HEY, THERE ARE MORE OF US OUT THERE THAN I THOUGHT!
In addition to PoliBlog, I just ran across another very well done blog by a Ph.D. who also figured out how to get a blogroll posted -- Outsidethebeltway. I'm still working on that. Not so long ago, when I took a class on html tagging, the instructor told us to keep our websites simple so they could be accessible to a diversity of people. Seriously, he basically said keep things stupid so everyone can enjoy stupidity in harmony!
It is kind of creepy that three political science Ph.D.s started blogs within a few weeks of one another. Something systematic must have happened that made us all snap.
[Super D'OH! The site that I list below and is actually a SATIRE site and I totally missed the satire. Like, duh on my part. There is a purple sign in the upper left corner of the blog declaring it as satire. Actually, this is extremely good satire in that I really thought this is how the left would present itself. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THIS SITE. THIS IS BRILLIANT SATIRE. I feel real stupid and must admit that I was sloppy in my reporting. I was kind of scratching my head as to why the blog had "radical capitalist" written in its URL. That said, I now HIGHLY RECOMMEND this site and once I learn to blogroll properly, it will be linked. Kudos to the folks at LumpenBlog!]
While I don't advise this site, which is by the weak-minded for the weak-minded (what does that say about me), I found the following post to be highly indicative of what we are dealing with on the left. This guy cites from, and responds to, an article in the Washington Post (in quotes).
I read this and tears nearly welled up in one of my eyes. "J.S. Irick, shivering in only his underwear, chained himself to a flagpole and smeared his body with red paint to represent blood. Scores flung themselves on the student union floor to dramatize the innocent Iraqis they say will die if the United States invades that country.
I have tried to be civilized about this, I really have, and I think you would, you know, have to admit that. Unfortunately I am now very angry. I want to see this from the perspective of the warmongers, you see, because I want to understand them and maybe then I can help them to become better."
But when I read about that poor college kid in his underpants, shivering, smeared in red paint, and chained to a flagpole - all out of conscience, I wanted to take the Cubito-sucking bastards by their lapels and shake them, you know? I wanted to rub their face in the picture of that poor kid and shout: 'Now! Now do you get it? No war in Iraq!'
OK, so that's what makes a Lefty cry. Some guy who chose to strip down to his undies and chain himself to a flagpole. Hint: that guy is a moron, and that kind of action is not going to stop any war.
Here is what tends to affect us people on the right. You read it and decide which side of this debate is more humanitarian. This was from the UK Telegraph, but I quote here from Taranto's Best of the Web.
Thirty-seven-year-old Nazif Mamik Tofik, an Iraqi Kurdish woman, approached a border crossing between semiautonomous northern Iraq and Iraq proper, the Daily Telegraph reports. She was carrying two five-gallon canisters of fuel, which she hoped to sell on the Iraqi side to get some money to feed her children. Here's what happened next:
"As she stepped up to the Iraqi checkpoint, a military policeman suddenly pulled a knife, slashed open the flimsy plastic containers and splashed petrol all over her.
Then the head of the Iraqi border guard casually walked up to her, pulled a lighter from his pocket and set her ablaze. Soaked in fuel, she began to burn like a torch. That was on Monday afternoon. Yesterday Nazif lay in Sulaimania emergency hospital, on the Iraqi side, whimpering with pain. She had third degree burns and doctors said she was lucky to be alive. . . . In a faltering voice, she said: 'They said absolutely nothing, just looked at me with hatred. Then they set me alight. My whole body was in flames. I can't describe the pain. . . .'"
OK, Lumpen-head...explain to me again why I'm supposed to care about some spoiled brat who chose, of his own free will, to act like an idiot. Unreal.
ScrappleFace just had a delightful entry about how the US will invade France if Iraq attacks the US.
I say screw waiting around, let's just invade France now. Here is how I imagine the scenario.
We fly a force of 12 Green Berets into Paris on British Airways, first class of course. They disembark and go to the L'Elysée and declare that France is now officially a US protectorate. Chaos will ensue as it will take roughly 3 to 4 hours for the French armed forces to find their rifles, dust them off, and throw them down.
Le President Jocular Chiraq becomes outraged and asks the UN Security Council to draft a resolution declaring the invasion of France to be illegal. The resolution will also require a series of inspections to see if the occupying forces -- i.e., the 12 Green Berets -- have actually left the country. The inspectors must be given several months to do their job because France is a big place and there are lots of hiding places for Green Berets (even though they are in L'Elysée -- sssshhhhhh, don't tell).
President Bush agrees to support the French resolution, whereupon French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepinhead declares that France will veto its own resolution because of US support. France thus endorses its own occupation and all French vineyards are sold to Coors Brewing Company so that their wine can be boxed and sold at 7-11's around the country.
ANY WONDER WHY ACADEMICS ARE BECOMING MARGINALIZED?
Here the description of Sovereign Nations, Carnal States from Cornell University Press' book catalog.
