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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Chosen Sanity

At Dean's World, Scott Kirwin writes about overcoming addiction:
Addiction is a selfish behavior. After all, a cigarette makes you feel good, not anyone else. Ditto a shot of vodka. Feeding that addiction makes one become even more selfish. Your drive to the liquor store costs you time with your children. Your "sanity (smoke) breaks" outside are borne by your employer or by your family (in cases where you are docked for the time). For some, that selfishness leads to the collapse of the personality into what I consider a psychological black-hole: the narcissist.
That sense of personal responsibility may be a heavy burden, but life lived without it is a worse burden. We all have our selfish behaviors. We all fight the battle to keep our egos and our desires in balance. Scott's post is excellent life advice even if you aren't trying to beat an addiction.

Dr Sanity On Insanity

Dr. Sanity posted on a topic that (to me at least) is intimately related to the topic of discussion at True Grit's and SC&A's. Now Dr. Sanity doesn't mess around. Whereas Ann Althouse uses a rapier to make her points Dr. Sanity just yanks out a saber and starts chopping:
This insight identifies, I believe, the underlying cancer that has eaten away at civil discourse in this country. It describes almost all the the intensely emotional conflicts in the social arena-- from abortion to Gay rights to almost all instances of public financing of art and culture. This is the reason that no resolution or compromise can ever be made between opposing viewpoints.

One side --primarly the Left (I will note the one exception I can think of in just a minute) is much more comfortable imposing its will on anyone who disagrees.
This, it seems to me, is true. Ilona at True Grit, for instance, describes herself as a fundamentalist Christian. But she is adamant about the need for tolerance in society and flies to the defense of anyone she believes is unfairly maligned. She posted recently:
Why is our way better, and to what degree is it better? And how did we get to this place, because a short look at history shows we weren't always here.

It sure wasn't secularism. One glance at the Reign of Terror to the Directoire of Revolutionary France will educate you on that point.

But it wasn't an institution of temporal Christianity, either. That had its own list of atrocities. You can read Foxes Book of Martyrs for some of the gory details ( and this is after the Crusades).

So, ok, what was it that lead us to this place of freedom with form, with a literate citizenry who can take responsibility for its own governance?

The history is there to read, and it doesn't involve killing off Puritans or Catholics or Muslims. Persecutions and prejudices worked against it... but there was a combination of the desire for freedom and opportunity to pursue ones happiness that is resident in all men, and an environment of giving first place to those beliefs and principles that best cultivated this for the most people. And it grew.... spread and blossomed into the culture which now gives the most freedom and rights to women and diverse races and creeds to be seen in history.
Also, True Grit posted a recipe for kifli that is greatly to be respected. I drooled and gained three pounds just by reading it. Kifli and tolerance; admit it, this is not the face of Bill Moyer's fundamentalism. Ilona's point is obvious - the type of public space she describes is such a wonderful common possession that everyone has a reason to defend it. The type of public space Dr. Sanity describes is rather pathetic - people tend to flee it:
...the Left has made it their primary modus operandi to use the force of the government to give clout to their cultural, social, political and moral and quasi-religious beliefs in all areas. Of course, they do it because they understand that they are much more knowledgable than you or I are about what is right.

It is the pervasive tyranny of the elitist.
That is true. There are large special interest groups that are pushing their agenda as a ruling force. They aren't truly asking for a place in the public square - they want to rule the public square, to so occupy it that they push out all opposing voices.

By the way, my real objection is to the elitism and not to all the goals of the left. On some matters I tend to be pretty left myself - some would say far left. But I am always going to view tyranny of any sort as the most absolute evil to be avoided. I don't care if you agree with me on every point - if you want to make everyone conform to your ideas I will believe that you are wrong and I will fight you to the intellectual death. No human being can be right all the time. If you believe you are then you are possessed by a form of craziness.

Discussion Of The Day

This really continues yesterday's discussion started by True Grit about whether religious education should be a part of the curriculum in schools. SC&A has fired his own salvo. He writes:
The argument that the government should not be in the teaching religion business is absurd. Atheism and secularism are as much religions as anything else. There are some religious conservatives that teach hate, you say? Well, there are some atheists and secularists that do exactly the same thing. Why is some ‘hate’ less hateful and more acceptable than others?
And he concludes:
We are not advocating the imposition of a religious agenda anymore than we advocate imposing a secular agenda. We are advocating a moral agenda.

