Thursday, September 28, 2006

The New Anti-Semitism

Professor Hanson, classicist and astute observer of contemporary world affairs, weighs in this morning on the topic of anti-semitism. In particular, Prof. Hanson describes the new strain as a combination of flagrant Islamic hatred of (and violence against) Jews, bolstered by indifference and even encouragement from the Western political Left.

The key passage:

We're accustomed to associating hatred of Jews with the ridiculed Neanderthal Right of those in sheets and jackboots. But this new venom, at least in its Western form, is mostly a leftwing, and often an academic, enterprise. It's also far more insidious, given the left's moral pretensions and its influence in the prestigious media and universities. We see the unfortunate results in frequent anti-Israeli demonstrations on campuses that conflate Israel with Nazis, while the media have published fraudulent pictures and slanted events in southern Lebanon.
Anti-semitism has once again become acceptable -- in polite European company and in large swaths of American academia. The Left's eager apologies for Islamic violence against Jews and repeated threats to annihilate Israel leave me asking -- again -- why are there still Jewish Democrats?

Monday, September 25, 2006

The U.N. Is Hopeless

Mark Steyn offers his take on the Crazy Dictator Show that took place at the U.N. last week. Most of the coverage I've seen has dealt with the specifics of Chavez's rant against Bush the "devil." Lost in much of the media coverage was Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denial reprise and Chavez's celebration of American anti-capitalist (and celebrated icon of the American and European Left) Noam Chomsky.

Steyn sets his sights on the reaction of the nattering delegates to Chavez and Ahmadinejad and correctly concludes that it evidences the absolute uselessness of the U.N.:
It may be news to the Council of Foreign Relations types and the Dems, but the U.N. demonstrated this last week that it is utterly incapable of reform. Indeed, any reforms would be more likely to upgrade and enhance the cliques of thugs and despots than of the few states willing to stand up to them. The most sensible proposal this week came from Chavez, who demanded the U.N. relocate to Venezuela. You go, girl! Dershowitz would be better off trying to get America expelled from the U.N., and encouraging it to join a new group of nations serious about defending freedom in the world: It would be a very small club. This week Jacques Chirac dropped the threat of sanctions against Iran. A few months ago, he briefly mused about nuking the Persians, but he's now folded like ... well, not like the Arabs and their tents: They're busily pitching them all over Europe with no plans to fold at all. Anyone who thinks the U.N. is the body to mediate Iran's nuclearization or anything else is more deluded than Ahmadinejad. At this rate, the Twelfth Imam will be the next secretary-general.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Why Am I So Mean To Liberals? (UPDATED and UPDATED AGAIN)

Folks who know me personally often wonder how I can be so strident in my criticism of liberals, when in reality I'm not even a "right-winger" or a social conservative, but more of a hawkish libertarian.

Here's why.

What the Hell is wrong with you people?

UPDATE (4:31 p.m.): There's also this. @#$%ing Harkin. Is this what your party has become? A midwestern Senator scrambles to get to the Left of Pelosi and Rangel? By way of defending a dictator who calls the President of the United States a "devil"?

I repeat: What the Hell is wrong with you people?

UPDATED AGAIN (Friday, 9:44 a.m.): And why should U.S. Senators refrain from casting their lots with Chavez? Perhaps because he's in league not only with the Iranian psycho-president Ahmedinejad, but also with HEZBOLLAH.

Good For Them

I'm sick of Democrats who whine that it's unfair for Republicans to question their patriotism just because so many Democrats have a penchant for railing against America's military, against America's economy, and against America's culture. I think we're right to question the patriotism of those who embrace setbacks in the war against Islamofascism while piously ignoring all progress -- simply because of who the sitting president is.

But today, a few Dems actually did put their Bush-derangement aside to publicly condemn Venezuelan Henchman-in-Chief Hugo Chavez for calling President Bush a "devil" in remarks before the U.N. yesterday.

Charlie Rangel and Nanci Pelosi both weighed in rather forcefully.

Most assuredly, these rabid Bush-critics perceive some political gain in rallying behind the President on this solitary score. Presumably, they think they up their patriotism credentials by waving the flag in defiance of a man everyone (except Noam Chomsky and Fidel Castro) can agree is a nutjob. Either way, I was happy to see it, and so on this one occasion, I'll extend them a bit of credit.

Perhaps someday the leaders of the Democratic Party will find the cojones to speak out against America's other enemies. It makes one feel good to see leaders of different political parties supporting one another on issues of importance. But I'm not holding my breath for any further displays of goodwill. November's coming up, and it's more important to blame Bush for every ill in the world than to marshal our resources in pursuit of America's interests.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Future of Philanthropy

It has long been a mainstay of conservative political thought that in a capitalist society, charity (and philanthropy in general) ought to be a private endeavor. And it surely is, to a great extent, in the United States. The wealthiest Americans give massive amounts of money to philanthropic organizations and even set up (and generously fund) foundations to undertake works for the betterment of society.

