A minimum of 100,000 people recently died in and around Sumatra. They got swept under a massive tidal wave and their bloated bodies are still washing ashore. The world wept and began to raise an effort to provide aid.
An idiot UN bureaucrat, Jan Egeland, who gets payed a higher annual salary than the President of The US, and pays no income tax whatsoever on that money, cavalierly announced that the wealthy nations of the world were stingy. He further opined that this was because they paid too paltry an income tax.
Perhaps his own personal rate of taxation rendered his outlook so niggardly that he really doesn't understand why people got so mad. After perusing the editorial fever swamps of The New York Times this morning, it would seem Jan Egeland has company in his collossal indifference to the plight of the average citizen. Today's unsigned masterpiece actually supports Mr. Egeland's contention, and displays a profound lack of concern for how our government actually works.
The editorial begins with the rather infamous sentence. "Mr. Bush finally roused himself..." and then continues to state that $35mil really isn't a significant contribution. It continues to to state that Colin Powell should feel embarassed at how little our government is giving in disaster relief. This is where the New York Times editorial liars need to leave the tending of their Hamptons Mansions to the illegal alien help and pick up the text book from the basic civics class that they probably slept or snorted cocaine through back in High School.
The US government never gives anything to anyone. It redistributes wealth that is created by others. It does not have a large current reserve of cash and in at least 40 out of the last 50 years, it has operated at a deficit. The US government is allowed to spend money only after legislation has been drafted to appropriate the funds and passed on by both houses of Congress. This gives pretentious blowhards ample opportunity to vote for expenditures prior to turning tergivorate and voting against them.
So the New York Times intentionally ignores or genuinely lacks an institutional understanding of how the US government overspends its dollars. Either way, all the news that's fit to print isn't making it into the copy room and is conspicuously absent from their vapid, Trotskyite editorial page. Leaving the tragedy and the pathetic cheapshot at our president aside, the editorial becomes more turgid as The Constant Reader stifles the human gag reflex and plows on.
But for development aid, America gave $16.2 billion in 2003; the European Union gave $37.1 billion. In 2002, those numbers were $13.2 billion for America, and $29.9 billion for Europe.
This, quite simply, should facially invalidate the entire axiom that this editorial attempts to plant. So the United States, as a solitary country, is giving between 30 to 40 percent of the total amount given by about 18 out of the next 25 wealthiest nations in the world. One year's worth of our contribution probably at least doubles what these other nations expropriate from their taxpayers.
Every country in the EU probably taxes it's own citizens at much higher marginal rate, across every level of earned income, than the United States of America. That quoted statistic completly obliterates the entire point of the NYT editorial smear job. The United States, which has almost the lowest set of marginal tax rates of any modern, industrial nation, is outgiving these other disgusting, yuppie pikers by leaps and bounds.
They threw a set of statistics into their editorial to create a misleading appearance of factual graveman that simply does not exist. As they say in online short hand, "LMAO!!"
Correction: Jan Egeland exceeds Pres. Bush's Gross after tax income, not his Gross Salary. (Credit FreeRepublic for a nice catch!)
Update I: The force is with The Jawa Report today. It also covers the nasty politics of aid donation.
Update II: An interesting and very disturbing post on an Australian blog about the inevitable efforts of charlatans to use this disaster to steal money.
Update III: If you'd like to do something the NYT is constitutionally uncapable of, and actually help, follow this link to a very non-fraudulant organization. (Over $5mil in the bank and counting...)
Update IV: Wizbang suggests that the NYT editorial board got its idea for this piece dumpster-diving comments over at The Daily Kos. Is there any source of news, gossip or inuendo that ISN'T more reliable and up-to-date than the NYT?
Knight Of The Mind
I'll do my best to present a philosophical and generally conservative look at current events and life, the universe and everything. Readers are invited to take all that's posted herein with a grain of salt. or if they prefer, a grain of salt, a slice of lime and a shot of tequila.
