Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ayaan Hirsi Ali - Evicted

In another example of governments failing to stand up for the rights of their citizens, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been evicted from her home because neighbors felt it too dangerous to be around her.

[And shame on these neighbors who instead of urging the government to go after the dangerous ones (Islamists in the Netherlands and their state sponsors abroad) have instead gone after the victim. I fear this is a storyline which will be repeated more and more throughout the West (with criticisms of anyone who fails to self-censor being the fore-running form of it).]

LGF and The Free West have more details on the story.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

United 93 and the March of Altruism

I haven't seen the new film "United 93" yet, so I can't comment on it one way or another. However, this line from a review in the WSJ (4/28/06) struck me: "This movie bears little outward resemblance to the fervently patriotic dramas that Hollywood made during World War II, films like "Guadalcanal Diary" or "Bataan" that, necessarily, stressed heroism over suffering and slaughter."

Yes--movies that stress heroism over suffering and slaughter. Whatever happened to those?

A culture will produce artistic works that largely reflect its philosophy. Increasingly, the philosophy of America includes the morality of altruism, i.e. the view that sacrificing oneself for others is man's highest moral purpose, while pursuing one's own happiness is "selfish" and immoral. Altruism has no room for traditional American heroes: those who struggle and achieve, who fight and win. The ultimate heroes of altruism are those who suffer and die in some way.

Please note: I am in no way implying that the passengers on United 93 were not heroes -- they were indeed. But they were heroes not because they "sacrificed" themselves and died. They were heroes because they fought to live. I don't know if the film brings that out, but I'd be willing to bet it slants much more towards the former, than the latter.

Why, in 5 years, have we not seen a single movie showing America heroically fighting and beating terrorists, Islamists, or evil Middle Eastern countries? Why was America able to defeat two super-powers (Germany and Japan) in less than 5 years -- but in the past 5 years has barely been able to subdue two primitive tinpot countries in the Middle East and hasn't even touched Iran while it continues to shamelessly develop nuclear weapons?

The answer in both cases is the morality of altruism. Sixty years ago, America was morally confident in its moral right to defend itself, and to utterly destroy those who would destroy it. Today, as the altruist moral theory is increasingly entrenched in the American psyche, America is afraid to stand up for itself (that's "selfish"), afraid to defend itself (let's check with the UN first), afraid to destroy its enemies (we don't want to 'hurt' anyone), and afraid to name and oppose the evil ideology, Islamism, that motivates its enemies (we can't impose our values on them!).

If WWII were fought on today's philosophy, here's how it would have gone:
- We're not fighting "Nazism", we're fighting a bunch of people who are shooting at us, who just by coincidence happen to be Nazis (and let's not stigmatize Nazis here, it's a noble idea that's been take to an extreme).
- Let's look at our own blame for this situation and ask: Why do the Germans hate us? If we had just taken Hitler's grievances more seriously and done a better job appeasing him, none of this would have happened.
- Before we launch D-Day, let's take a vote of all the countries in the world, and see if they approve.
- We can't firebomb Dresden, or any other city -- civilians might die.
- Now that we've conquered Germany, we'll let the Germans vote on what type of government to install. We can't be imposing our values on them. That's how Hitler got in? Well, so be it, "democracy" (voting) trumps everything, including liberty and individual rights.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Cutting Your Way to Work

Blogging will probably continue to be light for the next week or so, but here's a funny story from Tim Blair to tide you over:
In the tradition of last year’s casting out of the swampies, a superb example of counter activism from Queensland meatworkers:
Animal activists bit off more than they could chew this morning when they chained themselves to the killing area of an abattoir at Ipswich in south-east Queensland.

The 12 protesters got a fright when meatworkers took matters into their own hands and used angle grinders to cut the chains off the activists so they could get back to work.
I love this country.

Protester Angie Stephenson says it was terrifying.

"The workers, they were standing around cheering and whooping and yelling and making lewd comments so we had to call the police and tell them to get out here straight away,” she said.
They called police to protect them from people who were determined to get to work. This might be the happiest news story of the year—made even more so by the fact the protesters were attempting to disrupt something called the World Meat Congress.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Free-Spending Republicans

An editorial in the WSJ today shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that republicans are no more fiscally responsible than are democrats, and the difference can't be explained by increased military spending (an explanation that I would be ok with).
The Heritage Foundation reported last week that this sixth year of a Republican Presidency and Congress will see government expenditures of $23,760 per household--$6,500 more than when they came to power in 2001 and the highest inflation-adjusted annual spending since World War II. Excluding homeland security, domestic discretionary spending has increased 7.6% per year. Education spending is up 139%; energy spending has doubled, and the Bush Medicare prescription drug bill will add $33 billion a year to federal expenditures.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Islamists with No Hidden Agenda

The counterterrorism blog reports on the Islamic Thinkers' rally outside of the Israeli consulate in Manhattan. Among the Islamist public chants are these gems: "The mushroom cloud is on its way! The real Holocaust is on its way!" and "Islam is the only solution, Islam will dominate the world".

