Sunday, December 31, 2006

Science Comes Up Short

In a couple of weeks my column concerning the importance of Science and Religion will be printed in the Lode. In the mean time, I couldn't help but notice this piece from Craig Westover:

Science can always teach us how we might do something; it can never determine for us whether that "something" is something we ought to do. That is the realm of the liberal arts education, without which science loses most of its humanity and much of its usefulness.

Specifically, we need religion. This is a most unfortunate point for those who do not deign to draw their morality from Organized Religion and, instead, come to conclusions on their own--somehow. But as C. S. Lewis pointed out in The Abolition of Man, it is impossible to invent a "morality"; even those who reject, say, the Judeo-Christian ethics in regards to such-and-such do so by asserting some other portion of that system of morality.

For example, one could profess that murder, when undertaken for some greater good, is acceptable moral behavior. In fact, the High Priest Caiphas, used this line of thinking when he reasoned that it would be better for one man to die than that the people should perish and thus recommended that Christ be crucified.

Westover's piece, which should probably be read in full, concludes:

Science can teach us the dangers of secondhand smoke; it cannot teach us the value of liberty and freedom. Science can provide pro and con arguments for national immunization; it cannot tell us whether ignoring evidence of harm to some children is better than jeopardizing a program that is doing much good for many children. Science can indicate the world is getting warmer; it cannot value the human consequences of the myriad policy trade-offs doing "something" might entail.

Education that helps us sort through the values that make good trade-offs is as important, if not more so, as the scientific training that provides data to support our decisions. A scientist may convince us the polar ice caps are melting, but it will be a poet who makes us weep for the polar bear.

It is rare that one finds such insight in the editorial pages. I may have to become a more regular reader of Mr. Westover.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tis Still the Season

I can’t help but believe that the world hasn’t a clue when it comes to Christmas. Ignoring the folly of substituting “season’s greetings”—whatever the deuce that may mean—or “happy holidays”—that is, a concession that the celebration belongs to those who still cling to the conception of holiness—for expressions of “Merry Christmas”, most people simply have no idea what the festivities are all about. And the best way to ascertain precisely this is to travel back to a little town called Bethlehem, as it was some two millennia ago.

I do not propose to prove that the Christ child was who He later said He was, namely, the Son of God. Instead, I ask the reader to set aside all prejudice in order to better understand the position of the shepherds, those who were first to know and worship Him. Throughout the Old Testament, one cannot fail to notice the hopeful expectation of the Israelites for the Messiah, he who would liberate them from bondage. Scholars would debate amongst themselves to discover attributes of the Promised One, but ultimately no one knew what he would be like. The birth of the child in a manger took every one by surprise. In truth, it was a double surprise.

Now, even though there was disagreement over how the Messiah would come, it was generally understood that in order to fulfill the ancient prophesies, he must be a powerful sort of man. Then, as now, no one would have expected a Prince, even a Prince of Peace, to start His life from a stable. It is not the commonly conceived springboard for revolutionaries.

But the real surprise, the true delight of the shepherds, was that this child was the Son of God. The world has eventually excepted that, on occasion, a very great man may start from the most meager of beginnings; but in a very real sense the world has never gotten over the second surprise. Whether or not Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ is a quarrel for the ages; but it is impossible to deny that His birth has echoed throughout all time.

The modern mind, enlightened as it is, will be quick to reject the thought of God deigning to become man; but the shepherds did except it. They left their flocks and worshipped. If we are ever to understand the reason for Christmas, it is important to remember two things concerning this most extraordinary event.

First, the shepherds had been waiting a long time for their Messiah. Advent, the period of hopeful expectation before Christmas day, lasted for them, not a period of weeks, but a number of generations. It is all but impossible for modern Christians to feel during a month-long yearly ritual what the shepherds, and all of Israel, felt during their entire lives. Nonetheless, this is the point and purpose of Advent.

Second, Christ was better news that they could ever have expected. True, they did not yet understand how God had sent His Son to die, thus destroying forever the bonds of sin and death. But though their knowledge was limited, it was clear that something significant had happened. The abyss between God and man had been bridged; never before had the heavens felt so near.