The non moral agenda of secularism hasn’t worked.
Ilona's (True Grit) piece of this discussion is here. To one of my worries about religious education in school she replied:
I don't want the state to be a vehicle of religion, but I see the need for citizens to be informed about religion. That is why a secular observation of religion is useful. Comparative religion classes don't cover all the details, it is a time factor if nothing else.
I think people are correct in thinking that religion is the most dangerously abused of all humanity's important institutions. It is our convictions, of the rights involved, in safekeeping tolerance and freedom for expression that is one of most important values. How does closing off the discussion in education serve that? It only strangles the basis we have for desiring the maintenance of the tolerance of our laws.
to say it is too hard to figure out is to argue for continued ignorance,don't you think?
What I think is that we will have a riproaring explosion of hysterical rhetoric if we decide to teach religion in any serious way within our schools. It may not be fair, but our society is fighting about values. Radical feminism (now largely aligned with the GLBT activists) has one set of values. It wants to enforce certain ways of life and attitudes within our culture. All you have to do is encounter a discussion group ripping up stay-at-home-mothers to realize that. It pretty much wants to eliminate old ideas about sexual restraint and gender roles, and to do so it must reject most mainstream religious teachings and the cultural ethos they produced. Not all feminists are radical feminists, and not all GLBT individuals are activists.

The vast centrist portion of our population wants individual freedoms but does not wish to be coerced into expressing support for other people's choices. My opinion is that the real battle here is between "tolerance" and "approval". All these different ideologies for living can coexist if we believe in "tolerance" - not abusing each other for our different beliefs. All these ideologies can't coexist if we believe in "approval" - suppressing people's differing points of view.

As an aside, I would like to point you to a discussion at Ann Althouse's. Ann had commented on podcasting being impaired in comparison to blogging because there was no correction of factual error. As an example she quoted a podcasting professor on Lenin and Christianity:
Thus, podcasting is not like blogging. It lacks the inherent structural safeguards that make the blogosphere work in service to the truth.
She was reprimanded by a professor who found her blog. For one thing, he denies there are any factual errors in the podcast. You have to read the discussion to grasp the nature of the debate between powder-puff intellectualism and Ann's more rigorous and factual reasoning.

Many people leaped to her defense, or at least to point out that they considered the statement that "Lenin was a good egg" to be a factual error. The resulting debate is an example of the collision course in our culture between the new strain of academic sensationalism and the older intellectual tradition. I found this a fascinating example of why the blogosphere is becoming influential - it has shifted the center of debate away from the elitist groups in our society and back to the coffee-house crew that gave birth to our country. In the coffee-house, pragmatism and respect for truth prevail. Among the elites, a type of intellectual flourish prevails. You may say anything as long as it is does not reprimand another professor's "anything". Sensationalism is rewarded, and intellectual integrity is reprehensible.

IMAO: Bush Blog III

If you haven't read the first two parts, you can find them at the head of the third part. In the annals of blogging humor, this one is destined to endure as long as the traditional media's hatred of blogging endures. A long, long time. Who is the emperor of all the media?
"Due to a large pamphleteering campaign," said the anchorman, "not authorized by us, your trusted mainstream media, citizens have gone back to believing that blogs are a good thing, despite polling telling them they don't actually think that. In a stunning move, President Bush has given a full pardon to blogger Glenn Reynolds for his cross country shoot out with the police, a move supported by bloggers across the world but very unpopular to law students at the University of Tennessee. There have been some implications that quid pro quo was involved, as Bush received what is called an 'Instalanche' to his own blog, Dubya Explains It All, right after issuing the pardon. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan denied these charges, but we remind viewers that he is tubby."

Chirac's Shuffle

It was no secret that Chirac had planned to replace France's Prime Minister, Raffarin, if the French did not vote yes on the Constitution. And he did:
Shaken by the defeat of the European Union constitution, President Jacques Chirac appointed Dominique de Villepin, a loyalist who was France's voice against the Iraq war, as prime minister on Tuesday.

Villepin, formerly the interior minister, replaces Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who was dumped after voters on Sunday roundly rejected the EU charter in a referendum....

