Sean LaFreniere

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Sean's Political Dictionary
So that YOU know what SEAN is talking about when he opens his big mouth:

 

Conservative:

Date: 1831. From Latin conservare, for "to keep", "guard", or "observe". A Conservative relies upon family traditions and figures of authority to establish and maintain values. 

A Conservative puts group security above personal freedoms. 

A Conservative believes that successful use and maintenance of power proves God's favor for the government. 

A Conservative believes that social values, religious rules, and forms of governments may only be altered gradually. 

Stability and continuity are the goals of government.

 

Liberal:

Date: 1820. From Latin liberalis for "free". A Liberal uses reason and logic to set personal, social, and religious values. 

A Liberal places personal freedom above group security. 

A Liberal believes that governments rule by the consent of the governed. 

A liberal believes that governments may be changed or removed at the will of the people.  

A Liberal supports rapid change in the pursuit of progress and reform.

Freedom and Justice are the goals of government.

 

Note: a nation, and an individual, may move back and forth between these positions often. They rarely sum up a personality completely. And they should never be permanent blinders for anyone to view the world.

When a people succeed in a Liberal revolution, for instance, they often find themselves in the Conservative position protecting these gains. Similarly a person might have a Liberal view on public financial assistance and then move into a conservative position once these demands are met.

One might say that Affirmative Action is a prime example. At one point instituting Affirmative Action was a Liberal position, it was needed to reverse decades of discrimination following the end of Slavery. However, today the Liberal position might well be the ending of Affirmative Action, as it has largely completed its task and now stands as a stumbling block to truly moving the nation beyond race as a discriminatory trait. Meanwhile, the position of defending AA is now actually a Conservative stance (whether its so-called "liberal" defenders realize it or not).

Another way to think about this is that these terms describe a way of thinking about issues, not the positions on those issues. That is a Conservative might support a war because politicians they respect urge it, because the enemy scares them, and ultimately because it just "feels right". A Liberal might also come to support the war in spite of the position of authority figures and celebrities, not because it feels right, but because hours of research and consideration support the cause.

Neither is a "better way" of coming to a position, necessarily. Sometimes too much thinking interferes with a solid moral judgment, such as on the Abortion issue. And then other times only rational examination can skip over the emotional baggage and come to the most reasonable decision, as we see in the Abortion issue.

I realize this might be difficult for some people to accept after a long time of hearing party dogma on the issue. Personally I find value in BOTH positions. On some issues I am myself rather Conservative and on others I am quite Liberal. The same with the terms Radical and Reactionary, noted below. I found that stepping beyond these labels opened up my thoughts and cleared my head of a lot of bs.

 

Reactionary:

Date: 1840. From Latin reagere for "to act". A Reactionary uses government pressure as a means of containing and responding to changes in society.

 

Radical:

Date: 14th century. From Latin radicalis from radix for "root". A Radical supports social movements and political pressure groups as a means of affecting change in government.

 

The Right:

Date: early modern. The term comes from  English Parliamentary Rules; which place the party in power on the right of the Speaker. As the Conservatives held sway for a long time, the term Right came to be associated with the "Establishment" and thus with Conservative politics.

 

The Left:

Date: early modern. The party in Opposition sits on the Speaker's left. The Left came to be associated with labor movements, the lower classes, and socialist politics. It has also come to be associated with Liberalism. This was useful for Conservative politicians, and Socialists as well, during the 60's. But I find this to be a big intellectual and political mistake.

 

Capitol Goods:

Date: circa 1639. From the French from Latin capitalis for "top", used in French for "principal" or "chief". (1) : a stock of accumulated goods; especially at a specified time and in contrast to income received during a specified period (2) : accumulated goods devoted to the production of other goods (3) : accumulated possessions calculated to bring in income

 

Capitalism:

Date: 1877. An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

 

Socialism:

Date: 1837. From Latin socialis for "friend" or "companion" or "associate". Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; usually there is no private property; in Marxist theory this is also considered just a transitional stage between capitalism and communism and it is distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

 

Communism:

Date: 1840. From French communisme, from Latin communis for "common". A doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed. It is the final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably. In its only examples of practical application, in the USSR, China, and Cuba it became a totalitarian system where a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production and the people are enslaved in production geared to support the power of this party.

 

Note: in Marxist theory these three systems represent a sliding scale, with Capitalism on the Right, Socialism in the middle, and Communism on the Left. A nation was supposed to move from one to the other over time. However, in practice few systems in the world have ever been purely one or the other. Most national economic models employ some of all three.

While the US and Europe are considered the paragons of Capitalism, they both retain many Socialist elements. Both the US and Europe offer state sanctioned monopolies of public utilities. The American Postal Service is a state owned enterprise, as are the European aerospace entities. Europe offers state run healthcare, as do many American states, and both regulate the health industry heavily.

Through out history Europe and the US have also held some Communist elements. The common grazing lands of town centers and the great unfenced Western plains were both representative of these traditions. One might say that Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Dole are also holdovers from our more communal days.

On the other hand, while China has long been a paragon of Socialism / Communism, it still has many elements of free enterprise. They allow small farmers and craftsmen to sell excess production on the open market, they have private telecoms and industrial companies, and now they have a stock market, the ultimate symbol and apparatus of Capitalism.

When one system or the other fails to serve a nation, many proponents argue that actually the system simply was not implemented purely enough. However, attempts to purify these systems require a heavy hand in government, education, and economic practice. And this has led to oppressive regimes and brutalized citizens.

 

Democracy:

Date: 1576. From Greek dEmokrati, from demos "people" + kracy "rule". A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections; usually accompanied by the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges.

 

Republic:

Date: 1604. From Latin respublica; from res "thing" + publica "of the people". A government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who is elected by popular vote.

 

Note: that the root of the word Democracy is Greek, while the root of the word Republic is Latin. These terms are NOT antithetical, they do not even derive from the same language.

In common use they both have come to describe types of Liberal governments, specifically the one is a type of the other. It is possible for a nation to be a Democracy, but NOT also a Republic. However, a nation that is a Republic is ALWAYS also a Democracy. A Republic is a TYPE of Democracy.