The shepherds eventually returned to their flocks, but it is all but inconceivable that their lives were the same. For them, the Christmas season had only begun. It is a pity that we have gotten the order so reversed.

On Christmas day, the songs ring out, proclaiming a child born long ago who would be the Savior of the world. But, once the day is over, our songs cease. Oh, how backward we have things! The prophecy has finally been fulfilled. It is now time for the joyful news to be proclaimed. Christmas day is not the end; it is only a beginning. The stores may tear down their decorations, but the season has only just begun. If we pay close enough attention, we may notice that the heavens are still very near.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Victim to Be for the Queen to Be

This from Bryan York over at National Review:

When Republicans were asked, "If the 2008 Republican caucus were held today, which of the following candidates would you vote for?" these are the results:

John McCain 27%
Rudy Giuliani 26%
Mitt Romney 9%
Newt Gingrich 7%
Condi Rice 4%
George Pataki 1%
Jeb Bush 1%
George Allen 1%
Sam Brownback 1%

Keep in mind that the leader of the pack was too liberal to earn the nomination in 2000; instead the GOP nominated the bulwark of conservatism known as George W. Bush who thereupon ran to the left. Keep in mind that the second place stooge is on his third marriage, favors gay marriage and is pro-choice--good family values, that--favors gun control

The fellow in third is Mormon, which means he's probably unelectable--though he might serve well as fodder for the Lizard Queen to devour. Newt Gingrich, in fourth, has no qualms with restricting speech rights. What a swell pack of gentlemen. I know I'm looking forward to voting for the GOP, yes sir.

The same shows Hillary doing poorly, but I see little reason to fret. Edwards and Obama are soft candidates. They are likeable, at least Obama is--I cannot understand the affinity for the slimy lawyer from North Carolina, except that anyone looks good when they stand next to John Kerry. But I really can't see Obama winning an election. To be perfectly blunt, he's too young and stupid. Oh, I know he's written a book and all that, and he's charismatic as all get-out, but can anyone really see him delivering a substantive speech? I can picture him smiling, and he could probably be trained to give powerfully good sound-bites, but I cannot fathom him articulating an interesting position, much less one genuinely controversial.

I shouldn't underestimate the power of charisma, especially in a nation so packed with imbecilles as is ours. Talk to anyone about President Clinton; nine-tenths of the comments concerning him will have nothing in the way of substance. Liberals liked him, but they cannot come up with anything he did which they liked; conservatives loathed him, but they are likewise ineffectual at discussing the reason why they loathe him so. But he was a Clinton, and he won two elections.

All of which brings me to his lizardly wife. Hillary is far too smart to let Obama get the best of her in a debate. She would carve him up and eat him for dinner. She is, for all her flaws, an intelligent woman who knows how to win.

Obama has peaked too early. If he is smart, he will gracefully step aside and get ready for 2016. Much can change by then, but by all accounts he should have a better chance when he is a bit older.

The Clintons should not be underestimated, and I stubbornly cling to my prediction. Beware the queen.

The Worthless War

In reading American history, I cannot help but be surprised that a relatively small number of casualties will cause us to sacrfice our soldiers at an alarming rate, and at numbers that far surpass the original number of casualties. One should be careful when conducting algebraic experiments in terms of human lives, but it is not entirely insignificant that more troops have died in Iraq than civilians died on September11th.

The U.S. military death toll in Iraq has reached 2,974, one more than the number of deaths in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, according to an Associated Press count on Tuesday...

The deaths raised the number of troops killed to 2,974 since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks claimed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Now, the War in Iraq is a dubiously noble endeavor. The form of government is far less important than the character of the citizens, and it is thus foolish to assert that democracy will save the Iraqis from whatever ills with which they are besetted. More importantly, we cannot erect a democracy in Iraq. It may have been an honest mistake to think plausible what has since proven to be impossible, but this is no longer the case. The War in Iraq has been lost. Idiots, cowards, or some combination thereof, the politicians must spin, spin, spin to convince us otherwise. Meanwhile, the troop continue to die. Notes Fred:

One day soon people will ask aloud: How did we let 3000 GIs die for the weak ego of a pampered liar and his desperate need to prove he's half the man his father was?

