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    Good Thing He Doesn’t Run the Show

    Posted by demimasque on 22nd March 2006 (All posts by )

    Oskar Lafontaine, a German politician of the Left, has weighed in on the definition of “terrorism”: Herr Lafontaine asserts that “terrorism is the killing of innocent people to achieve political objectives”. By this definition, certainly, the men who turned jetliners into weapons on September 11 are terrorists. Herr Lafontaine concedes this. But, by the same token, he argues that “Americans are also terrorists when they bomb cities and villages in Afghanistan (and) Iraq and kill tens-of-thousands of innocents.”

    There is, of course, a consistency here, something different from blind anti-Americanism. It is a consistency born of a simple moral absolutism: All killing is wrong. Of course, it isn’t quite that simple. It is modified in that only the killing of innocents is to be considered terrorism. This means that any time collateral damage occurs, the actor who caused such damage is to be regarded a terrorist, regardless of the lengths taken to avoid it.

    The refreshing thing about this, of course, is that it’s not quite moral relativism: It is moral equivalence. The only way to avoid ever becoming a terrorist, then, is for a state actor never to act at all. This is, essentially, a strict liability view of the world: It matters not what your intentions were; if some innocent somewhere dies, and the proximate cause is your action, you are automatically a terrorist.

    Yes, it’s easy to ride the moral high horse when you’re not in charge. The fact that Herr Lafontaine has no real power whatsoever is a testament to the limits of such a position among even the cynical German electorate.

    (Hat-tip: Davids Medienkritik)

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in International Affairs | 4 Comments »

    The Failure of the ICC

    Posted by demimasque on 13th March 2006 (All posts by )

    Some friends and I were exchanging notes, and we discused the possibility that Slobodan Milosevic’s death was part of a conspiracy. I don’t usually spring for conspiracy theories, but we did discuss that the International Criminal Court having a motive: Milosevic’s defense had made a mockery of the proceedings. My friend outlined some of the problems with the ICC:

    1. Jurisdiction/sovereignty: This is basically a question of who has power over the defendant. The Serbs insist that Milosevic was theirs to try, and even his bitterest opponents in that country are angry that he was removed to the Hague. The essence of the jurisdictional issue is that Under Yugoslav Federal law and Serbian law, which govern the person of Slobodan Milosevic, the man and the Head of State, there is no call whatsoever for the ICC to try him because the legal institutions exist inside the country to judge the former President, if and when a case is made against him, which to date has not been the case. Further, Serbia, at the time of his alleged crimes, did not recognize the ICC.

    2. Serbian Law: The ICC considers itself to be in the right, but under Serbian law, the decision to take Milosevic to the Hague for trial constitutes kidnapping, since it was not agreed upon by a majority of the Serbian cabinet ministers. Thus, even if the ICC has jurisdiction by Milosevic’s presence, it is only because he was forcibly brought before the court.

    3. Evidence: Simply put, there isn’t any. Of the over 2000 people initally slated to testify against Milosevic, all but 5 have refused, partially over the sovereignity dispute, and the testimony of those 5 is both weak and unreliable. There is no paper trail or any sort of documentation that links Milosevic to any of the alleged crimes. It’s literally Milosevic’s word against the prosecutors.

    4. Lack of a Jury: This is one of the United State’s major complaints, and Milosevic has hammered it. The ICC doesn’t have juries…it uses a three judge panel to reach decisions. This is inherently fraught with conflict of interest, because if the ICC “loses” such a high profile case it will be the laughingstock of the world, and will never approach legitimacy. But inherent in that conflict, no fair trial was really possible for Milosevic.

    5. Legality of the Court: This is a finer point of law, but was Milosevic’s main argument, which the court had no answer for. Milosevic claimed that the ICC had no legal basis to hear his (or any) international case. The judge interpreted that as a question of jurisdiction, but they are not the same thing. Jurisdiction concerns the power of the court over the defendant. I could set up the court of “plezercruz” in my back yard with Jon holding a gun as my bailiff, and, if you stumbled into my back yard, I could declare jurisdiction over you because I CAN force you to comply. But it certainly wouldn’t be “legal.” Jurisdiction is about power, not right.

      Legality concerns whether the court actually is an agent of law in the first place. Milosevic’s argument was, basically, that since the UN Security Council itself had no right or ability in law to sanction him personally, it was impossible for that same council to create a court to do that for them. Courts are agents of the sovereign, and the UN has no sovereignity by defintion. By his argument, the ICC had no more right to try him than I have of trying you in my backyard. This argument crippled the ICC. It had no answer for it.

      Milosevic asked the ICC to seek a ruling from the International Court of Justice (a non-criminal UN court which settles inter-sovereign disputes and is nonbinding) as to it’s own legality, but the ICC basically ignored his request, despite amicus briefs from all over the world urging them to do so, probably because the ICC likely has no legitimacy in law.

    Overall, Slobodan Milosevich managed not only to derail his own prosecutors, but shook the basic foundation of the ICC itself. If not for Slobodan Milosevich’s glaring humiliation of the ICC, Saddam Hussein might have been sent to the ICC for judgment. Instead, the world has now seen that the ICC has deep internal legitimacy issues, and it is unlikely that any of Iraq’s ‘war criminals’ will be sent there.

    From that perspective, indeed, there seems to have been a motivation to hasten Milosevic’s departure from the mortal realm.

    (Hat-tip: plezercruz)

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in International Affairs | 6 Comments »

    Ideological Warfare

    Posted by demimasque on 28th February 2006 (All posts by )

    The Cold War has been over, or so we’re told, for over a dozen years now. Why then is it that our political discourse sometimes still sounds like Marx vs. Gladstone? Eric S. Raymond examines the history of ideological warfare, from its roots in the Cold War, to the modern manifestation in the seeming clash of civilizations between Islam and the West.

    The essay does wax a bit … pretentious, if I may. But all the name-dropping (in terms of philosophers, writers, and memes) is exactly the sort that ivory tower types might be most excited by.

    The essay also seems to adopt what Richard Hofstadter has called the “paranoid style”. Now, I’m not big on conspiracy theory or religion, which share some traits. Still, the temptation to adopt conspiracy theory is a basic human impulse, and in this vein, one could do worse than to read what Raymond has to say. You don’t have to agree with his conclusions, but what he states should be interesting, and a thought-provoking examination of the source of your beliefs.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Morality and Philosphy | 6 Comments »

    What Ivory Tower?