Nicolas Sarkozy, who heads Chirac's governing center-right party, will replace Villepin in the interior ministry, lawmaker Yves Jego, who is close to Sarkozy, told France-Info radio. Sarkozy was the interior ministry for two years until April 2004.
De Villepin was a prominent verbal sacker and burner of Bush. You might want to read the whole article; some are predicting that de Villepin will not be a popular choice in France. Sarkozy is relatively popular; de Villepin has never been elected. However Sarkozy has openly opposed Chirac on some matters.

Tomorrow the Dutch will vote; the controversy is all about how overwhelmingly they will defeat the measure and what proportion of the electorate will bother to vote. This will be a non-binding referendum, but the major parties have said that they will respect the results if enough people vote:
Turnout is expected to be significantly lower in the Netherlands than in France, at around 50 per cent.

However, this is far above the turnout threshold of 30 per cent, named by political parties in the Dutch parliament as a condition for the Parliament to adopt the result.

The Dutch referendum is non-binding, meaning that the Dutch parliament has the final say on ratification of the Constitution.
So that's the EU scoop for the day. Commentary on the state of the European Union from Spiegel:
Maybe, though, it isn't the different reasons people voted No that has sunk Europe into a deep identity crisis but rather the lack of Yes votes. Maybe what happened in France on Sunday was the manifestation of a feeling that has been latent across Europe for a long time: the evaporation of faith in the European model and a renunciation by Europeans of an institution that they no longer see as protective but rather as threatening. The vote was also a warning shot across the bow of an institution Europeans have trouble comprehending for the precise reason that it has done little to make itself understood.

"Europe goes on, its institutions are still functioning," said Barroso encouragingly. And of course, the European club can continue to function administratively according to the rules laid down by the Treaty of Nice, which went into effect in 2001. But that won't be of much help as long as the existential questions surrounding the union remain.
Maybe they would have been more likely to vote yes if the constitution weren't hundreds of pages long. Maybe if it were clearer and simpler they might have felt more confidence? My impression after reading it was that it was going to create a powerful executive with little constraint. Maybe that's what made them uneasy, because I really don't think the French citizens are stupid.

West Nile Is Back

This map is maintained by the USGS. It is a listing of places in which West Nile has been reported in "sentinel" species (non-human, generally birds or horses) in 2005. In general these species will test positive before the first human cases are confirmed. The map is updated constantly, so you might want to check it every week. Right now it is only a few southern states, such as Florida that are reporting. This will change rapidly.

This map is of bird cases. The pink splotches are confirmed by tests, and the blue splotches are samples submitted for testing. Notice that this map shows more and different areas with activity in 2005.

This map is of human cases in 2005. Right now there are no confirmed human cases for 2005. This too will change rapidly. There is a vaccine for horses. There is none for humans, so the only way to avoid getting West Nile is by avoiding mosquitoes. And you should be careful. The cases which are being reported show a lot of neurological West Nile cases. Some people have become so paralyzed they couldn't even breath; others experience devastating neurological damage and for some there is lasting impairment. These severe cases are showing up in young and healthy people as well as older people.

This chart is the CDC's 2004 case chart. It only includes cases confirmed through lab testing, and the CDC does not require notification of non-neurological cases of West Nile, so there is probably a severe undercount in the total cases. Notice the very high numbers of neurologically involved cases vs. absolute cases. For example:

Arizona: Total human cases, 391; Total neurological cases, 129
Georgia: Total human cases, 19; Total neurological cases, 12
Texas: Total human cases, 158; Total neurological cases, 114

Regardless, you shouldn't take this lightly. Mothers should absolutely make sure their kids use mosquito repellent. This is a rare disease that can kill you or completely alter your entire life. The only state that did not report West Nile in 2004 was Washington. It seems likely that cases will be reported there this year. From the CDC:

Monday, May 30, 2005

Theocracy In Canada II

They're coming. Attacking. The theocrats in Canada. GASP...GASP. Apparently this is extremely shocking to some, especially Liberals caught with their hands in the till. Read Ezra Levant's column in the Calgary Sun Times:
"Jewish activists capturing Tory races," screamed the front page headline in Friday's Globe and Mail newspaper.

The article that followed was just as breathless. These Jews represented a "political penetration" of the Tory party by people who take a "hard line." These Jews had "ties" to Jewish "groups." And this was not achieved through normal democracy, but by rabbis "persuading" their flocks to join the party....

