August 31, 2002

The Safety Valve has a great idea for his "One From the Vaults" feature, where he reposts old entries from when nobody was reading his blog. It's good because it saves good ideas from going to waste, and save you the time of coming up with new stuff when nobody has even read the old stuff. I would do it, except for two things:

1) My writing probably sucked in those days.

2) It's probably a better idea to wait, then repost stuff from now when more people are reading the site, if they ever do.
Not with a bang but with a survey?

Is this how freedom in America will die?

There is something both eerie and fitting about the phrase "polls show support for First Amendment is down."

August 30, 2002

Funnier than The Onion?


From The Daily Sedative:

"Iraq is not a country the US could almost effortlessly overwhelm and invade, like Iraq was," said Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan. "Our defenses will not be easily outsmarted and quickly destroyed like they were when the US attacked Iraq," he said, comparing the Persian Gulf war to the current crisis. "I think it's silly to compare the war against Iraq with a war against Iraq."

While they certainly say it in a much funnier way, I've been saying this for months.
Underranked Websites of the World Unite!


You’ve probably read this article, as heavily linked as it is, in which some Uber-lefty webmaster attacks Google for being the root of all evil on the internet.

I really hate it when people misuse words, especially when the words being misused are intended to convey a big and important idea. One of the greatest victims of such misuse lately is “democratic”. People talk about the “democratizing effect” of things, when they mean something has given a greater amount of power to individuals. Just recently, I heard news cast about how hand-held video camcorders have had a democratizing effect on protestors, who apparently can use them to “document” police brutality.

In the article in question here, the interviewee calls Google undemocratic, and inadvertently makes a good point about the nature of far-left thought on the subject of democracy. Mr. Brandt’s main beef with Google concerns their PageRank system, the beating heart of the search engine which has made it the primary site on the net whenever anything needs to be found. The PageRank algorithm is extremely complicated, and the source code for it is no doubt locked away in a machine-gun protected sub-basement in California, but the essential fact about how it works is this:

When website A links to website B, Google considers that to be vote for site B, by site A - the more people who link to a page, the more value on Google that page receives. Further, the value of each link to the page is weighed by the rank of the Linking page. So if I receive a link from Wired.com, it’s counted as more votes then a link from someone’s rarely visited Geocities page. Mr. Brandt objects to this system, because he says it gives unfair advantage to big sites, and rates sites not by their content. He goes on to call Google “undemocratic” and, tellingly, says the same of capitalism.

This is where we start to see what all this is about. Mr. Brandt is a self proclaimed “new leftist”, he’s against capitalism, and distrusts authority. What’s interesting to me is the way in which his criticism of Google reflects the same misconceptions common to far leftists about any number of things. Google ranks sites by measuring how many other sites “vote” for them, and counts those votes by the number of votes possessed by the site which made the link in the first place. There’s nothing undemocratic about that. In fact, there is something supremely democratic about it. It’s Mr. Brandt’s socialist answer to the perceived problem that is, in fact, undemocratic. He claims that Google is too big and powerful, and since their ranking system is unfair, the search engine itself should be made public.

That’s right, he wants to nationalize Google. Apparently, the free market, where anyone can set up a search engine using any algorithm they want to rate pages is not good enough, and the capitalist fat-cats at Google must be replaced by a State Controlled search engine, which will rank pages “fairly”. Typical.

This guy is using the standard idiots definition of “democratic” as meaning something between “making all things totally equal” and “government enforced fairness”, when it in fact means neither. Democracy is allowing the crowd to collectively make judgments about what they think is good, and create policy to reflect that. Google does exactly this when it ranks pages, which is why it works, why people love it, and why socialists like Brand hate it. The problem isn’t really that Google is undemocratic, but that it is too democratic. It doesn’t reflect the way he personally judges the value of things (in this case, web pages) therefore it is cruel and totalitarian. Google, he says, must make judgments based not just one the linkedness of a page, but on its content. Combining these two suggestions, we get a system where instead of all the sites on the net voting in the form of links, a central authority dictates the value of sites be a subjective judge of their content. Oh ya, that’s much more democratic.


[Here’s a link to this guys own website, just for irony.-Ed.]

August 29, 2002

Disney's latest major motion picture is called "Treasure Planet", it's a take-off of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic "Treasure Island", a classic work of fiction free to be used because it resides in the public domain. Disney has, of course, built much of its entertainment empire upon such works. Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”, Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” and Grimm’s Fairy Tales to name a few. Ironic isn’t it that Disney, along with it’s walletful of Senators, is now the driving force in extending copyright law and infinitum, and preventing any future generations from doing with it’s characters what they made billions doing with the characters of others.

One hundred years hence, Walt Disney Corp. can make what looks to be a very cool space adventure based on Treasure Island, because Treasure Island is a classic – everyone knows, or should know, the book. Its part of our cultural heritage, so old and so widespread that the law recognizes that to grant copyright on such a work to a specific group would be folly. However, one hundred years from today, you can bet your ass that Mickey Mouse will still be the exclusive property of Walt Disney corporation, and if you even think about using his image as clip art on your inter-office memo, they’ll be on your ass faster then you can say “fair use”.
For your reading please.


Here's some good cyberpunk fiction about what happens when a hacker opts to run his own body in "Admin" mode. Neal Stephenson-esque.
Friends, Romans, Countrymen! Lend me your ears… and $3.”


William Quick has made big scary waves in the blogosphere (the very system he first gave name to), by switching Daily Pundit over to a partial for-pay format. Now a good chunk (presumably the best stuff) will be only accessible though a 3 dollar per month account on Blogging Network. Predictably, there was mixed and loud response to this. Some feel that bloggers owe it to their readers to remain free (a preposterous idea), others feel that it’s a great way to create a viable format for remunerating hard-working bloggers, others think it will single-handedly destroy the blogosphere. Here’s what I think:

I think that smart and hard-working men like William Quick absolutely deserve to be paid for their work. Mr. Quick is dear to my heart, because it is links from him and others that have helped get this site off the ground (not that it’s very high off today). He should be paid, and he has all the right in the world to make a move to a system that will help him receive the payment he deserves. I, for one, will sign up for the Blogger Network, because it’s just worth it to me to have access to the content stored there, and he deserves my money. I encourage all others to do the same. (I’ll be honest; I haven’t donated any money to him yet, mainly because the credit card I use for internet transactions has been out of the country for months. I should have written down the damn number.)