    Posted by demimasque on 22nd February 2006 (All posts by )

    The Ivy League has lost another one. Larry Summers has resigned.

    Over his time at Harvard, Summers has brought the university back into public light, and tried to make the university more accessible. Unfortunately, he has made unfortunate comments such as this:

    He offered three possible explanations, in declining order of importance, for the small number of women in high-level positions in science and engineering. The first was the reluctance or inability of women who have children to work 80-hour weeks.

    The second point was that fewer girls than boys have top scores on science and math tests in late high school years. “I said no one really understands why this is, and it’s an area of ferment in social science,” Summers said in an interview Saturday. “Research in behavioral genetics is showing that things people previously attributed to socialization weren’t” due to socialization after all. This was the point that most angered some of the listeners, several of whom said Summers said that women do not have the same “innate ability” or “natural ability” as men in some fields.

    Asked about this, Summers said, “It’s possible I made some reference to innate differences. . . I did say that you have to be careful in attributing things to socialization. . . That’s what we would prefer to believe, but these are things that need to be studied.”

    Of course, at the bastion of liberal sensibilities that is Harvard, that comment did not go down well, as there’s no possibility that a white male could have any purpose in mind other than to degrade, denigrate, and disregard womyn. Right.

    And now, the flickering light of sanity that Summers was trying to bring to the ivory towers of the Ivy League is to be extinguished. And Summers isn’t completely coy about his reasons:

    Working closely with all parts of the Harvard community, and especially with our remarkable students, has been one of the great joys of my professional life. However, I have reluctantly concluded that the rifts between me and segments of the Arts and Sciences faculty make it infeasible for me to advance the agenda of renewal that I see as crucial to Harvard’s future. I believe, therefore, that it is best for the University to have new leadership.

    (Hat-tip: Mad Minerva)

    Look for the “liberals” now to proclaim that the hens have chased the fox out of their house. Of course, never having been out of the coop, it may be easy to mistake a guard dog for a fox.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Education | 4 Comments »

    With Media Like This, Who Needs Enemies?

    Posted by demimasque on 18th February 2006 (All posts by )

    Davids Medienkritik takes Der Spiegel to task for again pandering to the addiction to anti-American innuendo.

    Torture in the name of freedom? Since when has America advocated torture as a means of promoting freedom? When someone is tortured or abused in a German jail in violation of established standards, does that mean the German government is torturing in the name of democracy as well? When illegal immigrants suffocate or commit suicide in German custody is that also in the name of democracy? It is as if the United States had never addressed the issue. It is as if the McCain bill torture ban had never been passed by Congress and signed by the President.

    This is a dangerously cynical equation of two concepts. Particularly in a Europe where the general public is already so jaded that many no longer believe in the concept of freedom. Why? Because instead of reporting on the systematic violation of human rights in nations like North Korea and Iran the German media finds it necessary to exploit two year old photos of Abu Ghraib for profit (again and again). Never mind that Saddam’s Abu Ghraib was a thousand times worse or that hundreds of thousands are starving to death in Kim Jong Il’s gulags. There is no need for context in the world of asymmetric journalism.

    I don’t doubt that torture is a blight on America’s good name, and it is a sin that needs to be rooted out. Many are of the opinion that torture is not, in fact, effective. (It must seem ironic to anti-Americans that John Yoo, who has written in support of the idea that the Constitution grants the executive expansive powers in times of war, happens to think that “answers extracted under torture might not be reliable” [answer to question 11] — but that won’t, of course, stop the demonization.) In fact, American policy appears to have gradually shifted away from reliance on torture. However, due to the slowness of the process of discovery, some of the worst abuses did not emerge until some time after they had been committed, and (hopefully) dealt with.

    In the United States, one of the foremost critics of torture, who writes eloquently and usually does not fly off the handle, is Andrew Sullivan. Sadly, he is one of only a few who backs up his critiques by looking for facts to support his accusations. The rest, unfortunately, seem to regard torture less as reprehensible in itself, than as a vehicle by which to score political points against the current Administration. While Sully’s writings sometimes may seem to lean in that direction (and some have accused him of ulterior motives), they are nonetheless well thought-out, and do not get in the way of his desire to see the West triumphant. His aim primarily is to have the West win as cleanly as possible, and however idealistic, it is a worthy goal.

    I regretfully observe, though, that it is far too easy for media outlets to capitalize on the market for sensationalist reporting. Not that Der Spiegel is really regarded as a font of serious writing (which does not mean that it’s never published thought-provoking material). In fact, I doubt Der Spiegel is any more highly regarded as a serious policy journal than, say, Vanity Fair or Rolling Stone.

    But as Ray D. notes:

    The irony of it all is that publications like SPIEGEL would not even have the freedom to print this exploitative trash had it not been for the massive sacrifice in lives, blood and toil of American soldiers to liberate Germany from Fascism and defend it from Communism.

    No context. No differentiation. Shock value. Manipulation. Emotionalism. Sensationalism. And then the same publication dares lecture us on the dangers of anti-Americanism.

    That’s legacy media for you right there. Well, it’s not Davids Medienkritik for nothing!

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Media | Comments Off on With Media Like This, Who Needs Enemies?

    Morgan Freeman on Color

    Posted by demimasque on 16th December 2005 (All posts by )

    Tiger Woods isn’t the only celebrity to be tired of people trying to pigeonhole him in one race or another, or to even make a big stink about the color of his skin. Morgan Freeman recently spoke out, somewhat, on the manic obsession that our society makes of race and color:

    “You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” the 68-year-old actor says in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to air Sunday (7 p.m. EST). “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.”

    Black History Month has roots in historian Carter G. Woodson’s Negro History Week, which he designated in 1926 as the second week in February to mark the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

    Woodson said he hoped the week could one day be eliminated — when black history would become fundamental to American history.

    Freeman notes there is no “white history month,” and says the only way to get rid of racism is to “stop talking about it.”

    The actor says he believes the labels “black” and “white” are an obstacle to beating racism.

    “I am going to stop calling you a white man and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man,” Freeman says.