Rarely have Jewish elders been so open about their protocols. The Globe explained why its readers should be uneasy -- one of the Jews was a past-president of a Jewish charity; another was the executive director of a Jewish anti-defamation organization for two years in the 1990s. Another one "has been" a leader at a community synagogue in Burnaby.
He goes on to list the other allegations. Eight out of 308 ridings (electoral districts) captured by these fanatics. Could it be worse? And then Mr. Levant closes the article:
Oh, have I been writing "Jews?" I didn't mean to. The Globe would never write such things about Jews. No, the stories quoted above did run in the Globe -- except the word "Jew" here appeared as the word "Christian" in the Globe, "rabbi" was "pastor" and "synagogue" was "church." Look it up for yourself.

Shouldn't bigotry against Christians be just as unacceptable as bigotry against Jews?
Not if you are Bill Moyer, no. It's a self-righteous cause. Hat tip Lucianne

Then go and read Dust My Broom for a good laugh (note the date of April 24th):
All we need now is a subsidized tournament of Christians fighting lions and we’ll be sedate and cuddly, wrapped tight in the arms of Uncle Paul and Cousin Ken.
Lions coming right up, courtesy of a liberal newspaper near you! And finally, when you mix self-righteous American newspapers and self-righteous Canadian Liberals with hands in the till there will be a catfight sooner or later. Come on. That is funny.


Taps at Blackfive:

Day Is Done,
Gone the Sun,
From the Earth,
From the Hill,
From the Sky,
All Is Well,
Safely Rest,
God Is Nigh

Taps makes me cry. It always did and it always will.

Should Be Interesting

The first topic:
Update - you can follow this discussion now at Ilona's May Roundup.
Ilona at True Grit linked to Fatal Ignorance, who had written:
My friends from the US are amazed at the idea that religious education is compusory in UK schools. It's nothing like the kind of mind-control thing that the secularizers fear so much. It covers all world faiths. It aims to bring a wide appreciation of different faith perspectives. But, crucially, it helps people understand others who are *not like them*. Anyone who had done any basic religious education would have realised either:

a) why abusing the Koran would be such a stupid thing to do to radicalised Muslims

(if that really ever happened, or...)

b) why running a story in Newsweek that alleged such a thing would lead to bloodshed
When I went to school there was plenty about religion in history, because religion has affected history. The point about ignorance is a bad one. The US military had issued strict orders about the proper treatment of the Koran. As for the Newsweak reporters, I just won't touch that one.

I left my thoughts at True Grit's. This ought to be an interesting discussion.

And the second topic is brought to you by Sigmund Carl and Alfred, with a post combining thoughts about Memorial Day and the furor over France's "non" to the EU Constitution:
Memorial Day 2005. Another year where what this day means will pass, and the day will be only meaningful to those who have a loved one in the military or those of us that have chosen to somehow identify with the meaning of this day.

We know what we are supposed to be grateful for. We have- and have had- freedoms most of the world has yet to experience and know. All freedoms we take for granted because more than one generation of young men and women died defending the ideals we believe in.
and then SC&A turns to the events in Europe:
Jean-Claude Juncker, the current EU president (from that mighty state of Luxembourg), declared that if the French said ‘oui’ European integration would proceed, and if they said ‘non’ European integration would proceed. And what does 'consulting the people mean'? In the EU, not much. It is the powers that be, that know best what you need, what you need to know and what you need to believe- and you will vote again and again, until you get it 'right.' That's what M Chirac said, or threatened, last week.
To me, the meaning of all this is simple. Whether you agree with their vision or not, the French people do have a vision of what they want their society to be. They decided that vision was endangered by the EU Constitution, so they rejected it. They should have the right to do that - to be French, to create their own vision of a good society. An EU that can't let the French be French is not much of a benefit, IMO.

People join the military (or are drafted) and fight for our land because this land is supposed to provide them with the opportunity to be themselves, to pick their own causes, and to live their own lives. I can't imagine the French people joining the French army in large numbers to defend the EU Constitution. Neither can they. That's why they said no.