They are also kind enough to provide the basis for their chants: "We only recognize Allah". These four words capture their method in a nutshell -- making clear that they are impervious to reasoning and leaving force as the only option by which to deal with them.


Update: Michelle Malkin points out that you can see footage of the rally here. (Red button near top right hand side of page)

Taxes Everywhere

John Stossel correctly points out that just because it's tax time we shouldn't be lulled into thinking the taxes we pay are limited to the income tax -- in fact almost every action we take nowadays involves a tax of one form or another:
In 1904, government, federal and state, cost every citizen $20 per year, according to a 1999 Tax Foundation study. Don't blame inflation --that only brought it to $340. For more than 150 years after we declared independence, we spent less than $1,000 each on government. Yet by 1999, government cost every man, woman and child an average of more than $10,000 per year -- more than housing and health care combined. The price went down a little after that, but then it started climbing again.

You probably don't know how much you pay, because the government is sneaky about how it taxes you. Paying withholding taxes each pay period dulls the pain of the income tax -- it's money you earned, but it's never in your hands -- and a hundred other taxes are hidden. For my TV special "John Stossel Goes to Washington," we followed St. Louis construction worker Bill Thurston and totaled the little-known taxes he paid daily. It started with the tax on the electricity that powered the alarm clock that woke him. Bill paid two taxes on his toothpaste. He paid a tax on water to get it into his home, and a sewer fee so it would go out. Daring to drive to work cost him more: He paid personal property tax on his truck; he had to pay sales tax when he bought it. And when he bought the gas, there was a county gas tax, a state gas tax and a federal gas tax.

At work, Bill gets stuck with local income tax, state income tax, federal income tax, Social Security tax and Medicare tax. Bill's boss needs two employees just to calculate how much to withhold from paychecks, and while their salaries don't go to the government (except for local income tax, state income tax, and so on), that's money Bill's employer can't spend on developing his business or giving Bill a raise.

Because Bill's wife works, the Thurstons pay a marriage tax of $1,000 a year. Then there's the grocery tax, property tax, utility tax, FCC tax and a county tax on the cable TV, and a whole bunch of different taxes on the phone. And if after paying all these taxes Bill and his wife want to relax with beer or cigarettes, there are sin taxes on those.
The ubiquity of taxes just underscores how hopeless it is to try to oppose them on an ad hoc basis. The only way to fight them, and their immediate cause -- the ever-expanding public sector -- is by challenging their root. Specifically, only by advocating egoism over altruism (i.e. by recognizing that every man is an end in himself and must be free to pursue his own purpose and happiness) can we get to, and ground, the concept of man's rights, including its proper political implementation: laissez-faire capitalism.

HT: 6th Column

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Tim Blair's Reaction

This is the perfect way to react to Iran's posturing:
The Guardian’s Timothy Garton Ash foresees Tehran-led suicide attacks throughout the west in retaliation for a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Better take out the whole country, then.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Similarity Between Left and Right

Gus Van Horn has an interesting post in which he provides several examples showing how the Left and the Right use the same flawed method to arrive at their conclusions. He concludes:
The left, in abandoning reason, has made the choice between itself and religion into a choice between two religions, and has sold reason down the river in the process. It will be up to others to ensure that reason is offered again in the marketplace of ideas.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

John Lewis on Hiroshima

The Undercurrent is carrying what I think is the single best discussion of the bombing of Hiroshima and the wider principles involved. It's entitled: "The Moral Goodness of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima" by John Lewis. Read it now.

Tracinski on Iran

Rob Tracinski has written an excellent editorial entitled "Time to Fight the Real War". He concludes:
There can be no victory in the War on Terrorism until we confront—and defeat—the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the real war, and it's time we started fighting it.
Read the editorial to understand why.

Monday, April 17, 2006

UC Santa Cruz Activists Strut Their Stuff

Islamists have learned much from the Left, especially in style of argumentation. When Michelle Malkin criticizes UC Santa Cruz student protestors for illegally running military recruiters off of campus and reprints the names of those who had organized the attack, rather than providing arguments (of which realistically they have none) to make their case, this is how they react. I hope the response isn't indicative of the general education one might expect to receive at UCSC.