    I guess now that blacks have been recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures, albeit in a rather contrived showing a couple years ago (which is not to say that Denzel Washington didn’t deserve the award), that’s just one less milestone to conquer. (By the way, doesn’t anybody think it’s rather nice, and rather interesting, that a black man got to go to space before one got an Oscar? I’ve been informed that Sidney Poitier won an Oscar for his role in Lilies of the Field in 1963, twenty years before Guion “Guy” Bluford became the first African-American in space. The first black man in space was Cuban Colonel Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez aboard a Soviet mission in 1980.)

    Without saying that racism is solved (which, so long as people are human, will never be definitively “solved”), I do believe that this is another step toward Dr. King’s dream that someday, people will be judged “not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.”

    Still, while we’re using labels, can we please stop insisting calling blacks “African-Americans”, and insisting that folks like Charlize Theron cannot be called “African-American” simply because she’s white.

    By the way, Mr. Freeman, for your words, and for your wonderful work in motion pictures, you are the man!

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Society | 11 Comments »

    Iraqi Elections

    Posted by demimasque on 15th December 2005 (All posts by )

    I’ve got a midterm in three hours, but the Iraqi elections is something that can’t be missed. Besides, I hadn’t really covered the October constitutional referendum, so this is my way of making up for it.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Strict Liability or Negligence?

    Posted by demimasque on 14th November 2005 (All posts by )

    In Torts, we’re currently working on Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co. v. American Cyanamid Co., 916 F.2d 1174. Judge Posner delivered the opinion, and in class, Professor Nockleby offered a critique of it. I thought Judge Posner wrote very lucidly, but Professor Nockleby also makes some great points. The professor challenged us to offer policy arguments against his, as a way of forcing us to learn the arguing skills we must develop as lawyers. I had a few thoughts, and I decided to share them with Judge Posner in an e-mail, which I have excerpted here:

    Essentially, Professor Nockleby’s position is as follows:

    1. The real issue in the case is, “In the absence of negligence (or proof of negligence), on whom should the presumptive burden of loss caused by the escape of a dangerous substance, acrylonitrile, while in rail transit be cast?”

    2. The shipment of acrylonitrile is an abnormally dangerous activity. Therefore, the court should impose strict liability upon the Shipper. (Professor Nockleby cites Rylands, Siegler, and Spano as precedents that argue *in favor* of his position.)

    3. Where a loss is created, and created non-negligently, someone must bear the loss, and strict liability is the best vehicle for assigning the loss.

    [Here I have questions:
    1) Does imposition of strict liability allow for later indemnification (Prof. Nockleby seems to imply that it does, but I’m not sure that’s so clear); and
    2) In the instant case, isn’t the state agency which cleaned up the spill (and which charged Indiana Harbor Belt for the cleanup) essentially the way in which the liability is shifted? That is to say, if, as Prof. Nockleby insists, the danger of the case is in the future implications when, rather than a switching station, it is residents who are harmed, isn’t the fact that a government agency can clean up the spill an argument that “the people” have resources which are just as corporate as “big business”? Isn’t the government a sunk transaction cost, and what we’re doing then is simply doing the indemnification?]

    4. Professor Nockleby insists that, in an abnormally dangerous activity such as shipping a dangerous chemical like acrylonitrile, it should be the agent which has control over the decision to ship which should bear the loss.

    5. Professor Nockleby also takes exception to your analogy with people who build houses between runways at O’Hare. My understanding of that illustration was that the people built the houses after the runways were already there, in which case I think it is reasonable to expect people not to buy up land between runways and build houses. If, on the other hand, the houses were there before the runways, we have eminent domain issues.

    I don’t expect an e-mail back from Judge Posner, but I invite you, dear readers, to leave comments, particularly if you’re familiar with this case and its interpretations and arguments. Thank you!

    [Cross-posted at Law Law Stud]

    [lawschool]
    [torts]
    [strict liability]
    [negligence]
    [Posner]

    Posted in Political Philosophy | 11 Comments »

    Alito Justice

    Posted by demimasque on 3rd November 2005 (All posts by )

    I hadn’t commented on either Roberts or Miers due to the hubbub of starting school, and because there really wasn’t much to know. As for Alito, from my very limited knowledge, it seems that he’s a pretty reasonable guy. But don’t take my word for it. Michael Barone has a nice long article covering Judge Alito, and why Democrats might be ill-advised to pull out the stops in opposing him. Barone correctly notes that several Democrats are caught between a rock and a hard place: The need to be reasonable versus the need to satisfy constituents. Red-state Democrats, then, have the easiest job: They won’t face recrimination for being reasonable. What I find interesting is that some blue-state Democrats, like the Senators from Massachusetts, who would be virtually uncontested at election no matter what positions they took, nevertheless feel the need to excoriate a nominee simply because Bush made the nomination. Unsurprisingly, Pennsylvania Democrats are less likely to spit on their native son.

    Andrew Sullivan notes that there’s a liberal for Alito: Kate Pringle, a liberal Democrat who once clerked for Alito.

    Captain Ed adds to that list a certain Jeff Wasserstein, who characterizes himself as “a Democrat who always voted Democratic, except when I vote for a Green candidate” but is neverthless on board. Captain Ed tips his hat to the Los Angeles Times, which surprised me somewhat.

    Meanwhile, James Taranto notes that the New York Times is still on the same old saw. The Tuesday column item led to some sleuthing by reader Chris Bartony (which James has posted). The best part is Chris’ conclusion:

    I think that they have a Screed-O-Matic somewhere at the New York Times. They just insert the name and hit the Republican Judicial Nominee button and the thing churns out the copy. I know that Maureen Dowd and Bob Herbert use it all the time.

    That seems about right.

    Speaking of which, it is important to remember that there’s a difference between a judicial conservative and a social conservative; that Judge Alito, on the face of his published opinions, hardly seems an extremist in either sense; and that maybe getting things done “just about right” is more important than having your party “win”. That’s the only way American will have Alito Justice (apologies for the punnery).

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Politics | 1 Comment »

    Two Years, Two Curses Broken

    Posted by demimasque on 27th October 2005 (All posts by )

    Last year, the Boston Red Sox overcame the Curse of the Bambino by beating their archrivals, the New York Yankees, en route to a sweeping victory in the World Series.

