish the Patricians.

Bruno the Bear -- Terrorist extraordinaire

NATO forces are being dispatched to the mountainous region of Bavaria to capture the elusive, terrorist mastermind: Bruno the Bear.

Germans are exhausted and weary from weeks of searching for this fiend. Der Spiegel reports Bruno the Bear (Codename: JJ1) was last reported spotted near Bad Toz, where he has laid waste to the surrounding countryside. Local residents have petitioned the United Nations Security Council to deploy their battle-hardened warriors (The Kofi Brigade) to protect them from this vile menace. Informed sources compare Bruno the Bear to famed, international terrorist: Carlos the Jackal.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Insular News

Palestinian diplomats leave their country and go shopping for dough; one chap just brought back 12 exquisite Tumi suitcases full of money ($20 million). Last month, another chap brought home a paltry $800k. Why can't Condi go shopping where they do?

India's Tribune tells us Zarqawi was actually a resident of Lucknow -- and he was on the public dole. Where were they mailing his unemployment checks?

What's My Line reruns

Just days after Zarqawi was blown to kingdom come, the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) gives us the low-down on "Zarqawi's Mysterious Successor."

Planet Serpo's Eben Kaplan tells us, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir appointment has "surprised many jihadists." You read this stuff and you think you're caught in a do-loop of a What's My Line? episode. My God, I hope the mother ship comes and gets Kaplan and takes him back home soon!

Our southern flank

Our blindness is staggering. We look half way around the world for scoundrels, villains, and tyrants, yet we chose to ignore the tyrants close at hand.

In 1998, Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela. The next year I moved there to work on a South Korean construction project. Chavez was in his glory in those days, for he was adored by most. The mob was his base, and his words stirred their passion for change. Chavez reminded me of others I had read about before.

In December 1999, after 2 days of torrential rain, the hillsides along the northern coastline gave way; dwellings and hamlets were swept away, whole villages were buried, by mudslides.

Days passed before The Washington Post and The New York Times reported this disaster on their online edition. If memory serves, it was about 4 days before the disaster was mentioned by either. Prior to the "story" breaking, each morning before going to work, I'd fire off an email asking their editors why this "news" wasn't being reported.

Americans are blind to what is happening in South America. Case-in-point: a simple Google search of "venezuela flooding" (English only) on the papers' domain, we find 36 hits at the Post and 12 hits at the NY Times -- some of the hits are bogus. An estimated 50,000 people died in that disaster. Americans are like Mr. Sam Magoo jaywalking through world affairs led by a dumb mute.

Chavez bought 100,000 AK-47's assualt rifles. Chavez is buying 15 Russian-built military helicopters. Chavez is buying 24 Russian Sukhoi S-30 military aircraft. Chavez tells the world he is preparing for an "invasion" by American forces. And Chavez is marching Venezuela down a road that has been traveled before, for as he proclaims, to enthusiastic Londoners, "socialism is the way forward."

Hayek looked backward to pre-war Germany and told his countrymen, at a time they were at war with Germany, that they would become like their enemy. As Hayek reasoned, the policies and institutions they put in place to fight that war would exorably carry them down The Road to Serfdom.

Venezuela has a population of 25.7 million people, and Chavez plans to have "one million well-equipped and well-armed men and women." The BBC tells us, our statesmen have concerns about how this will effect "regional stability."

Professor AJP Taylor wrote about Europe's passion for "balance of power" politics and how disastrous that policy was, yet our statesmen are playing the same game, while a quiet invasion of migrant workers moves into our country. Edward Gibbon told us, Goths were fleeing from the westward march of the Huns, so Rome allowed them to move into their terrority; later, the Goths took up arms and helped defeat Rome.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Asian News

Today, we find two interesting developments:

The Statesmen reports that former South Korea President, and Nobel Peace Prize laurete, Kim Dae-jung is traveling to North Korea to have a "dialogue" with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il regarding the unification of Korea.

The Japan Times reports the mayor of Yokosuka has agreed to host the deployment of the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73).

How very odd?
Korea wants to unify and Japan wants a nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

As Burckhardt said, "nothing wholely unconditional has ever existed."