- Name: SDH
- Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States
Greetings and welcome. My name is Steve, I'm 35 years old and I work for the US Army as an Operations Research Analyst. Hence my blog title Knight Of The Mind.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
A minimum of 100,000 people recently died in and around Sumatra. They got swept under a massive tidal wave and their bloated bodies are still washing ashore. The world wept and began to raise an effort to provide aid.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Susan Sontag's death brings grief and sadness to all those who were close to her and is thus a very sad occasion. It is only fitting to begin even this anti-eulogy with a proper expression of condolences to those stricken by her passage from the terrestrial vail of tears. So for those who loved Susan Sontag, I hope they find solace in their grief.
What looms sadder and more grievous than the attenuation of her lifespan is the meaning Susan Sontag gave to her life. If John Paul Sartre speaks the truth and we really become the summation of all that we do, than what Susan Sontag did to herself as a writer and a leading intellectual figure of the latter half of the 20th Century remains impardonable, even with her final demise.
Sontag pioneered the black art of intellectual anti-Americanism. More than Gertrude Stein, Earnest Hemingway or even Alan Ginsburg or William Burroughs, Sontag directed the American counterculture beyond the mere rejection of our nation's ideas. Stein and Hemingway may have expatriated themselves and Ginsberg and Burroughs may have drugged up and hit the road, but none of these prior countercultural figures actively rooted for the demise of modern America.
The four aforementioned rebellious figures certainly disliked some aspects of the America they lived in, but none spewed the bilous and conspicuous hatred for our people that tinged the vile writing of the late Susan Sontag. Her extant works mark a point of divergence and crossover from America's previous countercultural figures. Earnest Hemingway certainly opposed and hated the entire concept of war and probably felt the US lacked any justification for engaging in high intensity combat even with Hitler, but he drew a line at denigrating the mean who actually wore our uniform.
Sontag perhaps combined a certain ideological courage with her hatred. Her essay following the attacks of 9/11 is a hate America first screed for the ages. Richard Grenier recorded her vituperations in one of his columns so that future generations could truly understand intellectual hatred and national self-loathing when they read it. Her aspersions follow below.
The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public.
There is the acknowledgment that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing bombing of Iraq?
And if the word "cowardly" is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue) whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards. -World Net Daily
Sontag's fulminations over 9/11 were not the first instance in which she rooted for America's enemies the way good Catholics from Indiana root for Notre Dame. John Miller of NRO offers us some other examples of insight from Susan Sontag.
On John McCain's torturers: "The North Vietnamese genuinely care about the welfare of hundreds of captured American pilots and give them bigger rations than the Vietnamese population gets."
On Castro's Cuba: "The Cubans know a lot about spontaneity, gaiety, sensuality, and freaking out. The increase of energy comes because they have found a new focus for it: community."
On red-state America, circa 1969: "To us, it is self-evident that the Readers Digest and Lawrence Welk and Hilton Hotels are organically connected with the Special Forces' napalming villages in Guatemala." - The Corner on NRO.
So there you have what so many intellectual Americans pay tribute to. A woman who hated her country, revered it's mortal enemies, cheered when thousands of our citizens were slaughtered and deemed the American people somewhat psuedosapient in their belief in all that she personally despised. Sontag may no longer walk the verdant fields of Earth, but the ideology she abetted continues to pollute our culture and politics.
Perhaps the next time DC101 blasts "American Idiot" by Green Day, a tip of the cap is order to Susan Sontag who articulated the philosophical premise behind the punk rock drivel. Every time I hear that song I wish the idiots in Green Day would catch the next cab to San Francisco's international airport.
There they could book transport to one of the other 161 nations of the world and decrement that country's average IQ with their presence rather than ours. At least then they would have their wish of no longer being American idiots. Susan Sontag has left us at last. It is time for Noam Chomsky, Howard Dean, MoveOn.Gore members, and the caterwauling cranks of Green Day to do likewise. The friendly skies do beckon , unless 21 more terrorists display the late Susan Sontag's version of courage, which she found until the end to be morally neutral.