Steyn On Nuclear Iran

Mark Steyn's latest column is a masterpiece and includes this perfect analogy:
You know what's great fun to do if you're on, say, a flight from Chicago to New York and you're getting a little bored? Why not play being President Ahmadinejad? Stand up and yell in a loud voice, "I've got a bomb!" Next thing you know the air marshal will be telling people, "It's OK, folks. Nothing to worry about. He hasn't got a bomb." And then the second marshal would say, "And even if he did have a bomb it's highly unlikely he'd ever use it." And then you threaten to kill the two Jews in row 12 and the stewardess says, "Relax, everyone. That's just a harmless rhetorical flourish." And then a group of passengers in rows 4 to 7 point out, "Yes, but it's entirely reasonable of him to have a bomb given the threatening behavior of the marshals and the cabin crew."
Read the whole thing.

VDH on Iran

Victor Hanson recently wrote a valuable article on Iran, entitled “Has Ahmadinejad Miscalculated?", yet despite the article’s overall merits, its concluding remarks really bothered me. Perhaps they were simply a use of “poetic license” to reinforce his point, but in case he meant them literally I think it is worth discussing. Here is the passage that I find disconcerting:
Ever since September 11, the subtext of this war could be summed up as something like, “Suburban Jason, with his iPod, godlessness, and earring, loves to live too much to die, while Ali, raised as the 11th son of an impoverished but devout street-sweeper in Damascus, loves death too much to live.” The Iranians, like bin Laden, promulgate this mythical antithesis, which, like all caricatures, has elements of truth in it. But what the Iranians, like the al Qaedists, do not fully fathom, is that Jason, upon concluding that he would lose not only his iPod and earring, but his entire family and suburb as well, is capable of conjuring up things far more frightening than anything in the 8th-century brain of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Unfortunately, the barbarity of the nightmares at Antietam, Verdun, Dresden, and Hiroshima prove that well enough.

So far the Iranian president has posed as someone 90-percent crazy and 10-percent sane, hoping we would fear his overt madness and delicately appeal to his small reservoirs of reason. But he should understand that if his Western enemies appear 90-percent children of the Enlightenment, they are still effused with vestigial traces of the emotional and unpredictable. And military history shows that the irrational 10 percent of the Western mind is a lot scarier than anything Islamic fanaticism has to offer.
Hansen seems to imply that if we were to bomb Iran, it would be an act of emotional savagery, i.e. that it would stand in contrast to a rational, enlightened policy. Nothing could be further from the truth – and no argumentation could be worse. If, after considering all the relevant facts, we come to the conclusion that a nation is hostile, that is poses a credible threat and has shown the willingness to harm us, it is the height of rationality to eradicate the threat before it harms us. To argue otherwise undercuts any basis for one’s position or its moral standing.

To look at it from another angle, the key to morally evaluating a war is not by how devastating one side may be, but to decide whether it is fought as a war of aggression or a war of self-defense. The former is to be criticized as irrational and evil, the latter exhorted for its rational recognition of reality. Clearly any US attack on Iran would be one of self-defense, as Iran has been fighting and threatening us since (at least) 1979, and such an attack by the US would therefore be rational and moral, not a reversion to some savage latent tendency.

Similarly, to simply label the attacks on Dresden and Hiroshima as “barbarities” is to deny their profoundly moral nature -- for it was these attacks that broke the will of enemies who wanted to subjugate and/or annihilate us and who had committed the most repugnant of atrocities in their attempt to do so. Only by showing them the consequences of their actions could the way be paved for a peaceful Germany and Japan, and more importantly, only in so doing were American lives saved, both at the time and afterwards. To utterly defeat a savage enemy is the height of rationality and morality, and actions such as the bombing of Hiroshima and Dresden must be so characterized -- as must be any potential attack on Iran.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

History of the Rushdie Affair

For those interested, here (1, 2) is a detailed chronology of the Rushdie Affair. (Wikipedia has a good but much less detailed version.) (HT: Onk)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

With Police Like These -- Who Needs Criminals?

From the BBC:
Police in Gaza have held a violent protest at the new Hamas government's failure to pay their wages.

Up to 50 masked officers blocked roads and stormed a government office, firing their weapons in the air from the roof.


