"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out." - William Tecumseh Sherman

Name: The General
Location: Sacramento, California, United States


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Saturday, September 25, 2004
  Cox and Forkum - High Stakes
  Great Quotes on Religion
I was just looking over the Freedom From Religion Foundation website, and found some good, and some amusing quotes about religion. I thought I'd share some of the ones I especially liked:

Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Thomas Paine

The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one. David Hume

Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private schools, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and the state forever separate. Ulysses S. Grant

It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. Thomas Jefferson
Friday, September 24, 2004
  Cox and Forkum - Guess Who's On the Catwalk
  A Pedophile's Just Desserts
From the AP:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (news - web sites) signed legislation Friday allowing the home addresses of the state's 55,000 most serious sex offenders to be posted on the Internet by early next year.

The Republican governor also made it clear he wants an even tougher bill next year, saying Friday's bill is a "good first step."

The measure adds California to a majority of states that have posted personal information about high-risk and serious convicted sex offenders who have been released from prison.

The 55,000 offenders affected by the bill include those convicted more than once of violent sexual crimes and others convicted once of sexual battery, rape and child molestation.

Californians also will be able to look up an offender's picture, physical description, any known aliases and criminal history.

This is exactly what needs to happen. While I personally want every pedophile to be beheaded, my understanding of both moral and legal justice precludes the death penalty for these monsters (though if anyone can justify this objectively I am a captive audience). But exposing these people is the next best thing. They should be run out of every town they try to inhabit. Store owners should refuse to service or employ them.

Of course, there are some individuals who have "concern" for these depraved individuals. From the same AP report:
Opponents say the postings offer little actual protection for children, but could spur attacks on law-abiding ex-convicts and their families.

"What this will do is place people at risk of vigilante justice, people who have paid their debt to society and are cooperating with the authorities," said Paul Gerowitz, executive director of Sacramento-based California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. (Emphasis Added)

I'm sorry, but there can be no sympathy for those who have destroyed the lives of innocent women and children. To feel sympathy for the rapist/pedophile is treason to the victims. And I've always hated that oft used phrase, "payed my debt to society". Society isn't the victim; innocent women and children are, and what these monsters have taken can never be given back or repaid. And what a perversion of justice to worry about what happens to rapists or pedophiles.

In a further note, I just finished watching an interesting piece on Dateline NBC where they featured some of the heroic volunteers from Perverted Justice. They pose as children online and catch these sick bastards, and then expose their pictures on their website. Bravo! The Dateline piece featured something like 18 different men (all average looking) who showed up at a house that they though contained a 13-14 year old girl by herself. One of them was a father of two children himself.
  Cox and Forkum - Sword of Injustice
  Israel Gets It Right Again
AP reports that Israel has called Iran the No. 1 terrorism exporter. It's nice to see somebody other than Objectivists acknowledge the threat of Iran, both militarily and ideologically. And with Israel purchasing about 5000 smart bombs, including 500 "bunker busting" bombs, the future is looking somewhat brighter on the Iranian front. As one commentator on Fox News said the other night, Israel doesn't need those bombs to use against the Palestinians (though I might be inclined to use them there). Let's hope that Israel continues to act in its own self interest, as it has largely done since its inception in 1948. The destruction of Iran's nuclear ambitions would be a strong blow against the Mullahs and as great an act of self-defense as any we've carried out in this "war on terror".
  Islam and Rape
An absolutely fascinating piece by Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch on the vicious raping of women by the Muslim Arabs in the Sudan. It confirms much of what I've been reading in Jihad. It seems like pretty much the entire Islamic tradition has included the pillaging and raping of those the Muslim's conquered. Here's a sumptuous appetizer:
With Muhammad revered throughout the Islamic world as al-insan al-kamil, the perfect man, the rapes of Darfur and Beslan are nothing surprising. What is surprising, or ought to be, is the silence from the Islamic world about the rapes in both cases. Where are the reformers who will dare to say that Muhammad’s example must not be followed in this case? Who will acknowledge that the world has developed principles of human rights that must supersede those forged in seventh-century Arabia? Where are the Western spokesmen who are not so in thrall to multiculturalism that they will condemn rape that is justified according to Islamic religious principles? The much-lionized “Muslim Martin Luther,” Tariq Ramadan, now banned from entering the U.S., can so far only bring himself to call for a moratorium, not a definitive ban, on stoning for adulterers. Rape of captives? His sentiments are not known. Where is the Muslim Solzhenitsyn, who will speak honestly about the aspects of Islam that so desperately need reform, and call for the overhaul that the system so obviously needs?