Update I: Little Green Footballs also notes the passing of our intellectual enemy. They do, however, find her defense of Salmon Rushdie somewhat redeeming. Perhaps fair is fair and no person can really be completly evil.
Update II: Leather Penguin won't be sending a bouquet to her funeral.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
The UN has gone beyond the realm of effrontery. They've gone past being criminal, they've gone past being hypocritical, they've flown past the limits of churlish and ungrateful. There should be a picture of the UN coat-of-arms in the dictionary next to the word "nauseating."
The latest pile of vomitous to spew from the world's foremost unelected deliberative busybodies came from Jan Egeland, who may not be a leading expert on taxation policy, but must have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. He offered us the following insights regarding our tax policies and our generosity to the victims of the tsunami in Indonesia.
"It is beyond me why are we so stingy, really," the Norwegian-born U.N. official told reporters. "Christmastime should remind many Western countries at least, [of] how rich we have become."
"There are several donors who are less generous than before in a growing world economy," he said, adding that politicians in the United States and Europe "believe that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less. It's not true. They want to give more."
Now the Indonesians certainly deserve the sympathy of the world. Particularly, since they lack the wherewithal to dig out from under this deluge of watery death. However, some bean-counting prick from the pampered circles of European Academia has no valid graveman to criticize the generosity or the economic policies of the US government.
The last great aid effort I heard about the UN conducting was the Oil For Food program in Iraq. That one greatly augmented the Kofi Annan Wine and Cigar Fund, but did nothing for the suffering masses of Basra, Iraq. If we gave Jan Egeland and his corrupt, contemptutous, turgid, cynical, bureacratic frauds at the UN $30 million instead of a mere $15 million, he'd probably just buy himself another yacht. We'd wind up funding his "fact-finding" trip to Phucket, Thailand.
Yes Jan, the government and people of the US would love to give more. However, contemptible pricks like yourself are not trustworthy custodians of our aid money. We'll work through the faith-based charities instead. They have a rule the UN has never honored. "Thou shalt not steal."
Update I: Jan Egeland should know better than to tee this man off.
Update II: Michelle Malkin questions the value of UN "assistance". Jan shouldn't trifle with Mrs. Malkin either.
Update III: QandO reminds Jan Egghead that a lack of coerced charity in no way implies stinginess.
Update IV: Right Voices suggests that Kofi find some of the Oil For Food money under his sofa cushions if he really cares about the starving people of Indonesia.
Update V: Ace of Spades cares. He took time out from his busy day to remind the Un of something: THEY SUCK!!
Update VI: More fulmination...Rusty Shackleford shows how a stone-cold blog pimp handles Eurowanks with this suggestion: "The next time you want to weigh in on U.S. tax policy, with all due respect, put a sock in it."
Monday, December 27, 2004
So When Does A Governor's Election End
The race for Governor in The State of Washington isn't over yet. The votes have all been counted at least six times now, I'm sure. The problem seems to be that some of them weren't quite being tallied enough times to put the Democratic Candidate over the top.
Thus, via the Al Gore Florida Cherry-Pick Methodology, they went to the traditionally Democratic King County and "found" 735 new votes that must of fallen in between the seat cushions of some poor poll worker's sofa. How convenient.
The next time Boris Yeltsin feels like stealing an election in a neighboring country, he needs to give soon to be selected Governor Gorgiare a call. It's a good thing we have a whole nation full of lawyers to cure the US of this nagging democracy problem.
Homeland Security has become a touchstone and mantra of the modern American politician. We've added an entire bureaucracy to make sure it gets talked about ad infinitum. When you fly the friendly skies, make sure your feet don't stink because the shoes are probably coming off before your flight leaves.
All this serves a need that America had patendly and somewhat arrogantly ignored until 11 September 2001. Regretably, not everyone has gotten with the program and some aspects of our country remain painfully vulnerable. Secretary Thompson spoke up about our nation's food supply and how he could not believe no one had hit us there yet.
However, there is one giant hole that runs for several thousand miles and has not been discussed in the slightest. Our national borders are still a wide-open, target-rich environment for Osauma Bin Ladin and all of his fanatical ilk. We're not just asking people to smuggle a nuclear device across the borders and detonate it in one of our downtowns, we're flat-out begging.