The troops from now on will die for a war that they already know is over. They are dying for politicians. They are dying for nothing. By now they must know it. It happened to us, too, long ago.

The talk among pols now is about finding an “exit strategy.” This means a way of pulling out without risking too many seats in Congress. Screw the troops. We must look to the elections. Do we really want an exit strategy? A friend of mine, with two tours in heavy combat in another war, has devised a splendid exit strategy. It consists of five words: “OK. On the plane. Now.” Bring your toothbrush. Everything else stays. We’re outa here.

It is a workable exit strategy, one with teeth, and comprehensible to all. But we won’t use it. We will continue killing our men, calculatedly, cynically, for the benefit of politicians. The important thing, you see, is the place in history of Bush Puppy. Screw the troops.

Face it. The soldiers are being used. They are being suckered. This isn’t new. It happened to my generation. Long after we knew that the war in Vietnam was lost, Lyndon Johnson kept it going to fertilize his vanity, and then Nixon spoke of the need to “save face”—at two hundred dead GIs a week. But of course Johnson and Nixon weren’t among the dead, or among the GIs.

Harsh words. But the truth has been known to hurt. God help the poor troops. We're certainly not doing them a damned bit of good.

Ban Everything

The Lode website is up and running again, but for some reason all the articles are from about a month ago. Newpapers aren't terribly good at being up to date, but this is a mite ridiculous.

Anyway, this is a bit unfortunate because once again something I wrote drew a reaction from the ordinarily sleepy Tech crowd, and, without a link, I will be unable to replicate the fellow's comments in total.

Briefly, he took issue with my assertion that secondhand smoking is not to be feared and certainly not to be made illegal. The brunt of his piece highlighted various statistics which, apparently, prove that secondhand smoke is deadly and something one must avoid on pain of, well, death I suppose.

I do not doubt the validity of the statistics, though I am fairly certain that they have been manipulated in such a manner as to impress most fantastic and ominous visions upon the nervous reader. I will readily grant that, given a choice between clean air and air which is infused with cigarette smoke, only a fool would prefer the latter. The issue is not, as is commonly thought, whether or not secondhand smoke is dangerous. The questions are: How dangerous is it--and what extent of it is considered to be substantially dangerous; and is it possible to avoid this assumed danger without resorting to meddlesome laws?

Puritan proponents are hesitant to answer these questions for the same reason I am hesitant, namely, an honest ignorance of the specifics of the case at hand. But we can determine, from their behavioir and their boisterous proclamations, how they would answer these questions if pressed.

Anti-smoking zealots evidently believe: 1) secondhand smoke is so dangerous that it must be banned; 2) any amount of secondhand smoke is dangerous enough to merit the ban; and 3) secondhand smoke cannot be avoided. When put succinctly, the advocation of smoking bans becomes preposterous--which it is--and we need only examine the three implicit replies to get to the heart of the folly behind all the silly crusading aimed at doing away with secondhand smoke.

If secondhand smoke were only a nuisance, it would need not be banned. But it is so toxic, so onerous, so deadly, that bar patrons must be saved from themselves and cannot be allowed, under any circumstances, to be near anyone who smokes.

Further, we cannot assume that patrons can indulge in such paltry doses of secondhand smoke that they will suffer no harm. This is an especially curious point, but it is not in the least surprising. That it is entirely possible for a man who does not smoke and a man who does smoke to enjoy a drink together at a bar is beyond consideration. The non-smoker is suffering for every moment he spends with his deplorable companion. We must cease his suffering by making his friend suffer--whether this suffering will in turn make the non-smoker suffer is an insufferable question as it is surely impossible for a non-smoker to ever care for one who cares for tobacco.