However, I must agree, reluctantly, that these for-pay formats will prove to be really, really bad for the health of the growing network of linked ideas and opinions we call the blogosphere. It’s an unfortunate truth that it can only survive when reading and linking can take place unfettered by even the slightest hindrance (like free registration). When people have to pay to read content, that content will go unread, and when links require those who follow them to pay, they won’t be followed (or more likely, won’t be linked in the first place). This is partly due to the fact that even dedicated online readers are reluctant to pay for any online content ever, but that’s not the main reason. The main reason has nothing to do with bloggers, or hardcore information junkies, or meme-tracking linkwhores.

The bread and butter of the blogosphere, of all online media, is the occasional reader. The laymen who wants to get a taste of the thoughts and opinions being tossed around the net, and better understand his world. These are the people that all bloggers are, or should be, trying to reach. They are the vox populi, and if blogs become exclusive (even in the most minor way), they will loose these readers. It’s entirely possible that Blogging Network could prove financially viable, and those who write for it will be fairly compensated for their work, but that will come at a cost. For-Pay blogs will simply not be read by the general public, and will not be linked to.

I’m don’t subscribe to the philosophy that “information wants to be free”. I think it’s bullshit, information doesn’t want anything. However, I do understand how and why the internet works when it comes to spreading ideas, and I know that charging money for them will never work.

It pisses me off that this is the way things are: that those who provide the most to public debate will, in their honest attempt to be compensated for their work, become less impactful, but I don’t see any way around it. Changing the thoughts of men, speaking so as to participate in democracy in its most pure form, are tasks which cost, not reward. I will never charge anyone one dollar to read my blog, because that won’t bring me more readers, and more readers are what I care about more then anything.

Now go give Bill some money.

August 28, 2002

“On a perfect morning…”


I few days ago, I was contacted to take part in what can best be described as a "September 11th memorial metablog". I, along with Meryl Yourish, Colin Wyers, Glenn Frazier, Eric Olson, and Seamus Hughes, will be publishing a collection of our personal thoughts on the event, one year later. Each of our essays will appear on the soon to be established www.APerfectMorning.org, where we hope to eventually collect a great number of reflections from all bloggers.

I’ll quote Colin on the purpose of this:

“Ever since the first hours of that day, there have been people who have decided to try and shield themselves and others from the worst of it, to forget about the horror. I feel that if we allow ourselves to forget, then we will lull ourselves into a false sense of security, thus inviting future attacks such as that one to happen. This blog will be our little effort to see that never come to pass.”

What is needed now is for bloggers to spread the word in the hopes of making the site known, and, more importantly, consider submitting their own essays. The logistical details of submissions are yet to be established, but until that point, a post on your own blog (if you have one) concerning the sites address and purpose is appreciated. Thank you.

August 27, 2002

Our Friends the Saudis, Part 17,002:


From Bush's meeting at Crawford Ranch, concerning attack against Iraq:

"There is an international process, there is a legal process that nations
go through that has not been gone through. It's not a surprise that no country
in the world supports this. Could it be that a few people in the U.S. are right
and the whole world is wrong? We doubt it," he said.


Can you hear that? It's the eastern wind. If you listen close enough, you can almsot hear a fell voice wisper to you. Listen closely, it's saying "Hey buddy, It's the internet and we can fact check your ass."

Readers who wish to respond to Saudi foreign policy adviser Adel el-Jubier are encouraged to below.
Daily Churchill

"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."
Fine, but now it's your turn.


Norah Roberts points out the unintended effect of "you got what was coming to you" rhetoric. She writes masterfully:

Yes, we have gotten ours, and those who get theirs give as good as they get. Those who get theirs
have no obligation to neutrality, and those who would ridicule them for having gotten it, have no arguments
left for peace.
We have taken our blow. We have been laughed at for it. We have indeed lost our innocence, and having
lost it, have as much right and reason as anyone to fight back. We have earned the right to inflict wounds
when necessary, and necessity is now our friend.

The InstaPundit Effect?


Chris Spoons on the power of the professor. It's not what you think.
Greed Is Good.


Cruel, callous delegates enjoy steak, lobster and oysters while attending a Famine conference.

Apparently, had the delegates not eaten it, the famine stricken locals would have actually bought the hugely expensive steak, lobster and oysters for themselves.

This is another example of the biggest logical error of socialism – that wealth is zero sum, and what the rich take, the poor must therefore lose. Of course, we all know that the fancy foods provided to the delegates have no impact on the situation of the poor who they are there to help, but as good left liberals, we are still supposed to feel utter moral outrage over this opulent lifestyle. Why? I’m not sure, but it just looks really bad don’t you think? I mean, lobster! How dare they!

Ironic juxtaposition is not going to alleviate world hunger, nor is insulting and deriding the rich. What is going to fix world hunger is global capitalism – the system that makes it possible for average people to enjoy such luxuries as lobster and brandy. We, in the first world, have the means to enjoy such things, so why must we hide it when we go to the third world to discuss how to fix the problem of poverty? Why do we have to put on appearances of being moderate, simple folks, so as not to make the locals jealous? They should be jealous. The governments and citizens of the third world should desire the wealth and comfort of the west as strongly as possible, so they will then push to adopt the economic reform that can allow them to share in the banquet. No, solving world hunger is not nearly as simple as waiving a steak in a mans face and saying "you too can have all this", but it's a lot better then simply trying to look compassionate and doing nothing of substance.
The hardest working man in the blogosphere, N.Z. Bear, is working towards building a searchable archive of all the major blogs, by catagory. In the business, this is what we call a "killer app". Let's everyone thank him and his friends for the contribution shall we?

w00t N.Z. Bear, w00t I say.

August 26, 2002

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present you to, Mr. Charles Krauthammer:

WASHINGTON--Not since William Randolph
Hearst famously cabled his correspondent in
Cuba, ``You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish
the war,'' has a newspaper so blatantly devoted
its front pages to editorializing about a coming
American war as has Howell Raines' New York
Times. Hearst was for the Spanish-American War.
Raines (for those who have been incommunicado
for the last year) opposes war with Iraq.


And so on...
A Public Service to Blogspot Bloggers:


Be careful using mailto commands, get it wrong, and you could end up messing up your post, with the added problem of rendering the "edit" button useless. So now I have a broken double post that can't be deleted. Wonderful.

UPDATE: Problem solved. Bloggers are a helpful and outgoing bunch.
Bill Quick recently hosted two debates regarding the term "chickenhawk". It's been used recently by some members of the left to denote people who support military action, but do not themselves serve in the military. Bill notes that the word already has a long established meaning in the gay community as an adult male who seeks out very young men as partners.