Sovereign Nations, Carnal States is an extraordinarily synthetic intellectual tour de force. Kam Shapiro uses the body as a lens to focus on often-overlooked dimensions of modern sovereignty. He provides a novel perspective on one of the most important problems in contemporary political theory: the conflict between the demands of political sovereignty, exemplified in the nation-state, and the economic and cultural dislocations of modern society. It is often assumed that classical political theory conceives of the body as an instrument subordinated to a rational subject. In contrast, Shapiro argues that thinkers from Augustine to Hegel and Carl Schmitt have conceptualized the body as a resource to supplement standard modes of political affiliation and moral agency.
Drawing on critical readings of Augustine, Derrida, Hegel, Schmitt, and Benjamin, Shapiro develops what he refers to as a “political somatics.” The author is preoccupied by the way desire and habit are the conditions of possibility for meaningful political affiliation, but he also shows how they constantly risk being held hostage to contingency. Both, he concludes, are important resources for democratic politics. Shapiro marshals both historical and contemporary philosophical accounts of embodiment in order to explain an important contemporary political question: How is the nation-state able to cohere as a functioning political unit despite internal differences and the vagaries of the market?
Can anybody explain to me what this actually all means?
For all those kiddies out there chanting BOOKS NOT BOMBS, trust me on this -- you would rather have a bomb than this book, though I suspect the book will bomb (not selling more than 700 copies).
Is it just me, or does every installment of "The Week In Pictures" on MSNBC.com contain at least one, if not several, pictures of solemn scenes in the Middle East? Yeah, the landscape there makes for some pretty dramatic photos, but how 'bout some other places of the world. Also, I've noted that in the popular voting over the past several months, us unsophistimicated art consumers tend to vote for photos that express more joy and humor in life, as opposed to constant pictures of misery.
I just found this interesting blog that was started about three weeks ago by another professor, this one being a political scientist. Hmmmm...what are the odds that two professors reach out to Blogger.com around the same time to make their points heard in the blogosphere, knowing full well they would never get a fair hearing in their own professional associations?
Yesterday I posted a comment on a report that I saw on FoxNews wherein a disguised Islamic militant, who I thought was from Hamas (but I could be wrong given that I caught the story in passing), claimed that his terrorist organization would back off from suicide bombings, fearing that his organization would be the next target of US foreign policy after Iraq. Today, we find out that Hamas has taken credit for (or at least praised) another cowardly act in Israel. So much for that thesis. Nonetheless, the main points I make below still hold.
Newsweek's most current issue features commentary on "Bush and God," including a piece by Howard Fineman (oh, now that will be objective reporting) and Martin Marty (an old fart academic who profoundly misunderstands fundamentalism). The not-so-subtle point of these pieces is that George W. Bush's presidency is influenced by religion more than any other president in modern times and that this is very scary.
Why so scary? Jimmy Carter was a born-again Christian and made that publicly known. He admits that his actions are influenced by his faith. One former and one current presidential contenter -- the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton -- are ministers! Why wasn't/isn't that scary? Would Fineman write a similar piece if Rev. Al Sharpton would be elected president? Better yet, is Fineman willing to press Sharpton on his religiosity the way he pushes Bush? Methinks not. More importantly, by not mentioning candidates Jackson and Sharpton in his article, what does that tell you about how Fineman views the spirituality of these two?
All of this religion stuff in the White House comes as some surprise to reporters and the liberal chattering classes. What they don't realize is that the US is a profoundly religious nation, with about 50% of the population attending religious services on a regular basis (roughly every other week or more). This makes the US one of the most religiously devout nations in the Christian world, perhaps only surpassed by the Philippines and Ireland. One should not be surprised that a religiously devout population would choose a religiously devout president and that the president would not feel any shame in making it known he is religious.
Now, one could argue that this religious devotion is scary because it implies that Bush's policy decisions are not based on rational calculation, but the two are not contrary to one another. Bush's religiosity is likely to inform his values -- i.e., what he considers important. This will determine his goals, and will likely play a role in which policies he tends to pursue. So, yes, values do have policy consequences. But the means by which he seeks to obtain these policy goals will be determined more by strategy, which is based upon rational (cost-benefit) calculations. People with deeply-held spiritual values may have different policy preferences than Howard Fineman, but that does not mean they are irrational; they can still engage in rational decision making. Calling someone's preferences that you dislike to be symptomatic of irrational decisionmaking is not good argumentation.
Howard Fineman, don't quit your day job. ...oh, wait, writing for Newsweek is your day job. On second thought, then, do quit your day job.
A common cry against the war in Iraq (which would actually conclude the earlier Gulf War) is that by invading an Arab state, the "Arab street" would hate us even more, hence provoking more terrorism. FoxNews just aired a segment with a disguised member of Hamas (?). In it he said (and I paraphrase) that he is upset about US action but he is calling off suicide (homicide) bombers in Israel because he fears that the next target in the war on terrorism will be his group. Fine, hate us all you want, but fear us. It will be the fear that stops further attacks on US soil and abroad.