  Let Terry Schiavo Die
The AP reports that a Florida judge has overruled the legislation Governor Bush quickly passed earlier this year to stop Terry Schiavo's feeding tube from being removed. Having been in a persistent vegetative state for 14 years, hopefully Ms. Schiavo will finally be allowed to die with dignity.

Her family (the parents and her brother) are repugnant and disgusting; they claim to act out of love for her, but I am only filled with contempt for them. They had the unmitigated gall to film her in her debilitated state and to parade the footage in court and on national television, just to keep her corpse animated. I'm not a doctor or a surgeon, but I have yet to see one valid, reliable, objective piece of evidence to suggest that Ms. Schiavo is either a) still conscious in the sense that anyone reading this blog is right now or b) capable of ever regaining her conscious faculties. On the contrary, the very footage itself suggests that she is a body without a mind, which is a corpse.

Only something as putrid as faith would allow someone to ignore all the perceptual evidence and believe, maybe she'll wake up some day. But let's hypothesize, in the same arbitrary fashion her family has: what if Terry Schiavo is totally conscious right now, but simply incapable of doing anything to physically show it (i.e., her mind is totally disconnected from her body). What kind of cruelty and disregard for Terry would someone have to have, to keep her alive in such a fashion? I personally would prefer death, and have several times verbalized to my wife and parents that I do not want to ever "live" under such circumstances.

I hope that Bush's legal team will be unable to appeal (or at least prove unsuccessful) during the ten day period they have to file an appeal.
  Abolish the FCC
Robert Garmong (of the Ayn Rand Institute) has written an excellent article on the FCC and its ruling on Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction". You can read it at the Cincinnati Post.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
  Theory vs. Practice
AP reports:

Cheney told a fund-raising dinner for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., that al-Qaida terrorists are bent on destroying the United States and must be met with force.

"This is not an enemy we can reason with, negotiate with or appease," Cheney said. "This is an enemy that, put simply, we must destroy and that is exactly what we'll do with George W. Bush as president."
The vice president told the crowd, "the biggest danger we face today is to have nuclear weapons fall into the hands of terrorists." But he said the administration is working to control the trade and transfer of nuclear materials throughout the world.

Contrast the above with following, also from AP:
The Bush administration has no plans to seek an "Iraq-style" U.N. Security Council resolution on Iran if it succeeds in efforts to have the council address that country's nuclear activities.

A senior State Department official said Wednesday there is a widespread misconception that the administration wants the same type of resolution for Iran as the one which led to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq last year.

If the council takes up the Iran question, the administration would seek a resolution calling for a suspension of uranium enrichment activity by Iran, much as the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has done repeatedly, the official said.

Oh, that's right, it's only appeasement when we do it unilaterally! After all, they're not madmen - we can reason with them and negociate, unlike that real menace, Saddam Hussein.
  Thank God For Israel!
AP reports that Israel is purchasing "nearly 5000 smart bombs, including the 500 one-ton bombs that can destroy six-foot concrete walls.". This has of course upset the Mullahs, who realize that Israel is preparing to take whatever actions may be necessary. It is reassuring to know that there is at least one nation that might actually destroy the Mullahs.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
  Not Good Enough
In an interesting article today, Jonah Goldberg of National Review makes his case that Bush's performance in Iraq is Good Enough. He provides a list of points where he agrees that Iraq is definitely having problems. But after doing so, he then goes on to say that these points aren't fundamental; they're correct, but they're essentially nitpicking, missing the bigger point. Which for Mr. Goldberg is that Bush is "going on [the] offense" and "taking the fight to them [the Islamists]". In other words, sure Bush has made mistakes, but he's actually been principled throughout, and that's what matters.