Memorial Day, 2005

Update: Strategy Revolutions on Memorial Day, thinking about the difference between those we remember on Memorial day and "those timid souls we don't celebrate."
Lancelot Finn broods. He wishes he could be drafted. The womenfolk won't let him join. His wife is threatening to divorce him if he signs up.
Powerline memorializes one face of our collective losses.
Hispanic Pundit quotes an ME professor:
To venture into the Arab world, as I did recently over four weeks in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq, is to travel into Bush Country. I was to encounter people from practically all Arab lands, to listen in on a great debate about the possibility of freedom and liberty. I met Lebanese giddy with the Cedar Revolution that liberated their country from the Syrian prison that had seemed an unalterable curse. They were under no illusions about the change that had come their way. They knew that this new history was the gift of an American president who had put the Syrian rulers on notice."
It's all true except that "this new history" is a gift from the men and women in our armed forces.
End Update

We remember them. Most of us, anyway. Freedom is hardly free. Generation after generation, the best of us have defended it. They still do. Barking Moonbat's tribute:
The Civil War
World War I (The Great War)
World War II
President's addresses marking Memorial Day:

From President Bush's remarks at Arlington last year:
And the war on terror we're fighting today has brought great costs of its own. Since the hour this nation was attacked, we have seen the character of the men and women who wear our country's uniform. In places like Kabul and Kandahar, in Mosul and Baghdad, we have seen their decency and their brave spirit. Because of their fierce courage, America is safer, two terror regimes are gone forever, and more than 50 million souls now live in freedom.
A heroic achievement, but not an easy one, and not one without its terrible costs:
And this is the loss to our nation. Markers on these hills record the names of more than 280,000 men and women. Each was once or still is the most important person in someone's life. With each loss in war, the world changed forever for the family and friends left behind. Each loss left others to go on, counting the years of separation, and living in the hope of reunion.

Although the burden of grief can become easier to bear, always there is the memory of another time, and the feeling of sadness over an unfinished life. Yet, the completeness of a life is not measured in length only. It is measured in the deeds and commitments that give a life its purpose. And the commitment of these lives was clear to all: They defended our nation, they liberated the oppressed, they served the cause of peace. And all Americans who have known the loss and sadness of war, whether recently or long ago, can know this: The person they love and missed is honored and remembered by the United States of America.
And, only in America, a cross put up as a WWI memorial by a band of veterans in 1934 has come under attack after the land it was on was annexed as federal lands. A park ranger decided that seeing the cross was offensive and sued. So far the courts have ruled in his favor. Congress tried to swap out the land on which the cross resided, but that was struck down as well on April 8th of this year, on the grounds that the land was being transferred with the provision that it must be maintained as a war memorial. This, the court found, made it an illegal establishment of religion.

Christopher Levenick wonders if Arlington will be next:
If Buono v. Norton stands, the distance between the cross at Sunrise Rock and the headstones at Arlington National Cemetery will have effectively disappeared. It is only a matter of time until someone visits that field of heroes and takes offense at all the religious symbols inscribed in marble. Then the courts will have a hard time devising a principle by which those thousands of crosses on federal land are not as unconstitutional as the one in the desert.

Undoing the unholy mess the courts have made of the Establishment Clause will be the work of many years. In the meantime, Congress should at least deter those who would rather destroy veterans' memorials than allow them any religious symbols whatsoever.
Free Iraqi has been posting on his suspicions about the Spirit of America organization - he feels that it is not honest in its dealings. In his latest post on the subject Ali wrote in part:
I have great hope and faith in both my people and the American people and will always be grateful for the Americans, and how can I not be when they have made my greatest dream come true! How can I not be grateful when I owe them every bit of freedom and happiness I'm enjoying now! How can I be not be grateful when now and thanks to their sacrifices I can look for a better future for me and my future kids! You know, at Saddam's days I had had decided that I should never ever have kids in such an environment; never to bring more slaves to this world who would find themselves forced to cheer "Papa Saddam" everyday and everywhere they go. I've always asked myself, "How could I face my kids when they grow up to see the disgrace their parents are living in?" Now I can have kids knowing I can and will honor them and that then they would honor me and most importantly themselves as well.
That's a legacy in Iraq, from someone who is not afraid to criticize what he sees as being wrong. Free speech and honor; that is what America has given him. He can have children because he can respect himself and his children will be able to respect him. He can have children that will be born into the uncertainties of freedom - uncertainties which Ali believes are infinitely better than the certainties of tyranny.

We should heed Ali's words. If we don't honor our fallen then we will lose the ability to honor ourselves. If we don't count the cost we won't understand our wealth. Facing the bitter reality of these lost lives is the price we pay for fully enjoying the gifts they have given us. All that we have we owe to them. All our future we owe to them.