For the most part, though, this private philanthropy exists on the sideline of capitalism, as a direct consequence of federal tax laws. Philanthropic entities are typically conducted as "not for profit" enterprises, because that enables both donors and the charities themselves to avoid paying taxes on donations.

I've long mused whether it would be possible for a company to simultaneously be "for profit" and pointedly philanthropic in purpose. I'm not an economist, so I don't have the intellectual tools to run that particular thought experiment. Yet I've wondered: If I had a billion dollars, could I set up and structure in a business in such a way that it helped large numbers of people and made money at the same time?

Well, it seems the innovators at Google are making a real experiment of my thought experiment (no, I don't presume to take credit for the idea). Google has announced that it is creating a subsidiary that will be philanthropic in nature, but also "for profit."

The possible tensions are obvious. Chiefly: What will shareholders think of the company they invest in focusing on something other than simply the bottom line?

But what I find exciting about this endeavor is that a company like Google has the capital to invest in technologies and projects that otherwise would never get (adequately) funded, save perhaps by the government. For example, Google may invest in alternative-fuels research that (1) existing energy companies aren't incentivized to zealously pursue and that (2) taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for.

Businesses are more efficient than government. If businesses can and will solve social problems more efficiently than government can and will, then a great many things are possible. This should be interesting to watch.

A Glimmer of Sanity?

For decades, Amnesty International has pursued its human rights agenda in such a selective fashion that the U.S. and Israel have been deemed the world's worst human-rights offenders while China, North Korea, Sudan, and other oppressive regimes -- not to mention violent Islamic terror organizations -- get a free pass.

So I was shocked to see that Amnesty has actually called Hezbollah out for war crimes in connection with the deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians with missile attacks this summer.

Now, Amnesty hasn't stopped beating the Israel-Is-Evil drum, but I am a bit heartened to see that (1) it has at last awakened (if only in a narrow context) to the public fact that Islamic Fascists not only disavow human rights but seek to eliminate them at every turn, and (2) Israelis, in fact, actually have "human rights."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Are You Ready For Some Football?



Life isn't all about politics and war and carrying out our maniacal, imperialist, neo-conservative, Zionist agenda. Among my favorite non-hegemonic aspects of human existence is NFL football. And the 2006 season starts tonight.

So -- tonight -- set aside the Zogby polls and the Reuters scandals; grab a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon, take a seat on your couch, and treat yourself to the first taste of meaningful football since February.

God Bless America.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Conspiracy-Mongering 101 (Updated)

The British press has breathlessly announced the long-simmering idiocy of a cadre of American academics who are determined to believe that the U.S. government planned and carried out the 9-11 attacks, then pinned them on "terrorists" to form a pretext for American warmongering and imperialism.

The coverage from Britain's Daily Mail reveals just how eager a frighteningly large segment of the English-speaking world is to swallow such absurdity. The article could not possibly try harder to promote the conspiracy theory.

First, the Daily Mail refers to the conspiracy-peddlers as "leading" academics and scientists . . . no fewer than four times:

  • "The 9/11 terrorist attack on America which left almost 3,000 people dead was an 'inside job', according to a group of leading academics."
  • "Around 75 top professors and leading scientists believe the attacks were puppeteered by war mongers in the White House to justify the invasion and the occupation of oil-rich Arab countries."
  • "But leading scientists say the facts of their investigations cannot be ignored and say they have evidence that points to one of the biggest conspiracies ever perpetrated."
  • "He has joined the 9/11 Scholars for Truth whose membership includes up to 75 leading scientists and experts from universities across the US."

By what measure are these crackpots "leading" anything other than an increasing number of ignorant devotees? Are they leaders in their fields? Do they teach at top universities? Has any of them distinguished himself in any particular way other than through transparent lunacy? Jaya Narain, the article's writer, provides no indication.

I was also struck by this bit:

Professor James Fetzer, 65, a retired philosopher of science at the University of Minnesota, said: "The evidence is so overwhelming, but most Americans don't have time to take a look at this."

A "philosopher of science"? What IS that? Doesn't sound like a "leading" scientist to me. It sounds like interdisciplinary garbage that requires one to know a bit about this and a bit about that, but not a whole lot about anything.

Maybe I'm wrong, though. Maybe this Professor Fetzer is indeed a distinguished academic. Let's take a look at the man's own web page.

Now, right off the bat, I'm thrown a bit by his photo.

It doesn't exactly exude "Trust Me, I Know What I'm Talking About." I get more of a "HOOOEEEY, Y'all Oughtta See The Bass I Just Reeled In!" sort of vibe. Perhaps more relevant is the fact that his website includes an entire curriculum vitae dedicated solely to his research regarding the Kennedy Assassination. Something tells me Professor Fetzer never met a conspiracy theory he didn't like.

Oh, and as for being a "leading" academic, as Narain claims, Fetzer is a former professor in the philosophy department of the Duluth Campus of the University of Minnesota. Impressive.