Give me a break! Well, let me rescind that. Mr. Goldberg is right, Bush has been principled - principled in the sacrifice of American lives and American interests. In the spirit of "fair use", I'm going to list Mr. Goldberg's "points" (and his justifications why each isn't as bad as one might think), along with why they really are bad:

1. Problem - Iraq is a mess.

Justification - Iraq would be a mess today no matter what steps Bush took. It would be a different mess, but a mess nonetheless. Picking an arbitrary date and saying "It's a mess now, therefore it wasn't worth it" is silly, and could be done to every major enterprise ever undertaken, from the building of the pyramids to putting men on the moon.

It is not a fait accompli that Iraq is a mess today. Iraq is a mess today because of what Bush has done there. His zeal for fighting a "compassionate" war is as absurd as it is reprehensible. On the contrary, I believe Iraq would not be the quagmire it is today if we had actually fought the "war" with victory in mind. If we had shown strength and resolve continuously, and slaughtered any opposition, Iraq would be stable, and the Iranians would be on notice that they were next if they did not rapidly change their posture. "It's a mess now, therefore it wasn't worth it" is silly; but it's beyond ridiculous to admit something's a mess and then ignore and continue the very behavior that got one into the mess in the first place.

2. Problem - The failure to find WMDs is the material evidence (or lack thereof) necessary to make this the worst intelligence blunder since Pearl Harbor.

Justification - Bush was hardly alone in believing there were WMDs, and given the convictions of so many over such a long period, he erred on the right side. His line about not being able to put his trust in a madman may get tedious, but it's true.

This I agree with in some ways. Bush was right to say he couldn't put his trust in a madman - but what are we to think of our President when he then puts his trust in the madmen in Iran and North Korea, both of whom are on the brink of developing actual nuclear weapons! More to the point, Saddam (and every other dictator) is a weapon of mass destruction - they are the creatures that unleash wars in this world.

3. Problem - It was a heartbreaking mistake to allow the looting of Iraq to take place under the tacitly approving gaze of American forces.

Justification - Um...let's skip this one.

This should have been the justification for every point, but I will give credit to Mr. Goldberg for not trying to rationalize this pathetic "gesture". And let's be frank - it wasn't a "tacitly approving" gaze, it was more like a "Step right up!". This falls under the category of Bush's continuous appeasement and cowardice. Any looter should have been shot dead on the spot - this would have put an end to outlaw behavior, and given pause to those foolish enough to want to stop us. If they'll shoot thieves, what are they going to do to us if we try to fight....

4. Problem - It was a miscalculation in retrospect not to keep the Iraqi army on the payroll and confine them to their barracks.

Justification - Historically, armies are a hindrance to democracy and reform in the Middle East. In Iraq, the army was a source of repression. If we kept the army intact, we might have created a rival power structure that would hinder progress. And de-Baathification would have taken a huge blow.

Ridiculous! This is a war, god dammit. While I don't have a good strategic answer to this one, in principle I do: Anyone who bears arms against the US will be killed. Not arrested, not thrown in jail, not put on trial. Summary execution. If one formation (or whatever the "unit" is called) were brazen enough to bare arms against us, we would only have to bomb them into oblivion, even if they were holed up in a kindergarten. That would have put down any future insurgency from the army.

5. Problem - Whatever the truth of the Chalabi weirdness, the notion that he would or could be the first president of a Democratic Iraq now appears naïve.

Justification - Ummmm. Skip.

Yes. Chalabi was "Pie in the sky", but then again so is pretty much everything we've done in Iraq. A war means that people will die, in large numbers if necessary. The only choice a free country has is: which people, our soldiers or enemy nationals? Any patriot knows the right answer to that one.

6. Problem - Abu Ghraib was, at minimum, a preventable public-relations disaster.

Justification - Abu Ghraib was terrible. It was also isolated and policed by the military before the press got wind of it. These things happen in war; the question is, How do the responsible institutions respond? Oh, and making someone wear panties on his head isn't the same as cutting off his head.

I definitely agree with the last point. As I told my wife, if the worst thing that ever happens to me in my life is that I have so simulate oral sex on another man or wear panties on my head or form a naked male pyramid, I will count myself extremely lucky. More seriously, Abu Ghraib wasn't terrible, unless our soldiers were acting against US policy. But if our policy was an attempt to save American soldiers lives, then I say have at it - use any means necessary to protect our boys.