We should remember the price paid for our freedom on this day, and resolve to use our freedom wisely.

They Have A Plan, Stan

(This is not news. If you want news, go to No Oil For Pacifists.)

In the wake of France's historic rejection of the proposed EU constitution, fear and horror have swept Europe. The population, reacting in fear and despair at even the prospect of a French "non", had already begun stomping small baby animals. The German youth are wearing Lonsdale and stomping black dolls. The number of their beast is 88 - the eighth letter of the alphabet repeated twice. HH. Heil Hitler. How can the barbarians be kept from the gates of Europe?

Fear not! The EU has a solution - France must repent:
The French have rejected the proposed Constitution by 55 per cent of No-votes with a surprisingly high 70 per cent turnout. Therefore, the Constitution is no longer a formal proposal.

The Constitution was proposed under the rules of the Nice Treaty which demand unanimity for change.

The only possibility to revive the document is via a new proposal from a new intergovernmental conference, which decides by unanimity – and includes the support of the French government.

This could happen on 16-17 June when EU heads of state and government meet for their next fixed summit in Brussels.
United they stand, face the cameras, and vow "This shall not stand!"

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Non, Non, Non!!!

The French seem to have been determined to make their position clear. See this article:
Plans for the integration of Europe suffered a severe setback Sunday as French voters delivered a resounding "non" in a referendum on the European Union's new constitution.

With 92 percent of the votes counted, the constitution was rejected by 56.14 percent of voters, the Interior Ministry said. It was supported by 43.86 percent. Turnout was high - 71 percent.
So - when does World War III start? After all, EU politicians have been predicting dire consequences and world instability if this happened. Perhaps that has something to do with the Euro's fall. ABC lists the final tally as:
With votes counted in all of France and its overseas territories, the "no" camp had 54.87 percent, with only 45.13 percent voting "yes," the Interior Ministry said.
Not a squeaker. For why, go here. And now for some entertainment. This is a Spiegel article from last week detailing an interview with Mitterand's widow:
Mitterand: I denounce the power of the economy over people, a system that turns individuals into elements in an economic equation, does not respect the poor and excludes everyone that does not live up to the principle of profitability....
I can only reject a European constitution that emphasizes competition and profit as primary values. I am therefore going to vote No, but without taking part in any political campaign. Party politics hasn't interested me for a long time now.

SPIEGEL: So you don't think that a No would isolate France and throw Europe into a crisis?

Mitterrand: Not at all. On the contrary, I believe that a No would be a strong testimony to our humanism. Perhaps it would serve as incentive to rethink Europe's direction: Peace, fair resolution of conflicts, and solidarity with the weak -- instead of competition, profit and enrichment.
And further reasoned commentary from Spiegel (also from last week):
It's beginning to look as though the old continent is facing an historic break, just as it did in 1789. Are the French getting ready to export their revolutionary ideas, in a sudden outbreak of passion and violence, beyond their own borders? By voting No to the constitution, do they intend to deal a deathblow to the European Ancien Régime in Brussels, with its bureaucracy, its democratic shortcomings and its insatiable appetite for imposing regulations? And will the remaining Europeans be forced to join forces to oppose this danger, just as the Prussians, Austrians and English once joined forces against the Jacobins and murderers of kings in Paris?
The constitution strengthens the European Parliament's right to participate in the Brussels legislative process, but denies it the right to initiate legislation nor can it exercise any control over the European Council. It calls for the possibility of "heightened cooperation," giving some members the chance to move forward more quickly than others. But it also sets higher barriers: At least a third of EU states must be participants in such an acceleration and the European Commission, Council and Parliament must approve. The German-French economic engine, easily capable of spurring growth in a smaller Europe, could just as easily be shut out in a larger EU consisting of 25 or, at some future date, perhaps even 30 members. Paris and Berlin would no longer automatically be able to find a sufficient number of allies to form a solid core within the EU. "The opportunity to move forward with the Germans along the road of democratic integration no longer exists," complains Socialist Senator Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Did you catch that? The German-French economic engine? The economies that have been exceeding the EU budget deficit limits? The two states that have been discussing making the eastern European countries raise their tax rates in order to protect their own economies? That's some engine, baby.
From agriculture policy to the euro to the appealing dream of a European superpower ("Europe-Puissance"), all major initiatives have always come from Paris. For France, Europe became the foundation of a greatness it has long since lost. Now, the planned EU constitution recognizes the goal of a common security and defense policy, but only if it is compatible with NATO's requirements. This concession, indispensable for almost all other members, consigns France's vision of a Europe on par with America to the garbage heap of symbolism. Seen in this light, the constitution represents a step in the direction of progress and emancipation for most EU states, but for many Frenchmen a step backwards into the banality of a perfectly ordinary nation. The question is whether, in a narcissistic flight of fancy, the French will once again revolt in the face of this painful realization.
And in the end, it all doesn't matter, because the Eurocrats are moving to implement much of the constitution anyway:
MEPs on Thursday (26 May) voted strongly in favour of setting up an EU diplomatic service calling it "extremely important" if the bloc wants to become better at raising its external profile.
The EU diplomatic service is part of the new constitution and is supposed to be a back up to the EU foreign minister and help make the bloc appear more coherent across the board.