Fetzer isn't the only "leading academic" over whom Narain fawns. There's also Steven Jones, Professor of Physics at BYU. At least this guy doesn't wear flannel in his faculty photo. But a "leading academic"? To be sure, he is a "leading" believer that cold fusion works; too bad cold fusion has been debunked over and over and over again as wholly implausible, if not impossible. I wonder if his employer, Brigham Young University, sees him as a "leading academic."

Nope.

Well, Narain only cites one more "leading academic." His name is Kevin Barrett, and Narain identifies him as an "assistant professor" at the University of Wisconsin (another member of the Ivy League of the Great Lakes). First of all, when has an "assistant professor" ever been regarded as a "leading academic" in any field? In actuality, Barrett is not even an assistant professor. He has a one-semester appointment as an "associate lecturer" at the University of Winsconsin-Madison. And what, exactly, does he teach that qualifies him to opine about who carried out the 9-11 attacks?

Islam: Religion and Culture. No, this is not a joke.

So let's bring it full circle. A reporter for the Daily Mail writes an article that heralds growing acceptance of the proposition that the U.S. government (and not Muslim terrorists) carried out the 9-11 attacks. She(?) relies specifically on (1) a physicist who has become a laughingstock of science for his faith in cold fusion, (2) a "philosopher of science" who looks like a Hee Haw extra, and (3) a self-described "Islamologist and Arabist" with a one-semester gig at UW-M. All of whom Narain collectively (and repeatedly) characterizes as "leading academics" and "top scientists."

I'll leave the substantive rebuttal of these nutjobs' theories to others. And, believe me, plenty of "leading scientists" -- like the fine folks at Popular Mechanics -- have eviscerated them. But isn't it frightening to see how eagerly the mainstream British press is disseminating this crap and unabashedly trying to bolster the credibility of the crap-shovelers?

I've asked it before, and I'll ask it again: Am I living in Crazy Land?

UPDATE (Friday, 1:40 p.m.): BYU has further clarified its view on whether physics professor Steven Jones is a "leading academic." According to a statement issued by BYU, Dr. Jones is now under review because the university is "concerned about the increasingly speculative and accusatory nature of these statements by Dr. Jones."

Jones is on paid leave pending the review. "Leading academic," indeed.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Revisionism

The Washington Post trots out a sanctimonious editorial today regarding the Plame saga, proclaiming the "End of an Affair." Here are a few bits of the Post's sniffy attempt to put the entire matter aside:

WE'RE RELUCTANT to return to the subject of former CIA employee Valerie Plame because of our oft-stated belief that far too much attention and debate in Washington has been devoted to her story and that of her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, over the past three years.

Give me a break. The Post is "reluctant" to write about the Plame story? Funny. I ran a quick search of the Post's archives for "Plame" and turned up more than 500 results. Is that reluctance? Here's another mind-boggling bit of holiness:

But all those who have opined on this affair ought to take note of the not-so-surprising disclosure that the primary source of the newspaper column in which Ms. Plame's cover as an agent was purportedly blown in 2003 was former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage.

Yes, all you opiners out there, take note. Because we're not surprised. We knew it all along. Right? Well, let's see what the Post was saying a year ago:

July 15, 2005:

At a critical moment, the normally effective [Bush] spin operation finds itself handcuffed because the leak of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame is the subject of a criminal investigation that seems close to fruition. The embers of the Rove controversy were stoked into flame on Monday because of a remarkable White House briefing in which spokesman Scott McClellan was forced to avoid 35 questions on Rove because of the "ongoing investigation."

The conventional view is that Rove will be safe as long as he escapes indictment. Given how much Bush values his services, that may be true. But even if Rove survives, the events of this week will leave scars on the administration by dramatizing negative perceptions that, until now, have done little damage.

Rove is said to admire Napoleon's adage: "The whole art of war consists in a well-reasoned and extremely circumspect defensive, followed by rapid and audacious attack." Unless, of course, they manage to make it work one more time, an approach that has served Rove and Bush well is in grave jeopardy.

July 13, 2005:

There's no basis to conclude that if Rove was the guy who outed [Valerie Plame], he told his boss about it. But Rove was, and has always been, [George W. Bush]'s one indispensable aide precisely, though not only, because he would do whatever it took to advance his boss's interests, no matter the consequences to his intended targets or innocent bystanders. Though we can't be certain it was Rove who disclosed Plame's identity, we can be damned sure that if he did, it was all in a day's work on behalf of George W. Bush.
Does it look to you like the Post is "unsurprised" by the fact that administration opponent Armitage was the leaker? Doesn't "unsurprising" mean you at least suspected it was true? Of course it does. And that begs the question: If the Post suspected Armitage was the leaker all along, then why did it churn out hundreds of articles and editorials containing the kind of "Rove is the Boogeyman" innuendo quoted above?

I guess we should just swallow today's nothing-to-see-here-folks editorial, applaud the Post for staying above the partisan fray, and tiptoe away quietly.