We warn this is only a first step," Abu Mohammed, a leader of the protesters in the central town of Khan Younis, the focus of the demonstration, told news agency Reuters.
I often wonder how the multiculturalists manage to keep a straight face...

Blog Credibility

The Blogosphere continues to gain credibility. From Eugene Volokh:
Congratulations to Ohio State University law professor Doug Berman, who runs Sentencing Law and Policy; that blog has been cited over 20 times in court cases, according to Ian Best (3L Epiphany). Many (likely most) law professors never get that many court citations for all their law review articles put together, much less for their blog posts.

Hank Greenberg Speaks

Today's WSJ carries a very important editorial in which the former chairman of AIG speaks out about the incredibly destructive effects of regulation. The article also sheds some light on a man whom I consider to be among the most evil men in America -- Eliot Spitzer.
Mr. Greenberg hasn't dimmed, but he believes America has. "You couldn't build an AIG today," he explains. Overbearing regulators, new corporate governance rules, protectionism, a failing tort system, prosecutors unleashed--these, as he sees them, are the obstacles to corporate greatness. And Mr. Greenberg is uniquely positioned to know.

It isn't just that over 38 years he transformed a tiny operation into a global insurance empire currently valued at $169 billion, a feat that even detractors--and he has many--admit counts as one of the great corporate success stories. It's that Mr. Greenberg was front and center to witness how prosecutors, regulators and lawyers could bring that success to its knees, practically overnight. "Why is it that private equity is growing as fast as it is. . . . Why are public companies not doing as well? Once [a country] gets a reputation that way, once it loses momentum, it takes quite a while to regain it. It doesn't happen overnight," says Mr. Greenberg.
I wonder if Greenberg has ever read Atlas Shrugged?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Must Reading from the Jerusalem Post

The Jerursalem Post has a fantastic article on the "Axis of Evil"'s acquisition of WMD, their tacit help from the likes of Russia, China and the EU, and the completely inadequate, nay pathetic, response by the US up to now. The article is absolute must reading for anyone who wants to understand our current predicament , how we got here, and how radically we must change if we are to avert a nuclear catastrophe.

Here are a few excerpts to pique your interest:
This week, the US tried again to engage North Korea at a symposium in Tokyo. Pyongyang reacted by threatening America with destruction. North Korea's Defense Minister Kim Il Chol said last Saturday that in the event of a US strike on the country, North Korea, "will mobilize its political-ideological might and military potentials built up generation after generation and mercilessly wipe out the enemies and thus viciously conclude the stand-off with the US."

The US chief negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, responded to Pyongyang's call to obliterate America by saying, "We've got the right format, the right deal on the table - the September deal - so we have to be a little patient and realize that this is the right approach."

But the right approach to what? It may be the right approach for allowing North Korea to humiliate the US while expanding its nuclear arsenal and selling missile technology to Iran, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia and anyone else who wants it. It is the right approach for placing Washington at the mercy of Beijing, which Washington believes is the only country capable of forcing North Korea to improve its behavior. It is also the right approach for ensuring that Russia, China and Pakistan believe that they can betray the trust of the US whenever it suits their purposes. It is the right approach to take, that is, if the US wishes to fail in its mission of preventing rogue regimes from acquiring and maintaining weapons of mass destruction.


Iran made its fastest leaps towards nuclear capabilities since the September 11 attacks. When in late 2002 Iran's secret nuclear facilities in Natanz, Arak and Isfahan were revealed to the world, the US reacted not by moving to destroy this emerging threat which it acknowledged to be the greatest threat to its own national security and to the security of the world. It reacted by backing Britain, Germany and France's attempts to appease the mullahs into giving up their nuclear weapons program.

The Europeans' diplomacy never had any chance of ending the Iranian program. Iran did not embark on it nuclear weapons program in order to be bought off but in order to have a nuclear arsenal. Yet Washington complimented the Europeans' worthless summitry by clearly signaling that Iran had no reason to worry about US military intervention. This it did by studiously ignoring the fact that Iran was actively warring against US forces in Iraq and flooding Iraq with its agents, spies and weapons.


America is the greatest nation on Earth and it does have the ability to defend the world against regimes like Iran and its allies. It can prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It can take those weapons out of North Korea's hands. It can bring Damascus to its knees and force it to cough up Iraq's arsenal of pathogens. And no, military might is not the only way for it to accomplish these tasks.

But America cannot, and it will not accomplish any of these goals if it continues to abide by strategies and frameworks that serve only to strengthen its enemies and permit its "allies" to behave perfidiously. It cannot and will not defend the world from evil, demonic regimes like Iran's if it continues to allow the likes of the EU, Russia, Egypt and China to undercut its will at every turn.