    This year, I watched the final pitch and tag-out at first base as the Chicago White Sox overcame their 88-year Curse of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (also known as the Curse of the Black Sox), and won the World Series in a sweep of the Houston Astros.

    Next stop: The Chicago Cubs for an attempt to break their nearly century-long curse. The Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908, a drought so long that they’ve even had time to build up another curse inside, the Curse of the Billy Goat.

    PS – The Astros were understandably disappointed. It was their first ever trip to the World Series since they were created 44 years ago (the longest any major league baseball team had taken to get to the World Series), and they had overcome a 15-30 start to this season. Their time will come.

    PPS – Former President George H. W. Bush, a Texan, was understanbly disappointed when they showed his face in a replay. It looks like he’s gained some weight. I guess he’s been spending too much time with Bill Clinton!

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Sports | 11 Comments »

    Running on Fumes

    Posted by demimasque on 26th October 2005 (All posts by )

    Bill Rice at Dawn’s Early Light recently considered Sino-Japanese energy geopolitics. While the disputes over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea are well-known, less well-known but, as Bill points out, equally contentious, are the disputes over gas fields in the East China Sea:

    What is at stake is over 200 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves. China already has developed stations at Chunxiao (Shirakaba), Duanqiao (Kusunoki) and Tianwaitian (Kashi) that are starting this month to produce natural gas. Japan had floated a proposal to jointly develop the sites, but only after China agreeing to stop drilling and submit to Japan its internal surveys of where the natural gas is coming from (See the Asia Times Online file for an in depth analysis).

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in International Affairs | 3 Comments »

    Religious Tolerance

    Posted by demimasque on 24th October 2005 (All posts by )

    One of the persistent comparisons between the West and the Muslim world has been the place of religious tolerance. We in the West have become so accustomed to religious pluralism that a sizable minority feels safe in denigrating the religious background of the West by taking it out of context, while defending those who hijack yet another religion by insisting that the majority of believers of that other religion don’t share the views of those extremists. Goose and gander deserve different sauces. Yet, we tolerate these, and others less self-contradicted, because we have developed a respect for the freedom of conscience, without which we would still be experiencing the internecine brawls that rocked our ancestral societies in the 16th and 17th Centuries.

    Observers of the Islamic world have noted the societal trajectories there. While the outlying societies, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, have been largely able to co-exist with other religions (although these relationships have been strained in the past century), the core of the Muslim world, the Arabian peninsula, has been home to an intolerant fundamentalism which denies the validity not only of other faiths, but also militates against coreligionists who happen to follow a different interpretation. The Sunni-Shia divide, although subtle in practice, has been politically exploited over the centuries.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History | 9 Comments »

    Saddam Trial – Jurisdiction

    Posted by demimasque on 21st October 2005 (All posts by )

    The friend who asked, rhetorically, if the Saddam Trial was nothing but a dog-and-pony show before a kangaroo court later (but before I responded to him) asked this question:

    If the invasion is illegal, the Court has no jurisdiction.

    The smart money is that this is what Saddam’s lawyers will try to argue. Professor Willis, my Civil Procedure instructor, concurs, but adds much more nuance. She suggests that Saddam’s lawyers will specifically try to argue that the court has no jurisdiction over him because the Coalition Provisional Authority headed by Paul Bremer, under whose auspices the statute creating the Iraqi Special Tribunal was drafted, had no authority due to the illegality of the war. According to the Human Rights First page, “Iraqi Special Tribunal: Questions & Answers“, the statute was actually enacted by the Iraqi Governing Council, to which the CPA temporarily ceded legislative authority for that purpose. Moreover, arguing the illegality of the war may be futile.

    This is how I answered my friend:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Political Philosophy | 23 Comments »

    Saddam Trial – Kangaroo Court?

    Posted by demimasque on 21st October 2005 (All posts by )

    A friend of mine posted on Wednseday, at a forum we both contribute to, about the opening of the Saddam Trial. He has consistently been one of the members of the forum who have opposed the Iraq War. Over the course of our correspondence I have gotten the impression that his opposition is due more to his partisan opposition to President Bush than to a consistent ideology; and from that impression, I read a question which he posted with some skepticism. Here’s what he wrote:

    My question is: What’s the point of even having a trial?

    Everyone here knows there is absolutely no chance he will be released alive. His objections to the legitimacy of the trial will be overruled, and he will be found guilty and sentenced to death. There is no other outcome. Moreover, he will use the trial as a stage to embarass the United States.

    So what’s the point of even having a trial? Why do we need to perpetuate the illusion of fairness when the conclusion is already predetermined?

    We should skip the dog-and-pony trial and go straight to sentencing. Maybe Bush should have Saddam’s head cut off and stick it on the gate around the Whitehouse.

    I think it would be fair to say that, as his post went on, his visceral opposition to President Bush took over, and the post assumed a more emotional overtone. Here was my response (which I’ve edited for easier understanding outside of the forum):

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Political Philosophy | 6 Comments »

    White House Stages Pro-War Propaganda

    Posted by demimasque on 16th October 2005 (All posts by )

    Anti-war types are incensed that the Administration would ever try to stage anything that would put a better spin on the war effort than what the anti-war groups perceive:

    “It’s important to demonstrate the perfidy and mendacity of this administration now,” said one leading spokesman, “before it becomes fixed in the mind of the public as an American ‘victory,’ or something to be admired and emulated in the future. If we don’t set the record straight now, who knows how history will record it? For all we know, they’ll decide to put up a bronze statue in Arlington to commemorate it, or something.”

    Rand Simberg’s “article” comes to us from … 1945. Let’s face it, it is in the nature of all American Administrations, indeed of any regime, to justify its actions. And it is indeed the job of an observant press to question such propaganda. But what happens when some members of the press get their own ideas? Blogress Laura Lee Donoho shares an anecdote from Somalia, from her husband’s experiences there:

    My husband had the opportunity to see this odious practice for himself when he was deployed to Somalia in 1992.

    One day as my husband and part of his battalion was out in a convoy he saw a CNN newscrew near a group of Somalis. The crew and the Somalis were blocking the road that my husband’s convoy was attempting to go down so my husband checked into what was going on.

    What he saw upset him so much that he called me that very day the first chance he got. He was livid.