Finally, the good citizens of Arizona had taken as much as they could stand. They put a ballot initiative through aimed at restricting illegal imigration. The Washington Times describes it as follows.
The initiative, known as Proposition 200, passed Nov. 2 with 56 percent of the vote. It requires state and local government employees to verify the immigration status of those seeking public benefits and to report to federal immigration authorities any applicant who is in violation of U.S. immigration law. It also subjects the employees to criminal charges if they fail to report illegals. - Washtimes
This is not sedition, racism, backwardness or nativism run rampant. This initiative features a 56% majority of the citizens of the State of Arizona asking their state government to enfore the (expletive-deleted) law!
Of course nothing seems to get liberal activists more exercised than a vigorous and aggressive exercise in liberal democracy. The will of MALDEF, in this case, is not the will of the people. So this particular liberal intrest group is invoking the usual liberal refuge from having to honor the will of the people. They've lawyered up and intend to sue Arizona to block the will of 56% of it's citizens, because these arrogant liberal (expletive-deleteds) think they're smarter, holier and just a shade better looking than the rest of us.
MALDEF grounds its arguments against the proposition with the same intellectual rigor and commitment to the truth we remember fondly from Soviet propaganda and Howard Dean's campaign speeches. Here are three stirling examples of how Arizona's people are tyrannizing the less fortunate.
- MALDEF had argued in court papers that unless the initiative was overturned, it would "jeopardize the health and well-being of families and children who depend on public benefits for their basic necessities."
- MALDEF said Proposition 200 would "cut off all state services, including education, medical care and police and fire services, to all individuals who are unable to immediately provide adequate proof of their U.S. citizenship or residence."
- MALDEF President and General Counsel Ann Marie Tallman called the initiative "an illegal, impermissible, unconstitutional state attempt to regulate immigration policy, which is a fundamental function and responsibility of our federal government." She said it "denies basic services to hardworking, contributing members of our community while forcing public servants to become de facto federal immigration officers."
Dissecting this terrible logic is nearly as much fun as it is depressing. As a person who works with mathematics for a living, I would be fired tommorrow for failing so utterly to base my work on a graveman of factually supported syllogism.
As for fallacious argument number one, no one has to depend on the government for their basic necessities if they are sound of mind and able in body. If they could walk across the border, evade US employment law, and hold down a job long enough to mail lots of money back home, they are smart enough to make it off of welfare. They, like me, have earned their job. Now they, like me, can support the people they love without leaning on the government dole like a crutch.
As for argument two, a rational mind would deem this facially invalid. If I worked on a fire truck, drove up to a burning house and saw a propane tank getting ready to explode and spew burning fuel all over the nearby woods or some other houses, I think I'd have that hose out and active before I checked the homeowner's citizenship.
If I were a cop on the beat and saw a woman getting raped, I don't think I'd amble on over to the woman and say "Excuse me Ma'am. Before I pull this cretinous reprobate off your bodice, could you please provide your proof of US citizenship."
Argument number two has to be one of the stupidest written arguments ever presented in a court of law. It's a shame lawyers don't get disbarred for offensive stupidity. A legal mind of that caliber could reaffirm The Dred Scott Decision.
Argument number three reestablishes the institutional hostility of liberal Americans to the 10th Amendment of The US Bill Of Rights. Anyone doing anything without permission from a Federal Commisar is trampling on the Federal Government's role. What a wonderful view of society. Germany tried that out as a form of government a few decades back and the Jewish people didn't like it much.
The second part of that argument looks better, but only because it couldn't possibly have been as collosally bad as its predecessor. It's like comparing your local High School team to The Washington Redskins playing Dallas. Some of those kids are bound to look professional by comparison. The wannabee Louis Nizer's of MALDEF argue that anyone who reports a violation of Federal Immigration laws to the Feds is being forced to serve as a defacto federal immigation officer.