Why don't both groups meet half way? We can keep the "hawk" part as meaning someone pro-war, but also accept chicken to hold its other context - a gay male under 21. Everybodies happy!

So now, the word "chickenhawk" will mean "a strongly pro-war gay male under the age of 21"... Hmm, remind you of anyone we know?
Tehnical Difficulties, Please Stand By.
The Kids are Alright


The Truth Laid Bear talks about the rise of High School-aged political Bloggers. He wants to find the youngest one out there, and give them a prize.

I weighed in with my own entry (started at age 17), and I urge any brave 16 year olds out there to pick up a keyboard and challange me and others for the title of youngest Warblogger. Blog Early, and Blog Often.

----

Also, Well Fed Conservative has started a webring for High School Bloggers, I hope to be added soon.

UPDATE: The Well Fed Conservative was 15 when he started Blogging. I think we have a winner.

August 25, 2002

To compliment the post below, I offer two quotes from Churchill Today:

"It is a mistake to try to
look too far ahead. The chain of destiny
can only be grasped on link at a time."


"Now this is not the end. It is
not even the beginning of the end. But it is,
perhaps, the end of the beginning."
On Things to Come


This Post in Little Green Footballs (read the comments too) explores a few nightmarish or otherwise radical scenarios for the future of this war, and the world. All the ideas tossed around seem likely, although not strikingly so. What interests me isn’t so much the grave danger of a particular scenario playing out, but rather the sheer number of different scenarios that seem equally likely at this point. I’m starting to realize what a critical point in history we’re at right now. Things could go so many ways, none of which can be reliable predicted. All I can say for sure is that the world as we know it will be unrecognizable in 20 years. I’m going to start piecing together my own projections, predictions, and prophecies for the next two decades of world events, under the assumption that the more radical possibilities explored, the better we can meet the real things. I’ll post what I come up with later, format uncertain.

Bring on the comments.

August 24, 2002

Wired News article about the difficulty of accurately calculating the number of running blogs on the net today. There are to many people switching platforms or just quitting all together to know how many registered users represent actual living blogs.

Why They Really Hate Us.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this a political cartoon praising American Democracy from Gobles-esque hate-propagandists M. Kahil?

One of the things you notice when you follow the writing (or drawing) of ideological madmen long enough is that they generally spend so much time ranting that they often trip over their own accusations, and end up conflicting their own statements. (For instance, Islamofascists like to praise Hitler, whilst denying the holocaust ever happened.) Still, this one kind of confuses me. What is Kahil trying to say?
The War That Never Was Watch:


US Warplanes hit targets in Iraqi No-Fly Zone.

The US claims that Iraqi radar locked onto American and British Jets policing the zone, giving them authorization to destroy said radar stations. Of course, we’ll never know if the radar installations did in fact lock onto American planes, as they are now smoldering rubble in the desert, but we can’t prove they didn’t lock onto our planes either. What we do know is that the Iraqi ability to make war was further hindered by precision American air strikes – but of course, there is on war right?

August 23, 2002

Daily Churchill

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth,
but most of them pick themselves up and
hurry off as if nothing had happened."


Solicitation for Information:
For when your to lazy to do research.


Does anyone know what the first major motion picture about World War II was? I'm trying to figure out how long after the war it became okay for it to be turned into movie fodder. Who can help me?
What's wrong with this link? (besides the language of course. What is that anyway?) This blog is ranked above Stephen, William T, and even Glenn Reynold's himself for the word "pundit". I feel like I'm stealing somehow.

Seriously thought, is it possible that Google isn't the divining rod of truth we thought it was?


Is it just me, or would this cover look better with the dead hero's face on it, rather then his wife, who wrote it? I mean, not to insult, but it seems a little tasteless.

August 22, 2002

Crap.

Steve Den Beste's Latest post is 5200 words. Just by scanning it, it looks interesting, I'll have to do this one in shifts.
Some posts are so good, they need no commentry. Just Read it.
Samizdata is stealing my shtick.

Not that I have an exclusive contract on quoting Churchill but, damn, wouldn't that be cool if I did?

August 20, 2002

Being the Adventures of a Young Man who’s Primary Interests are Rape, Ultra-violence, and Multiculturalism.


Once again, Mark Steyn lowers the hammer on self-hating leftists. This time, the issue of the day is “What have we done to make them Gang-Rape us?” Sure to stir up some controversy. Here’s a free sample:

As I understand it, the benefits of multiculturalism are that the sterile white-bread cultures of
Australia, Canada and Britain get some great ethnic restaurants and a Commonwealth Games
opening ceremony that lasts until two in the morning. But, in the case of those Muslim ghettoes
in Sydney, in Oslo, in Paris, in Copenhagen and in Manchester, multiculturalism means that the
worst attributes of Muslim culture -- the subjugation of women -- combine with the worst
attributes of Western culture -- licence and self-gratification.


Read At your own risk

UPDATE: Steyin quotes Charles Johnson at the end. I hope that mean's it's only a matter of time before he finds his way over here.

August 19, 2002

(Semi)Daily Dose of Churchill:

"Some regard private enterprise as if it
were a predatory tiger to be shot. Others
look upon it as a cow that they can milk.
Only a handful see it for what it really is -
the strong horse that pulls the whole cart."
One of these things is not like the other...


The Reuters Version:

RAMALLAH (Reuters) - Palestinian guerrilla commander Abu Nidal, one of the world's most wanted men, has been found dead from gunshot wounds in his Baghdad home, Palestinian sources said Monday.

A senior Palestinian official said Abu Nidal, 65, had died in "mysterious conditions" and it was unclear whether he was killed or committed suicide.


The Toronto Star Version:

Terrorist Abu Nidal found dead: report

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) ? Abu Nidal, the Palestinian renegade whose name became a byword for international terrorism, was found dead in his Baghdad apartment with multiple gunshot wounds, Palestinian officials said today.


Odd – by one account, he was mowed down by gunfire, by another, it might have been suicide. I don’t know a lot of massive international terrorists who suddenly and mysteriously shoot themselves many times. Do you?
Possibly the best episode's of the Simpson's ever was on this afternoon. I actually thought for a while that it would never air again, but there it is. For those who don't know, it was "Home Versus the City of New York" in which he travels to the Big Apple to recover his car, which has been ticketed and booted - smack between the Two Towers.

It's got some great bits - perticularly the guys shouting out the windows of the two buildings at each other "Sorry buddy, they stick all the jerks in Tower A." Classic.
This Man Does Not Represent Us


Please do not draw the conclusion that Canada is going the way of the French. We are not all America-hating, conspiracy theorizing, racist, tin-foil hat wearing lunatics.