This week Teheran threw down the gauntlet. The greatest battle of this war - the battle to prevent the world's most dangerous regime from attaining the most dangerous weapons known to man - has begun. The moment has arrived for President George W. Bush to make clear if he is, in the final analysis, the leader of the free world or its undertaker.

Capitalism and Free Airfare

Paul Hsieh has a great story on Ryan Air offering free airfare yet still making money. Commenters correctly note the similarity between this story and that of Vanderbilt offering free ferry service almost two centuries ago. When will capitalism finally get its due credit? (I know, I know, only when egoism is accepted as moral...)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Anti Islamization Rally in Malaysia

Malaysians rally to protect their ability to show affection in public (yes things have gotten so bad that it's now necessary to rally to protect so innocuous a right.) Gateway Pundit has the story. (HT Instapundit)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Women's Status Under Islam

Here's another TV clip describing some of the Muslim's accepted practices towards women and young girls. (Type in 978 in the upper right search box and then click view clip.)

More Death Threats

Here's another chance for the American government to act on its citizens' behalves by demanding that Egypt hand over Abu Dhur Al-Maqdishi and all those associated with this latest fatwa (HT LGF).

And BTW, is it just me, or is anyone else struck by the similarity between Islam and roach motels (you can check in, but you can't check out)?

A Picture of France

From Cox and Forkum

Time to Disarm Iran

Gus Van Horn weighs in on the topic.

Update: Be sure to read the comments too, as Gus makes an excellent response to an Iranian dissident.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


After several months now of surfing the web trying to understand the Islamist threat, I have concluded that Little Green Footballs is the single best site for the general reader. It presents the essential facts and best opinion pieces, and does so without any religious overtones. (That's not to say that the editors aren't religious, but that they do a very good job of keeping their personal views out of their commentary). If you have time to only visit one site, I'd recommend that it be LGF.

PS today they point out an interesting article by a Kuwaiti Political Scientist who writes that Muslims bear the responsibility for the West's growing distrust of them. I hope many more people join him in stating such views, including some in our own universities.

Facing Down Iran

Mark Steyn has a new piece out in City Journal arguing for why we must deal with Iran now. The piece starts off a little slowly, but don't let that put you off as it gets better and better as it proceeds. Here are a few choice passages:
As clashes of civilizations go, this one’s between two extremes: on the one hand, a world that has everything it needs to wage decisive war—wealth, armies, industry, technology; on the other, a world that has nothing but pure ideology and plenty of believers. (Its sole resource, oil, would stay in the ground were it not for foreign technology, foreign manpower, and a Western fetishization of domestic environmental aesthetics.) ...

...Four years into the “war on terror,” the Bush administration has begun promoting a new formulation: “the long war.” Not a reassuring name. In a short war, put your money on tanks and bombs—our strengths. In a long war, the better bet is will and manpower—their strengths, and our great weakness. Even a loser can win when he’s up against a defeatist. A big chunk of Western civilization, consciously or otherwise, has given the impression that it’s dying to surrender to somebody, anybody. Reasonably enough, Islam figures: Hey, why not us? If you add to the advantages of will and manpower a nuclear capability, the odds shift dramatically.


We now think it perfectly normal for Muslims to demand the tenets of their religion be applied to society at large: the government of Sweden, for example, has been zealously closing down websites that republish those Danish cartoons. As Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, has said, “It is in our revolution’s interest, and an essential principle, that when we speak of Islamic objectives, we address all the Muslims of the world.” Or as a female Muslim demonstrator in Toronto put it: “We won’t stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law.”

If that’s a little too ferocious, Kofi Annan framed it rather more soothingly: “The offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were first published in a European country which has recently acquired a significant Muslim population, and is not yet sure how to adjust to it.”

If you’ve also “recently acquired” a significant Muslim population and you’re not sure how to “adjust” to it, well, here’s the difference: back when my Belgian grandparents emigrated to Canada, the idea was that the immigrants assimilated to the host country. As Kofi and Co. see it, today the host country has to assimilate to the immigrants: if Islamic law forbids representations of the Prophet, then so must Danish law, and French law, and American law. Iran was the progenitor of this rapacious extraterritoriality, and, if we had understood it more clearly a generation ago, we might be in less danger of seeing large tracts of the developed world being subsumed by it today.