Abandon all hope ye who carves here

Carved in stone above the entrance to the dungeon of Bodrum Castle, where once the Knights of St. John tortured their victims, one reads: Inde Deus Abest.

Some claim it means: Where God Does Not Exist. Others claim it means: God Is Far From Here.

Turkey Daily News
tells us, whatever it means, it appears to be a fake ("no historical significance"), so it is going to be scratched off, or maybe not?

"How do I get tickets to the games?"

Der Spiegel has an interesting interview with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Hayineh.

Throughout the tough questioning, Hayineh stayed on message: (1) return to 1967 borders, (2) divided Jerusalem, (3) right of 4 million Palestinians to return, (4) killing Jews eating pizza or riding buses is "resistance," and (5) the State of Israel doesn't have a right to exist. But, Hayineh did offer a 50 year cease fire.

But like all devout futbolers, Hayineh wants tickets to the World Cup games -- he was interested in the non-Jewish section.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Gauls are at the gate!

Machiavelli studied Titus Livy's Early History of Rome. Machiavelli told us,
he who would foresee what has to be, should reflect on what has been, for everything that happens in the world at any time has a genuine resemblance to what happened in ancient times ...
Many are familiar with The Prince. However, The Discourses more fully captures Machiavelli's reflections on ancient and modern times. His observations on government, religion, war, and politics are still relevant.

Today, a conclave of progressive luminaries gathered in our nation's capital. They want to take back America. Their watchword is progressive. Progressivism has a long political history in America. After a quick review of Wikepedia's discussion of this political philosophy, one may reasonably surmise their partisans have been progressively massaging this entry. We may safely assume they are telling us, their politics entail progress. Further into the discussion, we're told they have replaced Liberal with Progressive, because the term Liberal has a "decidedly negative association in the media."

How the mighty have fallen!

In the late 19th Century, Herbert Spencer scolded Liberals for wanting to ever increasingly constrain human activity through legislation (The Man vs the State). Human behavior doesn't change because we call something differently than we once did. Liberal passions are now progressive passions.
... the agents who bring such things about are men, and that men have, and always have had, the same passions, whence it necessarily comes about that the same effects are produced.

Monday, June 12, 2006

What is a nation?

The other day I came across a discussion on TigerHawk's blog, "Notes on American nationalism." He was reading a book by a couple of Pew pollsters. In their book, they pointed to an article written in 2003 -- scholars are like bloggers, we keep passing the baton back and forth, but the difference is they (Pei, Kohut) are getting paid to think.

Now, what caught my attention was the scribblings of CEIP's Minxin Pei. He's a scholar, but his writing (which I've critiqued prior to joining the blogsphere) is too much cut & paste editorialism, heavy with polls, light on substance. Pei worships Polls, for he's a Rousseau "will of the people" thinker that believes that politics are science. Ideal gas laws work with molecules, so Ideal people laws must work too. Think of Asimov's Psychohistorians, that's what Kohut and Pei believe in; they want to be 2nd Foundationers.

Me, I'll stick with Professor Charles Beard's assessment of polls, they're not very reliable for they fail to capture the passion of the opinions held. Pollsters try to get past this known deficiency by asking questions that are to be answered by do you "strongly agree" or "strongly disagree".

Pew would ask, "Madame Defarge, do you 'strongly agree', 'agree', 'disagree', or 'strongly disagree' that King Louie should be beheaded?" After she got through pricking out both his eyes with her knitting needles, she'd cackle and say, "Could you repeat my choices?"

That's the sad reality of our political discourse; Legion wasn't banished to herded pigs, they ran off to determine the "will of the people."

For a host of different reasons, Pei's comments are pointless, for it's all about America being like other countries -- they're the norm because so many of them agree, and we're the statistical outlier. Pei's comments presupposes the way of others is superior to our own ways.

Pei like so many others are unmindful of two truths about people and by extension the nation they choose to form.

First, Plato taught us "likes attract likes." The importance of this should not be overlooked. We hear about anti-Americanism all the time. AAism is The STD of the 21st Century. We're carriers and we're infecting everyone. Europeans and Pei's like-minded kind are not like us, so they don't like us. They believe the way we live our lives is wrong because we do not live like they do. They believe if we lived our lives like others then the world be peachy and keen.