    He told me that blonde haired white people who were obviously working for CNN were making and handing out signs to the poor Somali people and having them pose for the camera with the signs which said stuff like, “Go home U.S. military.”

    Manipulation of the “truth” is common, and one doesn’t have to be an establishment type, whether George Bush or Dan Rather, to do so. Recall the last time you decided to tell a white lie, or fudged your retelling of events to suit the point of your story (“I once caught a fish this big!”).

    Which is really worse, the President holding a scripted “unscripted” conference with the troops that nevertheless manages to get the President’s message out, or the television producer who fabricates evidence but claims that the point is “fake but accurate”, relying on sentiments that cannot be discovered because the man who supposedly held them 30 years ago is conveniently dead? Then again, it really is a difference between the mentality of teamwork with life-or-death stakes, and the quite different stakes of taking down a political opponent when your own candidate fails to conduct a convincing campaign against a vulnerable incumbent.

    But, don’t take my word for it. I have it on good authority that even though all Administrations do this, the Bush flub is particularly execrable and mendacious, and that the media never gets it wrong (or, at least, is never not “accurate”) except when they’re being set up by a right wing conspiracy.

    Is it, nonetheless, embarrassing for the Bushies? Absolutely. Will it blow over? Most likely. If people can’t be bothered to tune in to the news of the Iraqi Constitutional Referendum, then people won’t be bothered to follow news of something that we all know people do. In the end, the brouhaha will have less impact than some would desire.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Politics | Comments Off on White House Stages Pro-War Propaganda

    Picasa

    Posted by demimasque on 21st September 2005 (All posts by )

    I’ve heard some really good things about both Flickr and Picasa, and as I’ve been trying to migrate myself off my old CSUA account, which I’d have to secure FTP to (a bit of a hassle, that), I finally decided to start looking around and evaluate these two on their merits. They’re both very well received, and score very well with PC World’s reviewers. In fact, Flickr gets 4½ stars, while Picasa/Hello gets 4 stars. However, since Picasa also serves as an editor, it won out, since I’ve been interested in getting a replacement for ACDSee Classic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great program, even if ACD Systems no longer hawks it; but I wanted something a little more modern.

    My research showed that Picasa really had the best features between the two. According to their guided tour to features, these are just a few of the things Picasa can do:

    • Make a label.
      Use labels to tag your photos into quick groupings inside Picasa. Viewing and sharing the pictures you grouped under a label is easy – they make great slide shows and movies or you can email them to friends.

    • Add a star rating.
      Give a gold star to any photo you love: it turns your favourites into visual standouts at a glance. Picasa even has a star search that reduces your entire photo collection to the best of the best in less than a second.

    • Keep one picture in multiple albums.
      Picasa creates a new “instance” of each photo you label without taking up more space on your computer, so you can put the same picture into multiple albums.

    • Password-protect collections.
      Have photos you want to keep to yourself? You can add passwords to any of your Picasa collections (this does not affect which pictures you and others can see on your computer’s hard drive).

    • Write captions that stay with the picture.
      Picasa makes captions the way journalists do – using the IPTC standard. That means your captions are saved within their pictures and stay with them, whether you export as a web page or make a CD presentation. Picasa captions are fully editable and searchable, and you choose whether to display them or not.

    • Know how to use a camera in manual mode?
      Photography aficionados can now fine-tune their photos with Picasa’s EXIF display. This window shows you all the camera data that is stored in a picture’s original file – such as camera model, date the photo was taken, even if a flash was used. The EXIF display also has a RGB histogram, a real-time graph that shows the intensity of colors in your picture and how they change when you make edits in Picasa.

    • Turn your photos into a movie.
      It’s so easy to play filmmaker with your pictures. Select your best shots, then adjust the delay time, dimensions, and video compression settings. That’s it – Picasa will render a movie, complete with title graphics, that you can play and share.

    • Make a personalized desktop picture or screensaver.
      Your best pictures are now on display. Pick a favorite photo as your desktop picture or add several into your screensaver rotation. What better way to enjoy your photographic genius at your desk?

    • Create a poster.
      Picasa can tile any picture you select, allowing you to print each part and reassemble them at poster size – up to 1,000% larger than the original.

    • Make picture collages.
      Select a group of pictures, choose one of the beautiful templates, and Picasa will create a collage that expands your creative horizons. Picture pile it. Make a multi-exposure image. Create a contact sheet. Done? Simply save your collage to a folder, as a new desktop background or as a screensaver.

    I especially like that individual files can be used in multiple albums. I’m not particularly worried about disk space; I’m more concerned about the hassle of having to remember where a source photo comes from. I have a pretty straight forward way of naming my picture files: yyyymmdd[_nn]_[x]xx.jpg, where yyyy is the year, mm is the month, dd is the day, and xx is the series. The formulation allows for different events. (Signified by nn, an “event” simply acknowledges the fact that some days, there will sometimes be more than one distinct group of pictures.) While this is great for archiving, it can be a bit daunting when it comes to creating albums. For example, if a given picture portrays the family on a vacation to Hawaii, should that picture be categorized under “vacation”, “Hawaii”, or “family”? The most basic categorization is, of course, the year, but the filename already covers that. What if I want that picture also to be part of a collection of pictures of my brother? With Picasa, I can create albums without having to manipulate the underlying files. Thus, each file can have more than one reference. Simple database concepts brought to life!

    Finally, the opportunity to use the IPTC standard for captioning digital pictures, which means that captions, which is one way I’ve been implementing “albums” in ACDSee, will now travel with my pictures, instead of requiring the transfer of icky Windows “hidden files”.

    I’ll post again when I’ve had a chance to really take this for a test drive. If I forget, remind me.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Diversions | 4 Comments »

    Democratic Opportunity

    Posted by demimasque on 11th September 2005 (All posts by )

    Most of you are more than familiar with my views on international affairs and politics, and some politely disagree with me. Looking forward, however, I think there are things that people of good will on both sides can work on together. The Economist reports on ripples of liberalism in the Middle East, using the recent Egyptian elections as the backdrop. What needs to be pointed out is the following:

    Most Arab reformers warm much more to the caustic critiques of American filmmaker Michael Moore than to George Bush’s “forward strategy of freedom”. Most believe that when push comes to shove, America’s thirst for oil will exceed its democratic principles.