This letter neither needs nor warrants any extensive response, but to say that anyone not in possession of their very own pre-frontal lobotomy will dismiss every paranoid word of it in under five seconds. How this tripe got published anywhere beyond this man’s personal website is beyond me, but whatever paper ran it is a) using an Editorial staff of baboons or b) trying to make Canadians look like psychos.

UPDATE:Simon Gantz(permalinks broken) deal’s with him better then I. He calls him fuckface, among other things – gold star for that.

August 18, 2002

On Bad TV News


I was trying to watch CNN tonight (I say trying, because digesting their nightly programming can be a bit of a challenge), looking for a little bit of serious reporning on just about anything. On CNN proper, Larry King was interviewing the friend of the brother of the guy who was in the house when they found Elvis’s bloated, drug filled corpse. Nothing there. Maybe CNN Headline News? The editor of Cosmo magazine (who was maybe 13 years old) was discussing the do’s and don’t of surviving first year university (hint: resist the urge to room with you’re best friend form high school). Even less here. I started to panic. “How can TVs major (hell, only) source of 24 hour news and information be so utterly vapid?” I ask myself, “My god, aren’t there like, three wars on?”

My finely tuned pundit brain starts goes into emergency rationalize mode, desperately seeking to generate a version of events in which this bullshit reflects well on the state of the culture. Then it hits me, there is indeed (at least) one war on - the war that never was, the war in Iraq, right now. We all know that attacks are being conducted against Iraqi infrastructure right now, but in a “hint hint, nudge nudge” kind of way. Were not supposed to know, but of course we do. I touched on some of the reasons for this silent approach earlier, but I wasn’t struck by the shear brilliance of it until just now. Case in point: what’s the most hardline statement of policy the President has made in the past week?

Think about it for a minute, I’ll wait.

That’s right - the baseball strike. His desire to see both parties return to the table and seek a lasting peace echo’s any of his previous statements on Israel/Palestine so closely it’s positively eerie. The country is in full scale War on Terror mode, there’s military action in Iraq, and the President is talking about Baseball. Utterly fucking brilliant.

Over the course of the next three weeks, we’re all going to be under siege with more words then anyone could count reflecting and analyzing things “one year later”. CNN is already hyping their Sept. 11th, year-after coverage, and I’m sure anyone who’s anyone at the new York Times is putting the polish on their few column inches about how the world has changed since “that fateful day” or whatever euphemism they can harvest from their microfiche headline archive for December 8th, 1941.

Well allow me to spare you the weeks of punditry, pedantry and posterity, because I’ve got all the answers right here. Nearly one year ago, terrorists obliterated 3000 lives and the tallest buildings in New York City. The United States has toppled one evil regime since that day, and are in the process of toppling another one now. The world changed so fast and in so many ways, The American people couldn’t figure out how to change with it, so they simply choose not to change at all. We’re at war, at home and abroad, publicly and secretly – and the President is talking about baseball. That says more about the strength of this country then a hundred tearful documentaries, carefully phrased essays and impassioned speeches ever could.
Remember This the next time you hear a lefty British writer calling the United States a police state, or lamenting "racist American culture."
Intermittent blogging until the end of the month. Work is keeping me busy.

August 17, 2002

On European Policies of Mass Murder to Maintain Genetic Purity (It's not what you think).


Steve Den Beste, probably one of the most impactful writers on the net today touches on the debate about exporting Geneticly Modified Corn to Zambia:

Mass vaccination of animals can stop foot-and-mouth in its tracks without requiring any slaughter, but at the expense of the destruction of any export market. Accepting GM corn to feed your starving will equally help a famine, with the same destruction of any export market. The only way to not lose your export market in both cases is mass death. Which is what the UK chose last year for its animals, and Zambia is choosing now for its people.


He's only as crual to Europe as facts and necessity dictate, which is more then can usually be said of them.

August 16, 2002

Daily Dose of Churchill

"The reserve of modern assertions is sometimes pushed to extremes, in which the fear of being contradicted leads the writer to strip himself of almost all sense and meaning."
IBM and Germany: Together again.


IBM is getting ready to build what will be Germany’s largest supercomputer. For use in “bio, life and environmental sciences”.

Well, at least it’s not being used for *ahem* banking.
(Reuters) Judge delays Moussaoui Trail for more time to review evidence.

Good, take as much time as you need. We can’t afford any mistakes or mistrials. Let’s nail him properly.
You don’t need to “tread softly” when your enemy is jumping up and down.


It’s been said that diplomacy is “the art of saying “nice doggy” while looking for a stick”, and that’s very true. However, it seems like The Bush Administration has adopted that philosophy, and taken it a step further, at least in regards to Iraq.

While the president patiently explains to the media that he is still exploring all available options, and not making any rash decisions, any of us with access to a computer and the most limited ability read between the lines knows what going on: Bush is saying “nice doggy” while The US special forces, Turkish military, and god-knows who else are all in mid-swing with baseball bats. Case in point: we’ve got huge, undeniable military buildup in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. (Who, while still claiming to be our friends, also claim that they will not permit their land to be used as a launch-pad against Iraq, which we accept, while also claiming to be their friends, while using their land as a launch-pad against Iraq. International Relations are not always the noblest of things.) Add to this, unconfirmed, but reliable intelligence from such sources as Debka that limited strikes and mysterious explosions are already taking place in northern Iraq, and it begins to look like the only option Bush is really exploring is when, and if, he’s going to tell the American people we're at war.

The reason these tactics work so well is because Saddam, with all his self-aggrandizing and confrontational rhetoric, has painted himself into a corner. He’s spent so much time boasting of Iraq’s strength, and the utter folly of attacking it, that he simply cannot admit what’s going on – he’s already under attack. To publicize Turkish or American strikes against him is to admit his weakness. As long as he plays along with the “situation normal” fiction that Bush has created, he can maintain his image of standing bravely against American bravado, and facing down the threat.

As long as he maintains this persona, we’re free to arm, organize, and strike at will. His public image of strength works in direct opposition to his actual ability to confront an attack. To put it simply, Bush has sold Saddam just ehough rope to hang himself.
Sue the Terrorists for $116 Trillion? Well why the hell not? There's nothing more American then a big, fat lawsuit.

