Archive for February, 2004

I already have plenty of reasons to dislike John Kerry. One is his attempt to present himself as a mainstream “man of the people”. Kerry’s never worked an honest day’s labor in his life. He’s a “kept man”, born into a wealthy New England family (his mother was a Forbes) and married to two ridiculously rich wives in succession (one of whom is heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune).

He also is apparently well known for his snobbish, elitist attitude in his home turf:

“…most of the stories have a common theme: our junior senator pulling rank on one of his constituents, breaking in line, demanding to pay less (or nothing) or ducking out before the bill arrives.

The tales often have one other common thread. Most end with Sen. Kerry inquiring of the lesser mortal: “Do you know who I am?

But one thing Kerry seemingly will not let anyone forget is the fact that he served in Vietnam, and Bush didn’t. It is true that Kerry was decorated during his service there. It is also true that when he got out of the military, he went to Capitol Hill and told members of Congress — while the war was still going on — about the so-called atrocities that US soldiers were committing there, how evil the American presence in Vietnam was, etc.

I suggest reading a transcript of his statement to Congress, just to get the full effect of his venom, and how he was endangering the lives of his fellow soldiers by supporting the Viet Cong.

But the New York Sun has an interesting editorial today concerning the exact nature of Kerry’s Navy service in Vietnam, as told by Admiral Zumwalt, who was in command of his naval operations. Apparently, Kerry was a bit of a loose cannon who could not be trusted to execute his orders correctly.

More than that, the son of a bitch went out of his way to kill Vietnamese civilians, and then later refused to accept responsibility for it:

By his own admission during those four months, Mr. Kerry continually kept ramming his Swiftboat onto an enemy-held shore on assorted occasions alone and with a few men, killing civilians and even a wounded enemy soldier.

Mr. Kerry has already confessed his complicity in killing civilians as “accidents of war.” However, he has offered a classic Nuremberg defense that this was not only a commonplace occurrence throughout the Vietnam War, but he was carrying out a policy “with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.”

His commander of naval operations in Vietnam, who specifically designed the mission that Mr. Kerry and the other Swiftboat commanders executed, Admiral Zumwalt, clearly disagreed.

This sheds some light on the rabid nature of his anti-Vietnam activities once he left the war zone: guilt. Soul-eating guilt over what he had done, and a desire to blame and punish anyone and everyone except himself for it. He characterizes the entire US military in Vietnam as a bunch of bloodthirsty murderers – as though My Lai were an ordinary occurrence that was sanctioned by those higher up in the chain of command – because Kerry himself was/is like that and he can’t imagine people being any other way. He projects his own situation onto the rest of the military.

I have no particular reason to disbelieve Admiral Zumwalt’s account of things. It should be a matter of historical record that Zumwalt and other commanders had issues with Kerry, and why. My real question is: if Kerry is, in fact, guilty of these crimes, why hasn’t he been court-martialed?

Or perhaps someone tried, and Kerry said, “Do you know who I am?”

Yup, it’s started. “Illegal aliens” is now a racial slur:

Each year, nearly 1 million foreigners unlawfully sneak into the United States.

But don’t call them “illegal aliens” because that’s the moral equivalent of a racial slur, according to the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.

The “moral equivalent”? What kind of progressive groupthink crap is that? Do these people even know the meanings of words?

A racial slur? How is it racial, exactly? And why is it a slur? It is a strictly objective, even morally neutral term for someone who enters this country illegally. There is no implication regarding race, origin, sex, milkshake flavor preference, or any other status.

And what does the GALEO recommend instead? “Undocumented workers”.

Obviously this term is inaccurate. Illegal aliens are not necessarily employed, nor are they necessarily undocumented, what with the Matricula Consular card and all the other documentation they are able to obtain thanks to ridiculously lax laws in the United States.

This is, to be blunt, retarded. If I want to call a Mexican immigrant a racial slur, I already have plenty at my disposal. This is sort of like saying “homosexuals are gay” and people thinking it’s a slur.