At the end of negotiation on the constitution governments agreed that work should start on the services as soon as the treaty was signed - which took place at the end of October last year.

This has led to some complaints that elements of the document are being implemented although it has yet not been ratified by even half of the member states.

"This would also appear to be part of a contingency plan to salvage some aspects of the constitution in the event that it fails to be adopted democratically", said British Conservative MEP Charles Tannock.
Imagine that. Next week The Netherlands vote. I guess they will be competing to see if they can come up with a more decisive rejection than France.

The Theocracy - In Canada

From Opinion Times, a link to an excellent Globe and Mail article about religious people in Canada moving to exert their influence in politics by joining the Conservative party:
That said, Mr. Reynolds is offended by attempts to paint the Conservative party as a harbour for religious zealots.

"There were three dozen Liberals who voted with us on the same-sex thing," he said. "Nobody is going after them and saying, 'Look at these far-right Christians that got into the Liberal Party.' "

If reporters who write about Christian fundamentalists taking over his party were to "insert the word Jew everywhere you've put Christian, do you think they would let you print it?" he asked. "I doubt it."
Personally, I think when they made public quoting of the Bible hate speech they pushed a little too far. There was a religious rights bill that went through, but in Canada "rights" are not the hardbitten type of rights we have in the US. It is a different nation with a different culture.

The Coalition

I joined the Coalition of the Chillin', on The Radical Centrist's recommendation. It is the work of Decison '08. It's my kind of coalition - chilled out and unideological. Blogroll down below.

Non, Non

BBC reports exit polling shows that the French rejected the EU referendum by 55% to 45%. That seems to be a big enough margin to trust, although let us all remember exit polling can be skewed. There was a pretty high turnout too.

Lebanon's Election

This is the first election supposedly free of Syrian influence for a long, long time. In Beirut, the Hariri party seems to have won:
But voters denied Hariri the high turnout he sought in the first polls in three decades with no Syrian troops in Lebanon. Interior Minister Hassan al-Sabaa put the turnout at 28 percent.

The capital had a 34 percent turnout in 2000, when Hariri's father, then cooperating with Syria, also swept the board.

Beirut was the first region to go to the polls. Other regions vote over the next three Sundays...

Followers of Christian leader Michel Aoun, left off Hariri's anti-Syrian ticket, had urged people to shun the polls, handing out orange stickers that said: "Boycott the appointments."
For some, the elections are a new start. "I voted because I believe in change," said Basil Eid, 27. "We want Lebanon free of any subordination. We have to rule ourselves by ourselves."

For others, the euphoria of the anti-Syrian protests has given way to dismay at politicians who have reverted to electoral horse-trading and alliances that curtail voter choice.

"Why should I vote when the result is already decided?" said Abdul-Rahman Itani, in his 40s.
In contrast, the final turnout in France is supposed to top 70%.