Seriously thought, there are good reasons to do this. Obviously, the victims are probably not going end up seeing much of a payout, but lawsuits open up legal and investigative avenues for both American authorities and those in other countries. Our Intelligence guys might eventually track down all the paper trails and money (or maybe not), but a lawsuit greases the wheels, it adds a level of officialdom to our snooping thought foreign bank accounts, and lets us employ some of those “international laws” to our benefit.
Some interesting Twin Tower rebuilding speculation at NRO:

"My friend, Vance DeWitt, suggests that we reproduce the Twin Towers, one story higher and with a mosque on the top floor of each high-rise. This will show that America is confident and receptive enough to allow Islamic worship 111 stories above the sidewalks of New York. Such mosques also should shield the skyscrapers from Muslim militants who, presumably, would anger Allah if they damaged His houses of prayer."

I still like this proposal for rebuilding the towers, but joining them into an arch at the top, with an open air garden on the roof. Still, putting a mosque up there wouldn't be a bad idea.
Scott Gantz's younger brother Simon has a blog. The writing is damn good, and the kid is a year younger then me. I'm going to shoot myself.

August 15, 2002

Daily Dose of Churchill


Today's quote comes to us from Mr. Robert Prather:

"It is the theory of the protectionist that imports are evil ... we free-traders say it is not true. To think that you can make a man richer by putting on a tax is like a man thinking that he can stand in a bucket and lift himself up by the handle."(1904)
…But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…


To the individual who searched Google for "free proxy Saudi":

1) I'm glad, and a little surprised, you can access this site form Saudi Arabia.

2) I really hope you find what you're looking for.

UPDATE: Other Google hits of the day include "bush "homeland security" 1984 orwell parallels", "Lex Luther hacker" and, most puzzlingly, "gay boys oiled".

I don't think "eclectic" can begin to describe this mix.
The steady march of technology towards Star Trek continues. A blind man has been outfitted with a visor that plugs into both sides of his head, now he can see.

Now, can they please build me a holodeck?

August 14, 2002

Daily Does of Churchill:

"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
Robert Prather, who seems to have just changed the name of his site from "neoconservative" to "Neolibertarian News Portal" (a good choice), does a feature to my own "Daily Does of Churchill": a Jefferson quote of the Day. I don't know who started first, but it appears to be a case of great minds thinking alike. Which reminds me, I better go find today�fs bit of Winston wisdom.

August 12, 2002

I'm not sure you can say "defiant" and "moves to a bunker" in the same sentence.

I think when the Bush administration told congress we wouldn't be fighting in Iraq in November, they didn't mean we would wait till after the election, but rather that would would invade, fight, win, clean up, and go home before November. My guess? we'll be fighting there full scale before Bloomburg raises the flag on Ground Zero.
Will the Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?


For your reading pleasure, I present three pieces of an ongoing debate concerning anonymity and blogging.

Here, here, and here.

My position is this: If you possibly can, sign your name when you write something, take responsibility. However, if, for some reason, you cannot sign your name, sign the same pseudonym all the time, and provide a consistent means of contacting you (like an email address.) There’s nothing wrong with anonymity, but there is something wrong with hiding behind false names, pretending to be multiple people, or writing without providing a means of contact. I have no problem with people like Asparagirl or Demosthenes writing anonymously, because they choose a name and stick to it, and they can always be held to what they say.

The internet is by its nature anonymous. Unless we choose to divulge our identity, people will not know it, those are the rules of the game. We should get used to making space in the debate for those who wish to adopt a separate online identity, lest we risk alienating a large number of people, and becoming elitist. At the very least, let’s the give anonymous writers the credit for taking part in the discussion at all, which is more then can be said about most people.

UPDATE: Asparagirl weights in most heavily on the topic here.
Apparently, the people of Indiana are shocked and appauled to be test-marketed healthier cigarettes.

I'm as confused as you are.
(vai Pontifex)
Daily Dose of Churchill:

"Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public."


Patron Saint of Bloggers? I think so.

August 11, 2002

If anyone is here to carry on the discussion started at Instapundit, comment here.

Daniel Pipes has some very on-topic contributions to this issue here and here. I very much agree with him.

August 10, 2002

Michael Ledeen at NRO asks the question "What if they held a revolution, but nobody came?"
Free Speech: It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.


Bill Thompson at the register attacks (wait for it)…. America, for building an internet that doesn’t respect national boundaries or censorship laws. Funny, I thought that was a good thing.

The problems with his argument (any they are to numerous to list here) become evident immediately, when one reads the title:

“Damn the Constitution: Europe must take back the Web”

Hoh-boy, where to start… first of all, Europe cannot “take back the web” because it was never Europe’s to begin with, nor was it Americas (even though it was built almost entirely by American ingenuity and American business), the Internet belongs to no one, and that’s the way its supposed to be. Bill feels that the internet is actually an oppressive American tool of imperialism, what with its “freedom” and “decentralized control” and “resistance to censorship laws” and other, equally terrible things. Bill wants a separate, isolated European internet that is controlled by government and “respects national laws and customs”. Presumably, he means by adhering to the strict and truly oppressive censorship laws of nations such as China, Saudi Arabia, or North Korea.

Bill goes on to explain why the lack of national government control is actually one and the same as control by the US. I don’t precisely understand this argument, but it seems to be rooted in some notion that, in the absence of European control, the US must dominate. He doesn’t get that the American companies that designed and implemented the Net make free for all; just because we keep the power form you doesn’t mean we reserve it for ourselves.

I’m not going to bother to dissect the rest of the article, I’ll let you read it for yourself and form your own conclusions, but sufficed to say; I hope this sort of mentality (if such a disjointed and self-contradictory collection of opinions can even be called a mentality) is not widespread in Europe. The Internet is one of humanities greatest success stories when it comes to using technology to attain greater freedom. We built something that gives anyone, anywhere, access to an endless wealth of information, and nearly unfettered communication with anyone else. Let’s not tear it down with petty nationalism and spite of American ingenuity.

I leave you with one quotation from the piece, something to think about:

…today's United States is a country which respects
freedom so much that if I, a European citizen, set foot
there I can be interned without any notice or due process,
tried by a military tribunal and executed in secret.


Well no, actually the law does not currently permit summary execution of all European nationals, but your bitter anti-Americanism and support of government-censorship makes me think that we may with to rethink such a law.
Worst. Movie. Ever.


I had an experience last Thursday that can only be described as a moment of total, ultimate geek nirvana. The kind of geekyness that transcends mockery, like Dave Bowmen becoming the Star Child at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. To even understand the significance of what happened requires you yourself to be a geek, and me the Ubergeek. Allow me to explain:

On a whim, a friend and I decided to hit the local Blockbuster Video, and rent the first two Star Trek movies, reasoning that we had not seen any of them in many years, and we could start re-watching the whole series all the way though. Nothing altogether wrong with that right?