Don’t minority rights advocates have something better to do? No? Then maybe that’s a sign that equality has been achieved. If that is not the case, then these groups need to focus their energies on things that actually help their constituents, rather than making them the laughing stock of the nation (and wasting their donors’ money).

The US/Israel haters are at it again:

The Palestinians opened their case against Israel’s West Bank barrier in the world court on Monday, a landmark hearing that brings Israel’s policies before an international tribunal for the first time.

As if this “court” actually means anything. I’m sick of lame-ass attempts by European progressives to create “world body” organizations on the pretense that they actually have any power or that they function in a fair and just manner.

The United States and Israel, and a number of other European countries, don’t pay any attention to the World Court, and for good reason. It has no authority. None. Zip. Zero. It exists only to be a political tool to attack the United States and Israel, and any other enemies of the progressive left.

Frankly I’m a little disappointed that Israel even bothered to submit statements denying the court’s authority. The appropriate response to such farces is to ignore them as though they don’t exist. We already know what the court’s verdict will be: Israel will be found guilty of oppressing the Palestinians, and there will be no mention or discussion whatsoever of all the innocent Israeli civilians who have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists.

The Palestinians have high expectations for the case. They hope a ruling against Israel will lead to the removal of the barrier.

Two major flaws with that line of thinking: the court has no power to enforce its decrees, and Israel doesn’t give a flying rat’s ass what they or the Palestinian terrorists think of the security fence or any of their other attempts to stop the wave of murder into their country.

The Palestinians oppose the route of the barrier, which dips several miles into the West Bank at points. They say that when completed, the barrier will make it impossible for the Palestinians to establish an independent state.

On the contrary, the existence of the completed fence will establish a Palestinian state de facto, with no input, opinion, or assistance from the Palestinians, and that’s what really scares the terrorists. They will be walled off from Israel, trapped with each other, and have nothing to do but collapse into bloody civil war as each faction tries to assert control.

This is why the terrorists and their apologists have become more and more shrill and panicked as the security fence continues to be built with no sign of stopping, or any sign of interference from the United States. The US is the only country Israel would listen to, and we’re staying out of it.

I’m looking forward to Israel’s impending safety and the destruction of the Palestinian terrorist apparatus.

Kyle adds:

The Palestinians have a semi-valid point with respect to the route of the barrier. It does go out of its way to loop around some of the settlements. I think the blame for this lies with the Israeli left. Instead of supporting a version of the wall that ran straight along the border, they opposed its construction altogether. This forced the Sharon government to seek political support farther to the right, which meant reduced support for dismantling settlements on the “wrong side” of the wall. Hence the loopiness of the route.

It would be “better” if the wall ran straight along the border; however politics is the art of the possible. For better or worse, domestic support in Israel for that version of the wall just wasn’t there; consequently the real-world choice was between the fractal wall and no wall. Given those alternatives, Israel’s security is better served with the wall as it is being built than it would have been with no wall at all.

I agree with Anne that the likely medium-term result of the completion of the wall will be a bloody civil war inside Palestine; a side effect of this will be a reduction of the pressure on Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians. (If there’s no central authority in Palestine, there’s nobody to negotiate with. In some respects the civil war has already started, c.f. the recent attempt by Hamas to negotiate a ‘foreign policy’ with Israel distinct from the PLO.)

I also can’t resist the opportunity to point out that based on the per-unit cost of the Israeli wall it would only cost the United States about $10 billion to build an equivalent wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. I wonder what effect that would have on the illegal immigration debate?

UPDATE: This Cox and Forkum cartoon perfectly captures the issue.

Junior programmers write code. Senior programmers write specifications and go to meetings.

What this has to do with my job recently is left as an exercise for the student.

The fact that San Francisco is currently engaged in granting marriage licenses to gay couples is a news item that has gained widespread attention across the nation.