The UK is a Democracy, but not a Republic, because of the Queen. Ireland became a Republic only after it dropped from the Commonwealth and replaced the Queen with an elected President

 

Fascism:

Date: 1921 From Latin fascis for "bundle" or group. Last, but not least, is this term, which actually combines the economic system and the political system entirely. In this system the state and large corporations merge, the rights of the individual are subordinated to the glory of the State, and all dissent is suppressed. It often utilizes a racial or religious cause to motivate the people into giving up their rights in the first place. These states usually rise out of an economic collapse or hardship with high inflation and unemployment.

 
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Friday, August 29, 2003

The Baghdad Gun Caper

On August 7th Kevin Drum of Calpundit blogged a strange story about the CPA (Civilian Provisional Authority) in Iraq ordering brand new shipments of AK-47's.

(Kevin is a deft lefty blogger and the comments are a good read too - lots of techy points on the merits of Soviet-type and American-type rifles.)

In Iraq AK-47 varients are found easily on the streets, stockpiled in schools and hospitals, and actually stored in Iraqi army barracks through out the land. So what's up with ordering new ones? Is this just pork-barrel for Haliburton?

I visited the CPA website and connected with the "Chief Press Officer" for the CPA, a man named Naheed with an email address at Centcom.

I asked him why we would buy non-NATO weapons for a supposed ally? Why buy new ones when the country is awash in them? And how will Halliburton be involved?

Through a succession of emails I was able to piece together the following response:

(Note that the Halliburton issue is never addressed, even after repeated questioning by myself.)

The title of this project should more accurately be "Weapons for Police and Security Forces".

$6.1M from the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) is for the purchase of 35,000 AK-47s for use primarily by Iraqi police and security forces. Only 1,000 of them are for the New Iraqi Army.

(What do you call "security forces" and how does this differ from "army", do you mean border guards and airport security?)

In order to equip new security and defense forces here we had to plan for bringing in large numbers of weapons and these had to be new and have the usual support package with them.

(Many of the AK-47's confiscated by US forces every day are in large shipments, many still in shipping crates, and quite a few are regular Iraqi military arms, I assume they also have a quartermaster who maintains parts and support, right?)

The reason for going with the AK47s is that Iraqis have experience of them. There is also the issue of ammunition and parts availability. And lastly, the cost.

(How much experience does it take to hold a gun and occasionally fire them? We don’t expect to send these forces right out into combat do we? Did we even take bids for NATO issue weapons and ammo?)

The first 1,000 were purchased from Jordan. They are new and were delivered in a matter of days. The Coalition Military Assistance Training Team (CMATT) now has the weapons as training is about to begin for the initial battalion of the NIA.

(I am sure that the Kingdom is pleased. You mean we couldn’t even keep our purchases to actual democracies? I bet M-16’s could have been delivered just as quickly, but cant you find 1,000 good AK-47’s in the many Iraqi stashes recently seized?)

The remaining 34,000 are out for bid on open source contract via the CPA website www.cpa-iraq.org.

Bids close on August 8, 2003 and delivery dates requested are: 11,000 on August 20; 11,000 on August 27; and 12,000 on September 3.

We do not have vast stocks of new AK47s, certainly not the 100,000 you refer to or even 100s. If you know where they are please tell us!

(Check out the La Times:)

At one compound of eight concrete warehouses that a company of the 10th Engineer Battalion found in central Baghdad in mid-April, Times reporters watched soldiers form a human chain to fill a truck bed with AK-47s so new the soldiers' hands turned orange from the packing grease.

One officer on the scene at the time called the arms cache a "mother lode." First Lt. Matt Miletich, who was in charge of the company, said then that the weapons would be held and guarded until a new Iraqi government and army were ready to receive them.

The following day, U.S. Marines who were securing the city of Tikrit north of Baghdad announced that they had found 100,000 AK-47s there, 80,000 of them in a hospital.


I think this now draws a line under this subject.

(After this all emails from me to Mr. Naheed were bounced by the Centcom mail server.)

Regards, Naheed


I think I hear the pig screaming now... this one's for you Haliburton!

UPDATE: I have this nagging thought... the reason that the CPA doesnt want to arm the new Iraqi forces with Allied weaponry is because they are not sure that they are allies. At the end of the day they want to be able to check the rounds lodged in the back of a US soldier and determine if it was "friendly fire" or not.

Thomas Friedman noted this when he wrote about the July 14th Bridge:

I asked the sergeant who was running the checkpoint to take the phone and tell the officer exactly where we were standing. "Sir," the sergeant said, "we're on the enemy side of the July 14 bridge."

Hmm, I thought to myself, the "enemy side" of the July 14 Bridge? He was referring to Baghdad outside the walls of the U.S. compound.


It may be as simple as that.

UPDATE: Naheed has resurfaced (it appears that his email server has changed prefix names)... and he says that Halliburton is not involved in this deal. He also stands by his explanation of cost, availability, and familiarity.


Sean: Friday, August 29, 2003 [+] |
...
Thursday, August 28, 2003




Tis The Season... For Blackouts - This Time Its London Calling.

The BBC reports that the lights are out on the London Bridge... and all over the city...

Power went off at about 1815 BST for London and Victoria, Ashford, New Cross and Bromley.

Businesses and homes were plunged into darkness and traffic lights went out in Brixton, Battersea and London Bridge.

Sue Gill from EDF Energy said: "It seems that one of the National Grid circuits that feeds south London has failed.

"The National Grid are currently looking into it."

She added it was difficult to predict how long it would take to restore power.

Staff at St Thomas's Hospital, in south-east London are reportedly relying on back-up power generators.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said the power cut would not cause major problems.

He said: "All NHS hospitals have back up generators. They will be able to cope."

There have been reports of power returning in Clapham, south-west London.



So, is it just the summer demands caused by Global Warming or a terrorist plot? Either way, I guess if you are French you can still blame the Americans (they should also blame us for delaying their unification with Germany for 50 years).

Sean: Thursday, August 28, 2003 [+] |
...
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Are the Ten Commandments an appropriate display in America’s courts?


From CNN Wednesday:

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's placement of the 2.6-ton granite edifice [representing the Ten Commandments of the Christian Bible] in the state building two years ago violated the U.S. Constitution's principle of separation of religion and government.

Moore and his supporters say the Ten Commandments are the foundation of the U.S. legal system and that forbidding the acknowledgment of the Judeo-Christian God violates the First Amendment's guarantee of free exercise of religion.

But a lawsuit filed after its installation argued the massive stone marker constituted a government endorsement of Christianity.

"He said that he placed this monument here to acknowledge the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men, and that's pretty much it," said civil rights lawyer Morris Dees, whose Southern Poverty Law Center was one of the plaintiffs that sought the marker's removal.