Second, Cicero taught us "As with men, so with nations." Leaving aside the Darwin- Spencer-Spengler organism theories of the human kind, our country reflects who we are. And our differences from other countries are so pronounced they are easily overlooked. After the last presidential election, Thomas Friedman -- it was before he was walled off from his adoring audience -- woke up and found he lived in a Red State nation, yet again. 'Sniff was livid and flummoxed by this not-so singular oddity. "How can this be?" he asked himself. He couldn't grasp it. For Friedman, the electorate's view of America was inconsistent with the self-evident truths he had painstakingly taught us so well. Thus we were unfit for his Blue State world, and he was determined not to live in a Red State nation. Truth be told, 'Sniff was relieved when TimesSelect walls were cast to keep out the barbarians.

Nowadays, so many people are talking to folks just like themselves they are surprised to find out there are folks out there that do not share their deeply held beliefs. Strangely, the internet has made some folks more insular than they were before.

Our nationalism is a reflection of who we are. Just because I don't live like others that doesn't mean the way I live my life is wrong, it just means I'm different. By extension, just because Americans see the world differently than Europeans that doesn't mean the way we see the world is wrong, it just means we are different.

In 1882, Ernest Renan gave a speech: What is a nation? (emphasis added)
A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which in truth are but one, constitute this soul or spiritual principle. One lies in the past, one in the present. One is the possession in common of a rich legacy of memories; the other is present-day consent, the desire to live together, the will to perpetuate the value of the heritage that one has received in an undivided form. Man, Gentlemen, does not improvise. The nation, like the individual, is the culmination of a long past of endeavours, sacrifice, and devotion. Of all cults, that of the ancestor is the most legitimate, for the ancestors have made us what we are.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Young Americans

From Iraq, Pat Dollard tells a very different story. His documentary reflects the cultural heritage of the young men and women fighting and dying for our country. If you are looking for the war time prose of Hemingway, do not launch the clip.

God bless these fine Young Americans. You have my respect and gratitude.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Meta-intellectual Tom passes gas

NY Times' ubergreen meta-intellectual crawled over the Select's wall to pass gas taxes.

Pecksniff Tom tells us he enjoys the freedom of darting off to JFK and dashing over to kowtow to Jintao. In 'Sniff's two dimensional world, there's no correlation between his unchecked travel budget and NYT's being downgraded by Goldman-Sachs. Sniff's not worried, for he knows that's what clerical help is for to be laid off -- Tom calls it being outsourced! -- when Times are bad. And to think, he won a business book award. What where those blokes thinking?

Back when Sniff was part of the global information age -- prior to TimesSelect walling out the crazies, foolishly thinking folks would pay to read what they thought -- the New York Times (NYT) was trading at $50 a share; nowadays, they're trading at half that! Knowing that Sniff's such a polling guy, what do those results tell you? Me, I'd say, "The model ain't working!"

Although he just escaped from Sulzburger State Prison, he wants to tax gas, so we're forced to buy green cars that run on things not yet invented, like that really cool car Doc Brown had.

French News

Dateline - Paris
French authorities have arrested several men for smuggling frogs, not citizens, the species. When questioned, one victim exclaimed "Hmmrph!" with a decidedly Anglo-American accent!

In more news ....
Contrary to published reports regarding Louis XVI's final words, a newly discovered letter, written by Chief Executioner Sanson, confirmed Louis exclaimed: "Oh shit!" with a decidedly Anglo-American accent!

Babel fishing

German newspapers are perplexing to read. Case in point, reading in the Deutsche Welle, we find this:
News | 10.06.2006 | 22:00
Far-right rally in German World Cup city

In Germany, nearly 5,000 people have demonstrated against right wing extremism and xenophobia. The protest in the city of Gelsenkirchen, which is hosting World Cup matches, came in response to an earlier rally by about 200 supporters of a German far-right party. A state court had banned the march by the extremist NDP, but Germany's constitutional court later lifted the ban. The counter demonstration was attended by politicians....
Shouldn't the lede say, Far-left rally out numbers Far-right rally 25:1?

Maybe it would make more sense if I ran it twice through Babel Fish. Nope, that didn't work, it's still gibberish.