So we go into the store, seek out the appropriate rack, and hunt for the films. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, if you must know.) As we look through the movies, I notice that they are out of order, and some other, non-star trek flicks are filed in between episodes. So I move the two tapes aside, slide the proper ones into place, then swap #’s 3 and 4, putting them in correct order. It’s then that it hits me: I’m crouched down, defragmenting a video wall, for no reason by my own unstoppable urge to do so. compulsive defragmentation is alone enough to make me a geek-for-life by most standards, but defragmenting Star Trek movies is probably enough to earn me some kind of wondrous award, or shameful scarlet letter, depending on who you ask.

Just thought I would share that with you. If anyone else has had an “Ubergeek” type moment, feel free to share it below, in the comments section.

August 09, 2002

Daily Does of Churchill:

(speaking of the British Parlement) "They are decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent."


Now there's a man who knew how to put British Intellectuals in their place.

August 02, 2002

One of the benefits of being a Warblogger in Canada (if there can be said to be any) is that generally, I get to read Mark Steyn a day earlier then most Americans. None the less, here he is, in beautiful Technicolor.

And a sample, just to get you going:

al-Qaeda is now being run by Osama's 20-year old
son, Scott bin Laden. No, hang on a minute,
Scott's the name of Dr. Evil's son. If you've seen
Goldmember, you'll know that Scott does indeed wind
up taking over his dad's evil operation. It couldn't be
that al-Qaeda have been reduced to taking inspiration
from Austin Powers, could it? Anyway, just for the record,
Osama bin Evil's son is called Saad, and I'd be saad if I
found out I'd inherited a business whose principal asset
was the executive latrine at Sub-Basement Level 14 in Tora Bora.
There’s a blogger battle royale going on at Little Green Footballs. You may want to go watch.

August 01, 2002

I can’t get enough of those wacky mullahs. The Toronto Star is reporting (dead tree version only, no links available yet) a story about an Iranian-based group called the “Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq”, an organization whose goal needs no further explanation, and who operate with the full support of the Iranian government – of course.

Leave it to the Islamofascists to find the single kind of regime change in Iraq that I would not support. Up till now, I thought absolutely anything would be preferable to Saddam Hussein’s Dictatorship, but then these get together, and devise a way to turn Iraq into an even greater threat to the world.

As it stands, Iraq is as dedicated towards wiping out America as any of the Arab regimes, but they do it with a more secular, more… western style, then the Islamists. If these Iraqi revolutionaries had their way, Saddam would be out, and the mullahs would be in, if that happened, there would be nothing keeping Iraq from becoming a full fledged member of the Arab-Islamic-Terrorist super state, and it would mean much, much more trouble for the United States.

President Bush has openly and repeatedly stated his policy that Saddam should, must, go. However, it’s clear that the proper course of action, an American lead military intervention, could not be conducted without the requisite expenditure of political capital and controversy that such action always carries with it. Support of a local uprising such as the one gaining momentum across the border in Iran would be an easy way to oust Saddam in loco, without all that messy politicking and bombing.

Now, of course, America supporting a hard-line Islamic uprising against a secular dictatorship (Afghanistan anyone?) is about as likely as an illicit affair between me and Connie Chung, but it the situation is not nearly as simple as that. What if the US does invade Iraq this month, as predicted by the eloquent Mark Steyn? Could the United States find itself in the position of attempting to overthrow a dictator, while simultaneously being at war with the Islamic Terrorist elements who seek to fill his power vacuum? What does happen when my enemies enemy is my (even greater?) enemy? I can only hope that the size and power of this Iraqi-Iranian cosponsored Islamist revolution is overstated by the Star (something which is by no means out of the question), because I would hate to see The United States have to navigate the kind of nation-building minefield that it would represent.

If we are to conclude anything here, it is this: The United States must invade Iraq now. Not after they use weapons of mass destruction against us and our allies or ourselves, not before the sell an atomic device to al Qaeda, and perhaps as importantly, before the terrorists beat us to it.


It's really, really good. Buy it.
This Week, the Canadian Government declared that it would appeal the Ontario Supreme Court ruling which stated that the current marriage law is unconstitutional, and that gays and lesbians must be allowed to marry. Officially, the Federal Government stated that they appealed the decision on the basis that Canadian citizens need to further examine the issue before “changing the fundamental nature of marriage.”

The problem with this decision is that the State is not appealing the ruling on the belief that it is fundamentally unjust and incorrect; the only reason a court decision should ever be appealed. IF you don’t know, or at least have a good faith belief that the court has erred in judgment, then you have no business appealing it’s decision, whether you are the Federal Government, or a private citizen.

Essentially, the Canadian Federal Government is telling the Canadian citizens that the courts – the appointed body for defining and judging exactly these sorts of things – cannot be trusted to fulfill their duty, and that the final judgment on the issue must be made by some vague sort of “public debate” (whatever that means in this day and age – I wouldn’t hold my breathe for a moderated debate in Nathan Phillips Square though.)

The very reason that we have a Superior Court is to make judgments on controversial issues. Left to the whim of the populous, the law would become a tyranny of the majority; in which justice is what 51 percent of the population says it is.

The Canadian public is divided down the middle on the issue of gay marriage, with young people making up the vast majority of the “pro” side of the debate. Gay marriage is on the way in, and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. The government knows this, however, they do not want to loose face to the other, older half of the country, the one’s who’ve weighed in against gay marriage. Their best bet, politically, is to stall for as long as possible, so what when gay marriage rights finally do come it, it will be with the largest amount of public support possible.

The Federal Government is attempting to delay the implementation of legislation the Courts of Canada have called for, so that they may gain the maximum amount of political credit for passing the measure, and wait out the aging opposition to the same. Marriage, at least in the civil sense, is solely the domain of the Courts of this country to define, not the Federal Government, not a referendum of the people, nobody but the Judges. Attempts to circumvent the process, especially for such self-serving motives – does a disservice to a long established system of law designed to protect the rights of the few from the opinions of the many.
Ignorance really is Strength


When it comes to political debates, there are few clichés that I hate more then the tired, played out, and wholly inaccurate parallels people attempt to draw between fiction and reality. For the less intelligent arguer, maintaining a clear and objective view of the real world is so difficult, that people latch onto totemic novels and films as ways of creating a metaphor for what is going on around them. Usually, only the most passing similarity between current events and fiction is necessary for people to draw unfounded conclusions. (ie, computers are getting faster these days, so eventually they must turn on us and wipe out the human race – it happened in Terminator, so it must be true right?) When it comes to talk of the government, however, one, and seemingly only one, literary reference is wanted or needed when idiots seek to draw a cohesive view of reality, and that work is George Orwell’s uber-famous novel – 1984.