"He said that all the little quotes around the bottom -- the things that have the word God in them by various historical figures -- weren't there for the purpose of making it historical but to show that the Ten Commandments sitting on top of the monument was recognized as the supreme law of the land."

The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called Wednesday's action "a tremendous victory for the rule of law and respect for religious diversity."


The argument as far as I can tell is this… can a conservative, fundamentalist Christian judge from the south use his office, and his office building, to make a political and religious statement asserting that the laws of the United States of America are based on those of the Bible’s “Ten Commandments”?

The arguments in favor of allowing this display include the claim that the US Constitution does not, in fact, call for a “separation of church and state” and that the US laws are, in fact, based upon “Mosaic Law” or alternately “the Ten Commandments” and thus it is historically accurate to display such representation in an American court of law.


Argument One:
The Constitution does not specifically forbid government workers from referring to God in their occupational capacity. This is incorrect.

The First Amendment of the US Constitution reads “Congress shall make no law respecting [the] establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...”

There are lots of twisted arguments and quotes taken out of context to argue that this prohibition is no prohibition at all. This is wrong.

Let’s turn to the author and greatest authority on the US Constitution… James Madison. Madison both penned the Constitution in 1778 and served as President of the United States between 1809 and 1817. His writings and comments to his colleagues and fellow citizens about the First Amendment are our best guide as to its original intent. It is this intent that the Supreme Court properly rules by, not just the grammar, syntax, and punctuation of the written Constitution.

Madison’s summary of the First Amendment:
Congress should not establish a religion and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience, or that one sect might obtain a pre-eminence, or two combined together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform (Annals of Congress, Sat Aug 15th, 1789 pages 730 - 731).


Other quotes by Madison on the purpose of the First Amendment:
I must admit that it may not be easy to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the civil authority to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to a usurpation on one side or the other or to a corrupting alliance between them will be best guarded against by entire abstinence of the government from interference in any way whatever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order and protecting each sect against trespasses on its legal rights by others (Letter Rev. Jasper Adams, Spring 1832).

To the Baptist Churches on Neal's Greek on Black Creek, North Carolina I have received, fellow-citizens, your address, approving my objection to the Bill containing a grant of public land to the Baptist Church at Salem Meeting House, Mississippi Territory. Having always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, I could not have otherwise discharged my duty on the occasion which presented itself (Letter to Baptist Churches in North Carolina, June 3, 1811).


These quotes make it clear that the First Amendment bars the government from either supporting or denigrating the religious faith of any and all citizens. But one possible bit of wiggle room for religious conservatives is to suggest that government bureaucracies are free to refer to “God” in documents, in building decorations, or on the face of currency. They might argue only Congress is restricted; and the only thing they cannot do is pass a law that supports any one religion or limits the ability of any other to flourish.

But this is baloney. All Federal government is brought into being, maintained, empowered, and governed by laws passed by Congress. No agency can draw salary, sign a contract for employment or construction, or otherwise operate with out a Congressional law authorizing such action. Thus all bodies of the US government are the result of laws passed by Congress and are thus limited by any restrictions upon the legislative rights of Congress. And due to the Fourteen Amendment, which states “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens,” no State Legislature may depart from the aforementioned national restriction on legislation and government actions in regards to supporting or limiting any particular religion.

The display of a religious icon by any person or body usually implies support for that religion, sometimes people merely like the way a religious icon looks, but when a government official puts a religious icon in a government building this is properly read by most people as official sanction. Obviously if the religion thus represented were with out a wide base of support the symbol wouldn’t last long, would it? So, just as any Christian would be upset seeing a Pentagram in the courthouse so would any Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu feel denigrated when they see a Christian symbol in the courthouse. And, as citizens, their rights, privileges, and immunities are clearly “abridged” by not being recognized equally in such a setting.


Argument Two:

Any graphic representation of the Ten Commandments merely refers to its historic position in American jurisprudence and has nothing to do with religion. This is likewise wrong.

These are the Ten Commandments:

I AM THE LORD THY GOD, THOU SHALT NOT HAVE STRANGE GODS BEFORE ME.

THOU SHALT NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD IN VAIN.

REMEMBER THOU KEEP HOLY THE SABBATH DAY.

HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER.

THOU SHALT NOT KILL.

THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.

THOU SHALT NOT STEAL.

THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOR.

THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR'S WIFE.

THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR'S GOODS.

The first three commandments are religious in nature. The commandment to honor parents is not precise enough to direct behavior and no state tries to enforce it by any legal statute that I am aware of. The commandment against adultery is a law in only a few of the 50 states today. And the last two rules are enforceable only by telepaths, or by a deity.

The only commandments that are laws in all fifty states are the prohibitions on killing, stealing, and lying in court. But these rules appear in nearly every faith on the planet and in the civic codes of Hammurabi, Moses, Rome, and Napoleonic France. They are not Christian laws, rather they are the laws of ANY civil society.

Any examples of America courts relying upon the Ten Commandments has to pull from the 1600’s, from the charters and “constitutions” of the first 13 colonies, or more accurately from early settlements before the areas even became colonies. These settlements were established by religious minorities fleeing the majority, and the governments in Europe, that discriminated against them. The response of enshrining their religious rules into their local laws was a natural turnabout.

When these settlements became colonies only a few were allowed to maintain their religious roots. And when the colonies became states any connection to the Bible was dropped by the insistence of the Founding Fathers and the Federal government. In fact, as any law student will tell you, most of our laws actually come from England, from what was called Common Law. It was called common law because it was neither ecclesiastic nor royal, but civil and secular.

That is, in medieval England only the Church could discipline priests. The hearing would take place in an ecclesiastic court governed by a representative of the Pope from Rome. When this was not possible, a civil court, or “shire court” could try the priest if another priest was present in a supervisory capacity. Any punishment was meted out by the church and any fines would go to the parish or to Rome.

The other laws were royal decrees such as not hunting in a particular forest, not serving certain food when the King was in town, or not driving sheep when the monarch was on the highway, etc. If you broke these rules you would appear in front of the king, his squire, his game warden, or another royal representative, who would decide your guilt and your punishment. Your payment of a fine (if you were that lucky) would go directly to the Crown or the King’s man.

There are also various versions of the above laws set by the “burghers” (leading citizens of a city, usually large land owners or heads of trade guilds), or by minor lords (baron’s and earls).