Lastly, as is implicit in any form of puritanism, we cannot allow any men to think for themselves. No one ever says this, of course, but it can be readily inferred. If a man can prevent himself from pelting his lungs with secondhand smoke, which he assuredly can, but he will not be allowed to do so, it is only because whomever it is that makes the laws says that he can not. And as he is capable of choosing, it must be that he is too stupid to choose rightly.

But there is another point to all this nonsense about secondhand smoke. If secondhand smoke is all that we have previously said that it is--a point I am not willing to concede--what on earth are we to think of firsthand smoke? If an hour spent in a smoke filled tavern is enough to give a man cancer, a solitary cigarette, inhaled firsthand, must do all the more. And if a solitary cigarette, what of a pack, or, heaven forbid, the packs and packs a smoker may use in the course of his lifetime? In short, if secondhand smoke is so perilous, why not simply ban smoking altogether?

My rejoinder is easily concocted. Tobacco, in and of itself, is not evil; no created thing is. That it can be abused is only admitting that it exists. I do not propose that man only be allowed to use things which cannot be abused because there are, to my knowledge, no such things. And if a world were comprised of only those things which are, if not wholly good, at least unlikely to be used for ill, I would think it a terribly boring world. For one thing, it wouldn't have any people.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

I hope to resume regularly scheduled semi-coherent tirades shortly. In the mean time, I hope you and yours have a truly wonderful Christmas.

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14

Friday, December 15, 2006

No Column This Wewk

In lieu of my column discussing the necessity of religion and science The Lode has printed her usual garbage. Look for the aforesaid essay to appear in the next week's edition, that is, some time mid-Janurary.

My break draws short. I know not whether I shall post at all, or how frequently; but know that eventually I shall be back.

Bonne chance mes amis!

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Smoking Ban coming to my state:

A statewide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants looks likelier than ever.

For several years the biggest obstacle to the ban has been the Republican majority in the state House of Representatives, which was swayed by the concerns of restaurant and bar owners who said the ban would hurt their business. With Democrats set to take control of the House in January, supporters believe their time has come.

For which I'm to blame, as the good Fraters point out:

And yet, the smarter-than-thou libertarians will continue to assure you that there is no difference between the two parties.

The mistake here lies in assuming that Republicans could have prevented a statewide smoking ban. True, they would have stood up to it for a limited period of time, but eventually Republicans would have lost power, whereupon the liberty-loathing Democrats would have banned smoking anyway.

As I mentioned in last week's column, there's not point to sliding gradually into tyranny. Conservatism is a failed idealogy, and the smoking ban is a perfect example of this.

I'll be lighting up my pipe this weekend in honor of the home state slipping into sheer idiocy. Since most of the bars I go to don't allow smoking and most bars frown upon pipe smoking, this won't affect me much, but it bothers my libertarian bones.

For the record, there is no difference between the two parties and I am smarter than you. So there.

Not Just Bush

The Democrats are fairly stupid, too:

Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, who incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped to head the Intelligence Committee when the Democrats take over in January, failed a quiz of basic questions about al Qaeda and Hezbollah, two of the key terrorist organizations the intelligence community has focused on since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

When asked by CQ National Security Editor Jeff Stein whether al Qaeda is one or the other of the two major branches of Islam -- Sunni or Shiite -- Reyes answered "they are probably both," then ventured "Predominantly -- probably Shiite."

That is wrong. Al Qaeda was founded by Osama bin Laden as a Sunni organization and views Shiites as heretics.

But remember, Democrats are Tough on Terror. And we're going to defeat Terror. And so on and so forth...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Nominate The Diversity

and watch the democrats wiggle...

Zalmay Khalilzad, who was announced this week as leaving as U.S. ambassador to Iraq, is the leading prospect to replace John Bolton as envoy to the United Nations.

President Bush was reported by aides as looking for someone who approximates Bolton's combination of toughness and diplomatic skill and has tentatively decided on Khalilzad. A native of Afghanistan, he has served in government posts dating back to 1985 and is the highest-ranking Muslim in the Bush administration.

I can't say I'm terribly happy to see Bolton go; he just never irked me as much as many of Bush's other appointments. If we insist on remaining a part of the UN, our ambassador thereto should have our interests in mind. My objection is to Bush's policy, which is inimical to our own well-being, but I would never fault him for finding someone to promulgate that policy to that hallowd hall of international stooges.