Any person who frequents such web communities as Slashdot will immediately know of what I speak – the extent to when argument ad-1984 pervades the discussions on that site is so great, one wonders the book was required reading for entry into the community. Not that I dislike the book, but I recognize that that’s all it is – a book.

It’s because of the disgusting abuse of 1984 in discussions of domestic policy that become enraged when I see this piece run in the San Francisco Gate. Being your usual San Francisco “news” paper, we can’t expect much from it, but I thought that the ubiquitous 1984 reference was to pedestrian for even them. After all, they are professional writers right? (Insert pithy comment here)

The level of argument in this editorial is so bad, so factually flawed, and so illogical, that only one form of narrative is sufficiently equipped to take it apparent. That’s right folks, buckle your seatbelts, because we’ve got ourselves a good old fashioned fisking. Today’s victim: Mr. Daniel Kurtzman.

Here's a question for constitutional scholars: Can a sitting president be charged with plagiarism?

No.

As President Bush wages his war against terrorism and moves to create a huge homeland security apparatus, he appears to be borrowing heavily, if not ripping off ideas outright, from George Orwell. The work in question is "1984, " the prophetic novel about a government that controls the masses by spreading propaganda, cracking down on subversive thought and altering history to suit its needs. It was intended to be read as a warning about the evils of totalitarianism -- not a how-to manual.

Thanks for that, having been born yesterday on the back of a pick-up truck, I wasn’t familiar with the novel whatsoever. Good thing you are so learned in exotic and obscure literature such as this.

Granted, we're a long way from resembling the kind of authoritarian state Orwell depicted, but some of the similarities are starting to get a bit eerie.

The only think that’s eerie is the fact that this same, unoriginal approach to criticism of government still won’t go away, no matter how many Scholars from San Francisco do it.

PERMANENT WAR

In "1984," the state remained perpetually at war against a vague and ever- changing enemy. The war took place largely in the abstract, but it served as a convenient vehicle to fuel hatred, nurture fear and justify the regime's autocratic practices.


I don’t know what he means by “abstract” but where he’s from, abstract must mean “covered by thousands upon thousands of journalists, dissected in its every detail by hordes of writers, thinkers and politicians, discussed to the exclusion of all else on television, and broadcast live on the evening news”.

Bush's war against terrorism has become almost as amorphous. Although we are told the president's resolve is steady and the mission clear, we seem to know less and less about the enemy we are fighting. What began as a war against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda quickly morphed into a war against Afghanistan, followed by dire warnings about an "Axis of Evil," the targeting of terrorists in some 50 to 60 countries, and now the beginnings of a major campaign against Iraq. Exactly what will constitute success in this war remains unclear, but the one thing the Bush administration has made certain is that the war will continue "indefinitely.

Even the most passing knowledge of the events of the past 10 months will show that the war never began as one against al Qaeda, nor has the objective changed since Bush’s address to congress. The war began as one against terrorism, wherever it may be, and against any and all countries who support terrorism. It was understood since day one that the War on Terror would be a long term conflict, Afghanistan was the obvious target of reprisal, with media attention being aimed at it literally hours after the attacks themselves. Ironic that an editorial accusing the government of altering historical facts (we’ll get to that later) has to resort to overtly falsifying the record to make its argument.

MINISTRY OF TRUTH

Serving as the propaganda arm of the ruling party in "1984," the Ministry of Truth not only spread lies to suit its strategic goals, but constantly rewrote and falsified history. It is a practice that has become increasingly commonplace in the Bush White House, where presidential transcripts are routinely sanitized to remove the president's gaffes, accounts of intelligence warnings prior to Sept. 11 get spottier with each retelling, and the facts surrounding Bush's past financial dealings are subject to continual revision.


This passage doesn’t even make an attempt at a factual basis, but rather flings accusations so vague and unsupported they can neither be disproved, nor, hopefully, believed. First of all, if presidential transcripts are so routinely censored for public consumption by a cloak and dagger cabal of propagandists, then how does Kurtzman alone have access to the “true” version of what was said? He also fails to address the basic logical problem with his claims of censorship – why would the president say thins publicly, then alter the transcripts to read differently later, knowing full well that a thousand different copies of his statement are readily available on the internet, or television news, completely above his ability to falsify? Is he really trying to claim that all record of the Presidents public comments is controlled by the government, and that those transcripts are assumed accurate by the blind, propaganda-mongering public? Has anyone reading this even seen an official government transcript of a speech? Moving on…

The Bush administration has been surprisingly up front about its intentions of propagating falsehoods. In February, for example, the Pentagon announced a plan to create an Office of Strategic Influence to provide false news and information abroad to help manipulate public opinion and further its military objectives. Following a public outcry, the Pentagon said it would close the office -- news that would have sounded more convincing had it not come from a place that just announced it was planning to spread misinformation.

One indicator that someone may be a paranoid schizophrenic is that they frequently construct allegations of vast crimes which, by their very nature, cannot be proven. These are called “self fulfilling” delusions and the above is a perfect example of such. Lacking any real evidence by which to attack the Government, Kurtzman is content to suggest that the Office of Strategic Influence has not really been killed in the budget stage before ever actually existing, but rather has arranged an elaborate ruse to fool the public. That’s right; the proposed office is first publicly announced to the American people, than a week later, it is cancelled, just to throw us off the track. If they wanted to keep it secret, wouldn’t it just be easier never to announce it in the first place? Haven’t I just read all this in SatireWire? Moving on, moving on…

INFALLIBLE LEADER

An omnipresent and all-powerful leader, Big Brother commanded the total, unquestioning support of the people. He was both adored and feared, and no one dared speak out against him, lest they be met by the wrath of the state.

President Bush may not be as menacing a figure, but he has hardly concealed his desire for greater powers.


Ah, the old bait and switch. First, make grandiose and ridiculous statements aimed at the subject of your essay, then tuck it a neat little cover-your-ass clause at the end.

Since, as he readily admits, Bush is nothing like the “Big Brother” of 1984, why then, is Kurtzman waiting our time with something that reads like a grade 8 book report?

Never mind that he has mentioned -- on no fewer than three occasions -- how much easier things would be if he were dictator.