What’s the difference between a hothead and a moderate? Well, the extremist Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” while the moderate Rafsanjani has declared that Israel is “the most hideous occurrence in history,” which the Muslim world “will vomit out from its midst” in one blast, because “a single atomic bomb has the power to completely destroy Israel, while an Israeli counter-strike can only cause partial damage to the Islamic world.” Evidently wiping Israel off the map seems to be one of those rare points of bipartisan consensus in Tehran, the Iranian equivalent of a prescription drug plan for seniors: we’re just arguing over the details.


Once again, we face a choice between bad and worse options. There can be no “surgical” strike in any meaningful sense: Iran’s clients on the ground will retaliate in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and Europe. Nor should we put much stock in the country’s allegedly “pro-American” youth. This shouldn’t be a touchy-feely nation-building exercise: rehabilitation may be a bonus, but the primary objective should be punishment—and incarceration. It’s up to the Iranian people how nutty a government they want to live with, but extraterritorial nuttiness has to be shown not to pay. That means swift, massive, devastating force that decapitates the regime—but no occupation.

The cost of de-nuking Iran will be high now but significantly higher with every year it’s postponed. The lesson of the Danish cartoons is the clearest reminder that what is at stake here is the credibility of our civilization. Whether or not we end the nuclearization of the Islamic Republic will be an act that defines our time.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Protestors Win in France - Look For More of the Same

Student protestors succeeded in making France shelve its extremely modest plans to liberalize hiring laws, and in so doing have once again proven the effectiveness of civil disruptions. No doubt this won't be lost on unions, Islamists, etc.

Ad Hoc Activism

I like Nick Provenzo's observations, particularly his point that if one takes the initiative one can set the terms of a campaign:
It is one thing to attempt to make "common cause" with others toward the attainment of a specific, concrete goal that you may hold in common. It is something altogether different to make "common cause" with their bankrupt ideologues. I am reminded of my collation work on the Elian Gonzales campaign, where I worked with lots of different groups toward the goal of protecting Gonzales from being returned to Cuba.

When I organized the DC protest in front of the Department of Justice here in Washington, participants had to agree to CAC's talking points and promise not to introduce extraneous material. Interestingly enough, they were happy to do this, as CAC had the best arguments in defense of Gonzales' rights. This cemented my view that at least with non-intellectuals, it often can be very easy for Objectivist to lead the way if one is willing to simply take charge and seize the initiative.

Additionally, I made absolutely sure that I didn't praise my temporary allies for their philosophies or their views on other topics. To do so would have been to sanction the very kinds of mixed premised and wrong-headed thinking that keeps me from achieving my larger political goals.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Iran Going Nuclear: The European Approach

Meanwhile, the Europeans continue their multi-year diplomatic dithering with Iran.

If the Iranians don't promptly sign some diplomatic agreement which they could promptly cheat on, the Europeans threaten to schedule further talks... or worse: pummel Iran with a UN resolution. If that doesn't cause Iran to come to its senses, the Europeans might be forced to resort to the "nuclear option": stiff economic sanctions! I know...I sounds like the apocalyptic ravings of a mad-man, but some Europeans have actually proposed it. On the plus side, economic sanctions would allow politically-connected Europeans to make billions of euros helping Iran evade them, which might give a boost to European economies. Many of these people have been suffering financially since Saddam's oil-for-food bribery scheme was shut down.

In any case, we should listen to the Europeans and do what they say, because they have a really good historical track record of negotiating with dictators to prevent war. (Take a bow, Neville Chamberlain.)

Come to think of it, the last 100 years has only seen a dozen or so dictatorships in Europe, and just two cataclysmic wars. That's a pretty good record by any standard. However you look at it, the Europeans are real "pros" when it comes to successfully managing foreign relations, and preserving peace and liberty. The moral and political principles by which they operate clearly have worked, so we should just keep letting them do what they do.

UPDATE: According to the WSJ, British Foreign Secretary Neville Chamberlain [CORRECTION: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw] stated the following in a Sunday BBC interview: "I understand people's frustration with the diplomatic process," Mr. Straw said. "It takes a long time and is quite a subtle process." Yes, it takes a long time -- in fact just long enough, for example, for Germany to re-arm; or long enough, perhaps, for Iran to successfully make a nuclear bomb. "Quite a subtle process"? Oh yes, that's diplomatic-speak for: "And during that really, really long time, it shows absolutely no results whatsoever."

New Yorker Magazine: U.S. Preparing to Attack Iran

This article from the New Yorker by Seymour Hersh claims (from anonymous sources) that plans for attacking Iran are well underway, including potentially using tactical nuclear weapons for bunker-busting. According to sources, US special operations forces are already operating in Iran. Let's hope this is all true.