    Yet there is little doubt that American influence has helped to tip the balance of regional forces in favour of reform. A coincidence, perhaps, but it was shortly after Condoleezza Rice, America’s secretary of state, abruptly cancelled a scheduled visit to Egypt that Mr Mubarak announced his initiative to hold contested presidential elections. Later, speaking in Cairo, Ms Rice won over even a few Egyptian sceptics by appealing to their pride, suggesting that their country should lead the region in political progress as it has led before in pursuing peace. Lebanon’s dramatic overthrow of veiled Syrian rule this spring was only made possible by American-led moves to de-claw and isolate Syria’s regime. And these moves were made possible, in turn, by the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

    There are lessons there for everyone. You don’t have to have agreed with the reasons, whether official or publicly promoted, for the war in Iraq. But you can take a look at some of what’s been going on, and see an opportunity. For the Democrats in particular, this is a chance to sell themselves as the party most naturally suited in helping sclertoic autocracies face the democratic future. After all, it’s in their very party name.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in International Affairs | Comments Off on Democratic Opportunity

    Let Them Eat Organic Cake!

    Posted by demimasque on 1st September 2005 (All posts by )

    Despite the opposition of President Bush to federal subsidies for embryonic stem cell research, the United States isn’t the only jurisdiction that has had problems coming to terms with the implications of the genetic revolution. Ronald Bailey reports on EU intransigence on genetically modified (GM) crops, and how these EU regulations are having dire consequences for the livelihoods of the world’s poor people:

    [T]he constituency of anti-biotech environmental groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth is not poor African and Asian farmers and their families, but affluent and easily frightened European consumers. In response to ferocious pressure ginned up by the misleading campaigns of ideological environmentalists, EU politicians and bureaucrats have built an all but impenetrable wall of anti-biotech regulations around themselves. Wielding these onerous crop biotechnology regulations, the EU, on specious safety grounds, has essentially banned the importation of most biotech crops and foods. But these regulations do not only have consequences for European farmer and consumers.

    The EU wants to export its regulatory system to the world, and it is offering “capacity building” foreign aid to persuade developing countries to adopt its no-go or go-slow approach to crop biotechnology regulations. Even more tragically, some developing countries are so afraid of the EU’s anti-biotech wrath that they are willing to risk the lives of millions of their hungry by rejecting food aid that contains genetically enhanced crops.

    Activists usually blame the inaction of rich countries for killing people in poor countries. However, instead of outrage here, we get Greenpeace geneticist Doreen Stabinsky primly quipping in the Post-Dispatch, “Hunger is not solved by producing more food. We’re the breadbasket of the world, and we have hungry people in the U.S.”

    Hunger may not be solved by producing more food, but it sure couldn’t hurt.

    There’s a saying, that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; but if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a life time. What the anti-biotech groups’ approach boils down to is a refusal to teach their poorer neighbors to fish. This is unsurprising, as such groups are generally anti-liberal (in that they expect government to provide), and dispensing immediate aid doesn’t require teaching anyone how to be self-sufficient. This is of a piece with the anti-liberal hostility toward individual responsibility. (Do not confuse this with the liberal sympathy for the plight of the poor, as true liberals advocate both giving the man a fish and teaching him to fish.)

    Rather odd, given the chidings that Americans are usually subjected to from Europeans dismissing our supposedly parochial attitudes toward technology. You’d think they’d know better. Then again, if their own farmers were at least marginally more efficient, they wouldn’t have to import food and thus run the risk of importing GM foods. Try telling that to someone in Brussels.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Bioethics, Environment, Europe | 1 Comment »

    It’s the Economics, Stupid!

    Posted by demimasque on 31st August 2005 (All posts by )

    I’m not sure just what it is about people in my Property Law class. So far, we’ve been covering some basic economic issues, and today we touched on the topic of the tragedy of the commons. Despite some of the utilitarian thinkers whose names we were introduced to in the text, the ideas shouldn’t be so hard to grasp.

    “Tragedy of the commons” may be a term of economics, but the idea is very basic. Let’s say you’ve got a communal pasture, which everyone can access, and which nobody has rights to. What happens, then, in a community of herders? You’ll get overgrazing, because when nobody owns the rights to the common pasture, and anybody can use it, nobody has an incentive to stop somebody else’s herd from grazing. It’s a recipe for environmental disaster. The basic economic idea underlying this is that, when there is open access, and no exclusive rights, resources will be consumed faster, resulting in underproduction or shortage. To prevent overgrazing in the commons, then, the community could either ban herding (which has the advantage of negating the entire scenario, but the disadvantage of being unrealistic and avoiding the question), or the community could create private property by dividing the commons into small parcels. Each property owner then has a vested interest in the productivity of his piece of pasture, and so will not only limit his own consumption, but invoke his right, guaranteed by the law, to prevent others from grazing on his part of the pasture by any reasonable means, such as by building a fence. Simple enough, right?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 1 Comment »

    Good Advice for Democrats

    Posted by demimasque on 4th August 2005 (All posts by )

    Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe has some great advice for the Democrats:

    IT IS TIME for Democrats to stop moaning about John Roberts and John Bolton and start doing something productive — such as figuring out how to win elections.

    Even though Democrats continue to resist the outcome, George W. Bush won the 2004 presidential contest. His reelection triggered a time-honored cliche: To the victor, go the spoils. Bush selected a Supreme Court nominee and an ambassador to the United Nations who reflect his philosophy. Any Democratic president would do the same.

    The Senate has the responsibility to press Roberts on his views and philosophy. But it should come as no shock that Bush would select a conservative thinker as his nominee. So far, activists’ effort to paint Roberts as an extremist looks silly. Here is a candidate whose first written response to questions from lawmakers states that judges should possess “modesty and humility.” Roberts understands how to market himself to the masses in a way the abortion rights lobby never learned.

    This week, Bush bypassed the Senate and installed Bolton as emissary to the UN. In doing so, the president broke no law; he merely used a procedure that allows him to fill vacant positions when the Senate is in recess. If Bolton is as unsuited for the position as opponents insist, that will become clear soon enough. Ultimately, any failure on Bolton’s part will help Democrats in what should be the party’s main goal: winning back the voters who now view them as the powerless party of the petulant.