7. Problem - We haven't devoted enough money and other resources to security in Iraq. Indeed, the pace of spending in general has been borderline scandalous.

Justification - Ummm...

Like so many other functions of government, it isn't the amount of money you spend, it's the nature of the policies you implement. And like so many other intellectually bankrupt programs, the nature of our battle in Iraq is flawed at the very inception. Security in Iraq is not a function of spending - it's a function of our will and resolve to achieve victory. This means killing whoever we have to to stop the insurgency, starting with the installation of a new parking lot where Fallujah used to be. Strength and resolve served us well in the Civil War and in World War II - we would do well to study the good examples of Generals Sherman and Patton, both of whom exemplified those qualities admirably.

8. Problem - The war has cost us dearly in the eyes of many nations around the world.

Justification - Many of the nations that hate us for Iraq hated us anyway. The myth — oft-repeated by Jim Carville and others — that America was beloved by the world until the Iraq war or George Bush is hogwash. Anti-Americanism — in France, in Greece, throughout the third world — has been raging for a long time and actually increased with the defeat of Communism and on Bill Clinton's watch. That's not to say it was Clinton's fault in any significant way. It was merely a fact of life. Iraq is an excuse for America-bashing among nations that clearly couldn't be counted on no matter who was in the Oval Office.

All of the above is true, so why don't we stop pussy-footing it and start squashing insurgents. Our weakness and vacillation in the face of Al Sadr and Zarqawi only invites more taunts, and confirms to the world that Bin Ladin was right - the US is a paper tiger.

9. Problem - Iran and North Korea have gotten to be bigger problems since the war.

Justification - What would the critics have Bush do? They denounced the invasion of Iraq even though that was easy, cost very few lives, and had substantial backing under international law. Similar actions against Iran or North Korea would cost tens of thousands of lives, would have no support from the U.N., and wouldn't achieve much. Meanwhile, they denounce our policy of letting our European allies take the lead with Iran and our multilateral diplomacy with North Korea.

This is really the crux of the matter. Iran and (then) North Korea are very big problems - but they were huge problems even before Iraq. Iran has been a problem since 1979, and our weakness since Carter has only promoted and enlarged the very dangerous scenario we're in now. The same can be said for North Korea, only we've been weak for about 30 years longer there. What would I have Bush do? I'd have him defend me, god dammit. Kill off the people who really threaten me, the Mullahs of Iran and the Communist thugs. Both of those nations present a "clear and present danger" (to borrow the oft quoted phrase) to the US. Kim Jong Il at least wants to live on earth though; the Mullahs have no compunctions about joining Allah early, especially via a nuclear warhead. Besides, if we're going to fight a war on (Islamic) terror, doesn't it make sense to fight the source of the cancer in Teheran, and not the microscopic tumor in Baghdad? Of course, we'd have to first admit that we have (Islamic) cancer, before we could seek treatment.

10. Problem - Bush has not done a very good job of communicating with the American people when it comes to the progress of the war.

Justification - Anything Bush says is automatically ridiculed by a press scandalously hostile to him. Besides, it seems the American people get what he's talking about. What bothers a lot of critics is that Bush isn't giving war-room briefings to bloggers.

Can you really blame the press for ridiculing Bush's speaking abilities - I think they're probably the poorest of any president we've every had (definitely in my lifetime). But really, it's hard to communicate about something that doesn't exist (i.e., it's hard to fabricate progress when fundamentally it isn't there).

11. Problem - The situation in Fallujah is particularly bad.

Justification - There are no good answers to Fallujah. Though those who ridicule Bush for being too quick to use force, need to account for the fact that he's actually being quite, um, sensitive.

Fallujah is an excellent metaphor for the war on terror. Bush and his cronies want to have their cake and eat it too; kill the terrorists while pretending like they're crazy instead of extremely devout Muslims. Leaving aside the self-contradictory phrase "there are no good answers", the problem is not Bush being too quick, but too damned slow and as Mr. Goldberg so eloquently put it, sensitive. Sensitivity in war is incompatible with victory and with protecting our soldiers.