All the other laws were “common”. They affected the common people (often exclusively and explicitly exempting nobles and persons of prominence) and were passed by the common weal(th). Usually they were simply the customs of the locals, set back in the fog of time, and maintained by tradition. Many of these laws were economic in nature and many others were actually holdovers from Britain’s pagan past. They covered the clothing customs for men and women of various rank; rules on weights, measures, and prices at market; and rules on inheritance, among many.

In ancient times these rules were kept by oral tradition by the (pre-Christian) migrant judges of the British Isles, the Brehtons, in roving impromptu courts. Later they were enforced by local officials, the sheriffs, and were enforced in shire courts - sometimes there were witnesses and even juries. The shire was essentially a county and sheriffs basically purchased the right to collect taxes, enforce laws, and collect fines from the Crown. Mostly Common Law was a moneymaking affair for the enforcer and a means of upholding traditions for the people.

It was this secular legal tradition upon which our own is based. Yes, many religiously based laws were incorporated into our body of laws, such as the (in)famous "blue laws" which limited commercial activity on the Sabbath. But most of these blue laws have been weeded out of local codes and none exist at the federal level (as I understand it). Meanwhile this doesn’t alter the legal system itself, which remains secular in nature at the systemic level.

We don’t pray to God for insight into a person's guilt, we try them with forensic evidence and witness testimony. We don’t perform Trial By Ordeal but have jury trials. And our rights are not protected by the wrath of God, thunderbolts and lightening, but by a human written document, the Constitution, and an appeal to the reason and logic of all citizens.

Accepting The Secular Nature Of Our Government

This judge should not feel threatened by accepting that the Ten Commandments are not the basis of US laws. Nor should he be depressed upon losing his argument on the Constitutionality of his monumental display. This judge needs to realize that the intent of Madison was to defend religion from government as much as government from religion.

Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance… religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).


Let this judge be a Christian. Let him hold the Ten Commandments dear to his heart, let him practice them, and let him teach them to his children. But let him keep his reverence for their religious connection private. If he wants to display his monument at his home, at his church, or at his private legal practice office I will support him fully. But as a US government official he is the servant of pagan, Muslim, Jewish, and even atheist citizens and he must be seen to be unbiased and offering justice to all.

Basically this is an issue of immigration and tolerance. One of America’s greatest strengths is that it welcomes immigrants and has benefited as much from them as they from her. Moreover, the fundamental power of the Declaration Of Independence, of the Constitution, and of anything that might be called “The American Way” is the universal truth of our political message.

We tell the world that our way of organizing society is the most just and the most free. We urge the world to either move here or reorganize their societies in our image. This message is greatly weakened when we claim that our values come from our specific religious faith, from Christianity, when all people on Earth do not share this faith.

From a foreign policy position we have a lot to lose by weakening our wall between Church and State. We might well undermine our entire position on the Middle East and terrorism. How can we claim that our battles are not a crusade and that our message is not anti-Muslim but pro-democracy, when we allow our Christian faith and our government to merge?

We also stand a lot to lose at home. A mix of Christianity and government would force many millions of citizens to choose between the faiths they brought with them and their allegiance to their fellow citizens. How could we expect American Muslims not to side with their brothers in faith in Iraq when we tell them that being American is being Christian, that our government is founded not on the Koran but on the Bible? The loss of domestic civil cohesion is of grave concern.

The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries (Madison, circa 1810)


So, we have to decide… are we to be a “faith-based nation”, run by priests and a religious text, the leader of Christendom against the pagan hordes of Earth? Or are we a Liberal Democracy and a beacon of freedom and justice to all the world. We can’t be both. Either removing this judge’s monument or leaving it will serve as our answer.


UPDATE: I see that CNN quotes a poll that suggests that 70% of Americans disapprove of the order to remove this monument. I must point out that any appeal to public opinion, a poll or ballot, is beside the point. The purpose of the Constitution was to set a few rigid guidelines that even majority opinion could not (easily) overturn. This was necessary to protect against "mob rule" by "the illiterate masses". Even if today's literacy rate is higher most people appear to have tuned out of political debates as shown by less than 50% voter turnout. People's opinions are often informed by current prejudices and personal emotional reactions rather than by reason and logic applied to public policy at large. You can call that elitist if you will, but if the Founding Fathers’ didn’t think it a legitimate concern, we wouldn’t have a Constitution at all.

UPDATE 2: Excellent parody on the news here.

UPDATE 3: The Hitch will attack anything given half a provocation... I guess Judge Moore provoked him. Heh.

Sean: Wednesday, August 27, 2003 [+] |
...
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
A Small Victory Indeed

Michelle at A Small Victory has landed her self a big slimy fish. This morning she caught Indy Media lying. "NO!" you say, "Shocking, self-published, gateless media, filled with untruth? Say it aint so." She wrote about it and guess what? This fish bit back!



Most recent post on NYC Indymedia:

A Muslim woman is under arrest and the media is lying to us again.

Ayesha Akter, a Muslim woman, is in New York police custody, under arrest for defending herself from a violent attack. The police say Ayesha used a cleaver to kill a woman named Farida Begum. There is no information on Farida's religion, but some have said that she was a Jew.

Akter was charged yesterday with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. The Muslim community demands that Ayesha be freed.


Article in Newsday, that I read at 6am this morning:

A woman with a history of mental illness allegedly hacked her elderly mother-in-law to death with a meat cleaver after the mother-in-law refused to give her rice, saying it would make the daughter-in-law fat, police said.

Ayesha Akter, 32, is undergoing psychiatric evaluation after she was arrested in connection with the attack on her mother-in-law, Farida Begum, with a meat cleaver about 7:40 p.m. Saturday. Begum was repeatedly hit in the head, chest and legs and lost a finger in the savage assault, police said.


The SPIN on this story by NYCIM is obvious. But Michelle goes on to uncover that IM has a habit of censoring such 'mistakes'. Regularly consigning such blunders to the indy oubliette.

Hey I've deleted horribly erroneous posts or arguments that just dont stand up in debate. I dont rate it a crime. Famously Michael Moore pulled his prediction that the Dems would win Congress in Nov of 2002.

But how do the Lefties at IM respond to having their dirty drawers exposed? Why with a mewling call to its masses to crash Michelle's site!? What utter confusion on their part!