While I personally support gay marriage, there is a legitimate concern here about whether it is legal or proper for San Francisco to do this. Just as Justice Moore was not permitted to disobey an order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a courthouse, this act of “disobedience” on the part of San Francisco city officials — including the Mayor’s office — may not be legal.

The question may center on the California State Constitution, and whether or not that document permits a city to grant a marriage license to a homosexual couple. You can read a brief here of the case text, but to summarize it briefly:

The relevant section of the State Constitution does not appear to prohibit this activity at the local level. In fact, it is fairly specific in defining the powers apportioned to the state and those apportioned to the local governments (such as city and county).

It can be further argued that San Francisco officials feel compelled to grant these marriage licenses upon request under the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and the United States Constitution. For them to refuse has no basis in law and the licensing is not prohibited.

Also, it is argued that opponents cannot show they are irreparably harmed by the granting of marriage licenses to “third parties”. And, from the case argument, “even if plaintiffs had proven some harm to themselves, the public interest and balance of hardships weigh heavily against granting the requested relief” (the “relief” being for the court to prohibit the granting of the marriage licenses).

So. It seems to me that San Francisco is not doing anything illegal, and may in fact be more broadly obeying the law than before.

I find it interesting that so many people are so violently threatened by the idea of gays being able to legally marry. To me the question was always, “Why not?” We live in a country where people nominally have individual freedoms, a country where things are allowed unless specifically and reasonably prohibited. It’s not a police state where everything is forbidden unless otherwise stated.

The actions of some militant gay activists, however repulsive, do not negate the principle of the freedom itself. Plenty of straight people are repulsive with their displays of sexuality, divorce, infidelity, promiscuity, and so on. We do not deny their right to marry, as a general principle.

Curiously, polls seem to show that while the majority of Americans disapprove of gay marriage, they also disapprove of making it illegal. This reveals a distinction between cultural standards and legal freedoms.

Everybody needs to take a chill pill, go smoke some pot at the Oakland Cannabis Buyer’s Club, and just relax.

Although I am not a Christian, and my feelings on gay marriage are ambiguous at best, I found these posts on marriage by Donald Sensing to be both meaty and thought provoking. There’s a lot in here to like. I recommend them to the attention of our three readers.

Start here.

Then go here.

He’s promised at least one more, which I’ll link over once it’s up.

UPDATE: Here’s another.

For the record, I’m with Peter Abelard on the whole “what makes a thing a particular thing” question.

Here we have an exchange between Colin Powell and Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) at a congressional hearing a couple of days ago:

Brown: “Bush may have been AWOL from duty.”

Powell: “First of all, Mr. Brown, I won’t dignify your comments about the president because you don’t know what you are talking about.”

Brown: “I’m sorry I don’t know what you mean, Mr. Secretary.”

Powell [sharply]: “You made reference to the president.”

Notice how similar that is to this exchange from an episode of “The Simpsons”, which most people would take as evidence that Homer Simpson is utterly detached from reality:

Homer: “Did Frank Lloyd Wright have to deal with all this criticsm?”

Lisa: “Actually, Frank Lloyd Wright endured a lot of criticsm.”

Homer: “Look, I don’t even know who Frank Lloyd Wright is.”

Lisa: “You just said his name two seconds ago!”

Homer: “I was just putting words together!”

Separated at birth? You decide.

The Colorado University College Republicans held another one of those affirmative action bake sales. For those of you unfamiliar, this is a bake sale where the cookies and other snacks have different prices according to the race/ethnicity/gender of the buyer. The breakdown typically looks something like this:

White Males, Asians, East Indians: $1.50
White Females: 1.00
Blacks: .75
Hispanics: .50
Native Americans: .25

The point of these events is a publicity stunt that is both funny and thought-provoking (plus there’s food, which is a good way to get people to show up). It’s a very concrete way of making people ponder the real meaning and implications of programs like affirmative action and other government “benefits” to “minorities”.