Turtle Bay declares marshall law

Sudanese tribal leader, Muwad Jalalabin, declared "If a UN force is sent here, I will call for jihad."

Secretary-General Kofi Annan continues to deny reports that he's "cowering in the loo."

When President George Bush was asked by reporters about America's willingness to defend the United Nations, President Bush quickly responded, "Coffee and his boys are all welcome to set up shop in Guantanamo."

Cordesman's grade: a freakin' zero!

Anthony Cordesman and his fellow travelers (Kofi Annan, Jacques Chirac, Vladmir Putin, Dennis Kucinich, and Scott Ritter) were all opposed to the U.S. led invasion of Iraq.

In May 2004, Cordesman provided so-called expert testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Cordesman told us we were engaged in an exercise of "intellectual infantilism" because Iraq, and indeed the whole region, was shackled by its history of being enslaved by tryants and autocratic rulers. Cordesman reminded us there was "no history of pluralism, no or weak moderate political parties, and deep religious and ethnic divisions." Like George Wallace, Cordesman barred the gate of change.

In essence, Cordesman reasons as Aristotle did, for they believe that some are only suited for slavery.

Thus, it's not surprising we find Cordesman carping about the latest quarterly Department of Defense report, "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq." The good doctor schoolmarmishly gave the DoD a failing grade.

In the incestuous swamp of DC's Jacobin clubs, it's not surprising we find Count de Borchgrave, polishing his steel of bitterness, ever ready to enflame mob dissent. The good Count's hourglass is half empty; as he believes, we have but 5 years before a nuclear weapon is detonated on our soil.

Not surprisingly, Cordesman found what he was looking for; however, the nugget unearthed wasn't worth the effort of the dig. As all noisome pedants do when combing through precious "data," Cordesman found only "meaningless metrics." Outside of the Beltway, mere mortals call this: "Go find me a rock," for it is nothing more than an endless search for just the right Pet Rock.

Once you get past Cordesman's breathless bulletized summary, you find little substance and much fuss over more "meaningless metrics." Navius' bird droppings are more useful than Cordesman's labored musings.

Perhaps, after the next Iraq quarterly report is issued, Cordesman may want to consult Jeff Goldstein's informative interview with Zarqawi, so he can better inform the American people how utterly incompetent the Department of Defense is.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Religion of Peace

Years ago, I worked with Naseem; he was wise, gracious, and a gifted engineer. A few years ago, I worked with Raz; he was young, dynamic, and a fine engineer. We never discussed faith or politics, but I knew both men were devout Muslims.

Like most Americans, I could not fathom what happened on a beautiful day in September when our country was attacked. Like most, I instinctively knew it was an act of war.

On September 17, 2001, President George Bush, standing with representatives of America's Muslim community, told us: "The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war."

In the aftermath, Norman Podhoretz told us how to win a war, which challenged our very existence. Others reminded us of the teachings of Professors Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington, who had years before pointed to a "clash of civilizations."

All the while, we were barraged with the constant reminder that Islam is a "religion of peace." Americans were confused by their personal knowledge of peaceful Muslims and the harsh reality that adherents of that faith had willfully slaughtered 3,000 people.

In our oblivious fashion, Americans glossed over Marines butchered in Beirut, soldiers butchered in a disco in Germany, sleeping passengers butchered in the skies over Scotland, airmen butchered in their barracks in Saudi Arabia, the bombing of the World Trade Center, Rangers butchered and mutilated in Somalia, diplomats butchered in two embassies in Africa, and sailors butchered when their warship was attacked. We were only concerned about whether the contestant would call his lifeline or ask the audience, for all we wanted was a million dollars and to be left alone.

In the aftermath, our Muslim community mobilized to enlighten an uninformed American public. Notably, the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) seized the moment to clear up our misconceptions. CAIR and others proudly told us there are 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide, 7 million Muslims live in our country, and "73 Muslim leaders from all over the world have condemned these attacks in a joint statement." This vanishingly small number of Muslim leaders added to our confusion.

While living in the eastern foothills of Tennessee, I met Naseem where some practice the perils of ritualistic snake handling. Like many, I am confused by my own faith -- the mystery of the Holy Trinity baffles me. For me, the simple beauty of the Five Pillars of Islam is as understandable and wise as the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes.