Perhaps if I do my civic duty and report a criminal activity, I should qualify for a police pension. It follows from MALDEF's logic that our civil responsibility to report wrong doing to the authorities deputizes us all.
So there you have it, America. MALDEF argues the following:
a) Expecting illegal immigrants to get a job and work like the US citizens have to deprives the poor of their only source of income. Next thing you know we'll make these people learn English or something.
b) Cutting off any state services from illegal aliens means that you'll cut them all off, no matter how rediculous the consequences of doing so would be. If an illegal alien's roof catches fire, all the neighbors better crank up their sprinkler systems and make sure the lawn is good and wet.
c) The 10th Amendment was only in a rough draft of The Bill of Rights and no state agency can operate in any way that even approximates a federal function.
d) Anyone reporting a crime serves as a de facto enforcement officer. Yes, you should report wrong doing, but first read the malefactor his rights first and then call your attorney and make sure you're covered by The Posse Comitatis Act.
It's really fortunate that this case will be heard by a judge of sound mind and stern bearing who has lived in Arizona for years and loves the state and all of its people. What? It's going to the 9th Federal Circus Court in San Francisco? They have jurisdiction over a case involving Arizona state law?
Of course, the 9th Circus has juris-my-dickshun. They get every case that a whackjob liberal intrest group wants a 2% chance of winning. If this law were passed in Maine, the federal case would be heard in San Francisco. Everyone knows the role of the Federal Judiciary is to lord it over those stupid (expletive-deleteds) that don't vote the way Dennis Kucinich wants them to.
Alan Drury wrote best-selling novels about this sort of abusive governance. They were given boring, ponderous titles like "Come Nineva, Come Tyre" and no one with a date on Friday Night ever read the stupid things. Well, it's come to pass.
If you live in America and can't stand the oppression of Representative Democracy, just lawyer up and tap a kidney on those stupid little people and their ballot box. If they can't vote the way we tell them to, we'll just sue them for having a contradictory opinion. Once these people learn how to think properly this whole Democracy thing could have potential. In the meanwhile, back to the lawsuits.
Update I: Michelle Malkin offers the following analysis of how this fiasco of a case ever reched the 9th Federal Circus:
It's a gratifying (if temporary) win for pro-immigration enforcement activists. Even the Democrat state attorney general, who had publicly opposed the ballot measure, agreed that it was constitutional and dismissed the open-borders lobby's argument that allowing state and local officials to help enforce our laws was "illegal." - MichelleMalkin.com
The Democratic Party still has a number of intelligent people at work to advance its cause. These people woke up after Election 2004 with a case of heartburn that Maalox wouldn't put down. They realized that their party had gone too far towards the fringes to win even when they had the news of the world on their side.
The Democrats entered 2004 with a golden opportuninty. They were running against a candidate that had presided over the start of a major war, a net loss of jobs, a declining equities market and country that had been hit with a military strike more lethal than the attack on Pearl Harbor. Things looked really good for The Party of Jefferson and Jackson until the public heard who they were running for office and what their party members actually believed.
Then America got to know Dr. Dean and Demented Dennis. They saw Al Sharpton on stage being treated like a man with legitimate gravitas. They got to watch John Edwards perform his flim-flam routine time and time again.
This, in and of itself, would not have done the Democrats in. The Republicans allow nut-jobs and charletans their moment in the sun as well. Allowing Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean to speak at their convention only equals the malfeasance of the GOP handing a microphone to Patrick J. Buchanon.
What really put the Democrats in a strait-jacket was the actual people who care about their party and run its grass roots. These people actually believed Fahrenhiet 9-11 and appreciated all the hard work turned in by Michael Moore. These people actually joined MoveOn.org and like the haters of capitalist greed that they are, gave George Soros money. For their next fool's errand they drag a few bags of coal to Newcastle.
The Democrats did run a few candidates that could have beaten George W. Bush and probably by a wide margin after he kowtowed to the AARP with the infamous Prescription Drug Panderation Act and to big labor with the Steal Tariff of 2003. An incumbant that urinates on his base vote should have been fodder for Joe Lieberman, John Kerry or Richard Gephardt.