If Bush does nominate this Muslim chap, and assuming he's similar in type to John Bolton, it will be fascinating to watch the democrats turn him out without appearing as intolerant racists or some such twaddle. Personally, I don't care about the diversity inherent in his nature, at least as we measure such in this strange country of ours; if he is turned out it should be due to his attributes, or lack thereof. I only note that the liberals in the Senate may become squeamish shortly, as they are hit, again, with the full weight of their own bankrupt principles.

Also, assuming this goes through, what are the odds Bush gets credit for nominating the first Muslim--I'm assuming--to hold this position? I'm guessing slim to none.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Nasal Spray for Those of Great Weight

For the big-boned:

Compellis Pharmaceuticals of Boston said it has been issued an initial patent for a nasal spray that aims to treat obesity by blocking the senses of smell and taste.

"It seems so simple - blocking the sense of smell and taste," company chief executive Chris Adams wrote in an e-mail. "But it has never been used to treat obesity, and it really does work. Our bodies do not crave what we cannot smell or taste."

I've a novel idea. If one were to, hypothetically understand, eat healthy and exercise, if one's calorie intake was less than the calories one burns, one wouldn't be so fat. In fact, one would begin to lose weight.

How many other preposterous schemes must we invent before we admit that, painful as it may be, the only way to lose weight and keep it off is that darned old-fashioned method. Self-discipline isn't exactly fun, but it does work.

The Market Still Works

I found this unusual ray of light this morning:

McDonald's is closing its outlet in a town known for quality food and healthy, local produce.

The fast food chain in Tavistock, Devon, simply wasn't being used enough by locals.

So after seven years struggling to make ends meet in a town that has won many accolades for the quality of its food, McDonald's will finally shut up shop on Saturday.

Yes, this is across the pond, but the market doesn't boast allegiance with any particular country. And yes, the government was involved insofar as limitations on school lunches have allegedly led to the closing of the aforesaid McDonald's.

Yet I'm still counting it as a "good thing". Instead of complaining about the crummy and unhealthy food sold at McDonald's, people simply stopped patronizing the establishment. Lo and behold, a business which couldn't make money folded; the prospect of providing burgers out of the goodness of their capitalistic little hearts was insufficient impetus to take a hit on the bottom line.

I wonder if something like this would work instead of those infernal smoking bans? I reckon it would.

State Invasiveness, Marching Ever Onward

Another Lode article here follows. I have kept the original title, and I've been unable to incorporate any of the changes which my editors made--including, strangely, removing the very last line of the piece.

I don't like editors.

“Puritanism - The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.” H.L. Mencken

Not content to prevent patrons from smoking cigarettes in restaurants and bars, USA Today is reporting that the Texas legislature has decided to ban smoking in “private places such as homes and cars when children are present.”

As usual, permit me several, possibly even related thoughts.

First, the next time someone tells me that “the slippery slope is a logical fallacy” I'm going to scream. Vox Day sums it up nicely: “From vaccines to health bans, from polygamy to proposed invasions, the "slippery slope" argument has never been more reliable as a predictive model... I remember a friend of mine from New York who loved the new smoking ban and laughed at the absurd notion that they would ever lead to food bans. And it wasn't all that long ago that the homogamy crowd was insisting that expanding the state's definition of "marriage" regarding sex was possible without expanding the number of individuals involved.”

Government is inimical to freedom. Democracy is especially so, despite our President's assurances to the contrary. Sadly, most people don't give two cents for liberty, and see no problem in letting it slip right down the drain. That is, so long as we can be safe from... terrorists, second-hand smoke, intolerance, bogeymen, etc. And since democracy pretends that dullards and imbeciles have the foggiest idea about how to run a government, the aforesaid vote for frauds that throw away freedom faster than they break campaign promises. If you don't understand this by now you need to take a closer look at recent history. Put down the TV remote and slowly back away.