    Of course, some of us have been saying this for some time. But beyond counseling Democrats to be less hysterical about the natural consequences of their election losses, Joan also provides some suggestions that Democrats would be wise to consider (emphasis mine):

    Democrats should spend more time in places like Ohio, and it should be quality time. They should be listening, for once, to what voters are thinking, not telling voters what is wrong about their thinking and their past choice on election day.

    Democrats should also do with stem cell research what Republicans did with gay marriage: present the issue for a vote on every possible state ballot. Republican Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader from Tennessee, just demonstrated the power of the issue. Frist’s surprise endorsement of a bill that would approve federal funds for new lines of stem cells enraged the right. But Frist knows the political center supports it, and the political center is where a presidential contender wants to be. In stem cell research, Democrats, for once, have an issue that fires up their base and cuts to the center, across diverse demographic groups.

    I’m not sure the stem cell research issue is going to yield quite the dividend that Joan thinks it will, as I don’t see Bush ultimately going head-to-head with Frist on the issue. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try, and if Democrats can turn down the hate-mongering and turn up the optimism and the subtle, nuanced insinuations, it might just work (if Bush hasn’t pulled that rug out from under them by then).

    It would be in the best interests of this country to have a truly viable two-party system. Thus it would be in the best interests of this country to have a healthy, competitive, optimistic Democratic Party that can offer reasonable and attractive alternatives to the GOP agenda.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Politics | 5 Comments »

    Europe’s Population Implosion

    Posted by demimasque on 3rd August 2005 (All posts by )

    Much has been said and written about Europe’s fertility rate, the white portion of which is below replacement levels. Here are some clues why this is happening. Compare those stories with an American one, and you can begin to get a sense of the differing values.

    James Taranto addressed this in a way in January:

    Medical statistics can be tricky: An excellent hospital may have a higher death rate than a mediocre one because of differences in the patient population, with the former treating much harder cases than the latter. That is what seems to have happened here: Kristof has alighted on a statistical artifact of American excellence and misconstrued it as a sign of America’s shortcomings.

    Perhaps America’s much-ballyhooed religiosity is also her saving grace in this context, as, despite Roe v. Wade, we are more likely to try to save perinatal infants instead of dumping the baby in the rubbish. Or, as James Taranto points out in “The Roe Effect“, perhaps our religiosity remains because of Roe v. Wade. Who knows?

    It is entirely possible, of course, that the European women who discarded those babies did, in fact, endure much emotional anguish. But in the end, their decision was indubitably made easier by the more cavalier attitudes of their postmodern upbringing. I hope it wasn’t quite so easy, of course. I’d hate to think that some woman decided, after carrying a baby nearly to term, that she’d rather not give up the single life, that she’d rather not give up being able to afford items of haute couture or dinners of haute cuisine. In short, I’d hate to think that women who want to live like the girls of Sex and the City would make a decision to bring a baby to term, then give it up all at the last minute just because it’s “inconvenient”. I’d also hate for Europeans to have to resort to the excuse that these women didn’t know any better; wouldn’t that take away their ability to mock the United States for our (admitted) lack of good sex education?

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Bioethics | 25 Comments »

    Fewer Children Left Behind – Update

    Posted by demimasque on 3rd August 2005 (All posts by )

    In response to my post, “Fewer Children Left Behind“, I received some interesting comments from a regular reader. Please read Kagehi’s comments in their entirety before reading my response, which follows below:

    Of all the standardized tests I’ve taken (and I’ve taken many), very few depend simply on rote memory. The increasing emphasis on reading comprehension, for example, seems to me to be a welcome development. Sure, it’s only multiple-choice, but it still forces people at least to learn decision-making skills, such as how to weed out obviously wrong answers; but even getting to the point of knowing which answers are obviously wrong requires some knowledge.

    I would guess that there are a lot of folks who would then cry triumphantly, saying, “Aha! See? We shouldn’t do multiple-choice testing at all, as it doesn’t test anything real.” I have two answers to that:

    1. Most, if not all, people I’ve known who’ve scored above a certain percentile on most standardized tests tend also to be more than just book smart. My empirical evidence thus suggests that the rejoinder is at least flawed.

    2. The issue of testing almost always comes up primarily along with issues of funding. This is as it should be. The issue comes up because someone somewhere (usually taxpayers or politicans) want schools to justify government funding. While hard numbers might not be able to capture the entire scope of a school’s quality, it at least gives those asking questions some idea of where the school is at. And, typically, politicians and voters are forgiving enough to acknowledge that just one round of hard numbers doesn’t necessarily capture the entire package. Thus, NCLB doesn’t withhold funding unless there’s a negative trend over the course of two or three years (I forget which). This is a moving average, which gives those who hold purse strings a beter idea of performance.

    Now I’m going to make the argument that liberals typically hate, and compare school results to real-world business results. In the real world, a business may have a fantastic idea for a product or service. However, if, after a reasonable amount of time, a start-up fails to reach its stated revenue goals, might investors not be justified in short-selling their shares?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Education | 13 Comments »

    Fewer Children Left Behind

    Posted by demimasque on 28th July 2005 (All posts by )

    The Economist reports on some heartening news for the White House:

    The National Assessment of Educational Progress has been periodically testing a representative sample of 9-, 13- and 17-year-olds since the early 1970s. This year’s report contained two striking results. The first is that America’s nine-year-olds posted their best scores in reading and maths since the tests were introduced (in 1971 in reading and 1973 in maths). The second is that the gap between white students and minorities is narrowing. The nine-year-olds who made the biggest gains of all were blacks, traditionally the most educationally deprived group in American society.

    The improved results in America’s National Assessment of Educational Progress have been linked by some to Mr Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and increased funding for the Department of Education.

    The education establishment—particularly the two big teachers’ unions—were quick to pooh-pooh the result. The critics argued that Mr Bush cannot take credit for the gains because his chief educational reform, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, had been in place for only a year when the tests were administered. They also pointed out that the gains are not universal. The results are mixed for 13-year-olds and 17-year-olds. The reading skills of black and Latino 17-year-olds were nearly identical to those of white 13-year-olds.