This was where the good, committed, liberal Democrats rode to the rescue of the Republican Party. When Hatred-Powered Howard Dean was unsure the capture of Saddam Hussein was a positive contribution to the world, Joe Liebermann was smart enough to tell Howard The Quack that he was "hiding in a spider-hole of denial." The rank-and-file Democratic activist wasn't quite bright enough to figure this out and rode Joe Liebermann out of the race on a rail.
After chasing Gephardt and Liebermann out of their nationwide Phish Concert acid test, the radical left then made sure the candidates still in the mosh pit were only slightly less deracinated than Dennis Kucinich was with his Grandfather Twilight endorsement. When John Kerry attempted to make somewhat aggressive noises on fighting terrorists, the activists made darn well sure he voted against the $87 Billion to fight the war.
There are people out there who care a lot about the Democrats and want them to get out of left-hand ditch and back on the road to making a positive contribution to society. However, these poor, benighted individuals have to denazify the American Left. They need to convince their activists that Grandfather Twilight will not be leading an army of Ents to the polls in 2008. Unless, of course, Pat Buchanon gets the nomination and they mistake him for Saruman, the Evil Grand Wizard.
The Peter Beinarts, Joe Liebermans and others who want the Democrats to compete well are not really bad people, but they are dangerous. I'm not sure George W. Bush would have won without MoveOn.Gore. In fact, I'm not sure W would ever have been President without Al Gore.
It is for this reason, that I very strongly hope Howard Dean gets the nod as Chairman of The Communist Party, I mean DNC. The Denazification of the American Left has got to fail. Only Hatred-Powered Howard can save the GOP from its own mediocrity and corruption and keep leftism out of power in America.
Update I: Right Voices lists New Year's Resolutions for The So-Called Democratic Party. Denazification didn't make the list. They'll still basically suck and the GOP will still feel entitled to perpetual power until the Dems or someone else get serious about providing principled opposition.
Update II: Ricky is another blogger who gets what the Dems need. He's a scary and worthy adversary.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Why Happy Holidays Just Won't Cut It.
Everyone looks forward to Christmas. It's a redemptive time of year for many of us. The people we've forgotten or overlooked in the past 12 months are suddenly forefront in our minds. We all, at least I do, strive to reconnect with family and friends that I don't get to see everyday.
These traditions are part and parcel to our holiday celebrations. It's the spirit of the Christmas Season and it brings a welcome levity to the dull slog of Winter and a fitting coda to another year's striving. However, the very underpinnings that make Christmas a spiritual holiday of redemption and forgiving are under attack in our media and in our marketplace.
Christmas stands athwart what many view as a necessary and inevitable march towards secularism. Those who deride the Christmas Holiday will tell us that religion is just so much mumbo-jumbo and ritual; like the spells a wizard casts in an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game. Fun, but not serious or related in any way to our everyday lives. The graveman of their objection to Christmas is a firm and long-standing mental abnegation of the existance of Christ.
What these doubters fail to grasp is that everything good associated with Christmas flows from the religious symbolism of the holiday. God sent Christ to Earth to redeem mankind. Once The Almighty has done that, the least I can do is call my mother in law and wish her Merry Christmas. The Peace of Christmas is the redemption of mankind through the life and death of Christ.
A failure to grasp the religious significance of Christmas is what Tupac Shapur would call a failure to see the whole game. It leaves a person sitting at a party, somewhat pickled on eggnog, and not quite sure why anyone would spend a bunch of time putting ornaments on a tree. Without the religious context, Christmas becomes what Lucy in The Peanuts Christmas Special called "The Gift-Getting Season."
Like all worldviews rooted in purely objective, corporeal fact, the non-religious Christmas proves a non-starter. An agnostic Christmas is a big logistical pain in the neck, not a redemptive reunion of family and friends. I don't think you can have a Merry Christmas without Christ, any more than you can effectively explain human behaivior through dialectical materialism.