Next, the abject failure of parents to insist on the right to raise their children however they choose is coming back to haunt them. It is not the duty of the state to educate the children; that responsibility belongs to the child's mother and father. Hence my ardent support for homeschooling. Indeed, the same principle applies to smoking, or any other unpleasant behavior. If the child doesn't find secondhand smoke to be enjoyable, I suggest he either thank the Good Lord that he doesn't have to live on the street or use his stores of cash to move into a smoke-free environment.

Tangentially, I feel the need to mention the hypocrisy inherent in the legal system. If a woman feels that she doesn't want to carry her child to term—heart-beating, unique DNA fetus, complete with brain-waves and cellular replication—she can head to the local abortion mill to murder the little bastard. But if she decides to have the child and wants to smoke around the kid, well, she can't do that! The poor thing might get asthma or maybe even a case of the low self esteem.

It's not hard to see where this line of “thinking” will lead us. We have established that, insofar as children are concerned, the rights of the state trump the rights of the parents when the health of the children is under attack. We need only wander down the slope to determine what constitutes “health” and an attack thereupon.

I'm somewhat surprised that the government has yet to prevent parents from stuffing their progeny full of twinkies. This is surely worse for their health, and, once the detestable Texas law finds its way into other states, it seems only a matter of time before parents of chubby children will be fined—and probably later imprisoned.

This gradual descent into tyranny is a bit tedious. I say we take the principle to its logical conclusion and mandate that the government raise children from the day they're born. Oh Brave New World!

The Inherent Flaw of Conservatism

Another Lode article here follows:

For as long as I can remember, I've been a conservative—that is, one who
clings to tradition, especially as it pertains to culture and politics.
I've never held change to be bad per se, but neither have I accepted it
as patently good. It should only be enacted if absolutely necessary.
One calls to mind Thomas Jefferson's unheeded suggestion that laws be
discussed by the legislature for a full year before being enacted. While
imperfect, it would have saved us from the Patriot Act, which, like most
of our laws, was passed before being fully read, let alone extensively
deliberated upon.

I'm not exactly sure what drew me to conservatism. I hesitate to use the
famous, though spurious, Winston Churchill quip: “If you're not a liberal
when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the
time you're 35, you have no brain.” because while it accurately notes
that thinking will almost invariably lead to conservatism, it seems to
suggest, I think unfairly, that I haven't a heart.

Something of an eternal pessimist, I never doubted that liberalism had
its merits, but it always seemed extraordinarily foolish to place so much
faith in humanity. As H.L. Mencken once observed, “It is a sin to
believe in the evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake.” It would be
grand if the government could keep business in line, protect the poor,
and enforce justice. Unfortunately, it almost never does so.

In short, while liberals may achieve victories, they will never see the
fruition of their plans. This is actually rather convenient, as the
problems which liberalism has not solved can be solved by... more
liberalism, as in: if only we spent more money on public education,
students wouldn't be illiterate morons, and other nefarious lies.

But conservatism has a flaw which might be even more damning than that of
liberalism. Quite simply, conservatism does not work. I do not mean
that minimal taxes and a government which is not wholly invasive is not
desirous, or that it cannot exist. The Founding Fathers erected a
government which most conservatives still hold to be marvelous. But that
government no longer exists as such; it has grown to monstrous
proportions, and it was inevitable that it would do so.

Quite simply, the folly of conservatism lies in its defensive nature; it
can mitigate the damage done by the forces of liberalism, but it can
never prevent their longterm success. In fact, judging from recent
history, mitigate seems far too strong a word. The forces of
“conservatism” have served to facilitate its demise, as Bush and company
have continued to feed the government behemoth.

I began to realize this some time ago. It is now painfully obvious to
all but the most imbecilic of men. In fact, one seldom sees anyone
arguing that the GOP is even vaguely conservative anymore; instead one
hears that we must not surrender in the War on Terror, or that Democrats
will raise our taxes and nominate liberal judges. All of which serves to
further demonstrate the stupidity of conservatism.