First IM admits that it removes posts from "right wing freepers", which kinda defeats the whole point of a free press, eh? Then they believe that by giving Michelle free hits they will deter her. These people seem to really misunderstand their own medium.

It gets worse... when IM gets really excited its Leftist racist spittle begins to fly from its jaws as it howls... they call ASV a "far right site, of the Zionazi variety" and label her a "filthy jewpropgandist". Right then, next lunatic please...

How could something so good, open source news, turn out so bad? Mmmm... maybe the same way the UN did.

Update: Courtesy Of Mike Malloy's board:

"A 'freeper' is what, those that hang out at freerepublicdocom call themselves. They are quite the bunch . Very much like the gillshitster and trentmeister. However the term 'freeper' is applied to anyone with gill or tent like characteristics. Also, freeper = trolls" - a Malloy poster

On the other hand:

"As I recall 'Freep' used to be a fond nickname for the Los Angeles Free Press, the legendary counterculture newspaper of '65-'78 for which, among others, wrote Harlan Ellison, Phil Ochs, Orson Bean, Dick Gregory and Ron Cobb...I suspect you can see the point of confusion there ." - a Malloy poster

Yup, got me.

Further along another poster claims that:

Freepers are:
- Emotional rather than analytical
- Have no clue of world events prior to 9/11
- Go for the short answers
- Have no clue why Palestinian suicide bombers do what they do, therefore they feel that all Palestinians are animals and should be subject to genocide.
- Opinionated (much like Archie Bunker), if you don't agree with them... well, obviously you're stupid.
- Closed-minded (much like Archie Bunker), they're not interested in learning anything new... they just want to be right about everything.
- I wouldn't say all, but *most* only set foot in a voting booth only during presidential elections (because the president runs everything, right? What's an Assemblyman, anyway?)
- Rarely will they leave their safe environment of other closed-minded Pack O' Borgs (so on this note I respect anyone who comes here with an opposing view).


Wow... does this person realize what a mirror they just created? I hate it when people assume that other people disagree with them out of ignorance, youth, or insanity. If I do this, please send me a nasty email (not too nasty, I have an ego just like you - and would like to keep it). Thanks.



Sean: Tuesday, August 26, 2003 [+] |
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Monday, August 25, 2003
Strangers In Their Own Land

As I dressed for work in the morning hours of Sept 11th, 2001 I was called by my wife and told to turn on the television. Like so many Americans I paused in what had till then seemed like a very important act and watched in horror as the second plane struck the WTC live on TV. What a way to start the day.

Then I got a call from a certain Lefty who informed me gravely that we had just suffered a brilliant assault, one that would crumple our economy like the paper tiger that it was and might ultimately lead to the defeat of our nation. “Relax,” I said and hung up.

I later read quotes from Osama Bin Laden in which he claimed that many Americans thought there was a coup taking place on Sept 11th. He then asserted that America was gripped by fear from the east coast to the west. I thought someone needs to tell this dude to relax too.

Osama seemed to completely misunderstand his enemy. Absolutely no Americans, outside of recent immigrants from actual dictatorships, worried about a coup. Everyone thought the first plane was an accident, but by the second understood it to be a terrorist attack. And most people expressed immediate anger rather than fear.

In the following year Americans brought out their old dusty flags, which had until then seemed unnecessary, even overly patriotic, to fly and hung them from their porches and cars. Crime plummeted across America, donations to charitable organizations increased, and church attendance revived. Then the largest blackout in our nation’s history hit more than a dozen of our largest cities, including NY and Detroit, and people walked each other home rather than loot their neighbors.

America wasn’t destroyed by 9/11, it was supercharged. New York was duly cleaned up. The Taliban was chased from Kabul as was the Tyrant of Baghdad. And our nation is not “out of the Middle East”, nor has it abandoned the lone democracy in that region, Israel. In fact, Osama’s stated goal of expelling the infidel has been stood on its head. We are more involved than ever before and following all our old WWII ideals about “making the world safe for Democracy”.

How could our enemies and critics abroad and at home be so wrong about America? Because they don’t spend any time in the “real America” or even follow it on the TV. They are strangers.

Most of our domestic gadflies are Leftist academics. These people read French literature and English newspapers, adore Italian and French cuisine, swoon at German Bauhaus architecture and French cathedrals, and consider the appreciation of Beethoven’s symphonies and Paganini’s operas as the ultimate badge of fellowship.

These people have never been to a State Fair. They don’t attend Wrestle Mania or monster truck pulls. They don’t know the Real World from the real world. And they have more awareness of the pulse of Parisian “café culture” than the daily conversation at a McDonald’s or Starbucks.

It used to be that this artsy set actually moved to Europe and took the name, or epithet, of “ex-pat”. When Paris got too expensive, and too snobby, Prague took over. Well, at least they were out of our hair.

But today most of these people live right here, in Berkley, the Village, and a few other patouli friendly towns such as Minneapolis, Eugene, and sometimes Seattle. Even in Portland I find myself feeling self-conscious waving at a fireman. And I hate having to talk quietly when I voice support for our President (who I didn’t vote for and believe the courts handed a victory to that he may not have deserved) and his fight against terrorism.

Every Leftist who saw 9/11 as a victory for “their side” needs to realize that they have moved into the "5th column". Rooting against the economic, military, or cultural success of America is boneheaded. If the US isn’t at the fore then someone else will be. Who would you prefer, China, Russia, or France? These nations, by far, have a worse track record in human rights, racism, or the environment than the US.

On the other hand, those who saw the bombing of the UN in Baghdad as a "step in the right direction" need a similar wake up call (Winds Of Change Link here and Michael Totten link here Iraq Today link here). The UN, while seriously flawed, is the "last, best hope for Mankind" and while far from perfect, or even democratic, the UN, like NY City, represents all of humanity, its collective hopes, dreams, and desires. To wish it to be blown up is to wish for self-annihilation.

(I am conflicted about the UN, I recognize that it is not democratic and does not have the interests of Liberal Democracies at heart, and it has stood by as government and rebel troops world wide committed acts of unspeakable evil, and then it heaps criticism on the US, I wouldn’t mind seeing it go away, if it is replaced with something better, as was the fate of the League Of Nations, but I would never wish to see it murdered by terrorists)

It is fine to be a voice of dissent and to point to other ways of meeting our nation’s goals. In fact, it is vital to have a multitude of opinions and values in a Democracy. But at what point do we move from being Socrates to being Benedict Arnold? While the wing nut Ann Coulter’s book goes way to far in making this point, many of us can sympathize with the title. Dissent is not treason, but those who root for our defeat or even worry about it are seriously out of touch with their fellow citizens.