Our spirituality seperates us from the salacious monkeys in the local zoo. This is why Happy Holidays just doesn't cut it. it has to be Merry Christmas. And while you're at it, have a successful New Year as well.
Update I: Paul at Wizbang gives us about as thurough an argument against my assertion as you'll find. It's a fairly well-written essay linking Christmas to pagan Solstice Festivals. Still on the skimpy side compared to the four Gospels, but at least there are a few agnostics out there that shower regularly and can write a coherent sentence without their nose rings itching. It still won't have me singing Solstice Bells by Jethro Tull this year around the Maypole Tree.
Update II: Wunderkinder links to Charles Krauthammer's dismemberment of the common agnostic case for expelling spirituality from the public square. It's both interesting and depressing that the best defense of modern Christmas celebrations I've read this year comes from a dedicated, practicing Jew.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
The Smartest Man You've Never Heard Of
John Cowperthwaite will never receive his just due. The man proved the power of humility, simplicity and faith in his fellow man. He reaffirmed hallowed principles set forth by Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson and brought enlightenment to millions living in misery after World War II. However, you will never hear of this heroic man unless you pick up a copy of Eat The Rich by P. J. O'Rourke.
The dying British Empire sent Cowperthwaite to oversee Hong Kong in 1945. If Cowperthwaite read Bullfinch at all, he had to feel like the Pommies had just handed him a shovel and pointed him in the direction of The Augean Stables. The war had ruined Hong Kong, and Cowperthwaite realized that he lacked the power or the ideas to bring the place back single-handedly. So Cowperthwaite did something so brilliant that I'm certain no US politician would ever be smart enough to figure it out.
Instead of taking over and installing a bunch of misguided government programs that would have mirrored the post-birth abortion the Labour Party was performing on the economy of the British Mainland, he told the people of Hong Kong to fix it themselves and then labored mightily to ensure that these entrepreneurs were left in peace to do it.
He openly admitted that he wasn't the man driving the train. He stated. "I did very little. All I did was prevent some of the things that might undo it."
In hopes of just persuading the colonial legislature to take prophylactic measures against the syphilis of socialism, he made the following declaration during a debate over the colony's budget in 1961.
"...in the long run the aggregate of decisions of individual businesses, exercising individual judgment in a free economy, even if often mistaken, is less likely to do harm than the centralized decisions of a government; and certainly the harm is likely to be counteracted faster."
Someone please tell this to the US Congress the next time another Prescription Drug Panderation Act or another effort to weaken Welfare Reform makes it out of committee and on to the floor. We have the collective knowledge and decisiveness to solve our own problems without our government deciding for us. If we let our government decide, there is very little we can do to avoid tragedy if that decision is wrong.
We stand in awe of the politician who, like Charlemagne, gets handed the crown and the unlimited power it signifies, but who shows ultimate wisdom and puts aside personal powerlust on behalf of the common weal. George Washington did this for the US when he refused the crown after successfully freeing the thirteen colonies from British Rule. Cowperthwaite did the same when he intentionally steered a different course from then Prime Minister Clement Attlee and let Hong Kong remain freer than the mother land that held it as a colonial possession.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe had the following to say in memorial of Pearl Harbor.
"While we as a nation are united in this fight, there are clearly deep divisions within the Republican Party, divisions that are impeding our fight against terrorism," he said.
"Moving forward, it is my sincere hope that the Republicans running Washington will stop playing their political games and start fighting for the American people, just as our honored veterans did 63 years ago."
This revolting cheapness reveals a level of deracination and total unconcern for anything accept power and facile, temporary advantage that has left The Democrats the minority party since 2004. McAuliffe shouldn't apologize to anyone. His retraction would be no more sincere than his use of a historical tragedy to advance his partisan agenda.
Visitors to The USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii will see a sign telling them to treat the memorial with reverance for they are about to walk upon hallowed ground. Terry McAuliffe probably wouldn't even care if he was buried in hallowed ground.
Update I: For more appropriate and moving tributes to the brave sailors killed 63 years ago, see Michelle Malkin's Pearl Harbor Post.