12. Problem - Sadr should have been killed a long time ago.

Justification - If Bush killed Sadr, Sadr would overnight become a peace-loving martyr in the rhetoric of Katrina vanden Heuvel, Dan Rather, and the United Nations Security Council.

He might have become a martyr, but he definitely would have stopped being a threat to the US. Al Sadr is particularly embarrassing for us because he has defiantly challenged the US twice now, and walked away each time the victor. The result? Al Sadr can legitimately claim that he has stood up to the infidels, and won. Look how weak they are, he would say. He has gained a prestige and notoriety that he otherwise would never have a achieved if we had simply blown him up at the start of operations in April 2004. Now he has grown in stature, due entirely to our own unwillingness to kill him. It still isn't too late, though. Simply assassinating him would certainly bring condemnation upon us, but the fickle media would quickly become distracted a week later (look at how Israel assassinated Sheik Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas).

Mr. Goldberg does go on to make several good points as he concludes the article, especially his identification that while we could count on the Soviets to be rational during the cold war (because they wanted to live), we have no such luxuries with the Islamic radicals (because, as Bin Laden said, they love death like we love life). The problem is that Mr. Goldberg believes that Bush represents the kind of offensive we need to fight these fundamentalists. But as I have stated previously, Bush is a hindrance in the war on Islamic terror, not an asset.

In summing up, Mr. Goldberg admits that Bush isn't ideal, and that he'd vote for a better commander in chief if that were the choice. Kerry certainly is no ideal, but if we are going to compromise and fight a sensitive war, it is better to do so honestly, as John Kerry would do, that dishonestly, as Bush is now doing. Bush accepts the acclaim for being a decisive president, while in reality the majority of his choices are no different than what Mr. Kerry would have probably made in his place. More importantly, therefore, Bush must be opposed because of his domestic policies. He seeks to entrench religion into our government in a fundamental way. As bad as John Kerry is, he will not do this. Better to keep our secular system of government, and wait for a better, secular republican in 2008.
Monday, September 20, 2004
  Cox and Forkum - UNthreatening
Sunday, September 19, 2004
  Conservatives Want to Return to the Middle Ages
Since I've been on a tirade against the religious right for the last few weeks, I thought the following quote from W.T. Jones's A History of Western Philosophy: The Medieval Mind presented an excellent contrast between myself (and the founding fathers) and the conservatives of the religious right.

Jones notes that even after Aquinas (who gave Reason back its respectability) philosophical thinking "was limited by the concept of orthodoxy. However rational and acute philosophical analysis might have become, it still had to operate within the strict limits set for it by transcendental truths, truths that were above reason and immune to analysis." He then provides a penetrating analysis of the difference between the medieval mind and the modern mind, which the religious right is fighting to destroy in favor of the medieval:
Perhaps the principle element of [the Christian] world view was its sacramental outlook. What made Augustine, Aquinas, and the other medieval thinkers so fundamentally alike was this outlook they shared. What distinguishes the modern mind so sharply from the medieval mind is that modern men have largely lost that outlook and now share the basically secular point of view of the Greeks. To say that medieval men looked on this world as a sacrament means, first, that they conceived this world to be but the visible sign of an invisible reality, a world thoroughly impregnated with the energy, purpose, and love of its Creator, who dwells in it as He dwells in the bread and wine on the altar. Second, it means that medieval men conceived of this world as a sacrifice to be freely and gratefully dedicated to the all-good, all-true giver. Thus, whereas for us (and for the Greeks) the world by and large means just what it seems to be, for men of the Middle Ages it meant something beyond itself and immeasurably better. Whereas for us (and for the Greeks) life on earth is its own end, for medieval men life's true end was beyond this world.

It can hardly be denied that this sacramental point of view was a block to progress-progress in knowledge of how to control the environment and utilize it for this-worldly purposes. To many it seems equally obvious, now that this viewpoint has disappeared, that men have rid themselves of much that was a liability-ignorance, superstition, intolerance.

If only this world view had truly disappeared. If the conservatives have their way, it will be the Greek, secular viewpoint that will disappear. This is the danger we face, this is the point of view (which the Islamic radicals share 100%) that must be defeated. If we wish to free, indeed if we wish to live, we must uphold, embrace and defend the Greek, secular view of life.
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