Yes, please, never mind that. Being that it was most likely said in jest, and is ultimately true. Things would be easier for any leader if he were a dictator - but it does not follow that said leader is making an active grab for totalitarian power. Bush recognizes that the political process in America is difficult, and that’s the way we like it.)

By abandoning many of the checks and balances established in the Constitution to keep any one branch of government from becoming too powerful, Bush has already achieved the greatest expansion of executive powers since Nixon.

Hold on a minute, “abandoning the checks and balances”? At which point did Bush violate the constitution to grant himself massive new powers, and why are you the first person to notice this? How about some examples? Or would factual evidence just rune the rhythm of your rant?

His approval ratings remain remarkably high, and his minions have worked hard to cultivate an image of infallibility. Nowhere was that more apparent than during a recent commencement address Bush gave at Ohio State, where students were threatened with arrest and expulsion if they protested the speech. They were ordered to give him a "thunderous ovation," and they did.

Rather then comprehend the significance of Bush’s high approval rating (hint: lots and lots of people think he’s doing a good job), Kurtzman tries to insinuate that Bush’s approval rating is actually the product of a massive campaign to bolster the President’s image, rather then what it is – the honest opinion of the American people, something Mr. Kurtzman seems to care little about.

Kurtzman puts the nail in his own coffin when he claims that Bush’s “minions” have constructed a view of the President as “infallible”. I have 5 bucks right here that says Bush can’t even spell the word. Bush has been mocked harder and more consistently then any President in memory, rightly or wrongly, for being stupid and prone to error and mistake. Can anyone deny that low intelligence is Bush’s single largest negative public image problem? I can only assume all this “infallible” talk is some kind of elaborate joke.

As for the incident you site at Ohio state, I can’t claim to be familiar with government strong-arming tactics involving the students. All I know of the public response to that speak is the “thunderous” applause you admit he received. Clearly, though, those applause must have been forced at gunpoint. Perhaps with extra thuderousness added by the quivering, oppressed students, lest they be shipped off to the gulag for not being exuberant enough?

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING

The ever-watchful eye of Big Brother kept constant tabs on the citizens of Orwell's totalitarian state, using two-way telescreens to monitor people's every move while simultaneously broadcasting party propaganda.


Again, does this have anything whatsoever to do with the President, or is Kurtzman just trying to prove he actually read the book?

While that technology may not have arrived yet, public video surveillance has become all the rage in law enforcement, with cameras being deployed everywhere from sporting events to public beaches.

The watchword here is “public” surveillance. The difference between cameras in public space and cameras in private space is the difference between basic security and outright oppression. But again, the most limited similarities between fiction and reality is enough to spur any claim the writer see’s fit.

The Bush administration has also announced plans to recruit millions of Americans to form a corps of citizen spies who will serve as "extra eyes and ears for law enforcement," reporting any suspicious activity as part of a program dubbed Operation TIPS --

Ohh – close, but no Cigar. This program was killed in legislature weeks ago. It’s not happening. You see, new measures of this kind are subject to approval by Congress, it’s a little thing we call “checks and balances”, the very concept you claim has been tossed asunder by Bush’s all powerful government juggernaut.

And thanks to the hastily passed USA Patriot Act, the Justice Department has sweeping new powers to monitor phone conversations, Internet usage, business transactions and library reading records. Best of all, law enforcement need not be burdened any longer with such inconveniences as probable cause.

Oh, says who? I’m not a law professor, and you most certainly are not one either, but lets be accurate here: The Patriot Act allows for searches to be conducted when approved by a judge and a warrant is issued. They are, very much, subject to probable cause. What they are, in certain cases, not subject to, is requirements to inform the target of the search when one is conducted. Maybe that’s not fair, maybe it is, but it’s a far cry from indiscriminate search and seizure without probable cause. This is a massive distortion of facts, plain and simple.

THOUGHT POLICE

Charged with eradicating dissent and ferreting out resistance, the ever- present Thought Police described in "1984" carefully monitored all unorthodox or potentially subversive thoughts. The Bush administration is not prosecuting thought crime yet, but members have been quick to question the patriotism of anyone who dares criticize their handling of the war on terrorism or homeland defense. Take, for example, the way Attorney General John Ashcroft answered critics of his anti-terrorism measures, saying that opponents of the administration "only aid terrorists" and "give ammunition to America's enemies. "


I wasn’t aware of this before, but it seems that believing you are right, and vigorously defending your position against opponents is now a sign of corrupt, authoritarian government. When Democratic candidates try to score political points by criticizing an ongoing war effort, its more then fair to suspect that they are putting careerism ahead of patriotism, however that’s a lot different from silencing decent. The Bush administration engaged their critics in public debate, rather then just roll with the punches they were dealt. What’s wrong with that?

Even more ominous was the stern warning White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer sent to Americans after Bill Maher, host of the now defunct "Politically Incorrect," called past U.S. military actions "cowardly." Said Fleischer, "There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do, and this is not a time for remarks like that; there never is."

Ari Flischer’s comment was never intended to be a threat against free speech, it was a call for personal accountability. People should watch what they say, they should watch what they do. Not because Big Brother will come after you if you don’t, but because people need to be responsible for their actions, and the impact of what they say. Daniel Kurtzman would do well to heed this advice, rather then look for sinister undertones where there are none.

What would it take to turn America into the kind of society that Orwell warned about, a society that envisions war as peace, freedom as slavery and ignorance as strength? Would it happen overnight, or would it involve a gradual erosion of freedoms with the people's consent?

False Dichotomy: it would involve neither. In Orwell’s novel, the changes outlined here required a devastating war which gutting the infrastructure of Britain, total economic collapse, years of widespread poverty and misery, followed by a massive socialist revolution. That assessment sounds about right to me. But of course, that detail doesn’t fit with the vision of “the gradual erosion of freedoms” which Kurtzman wants to portray here, so it’s left out of the piece entirely. I don’t think it’s necessary to address the last two paragraphs of the editorial, as they are nothing but tired, clichéd melodrama that we’ve all heard a thousand times before. However, in the interest of accurate representation and context, I will reprint them here. I wouldn’t bother reading them:

Because we are a nation at war -- as we are constantly reminded -- most Americans say they are willing to sacrifice many of our freedoms in return for the promise of greater security. We have been asked to put our blind faith in government and most of us have done so with patriotic fervor. But when the government abuses that trust and begins to stamp out the freedom of dissent that is the hallmark of a democratic society, can there be any turning back?

So powerful was the state's control over people's minds in "1984" that, eventually, everyone came to love Big Brother. Perhaps in time we all will, too.


What a massive jackass.