A cursory examination of hard data on the ground makes it seem ludicrous to plant the axiom that the US could eventually lose our bid to democratic Iraq, Afghanistan and other authoritarian hellholes scattered throughout the Middle East. Our Marine Corps just finished demolishing the heart of the Al-Quaida-backed elements of the Iraqi resistance. The rapid and complete purging of Fallujah sent a message to our enemies.
Unfortunately, other actions on our part send them a message as well. That message reads that our front line military troops may prove indominatable in open battle, but that in many cases, the resolve to back their efforts does not exist back home across the ocean blue.
The Department of Defense has been served with a lawsuit that alleges that its use of stop-loss regulations to extend soldier enlistments violates the Constitutional rights of soldiers who get extended. This utterly defies reality. Anyone who dons the uniform of the US Army knows that they are not immediately cut loose at the end of their term of enlistment.
If they even get a set of retirement orders cut, they are placed in the Inactive Ready Reserve. Soldiers on this list are liable up to seven years after separation for call-up in the event of national necessity. In other words, if you sign on the line and put on a set of the BDUs, Uncle Sam owns an option contract on your butt anytime he seeks to exercise it.
If the soldiers suing the DOD didn't want to actually go to Iraq, they never should have signed on the bottom line. The Army exists to win America's wars, not provide social welfare or outdoor adventure to people who are underemployed or flat-out bored.
This basic moral logic didn't dissuade the plaintiffs. One of them issued the following statement to the press.
Army Specialist E-4 David W. Qualls said Monday that he had filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of himself and seven other soldiers protesting the Department of Defense's stop-loss policy that involuntarily extends tours of duty.
"What this boils down to, is a question of fairness," Qualls said. "I've served five months past my 1-year obligation -- and I feel it's time for us to be allowed to go back to our lives."
This lawsuit received immediate backing from others who's motives are far less simple and understandable than the desire to return home from a very bad place.
"This (case) is unique because (Qualls) volunteered for a specific time, " said James Klimanski, an attorney involved in the case. "There's nothing in (the Try One) contract -- even in the fine print -- that calls for the involuntary extension under this circumstance," he added, calling stop-loss "a backdoor draft that the Bush administration is imposing on American service members."
Apparantly Mr. Klimanski hasn't quite realized the election ended last month. He's still spreading the rumors of a backdoor draft. This, of course, is contemptible stupidity. You can't stop-loss an individual who hasn't enlisted to begin with.
James Lobel, attorney and vice president of the Center for Constitutional Rights agrees. "This case involves one of the fundamental values of our society -- honesty," Lobel said: "Our government has not been honest with Mr. Qualls and other plaintiffs. ... The courts should (not) tolerate such dishonesty."
Lobel attempts to mask his naked desire to undermine the war effort in higher motives. He's no more convincing to me than a horde of stoner college students demanding medicinal dime bags. The day our courts start deciding what military recruiting practices they will or will not deign to tolerate is the day the US should just take the flag down and surrender to the first bunch of suckers who would willingly take over The Land of The Free and The Home of The Litigous Ass-Hat.
What happened to SPC Qualls is very sad and was handled very poorly on the part of the Army. Should they have counseled him first that this would happen and let him at least tell his family? Absolutely. Finding out his contract had been re-upped from an LES statement was not professional, decent or even worthy.
However, SPC Qualls signed up for service and qualifies automatically for the Inactive Ready Reserve. The US Army had a viable and legal way to extend him without the chicanery. Qualls has no case except to his IG Representative. He's been treated shabbily, and maybe the Army needs to crack a few heads in someone's G-1 shop over this.
However, this should in no way proclude the military from exercising stop-loss as a way to keep qualifieds soldiers in until the war is over. Somewhere in Iraq, Iran, Syria or the wilds of Afghanistan, the leaders of the Whabbi movement read about this and gain hope. As they gain this hope, they gain recruits. SPC Qualls isn't saving any lives or ending the likelihood of further stop-loss orders. He's only making more carnage and a longer war more necessary.
As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.
Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.