One source claims that Iran has always been a major focus for Bush: "A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was 'absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb' if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do 'what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,' and 'that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.'"

One critic's concern? "Speaking of President Bush, the House member said, 'The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision.'"

Umm, no, Mr. Honorable House Member. The most worrisome thing is that Iran is a theocratic dictatorship on the brink of acquiring nuclear weapons, and that the President of Iran really does have a messianic vision:

"Ahmadinejad, who has drawn global attention recently for his contention the Holocaust was a 'myth', said: 'We don't shy away from declaring that Islam is ready to rule the world.' Riazaty, in a post on the website Regime Change Iran, said the Iranian president emphasized his current theme that the return of the Shiite messiah, the Mahdi, is not far away, and Muslims must prepare for it."

Another critic cited in the New Yorker "...warned, as did many others, that bombing Iran could provoke 'a chain reaction' of attacks on American facilities and citizens throughout the world: 'What will 1.2 billion Muslims think the day we attack Iran?'"

Here's exactly what they will think. If they are semi-rational, they will think: 'It is objectively true that a religious dictatorship like Iran is a threat to anyone who values the freedom to pursue his own happiness and enjoy life on earth; thank goodness the U.S. stopped Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.' If they are not rational, and were sypmathetic to Iran, they will think: 'We'd better not mess with the U.S., or we could be next.'

Criticisms like this one often superficially masquerade as 'practical objections', but actually they represent profound philosophical differences on questions like: Is appeasement moral and/or practical? Should we worry about what others think? Are truth and justice a matter of international consensus? etc.

In any case, let's hope we get the chance to find out what 1.2 billion Muslims will think on that day.

Help Isaac Schrödinger

Isaac Schrödinger faces the possibility of being deported from Canada back to Pakistan unless he can explain the tyrannical nature of the Pakistani government and hence claim refugee status. He's asking for help finding examples (e.g. articles, human rights cases, citations, etc.) to help him make his case. If you have any such information, please contact him at i(dot)schrodinger(at)gmail(dot)com or leave him a comment on his site.

Friday, April 07, 2006


The WSJ carried an editorial arguing that Islam is both a religious and a political doctrine, whose ultimate goal is to create an Islamic caliphate or umma. And while I disagree with some of the interpretation in it (for example "fighting and raiding" aren't "sources of livelihood' but merely ways to take what someone else produced) and the implication that "true" devotion to religion would be desirable, it is refreshing to see a major publication clearly state the goals and intent of Islamists worldwide.

Nick points out that South Park is doing a two part show on the Cartoons. Michelle Malkin also has coverage.

Grant Jones blogs on the Objectivist Club of NYU which has published an editorial correcting several reporting errors on their free speech event.

Gus Van Horn makes some good points regarding the WTC site and rebuilding on it. I particularly liked this passage:
The solution to this dilemma involves no "government-business-real estate coalition". It involves our government doing what it is supposed to do and butting out of what it isn't supposed to do. You, Uncle Sam, guard the perimeter, and let the Larry Silversteins and Donald Trumps decide what to do with the billion-dollar commercial real estate.
For those interested in Objectivism and its critics, this thread is pretty revealing. And major kudos to Mike Mazza who I think did an incredible job of debating the issues, naming the evasions and pointing out the obvious reasons why no reasonable person would want to waste their valuable time dealing with someone like Robert Campbell. (My co-blogger Rob follows these issues much more closely than I do, so perhaps he can put up a longer post on the subject.)

Finally, I just read Theodore Dalrymple's "The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris". It is a very prescient essay written in the autumn of 2002 and still well worth reading (it also adds to Dalrymple's credibility as a social commentator). In addition to predicting and explaining much of what has since happened in France, I was struck by some of the similarities between what he describes in the cités and the actions of a sub-group of the population in New Orleans during the Katrina disaster. Says Dalrymple:
Antagonism toward the police might appear understandable, but the conduct of the young inhabitants of the cités toward the firemen who come to rescue them from the fires that they have themselves started gives a dismaying glimpse into the depth of their hatred for mainstream society. They greet the admirable firemen (whose motto is Sauver ou périr, save or perish) with Molotov cocktails and hails of stones when they arrive on their mission of mercy, so that armored vehicles frequently have to protect the fire engines.