One must remember that there will always be a small minority of people in the world that will hate us and will seek to cause all kinds of trouble. That will never go away. Even if it is just 1/10th of 1 percent, that is still lots of people. Look at the number of useful idiots that have puppet shows in the streets protesting every anti-American cause they can think of. To say that we are roundly hated throughout the world based on the action of a small (perhaps overly vocal) minority of people is a major distortion. We will never be able to extinguish this tiny minority, but we can make it difficult for them to do damage by reminding them that anything they do to harm our citizens or allies will be visited ten times over on their supporters. You can hate us all you want, but fear us.
Over time, however, I think people will come to respect us more if we follow through on our promise to promote democracy in the Middle East. How do I know this? Look at all the Middle Easterners who come to our shores every year. Migration patterns are the number one measure of which countries in the world are working and which ones are not. Every year, there are more people who want a visa to come and live in the US than there are people who protest in the streets. We are still the beacon on the hill. QED.
I made this point yesterday, but need to make it more clearly today. Many human shields who volunteered to put their bodies on the line in Iraq have started to head back, figuring out it was dangerous. I hope the media interviews some of these people, and I hope they ask the following questions:
* Why do you think Saddam Hussein was locating you folks near military bases and not schools?
* Do you think Saddam will replace you -- the foreign human shields who left -- with Iraqi civilians, including children?
* Do you think you helped to make the case that people in the West are sensitive to civilian casualties in war, and that Saddam Hussein realized that he could toy with public opinion in the US and Europe by maximizing civilian casualties, namely by putting these civilians in front of military targets?
* What if Saddam does start replacing foreign human shields with his own civilians. Does your choice to leave imply that you value your life above that of an Iraqi child? Can Iraqi civilians choose not to be human shields? Is your fleeing the scene indicative of underlying racism?
* If you really believe in that the human shield movement can be effective in preventing war, does your exit give you some culpability in any war that breaks out?
* You -- the foreign human shield (chicken) -- had the opportunity to leave the country when danger loomed. Do you think the average Iraqi has that same opportunity?
* Do you really think Saddam is worth saving?
Come on Kenneth, step up to the plate and ask some really tough questions for a change.
REMEMBER THIS NEXT TIME THEY CRY 'CIVILIAN CASUALTIES'...
The UK Daily Telegraph -- rapidly becoming the best source for news on Iraq and the looming end of the war -- has a very telling piece on the disintegration of the human shield movement (also noted on Taranto's OpinionJournal.com). Basically, the homo-shieldians are actually homo-chickens. Once several of them found out that the seemingly "innocent" sites they were stationed at were located near military bases, they decided that shielding was actually a dangerous activity. Here is what I think is the key paragraph of the article.
It heightened fears among some peace activists that they could be stationed at non-civilian sites. Mr Meynell and fellow protesters who moved into the power station in south Baghdad last weekend were dismayed to find it stood immediately next to an army base and the strategically crucial main road south to Basra. Iraqi officials said there was little point in guarding what they considered to be low-risk targets.
Just imagine the reaction of a typical activist when they found this out. "Dude, like I thought this was a baby milk factory!"
But the most important line of the above paragraph is the last one. Iraqi officials only want to put human shields in front of high-risk targets -- i.e., military installations. And they have no scrupples about putting a bunch of stupid foreigners in front of them. They get killed and Saddam scores a 'moral' victory in the media by claiming the US is killing civilians. Now, do you think a dictator who has gassed innumerable citizens within his own country, and shot a cabinet minister to death because he disagreed with him, will in any way delay putting Iraqi civilians in front of these very same installations? In fact, the human shield movement may have further inspired Saddam to use this strategy because he knows there are people in the West who will protest the death of civilians -- the raison d'etre of the human shield movement. In other words, by "freeing up spots" around military bases, these fleeing shields may actually be costing the lives of Iraqi civilians -- exactly the opposite of what they set out to accomplish. (Sorry for the use of "raison d'etre" -- I'm boycotting French wine, but am still using their words...in this case, against them.)
Plus, think about this. What is the difference between a British human shield and an Iraqi civilian? The former can pick up and go home when the going gets tough. Doesn't this tell them something about the country that the US is trying so hard to liberate? And aren't they implicitly saying that their lives are more important than some Iraqi schoolkid that is likely to be put in harm's way? Once again, it appears as if the motivations of peace activists are not really about protecting Iraqi civilians.
(Note: The "human shields movement" actually got its start when Hussein took several hundred Westerners hostage -- i.e., against their will -- when the US came to liberate Kuwait.)
On a final note, I challenge all these useful idiots to name another country in the history of the world that has invested so much into military R&D for the purpose of trying to avoid civilian casualties. In warfare, the ultimate form of diplomacy, countries throughout history have had to use every means of terror at their disposal to defeat an enemy in war. Maximizing casualties has been the modus operandi of war. (The reason we didn't win Vietnam was because we did not commit ourselves to total victory.) However, we (the US) are so assured of our military superiority today that we have the luxury to think about ways to minimize casualties.
Thin about it.