These bake sales typically result in some sort of mob or confrontation from some liberal students:

The pro-affirmative action students announced that they wanted to keep the protest march “100 percent respectful” and then marched to and surrounded the GOP and EOA bake sale table, which was stationed at a kiosk outside the Hellems building.

Mob intimidation. Yeah, that’s very respectful. Good job guys.

“We didn’t want to make conflict,” said freshman Shantel Campos, an affirmative action supporter who marched through the snow with her mouth taped. “This is a publicity stunt [for the College Republicans and EOA]. It’s not the right place for a dialogue.”

On the contrary, it’s exactly the right place for a dialogue. Out in the open, without mediation, without someone’s “approval” or “facilitation”.

Pro-affirmative action students arrived at the bake sale at about 12:45, with some removing the tape from their mouths to join the verbal conflict.

Notice how their devotion to the symbolism of the tape goes out the window when it starts becoming difficult. This, however, is more disturbing:

“This is mob activity…” said Jones. “Why is [UCSU diversity director] Kerry Kite ripping down a sign for a sanctioned event?”

While it is unclear how the sign was removed, some students on both sides were heard urging Kite to “calm down” while others shoved each other around the kiosk and bake sale table.

UCSU has a “Diversity Director”. A diversity director. That sends cold chills up my spine. Mr. Kite is also apparently not particularly objective or tolerant of diversity, given his highly unprofessional behavior at this event. I suppose that’s to be expected, in the same way that the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue is just an excuse to beat people in the street that they don’t like.

Personally, I think this quote beautifully summarizes the inherent silliness of political correctness:

“The College Republicans are having a bake sale because they think it’s funny,” said Nicole Houston, President of the Black Student Alliance, at the UMC rally. “It’s not…we need to make sure we don’t have these racist cookies on our campus.”

Does this woman not know how ridiculous she sounds? Is she so threatened by cookies (and not ordinary cookies, either, but racist cookies) that it would lead to the sort of confrontation as occurred on this CU campus? Is that the sort of pressing, important issue that requires the attention of an advocacy group for black preferential treatment equality?

This attitude is emblematic of a preoccupation with the trappings and appearances of things, and not their substance. They think that changing the words we use will change our minds, and that eliminating the opposing voice will make the disagreement go away.

Kyle adds: IMHO the proper response to Ms. Houston’s ‘racist cookies’ line would have been “I think the word you’re looking for is ‘crackers’.”

A lot of commenters on the right have been asking “What’s up with the President?” lately. The Democrats have been attacking him essentially non-stop for over a year, and he’s scarcely bothered to fight back. For supporters, watching seemingly-unending streams of mendacious criticism flow by unanswered, especially in light of the many real accomplishments of the administration, is infruriating.

I’m not a Christian myself, but I find myself wondering if Bush is being crippled by his Christian beliefs. I’m thinking specifically of two Christian moral dicta: ‘Turn the other cheek’ and ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged.’ Taken together, these ideas imply that when faced with a dishonest opponent one should:

  • Not point out the dishonesty of the criticisms or the critics. (This would be an act of judgement, which is reserved to God.)
  • Not respond to the unjust criticism. (Turn the other cheek.)
  • Trust in God to make the truth apparent to others.

This seems like a good capsule description of what Bush has been doing.

In my frustration, I can only suggest that the President would do better to take a page from Ayn Rand, who wrote that one should “judge, and be prepared to be judged.” Or, staying within the realm of Christian ethics, Bush could try putting a bit more emphasis on what I call the Kleptomaniac’s Principle: “God helps those who help themselves.”

I only got one thing to say about all the bullshit criticism against Bush and his service (or alleged lack thereof) in the National Guard:

Bill Clinton was a draft dodger, and why do I think the people who gave Clinton a pass on that issue are the ones now bitching about Bush?

So STFU. Fucking hypocrites.

UPDATE: This letter from a retired colonel who served in the Air Guard with Bush is quite interesting. I recommend reading the whole thing.