I wonder if these people can ever reconnect with their own country and can ever get their priorities back in order.

UPDATE:

"When I see an American flag flying, it's a joke." -- Robert Altman (quote mentioned by Fox and The Guardian... but comes from the Times of London)

The Reader's Digest version of this post? The Leftist critics of the United States are just as out of it as the cave dwelling terrorists. Both believe that America is simply what they imagine it to be, a greedy, heartless, and gutless collection of loosly connected individuals... a paper tiger. Something that will collapse when struck with even mild force. But both are wrong, and are wrong for the same reason. They would know this if they lived in America and among Americans. I thusly call on all the Gore Vidal's and Noam Chomsky's to climb down from their Ivory Tower, their high horse, and put the pen down... grab a Budwiser and watch the Super Bowl from Pete's Pub this winter. Repeat this treatment until you stop sniggering at the idea of flying the Stars and Stripes from your porch next July. Got it?




Sean: Monday, August 25, 2003 [+] |
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Thursday, August 21, 2003
The Daily Show

I just wanted to give a shout out to my man John Stewart. Sometimes I cant find the will to go on... caring about politics and comming up with things to say. Then I listen to him for 30 minutes and I feel the flame rekindle. Thank (j)you John.


Sean: Thursday, August 21, 2003 [+] |
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Wednesday, August 20, 2003
I am vacationing on the Olympic Pennisula this week. We've been enjoying Port Townsend the way people from the Mid West enjoy our beaches... for "big-city-folk" Port Townsend is Disneyland. A real downtown with busy storefronts, a working port, and people walking everywhere. It might not be "real", but it sure feels real good.











Civic Paradise.

Sean: Wednesday, August 20, 2003 [+] |
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Saturday, August 16, 2003
Friedman On A New Iraq

Thomas Freidman suggests that many Iraqi's are really interested in making a new Iraq and may also create a new Arabism in the process.

Talking to young Iraqis such as Hassan, you sense how much they want to break the old mold — how much they want to be Arabs, with an Arab identity, but to build a modern state that actually focuses on tapping its people's talents and energies, rather than diverting them, and one that seeks to base their dignity on what they build, not on whom they fight. Root for them to succeed, for having such a state in the heart of the Arab world would be a very, very good thing.
A new Iraqi newspaper has risen in Baghdad these days, it proposes to present honest news... check it out here.


Sean: Saturday, August 16, 2003 [+] |
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Friday, August 15, 2003
Eastern Seaboard Goes Dark

Devine retribution struck NY Friday after I made light of the French heat wave (Sorry NYCity, my bad).


A massive power blackout struck the Northeast just after 4 p.m. EDT Thursday.

The power was cut in just three minutes, as 21 power plants stopped operating.

Over 50 million people are reported to be with out power.

Outages were reported in NY City, NY; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Erie, Pennsylvania, Toronto and Ottawa, Canada; Niagara Falls, New York; Niagara Falls, Ontario; and other cities.

The disturbance appears to have been caused by the loss of several major transmission lines in the upper Midwestern United State.

As of midnight EDT, more than a third of the 61,800 megawatts lost had been restored, the North American Electric Reliability Council said.


NY City goes dark.

Liberty remains lit.

Largest spontaneous rave ever.

Update: CCN reports that NY Yorkers "just deal with it". Meanwhile, in our much more civilized neighbor in the north, "serious looting" breaks out in Canada's capitol city of Ottawa.



Sean: Friday, August 15, 2003 [+] |
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Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Devine Retribution

CNN reports 3,000 French people have died this month during a record heat wave. I cant help but notice the similarities in the death toll to 9-11. Meanwhile London has endured the same temperatures and the biggest news story is on the prevalence of basking adders. Why are the French having such trouble with warm weather? Is it devine retribution, or a media hoax?


Sean: Tuesday, August 12, 2003 [+] |
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Monday, August 11, 2003
On Civil Disobedience

A human shield is refusing to pay her fine. She even states "if it comes to fines or imprisonment, please be aware that I will not contribute money to the United States government to continue the build up of its arsenal of weapons." Since she won't pay, she said, "perhaps the alternative should be considered." Ok.

If you are planning to commit an act of “civil disobedience” I support you fully. Just be sure to publicize your breaking of the law, turn yourself in if you are not caught in the act, plead guilty, and either pay your fine or go to jail (either is acceptable but you get more sympathy being interviewed from behind bars). If you fail to do any of these things then you are just breaking the law, it isn’t “civil disobedience” it’s just criminal.

Sean: Monday, August 11, 2003 [+] |
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Friday, August 08, 2003
Heroism Escapes The BBC

There simply must be someplace to record for all posterity the idiocy that is the BBC!

This article is titled “Passengers did not crash 9/11 plane”. It goes on to assert that FBI investigations have proven that the passengers did not, as had once been believed in America, crash Flight 93 in order to keep it from being used as a missile. It gives one lousy caveat that this finding “in no way diminishes the heroism of the passengers of that flight.”

But the article actually gives evidence that the hijackers decided to crash the plane in order to avoid its being retaken by the passengers and crew. The FBI has checked the cockpit tapes and compared final phone calls from the passengers which confirm that the passengers made one last attempt to overpower the hijackers by ramming a food cart into the cockpit. The last noise on the recorders is of breaking crockery.

Ummm… it doesn’t matter who forced the controls down. We know that it was done because the passengers did not sit as meek tools of the terrorist hijackers. In fact, the passengers DID crash the plane. Duh!

According to the FBI report, telephone calls described several attempts by passengers and crew to retake the plane.

Family members have said they were told in phone conversations that the plane's food trolley would be used to try to break into the cockpit.

Passengers were then herded to the back of a plane, and on the words "let's roll", rushed forward towards the cockpit.

The sound of smashing glass and crockery on the recordings lends some credence to that theory.
It makes me so mad that the BBC simply has to spin everything. Nothing is sacred. Does the Beeb spin out of hatred or habit?

Sean: Friday, August 08, 2003 [+] |
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Wednesday, August 06, 2003
What Dreams May Come.

Tonight I awoke from a dream and struggled to grasp the fading images and plot line. I felt that it was important that I get up and write about it immediately, because in the dream I had an epiphany, a vision if you will. Sure, dreams often feel more real and important than they do by daylight. Still, it felt like a four handed chord being played on a grand piano and I could not deny it.