Trying to make sense of it all, some of us are left with an unresolved conflict between a man riding on a donkey bearing an olive branch preaching his belief and a man riding on a horse wielding a sword preaching his belief. For many Americans, we are left with choosing from stomping dust from our boots or seizing a bloody sword to vanquish our enemies. Wise men from our past have tried to explain these mysteries and answer our questions.

In the last half of the 19th Century, Professor Jacob Burckhardt taught history at the University of Basel, in Switzerland. Nietzsche attended his lectures. While Burckhardt quietly lectured, the Islamic Ottoman Empire precariously held sway over much of the Balkans. On his deathbed, Burckhardt granted permission that his lectures be published. Principally, Burckhardt is known for his writing on the Italian Renaissance. But more importantly for our time, he taught us about the struggle for primacy between three great societal powers: the State, the Religion, and the Culture.

Burckhardt did not try to answer the question which power should hold sway in society or civilization; he simply analyzed the effects on people should one power emerge supreme, while the other powers were held in check. Burckhardt's judgments are harsh; they are ill suited to our modern age. Burckhardt discussed the two centuries of bloody conflict in the West to end the Church's brutal mastery of Europe.

Burckhardt spoke about the "problem" of his time was the "separation of church and state." He told us, "as soon as a state exists which permits freedom of speech, that separation comes about by itself." Today, when we read about 17 heads being found in a fruit box near Zarqawi's final bunker, we may reasonably surmise contrarian voices are not welcomed there. Although, our streets are not littered with ghastly symbolic objects, some Americans believe we are besieged by a priestly horde bent upon silencing all dissent. Clearly, our profound differences cannot be explained by telling us Islam is a "religion of peace" and bin Laden, Zawahiri, Zarqawi, Atta, and Bouyeri are aberrations.

With exacting clarity, Burckhardt told us quite the opposite. More than a hundred years ago, Burckhardt told his Swiss students, "modern American men of culture live without consciousness of history" (Judgments on History and Historians). Does anyone seriously believe that George Bush or Ted Kennedy have delved deeply into the course of human history to be better informed in their political judgments that affect so many?

Burckhardt told us, "we must turn back to Islam, with its stranglehold on national feeling and its miserable constitutional and legal system grafted on to religion, beyond which its people never advanced." Burckhardt told us, "Islam has only one form of polity, of necessity despotic, the consummation of power, secular, priestly, and theocratic." (Reflections on History)

Burckhardt continues, "The strongest proof of real, extremely despotic power in Islam is the fact it has been able to invalidate, in such large measure, the entire history … of the peoples converted to it." (Judgments on History and Historians)

Other scholars have studied religion and have formed similar judgments. Most notably, Professor Max Weber studied religion. He told us, "Muhammad constructed the commandment of the holy war involving the subjugation of the unbelievers to political authority and economic domination of the faithful." He continues, "To even a greater extent than the Crusades, religious war for the Muslims was essentially an economic enterprise directed towards the acquisition of large holdings of real estate, because it was primarily oriented to feudal interest in land." Weber spoke about the importance of the belief in predestination for Muslims, and this belief "often produced a complete obliviousness of self, in the interest of faith in and fulfillment of the religious commandment of a holy war for the conquest of the world." Weber told us, "Islam did not confront the ultimate problem of the relationship between religious ethics and secular institutions, which is the fundamental problem of the relation between law and religion." (The Sociology of Religion)

Last, we find the unconventional thoughts of a man who is unsure whether he is an atheist or an agnostic, but whose writings are imprinted with the reflections of a deeply religious man. Professor Bertrand Russell told us, "It was the duty of the [Muslim] faithful to conquer as much of the world as possible for Islam." Russell told us, "The Arabs, although they conquered a great part of the world in the name of a new religion, were not a very religious race; the motives for their conquests was plunder and wealth rather than religion." (The History of Western Philosophy)

However harsh these scholarly judgments may be, their unpleasant truths cannot be trumped by an assertion of peace. Thus it seems, until Islamic nations establish the primacy of the rule of law, and forswear century old religious tenets of conquest and subjugation, Islam cannot claim to be a religion of peace.