    All this is true, but self-confounding. Mr Bush’s act may be very new. But the ideas that lie behind it—focusing on basic subjects such as maths and reading and using regular testing to hold schools accountable—have been widely tried at the state level since at least the mid-1990s. Mr Bush deserves credit for recognising winning ideas thrown up by America’s “laboratories of democracy” and then applying them at the federal level. Thirteen- and 17-year-olds may not have shown as much improvement as nine-year-olds. But that is precisely because reformers have focused their energies on the earlier grades.

    Well, of course the education establishment is protesting. These results suggest that the Bush approach is feasible after all, and this would mean that their opposition to results-based testing is going to hold less and less water with parents. Sure, there are good arguments for not focusing only on teaching to the test. After all, Confucian civilization has emphasized test scores for almost two thousand years, and the resulting rigidity and lack of imagination has mean, in the modern era, a less vibrant cultural life. Japan, the current standard bearer of the traditional East Asian approach to education, has only begun to be a exporter of culture (rather than an importer) in the last couple of decades, accelerated just over a decade ago with the beginning of Japan’s period of economic stagnation. Taiwan’s recent bursts of cultural experimentation have also accompanied sputtering in the economic engine. Nonetheless, Americans will probably find some sort of balance.

    What is most worrying to the public school teachers’ unions, of course, is that this implies what The Economist refers to as “inconvenient reforms”. That, of course, is at the heart of the issue. These unions, make no mistake, are more interested in their own existence, than in the welfare of their constituent members.

    Lastly, in response to the charge that the results are less ambiguously positive for the older age groups, there is not only the point made by The Economist, that “refirners have focused their energies on the earlier grades”, but that this is the wise thing to do. First, 13- and 17-year-olds are at a later stage in life, when they are less likely to absorb new things at school (a slowdown in the pace of intellectual absorption combined with an adolescent resentment of authority figures such as teachers). Second, by focusing their energies on the 9-year-olds, reformers are paving the way for better 13- and 17-year-olds four and eight years later.

    Why would improvements among 9-year-olds imply delayed improvements for 13- and 17-year-olds? Well, if you’re a bright, 9-year-old black youngster, the fact that you’ve done better than expected might encourage you to have more self-confidence, and disregard the tired old stereotypes, some reinforced by older blacks, that will hold you back. And when you’re 13, or 17, you’ll still retain that self-confidence, knowing that you can beat the historical trend. With so many things working in your favor, and at the same time not working against others, what you end up with, a year from the test, is a confident group of 10-year-olds. In two years, a confident group of 11-year-olds. And so on and so forth.

    This former of Governor of Texas is not so stupid as some like to make him out to be, after all. But some of us had always known. Permit me a slightly smug smile here.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Education | 8 Comments »

    Eminent Domain Update

    Posted by demimasque on 27th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Despite the fact that the petition to build a hotel on the site of Justice Souter’s home in Weare, NH, originated as a publicity stunt, it’s not taken as just a joke anymore. Beverly Wang reports:

    … in a state where people fiercely protect their right to local control over land and government, many said the nuisance is Souter’s just deserts. A recent University of New Hampshire poll reported 93 percent of state residents oppose the taking of private land through eminent domain for private development.

    “It’s something you really don’t want to screw with around here,” said Charles Meany, Weare’s code enforcement officer.

    He thinks the hotel idea is “ludicrous” and doubts whether Clements will be able to satisfy requirements to prove the economic necessity of building a hotel on Souter’s land.

    But Clements has his share of local supporters, including David Archambault, who runs a go-cart track near Souter’s home.

    “What this is doing I think is wonderful, because he’s getting a point across to all these people that they’re getting too much power,” Archambault said.

    Robin Ilsley, who makes syrup on a family farm about two miles from Souter’s place, thought the justice brought the controversy on himself. “It was a pretty stupid ruling,” she said.

    Even her mother, who watched Souter grow up, is unsympathetic.

    “I like David very much, but I don’t like his ideas,” said Winnie Ilsley, 77, who runs a doll museum at her farm. “I just don’t think it’s fair,” she said of the New London decision.

    And the hotel?

    “Let ’em build — but I don’t think it’s going to happen,” she said.

    Sounds like a challenge to me!

    (Hat-tip: Chrenkoff)

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Political Philosophy | Comments Off on Eminent Domain Update

    Max Boot: Why We Fight

    Posted by demimasque on 15th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Max Boot ponders the parallels between the Blitz and the Bombing:

    The London bombings have occasioned many comparisons with the 1940 Blitz. This is usually cited as evidence of British fortitude — the attitude exemplified by cockneys in the heavily bombed East End who told Winston Churchill, “We can take it, but give it ’em back.” That is indeed the dominant British (and American) attitude, then and now, but it is important not to ignore a streak of timidity there (and here) that may get stronger in the years ahead and that was present even when civilization faced an existential threat from Nazism.

    The last sentence segues into a litany of appeasement stances. I imagine that in their day these appeals against involvement in the war were far louder than history has allowed their echoes to be. Take one delicious morsel of an example:

    Even in January 1942, when German armies were at the gates of Moscow, George Orwell wrote in Partisan Review that “the greater part of the very young intelligentsia are anti-war … don’t believe in any ‘defense of democracy,’ are inclined to prefer Germany to Britain, and don’t feel the horror of Fascism that we who are somewhat older feel.”

    As if to illustrate Orwell’s point, a pacifist poet named D.S. Savage wrote a reply in which he explained why he “would never fight and kill for such a phantasm” as “Britain’s ‘democracy.’ ” Savage saw no difference between Britain and its enemies because under the demands of war both were imposing totalitarianism: “Germans call it National Socialism. We call it democracy. The result is the same.”

    Savage naively wondered, “Who is to say that a British victory will be less disastrous than a German one?” Savage thought the real problem was that Britain had lost “her meaning, her soul,” but “the unloading of a billion tons of bombs on Germany won’t help this forward an inch.” “Personally,” he added, with hilarious understatement, “I do not care for Hitler.” But he thought the way to resist Hitler was by not resisting him: “Whereas the rest of the nation is content with calling down obloquy on Hitler’s head, we regard this as superficial. Hitler requires, not condemnation, but understanding.”

    Remind you of anything? No wonder they’ve been in such a frenzy to portray Rove as some sort of criminal mastermind — with the usual lack of success.

    (Hat-tip: Instapundit)

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Terrorism | 1 Comment »