***

In my dream my personal avatar wasn’t doing very well. I recall that for some reason I tried to tame a horse, but it bit me. Then I tried to run from some terrible fate and a herd of wild horses trampled my path. Someone tried to make a deal with the enemy on my behalf, if I stayed in a muddy ravine I was “safe”, but a wild eyed stallion chased me down anyway. I was trapped.

I tried to argue with the villain but he only laughed. I turned the other cheek and he hit it too. Nothing that I did made things better. And throughout the ordeal I kept reminding myself that I was doing The Right Thing, that I was following The Rules, and that I should be prevailing. But I just kept getting beat to the floor.

Finally the dream bully reached towards me with a burning cigar… and I caught it in my hand. However, my dream self had no special powers. I was not wearing gloves, nor was I pumped full of painkillers. Oddly, terribly, I actually felt the stab of pain and smelled the roasting flesh, but I did not let go. Holding the bully’s hand I climbed to my feet and stood up. His implement of torture burned away and his look of evil joy grew more ghoulish, but I did not care.

Then I saw the image of a school’s front doors, decorated in crayon pictures of the Stars and Stripes, as they burst open and children rushed out. I saw people going about their daily lives, shopping and cutting each other off in traffic. I even saw a scene from this evening’s news, where a village elder in the Sunni area of Iraq argued with a young man over their response to the killing of a relative by American solders. The young man wanted revenge; it was what his father had taught him. But the old man wanted an investigation and justice “like in America”. This was a desire for something new, something better; it was what his son’s fate had taught him. And my dream self understood.

***

Understood what, exactly? I understood that it doesn’t matter if we catch Saddam or Osama, it doesn’t matter if the ambushes and protests continue, and it doesn’t matter if we never end terrorism. Victory is important, but it is not the only objective.

In fact, we can never truly conquer evil. Evil is with us always. And it usually prevails, because it is easier to be evil. It is easier to shoot soldiers in the back of the head after approaching them as friends. It is easier to martyr yourself, to give up on life and commit the act of murder as your final dead, rather than live with failure and humiliation.

What then, is the point of our efforts in Iraq? It is not the installation of a perfect government, with full utilities and benefits, it is not the installation of a lily white and honest regime. Heck, we don’t even have these things ourselves. As cheesy as it sounds, it is "merely" the restoration of hope. It is the return of a feeling of responsibility. It is only the support and enhancement of the will to be good.

***

Iraqis should desire to have a government that serves the people and that is made of the people… even if it sucks. This does not mean tolerating theft, graft, and corruption. But this does mean not blaming America for sabotaged Iraqi power lines and not blaming the Jews for a lack of Arab military strength. The people need to assume ownership of their own administration. They need to want this as much as we do.

Muslims should desire to reform Islam to accept a more liberal society. They need to learn to accept personal failures, to live with sin, and to leave the punishment of human weakness to God. This does not meant ending Friday prayers or tolerating criminal behavior. But it does mean not sentencing to death those that turn from the faith, those that refuse to submit, or those who stray from today’s version of the moral path.

The Middle East should desire a working civil society; where people strive for the accumulation of material things and work a 9-5 job to afford them. The never-ending grasping after shiny new things is human nature. But begging, borrowing, and stealing is not the way forward; nor is blowing up what you cannot make for yourself. If people in the Middle East envy the West its strength and abundance then let them accept the Enlightenment and create their own Reformation. Let them accept the separation of mosque and state and the capital marketplace that make scientific and economic advances possible.

***

Saddam’s Iraq did not want for water or power, or trains that ran on time, or a safe airport. What was missing was any sense that the people of Iraq participated in their leadership and worked towards any common future. How many times did peace activists, or the French in the UN, remind us that the people of Iraq were not responsible for Saddam’s government? What a horrible thing to say, or to accept.

When hawks today tell you that they don’t care if Bush lied, when they tell you that it doesn’t matter if Iraqis keep complaining that the lights aren’t on in Baghdad, and it doesn’t matter if the ambushes continue it is not because they do not care about such suffering, it is because they see understand the true purpose of our efforts and count the pain as worthwhile.

If you share my vision then it doesn’t matter if you always lose and it doesn’t matter if the bad guy wins. We want to stand up against tyranny even when it sears our flesh. We want to be righteous inside even when it hurts. We do not need mastery over our enemies, we only need the desire to struggle for what is good. This should be the true meaning of jihad and this should be our crusade in the Middle East.

Does this all sound idealistic or like a sermon? Sure, hey, it came to me in a midnight dream. But it also feels undeniably correct even in the morning light.

UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune has this article that revives the image of the old man wanting a change, wanting to do things "like in America", here old men comment:

"I can honestly say that now I'm proud to be an Iraqi," said Khalid Nemah, a 45-year-old taxi driver who pored over the Azzaman newspaper. "Because of what has happened, because there is freedom here like I have not known before. Now I can talk--to you, to people I could never talk to before. I am a simple man. I am just a worker. But even these simple things--talking--give me hope."
And
"I haven't had electricity, and I can't read at night," said printer Qaisi Yassin, as he sipped a tiny tumbler of piping hot tea, defying yet another sweltering Baghdad morning. "But am I mad at the Americans? What does that mean? Were they supposed to come with a magic wand?"
And
Jafar Adel Amr is a tool salesman: "You never knew who was sitting next to you," he said. "In the past no one would dare to just speak out. Now everybody is talking. About federalism, about a monarchy... I think our aims are just one, to eliminate persecution for anyone ever again... I can't be optimistic or pessimistic. I don't want to say we can do it or we'll do it well. But the way we've suffered in the past 30 years, we will try to create a new way."
Although the evening news, the BBC, and NPR only relate stories of public opinion from the Sunni Triangle, the minority that once ruled Iraq under Saddam, the majority of Iraqis do appreciate the American efforts on their behalf and they do get that it is up to them now, that this was the only gift that we could give them, the chance to fail on their own.

Sean: Wednesday, August 06, 2003 [+] |
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Monday, August 04, 2003
Religion And Marriage:

Andrew Sullivan Is Going On Blogholiday... Get Over There For One Last Current Read...