If I was one of the few to realize this in time to vote, futilely, for a
third party candidate rather than to re-elect Bush, I am quite late to
the historical party. In 1915, G.K. Chesterton wrote a book called
Orthodoxy. Widely recognized as his best work, and my own personal
favorite, therein he has this to say: “[A]ll conservatism is based upon
the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But
you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of
change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If
you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it
again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you
want the old white post you must have a new white post.”

Conservatives must reject their defensive strategy if they are ever to
achieve their goals. In a word, they must cease to be conservatives.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Failure From Narrow Minds

In which Buchanan again enlightens:

The Afghan and Iraqi wars Bush launched never looked more certain to end in U.S. defeats.

What is the cause of the impending collapse of the U.S. position across the Middle East? We put democratist ideology ahead of national interests. We projected our ideas of what is right, true and inevitable onto people who do not share them. We tried to impose our will with our military power, which is more effective at killing Arab enemies than winning Arab hearts.

America is failing in the Middle East because our leaders of both parties will not look at the region through Arab eyes. What Bush saw as a glorious liberation of Iraq, Arabs saw as an invasion. Where Bush sees in Israel a model of democracy, Arabs see a pampered agent of U.S. imperialism, persecuting and dispossessing the Palestinian people.

In my admittedly verly limited memory, never has a critic gotten something so right for which he has been credited so little. The left would, most of them, rather bless Bush than Buchanan, which isn't entirely surprising given the former's ability to govern like a leftist, but it is still a bit frustrating. Could it be that the maligned Mr. B. is more than just a right-wing kook?

This inability to see through another's eyes is one of the great downfalls of humanity, typified most gloriously by our current President. While clearly not brilliant, I have to admit that Bush has never struck me as a complete imbecile. Instead, I find that one of his biggest shortcomings has been his complete inability to comprehend that what he ardently believes in may be foreign to someone else. Especially foreigners.

I've been reading A Mencken Chrestomathy of late. In an essay regarding Teddy Roosevelt, H.L. Mencken notes: "Let the populace begin suddenly to swallow a new panacea or take to a new fright at a new bugaboo, and almost instantly nine-tenths of the masterminds of politics begin to believe that the panacea is a sure-cure for all the malaises of the Republic, and the bugaboo an immediate an unbearable menace to all law, order and domestic tranquility."

Obvious we can see that in our time democracy was treated as panacea and terrorism as the new fright. I don't fault Bush for failing to understand the lone tenth who thinks democracy nothing more than a joke, and terrorism to be just another threat that comes with dangerous existence. Were he to understand from whence we come, he may become one of us, and that would leave him in the unenviable position of trying to convert the rest of the wrong-headed mob.

But I do fault him for ignoring the segment of the population in its entirety, and failing to realize that, if anti-democratic Americans are a bizarre lot, they may be, and in fact are, the norm over in the Middle East. In short, Iraq and Afghanistan are not America. Having failed to realize this very simple fact, we have failed spectacularily.

Since I haven't the slightest faith that we've learned a thing, better luck to us next time.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Oh Thank Goodness for SCOTUS

North to Alaska we tread:

The Supreme Court stepped into a dispute over free speech Friday involving a suspended high school student and his banner that proclaimed "Bong Hits 4 Jesus."

The justices agreed to hear the appeal by the Juneau, Alaska, school board and principal Deborah Morse of a lower court ruling that allowed the student's civil rights lawsuit to proceed. The school board hired former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr to argue its case to the high court.

Morse suspended Frederick after he displayed the banner, with its reference to marijuana use, when the Olympic torch passed through Juneau in 2002 on its way to the Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Boy, I'm really glad we elected Bush. That way he could nominate good judges, presumably Alito and Roberts, who will fight for traditional values. I guess that means no more bong hits for Jesus.

The school board upheld the suspension, and a federal judge initially dismissed Frederick's lawsuit. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the banner was vague and nonsensical and Frederick's civil rights had been violated.

I'm completely suprised that the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is involved. I hereby propose a new law. Any time that court comes up with a decision it is automatically reversed by the Supreme Court. That way the High Court can concentrate on doing that which the founders intended it to do.

I'm trying to remember what that was exactly.