Benevolence inflames the anger of the young men of the cités as much as repression, because their rage is inseparable from their being. Ambulance men who take away a young man injured in an incident routinely find themselves surrounded by the man’s “friends,” and jostled, jeered at, and threatened: behavior that, according to one doctor I met, continues right into the hospital, even as the friends demand that their associate should be treated at once, before others.
These actions seem somewhat comparable to shooting at rescue workers, and they are explainable (at least in large part) by similar forces, most notably the welfare state. (See Rob Tracinski's and Gus Van Horn's commentaries.)

Update: I also wanted to thank Annaqed for republishing my essay All For One on their site.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

No Eminent Domain - No Problem

Clearly eminent domain is immoral and must be fought on that basis, but it is also nice to see that without it, cities can thrive and prosper (i.e. that there is no moral/practical trade-off involved). Today's WSJ features an editorial showing how successful the city of Anaheim has been in revitalizing itself -- while steadfastly rejecting the use of eminent domain. From the editorial:
The area is developing quickly, without controversy and without a single piece of property taken by eminent domain. Early signs point to an enormous success. "Too often, I hear my colleagues in local government . . . say that Kelo-type eminent domain and redevelopment policies are their only tools to revitalize cities," Mr. Pringle recently said. "I have a simple message . . . Visit the Platinum Triangle."
Update: Gus Van Horn points out that Houston has no zoning whatsoever and is flourishing as a result. However I'm not sure if they have also banned the use of eminent domain? Perhaps Gus can comment.

Rooted in Emotionalism

Christian Beenfeldt has a good piece out on the fundamental similarity of method used by subjectivists and religious types; a similarity which underlies both of their (seemingly opposite) moralities.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Congrats to KATU-TV in Portland

KATU-TV has shown pictures of the cartoons in this reporting.

Just War Theory

For anyone trying to understand why we have prosecuted the so-called "war on terror" in such a weak, ineffective and often self-destructive manner, I highly recommend reading Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein's "Just War Theory" vs. American Self-Defense.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Europe's Economic Woes

Instapundit highlighted this interesting analysis of Europe's Economic model. While I disagree with the framing of the piece, i.e. it is not that "Europe’s present social model is unable to tackle the modern challenges of globalization" but simply that reality doesn't allow anyone or any group to simultaneosuly work less and less, consume more and more, and promise greater and greater future benefits -- no matter what politicians might say to the contrary. Nonetheless the data collected is quite interesting and is well presented in the following graphs:

It is also interesting to see that the country most in denial of this data is France. The NY Times reports:
Opinion polls indicate that the French see globalization as a threat, not an opportunity. A sweeping survey of people in 22 countries released in January found that France was alone in disagreeing with the premise that that the best economic model is "the free enterprise system and free market economy."

In the poll, conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, only 36 percent of French respondents replied yes, compared with 59 percent in Italy, 65 percent in Germany, 66 percent in Britain, 71 percent in the United States and 74 percent in China.
One politician in France understands at least this much; interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy is quoted in the same NY Times piece as saying:
"There is only one way to reduce unemployment in France," he said. "You have to explain to the French people that they have to work harder."
A statement which would hardly qualify as penetrating insight in the rest of the world, but in France...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Borders & CAIR

LGF makes a very good point regarding CAIR's silence in Border's refusal to carry the magazine carrying the Muhammed cartoon. The same argument would apply even more strongly in the case of the Phoenix's statement. From LGF:
So why isn’t CAIR demanding an apology from Borders Books for this open admission that they fear violence from Muslims? Isn’t this a blatant example of “racist stereotyping” by CAIR’s usual yardstick?

It would be, of course—except that in this case, the implicit and explicit threats of violence have had exactly the results groups like CAIR want. Every major American institution has knuckled under to the fear; universities, newspapers, television, booksellers, all of them.

Western Standard's Response

My parents suggested that I put up a direct link of the Western Standard's response to the Alberta Human Rights Commission regarding the Soharwardy nuisance lawsuit, so here it is (I've only skimmed it, but will read it in full tonight).

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Reality is a Mistake

As a follow-up to my Death Worship post, consider these quotes (via LGF), then watch the interview to see Muslims "discussing the finer points of female genital mutilation" (though at least some seem to oppose it).
Interviewer: Is this what happens in reality?

Dr. Muhammad Wahdan: I have no relation to reality. I am talking about how things should be.

Interviewer: You are a religious sheik, from Al-Azahar University. You cannot say you have no relation to reality.

Dr. Muhammad Wahdan: Reality is a mistake, we must rectify it.

How to Call the Police

I liked Blair's anecdote.