Andrew reminds us that the "slippery slope" argument is an old-fashioned chestnut. This was the argument against inter-racial marriage 50 years ago. It was wrong then and it is wrong now.
The last big battle over marriage rights was, of course, over miscegenation. In 1967, the Supreme Court struck down state bans on inter-racial marriage on equal protection grounds. But what's interesting is how unpopular this was at the time. The Gallup poll in 1968 found a whopping 72 percent of the public opposed such marriages. That's markedly more than the opposition to same-sex marriage today (which is in the 50 - 60 percent range, and in the states considering it, actually a minority view). Why was that not an example of outrageous judicial activism? This was a hugely unpopular and undemocratic move. It directly thwarted the democratic will of the people, especially in those states forced by judicial fiat to let blacks marry whites. It was judicial tyranny at the expense of democracy. And opponents - latter-day Stanley Kurtzes - were full of the slippery slope argument. Here's one 19th Century screed from Tennessee, in opposition to miscegenation: "We might have in Tennessee the father living with his daughter, the son with the mother, the brother with his sister, in lawful wedlock, because they had formed such relations in a state or country where they were not prohibited. The Turk or the Mohammedan, with his numerous wives, may establish his harem at the doors of the capitol, and we are without remedy. Yet none of these are more revolting, more to be avoided, or more unnatural than the case before us." If that guy were alive today, he'd have the cover-story in the Weekly Standard.
There is also the ad hominem argument that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because it cheapens the union of marriage, because gay people do not marry and instead have multiple sex partners. But these gay people who want "in on" marriage are those that do not have multiple sexual partners, gay people who want to marry.

A reader tells Andrew:
"A few years ago I attended a lesbian "marriage" ceremony in Memphis. One of the women involved was a childhood friend of my wife, and as a pretty libertarian conservative, I was all in favor of it. To my utter surprise, about halfway through the "ceremony" I was furious and I only grew angrier. It took a while to figure out why I was so upset, but what I finally decided was that if this charade of a real relationship was to be called "marriage" then what does that make my own marriage? Is all marriage to be reduced to this level? My marriage is the most important thing in my life... How can you compare that to the fly-by-night sexual couplings of gay people? I will never accept the gay agenda of cheapening the meaning of marriage so that those who have chosen to live outside the boundaries of normalcy can feel better about their choices by redefining 'normal'."

There you have it. He provides no evidence why this lesbian relationship is somehow a "fly-by-night sexual coupling." That's just how he feels about it. A heterosexual quickie Vegas wedding would doubtless leave him feeling far less angry. What you have here, I think, is a simple defense of privilege. This is my piece of social status. If queers are in it, it's no longer special. Why? The usual inchoate emotions. One reason minorities have always needed courts to defend them against overwhelming majorities is that privilege has defenders. Remember the battle over inter-racial marriage? Back then, whites felt that their institution would be destroyed and cheapened by "mongrel" weddings. Much bigger majorities opposed inter-racial marriage in 1967, when it was finally protected, than now oppose same-sex marriage. But then those evil judicial activists imposed equal marriage rights on an unwilling populace.
[Andrew's reader needs to realize that there is a difference between values and norms. What is "normal" is simply what is common, it does not mean that it is "right"]

The idea that marriage is a sacred union is seriously interfering with people's logic on this issue. If God is against gay sex and gay people and marriage is an act blessed by God then gays cannot marry. And here all reasoning on the issue comes to a screeching halt.

Is God against gay union? What does the Bible say? Here and here are some reviews of the oft quoted passages.

I studied the Bible as a historical text in college, reading passages in Hebrew, Greek, and English. We read the early Vatican councils that rejected or officially sanctioned various texts as Scripture. It became clear that taking 300 years to compile and codify the Bible, moving its primary seat of residence from Israel to Italy, and translating and retranslating it hundreds of times has twisted the language and allowed the insinuation of new language far too often.

Much of the Bible is all about defining and protecting the social in-group that is the hero of the text; the Hebrews in the Old Testament and the Christians in the New. Much of Paul's writings were designed to differentiate Christians from other Romans and to reinforce that the Christians were the righteous sub-group. Even today many sub-groups in American culture latch on the various passages of the Bible and use it to defend their own preference and privilege.

What the Bible says is very important, as is how it came to say it. Our interaction with the text, and its honored position within our culture, has served to both create and reinforce cultural biases. It is this bias which has both created and supported the demonization of homosexuality. We must come to realize that it is a human error.

We need to do some serious soul searching, using our reason and logic as much as our heart, to reconcile our nation's two great cultural texts. The Constitution and the Bible must be understood to say the same thing. Or one has got to go as the arbiter of our values.

Sean: Monday, August 04, 2003 [+] |
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Friday, August 01, 2003
Mike Was Right

In Michael Totten's Techcentral article, The Globalization of Gaza, he warned

There are many stateless Muslims; the Chechens in Russia, the Kurds in the Middle East, the Uighurs in Eastern China, and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Opinion leaders tsk-tsk the Russians, but no one holds demonstrations for the liberation of Chechnya. The Kurds are good people and they deserve their own state, but nearly everyone agrees it would only make trouble. Few even know the Uighurs exist. Meanwhile, as the Palestinians continue the jihad, the number of their supporters isn't declining. It's rising. The lesson for extremists is clear: the squeaky wheel gets greased.
It looks like the news has just proved his point.

A suicide bomber drove a truck laden with explosives through the gates of a military hospital in Mozdok, Russia, on Friday and set off the explosives, killing at least 35 people, the Interfax news agency said.
This is a thorny issue. Powerful states do not often listen to the calls of disaffected minorities. Britain only responded to Ireland's independence when they rose in armed revolt. They only paid attention to Northern Ireland when bombs began showing up in malls (the IRA nearly always phoned in location, time, and disarmament needs in advance). And many people believe that Israel only signed the Oslo Agreement in response to Palestinian terrorism. And now other groups are learning the same lesson.

On the other hand... the US and Britain both devolved power in recent history with out bloodshed, Phillipines and Hong Kong. And groups that rely on terrorism, such as the Basque, are still stateless.

"The United States condemns this act of terrorism, which targeted hospital patients and those who care for them. No cause whatsoever, be it national, ethnic, religious, or political, can justify terrorism."

Russia should have backed us, not the French, on Iraq and Afghanistan. They need our help in maintaining the correct international response to terror.

Never give in to terror, dont even negotiate. Treat it like the crime it is. If you treat it as a political tactic, dont be suprised when every political group begins to use it.


Sean: Friday, August 01, 2003 [+] |
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