BBC Article On French Referendum

The French are voting today on the proposed EU Constitution, and most people expect it to be rejected. Next week the Dutch will vote in a non-binding referendum. This BBC article on the referendum has a lot of interesting comments from those of different countries:
I don't get why France, Germany... should accept this Anglo-Saxon model when people in England don't even seem to want to join us in the first place. We should continue our way, if England likes it, they're more than welcome to join us but we should not accept whatever comes from 'across the English Channel'. It may be fine for you, not for us.(Spanish lives in Paris)
I believe that if the French people vote no, that they will be disappointing all of Europe, and Europe will not benefit from a no vote. The French people need to see beyond perhaps losing all the social benefits they have gained. (Canadian)
What I fear is that if France vote non, other European countries will criticize us, and use this against us for decades. After all, it has become a tradition in UK and new Europe to disregard France whatever we do, that's probably why nobody noticed the certain "no" vote in the Netherlands, because it's easier to criticize France. Even if France is one of the main founding members, French must be the most hated people in Europe. That's perhaps why so many want to vote "no" here. It seems that nobody in Europe shares our dreams of Europe. We somehow feel excluded from what has become the new EU, and I'm not sure if it's a good thing for us to continue the European Adventure. In the end, it's a very costly adventure.(French)
I really hope that France will send a clear NO. This constitution is based on competitiveness, concurrence and social dumping, not on collaboration, fraternity and democratic control of institutions. The constitution issue just puts money before people. But I understand that the "French social model" where you live to enjoy time, and don't lose your life while earning it may sound odd to Anglo-Saxons. After all, an economy where the highest income comes from the stock exchange and not daily work and where 20% of the people are under the poverty level is perhaps your definition of a modern society. But it is not mine, and I'm convinced that next Sunday, France will lead the path toward an alternative.(French)
Some of the arguments the yes camp uses are mind-boggling. They suggest that if we vote no there will be economic crises or perhaps a repeat of the holocaust (yes that was actually suggested here in Holland, twice even). We do not need a constitutional treaty, the EU has gone far beyond what it was supposed to be. European unity cannot be mandated from above by politicians. And even if you would favour a constitutional treaty, then certainly not this Franco-German power-grab, because let's face it, that's what it is. The voting powers in the council of Europe give large nations with their larger population an easy task to block proposals. (Dutch)
I hope the French vote no, but everyone else votes yes. Then we can kick them of the EU, saving billions for the remaining countries currently spent propping-up French agriculture. (English)
Personally I feel that the implications of either a Yes or a No vote, have not been very adequately explained to the average man in the street. I also notice that there are huge Non signs everywhere you look, but very few Oui signs. I also am not sure where or when voting takes place, so the event seems to have handled in a rather low-key manner considering its importance.(English writing from France, I believe.)
I will vote NON. Non to Islamism, Non to Turkey.(French)
Hmm. I think the joy of being European lessened with the introduction of the Euro.

WHO's Watching Marburg?

The WHO has been implying that the epidemic is slowing, things are getting under control, etc. Recombinomics (a private company) has been pointing out consistently that all is not well, that something is wrong, etc. Most of the problem may stem from the Angolan Ministry of Health, which keeps issuing premature declarations of victory. On the 16th an Angolan official claimed new cases were occurring only in the slums of the town of Uige.

Well, the "official" count of Marburg cases was up to 399 as of May 26th. Deaths were listed at 335. This has got to be an undercount. More new cases must be occurring outside of Uige town, and this seems to indicate a widening vector. As Recombinomics notes:
In the May 25 report these was one new case and one new fatality in the city of Uige on May 24 bringing the total number of cases to 350 with 316 deaths. The data as of May 26 is 399 cases and 335 deaths. Both of these numbers are 11 higher than the Uige totals, which has been the case for many weeks.

The differential between cases and deaths has exploded to 64. Since there a very few discharges, this big jump in reported cases that are still alive suggests a large jump in newly reported cases.. The May 25 report showed that the number of people being monitored had fallen to 153. Five were in Buengas, the remainder in Uige township.
See this prior post on Marburg, in which a person on the spot reported a dramatically different understanding than the Angolan Ministry of Health. On the 16th the local person had said in part:
"The outbreak is not over. We've seen new cases in new municipalities that don't have obvious links to earlier cases of Marburg. We are very concerned about the situation," she said, speaking by phone from the northern Angolan province where all cases have so far originated.
I would say she was right. On the 18th (using the figures from the 17th of May) WHO was reporting 337 cases and 311 deaths. There has been to date one confirmed survivor of this epidemic, so that meant 25 cases were new. It looks like there might be two now, because of the 335 deaths in the last report. (But CIDRAP reports 337 deaths. I think this is a mistake.)

Two survivors out of 337 cases? Sixty-two new cases in nine days? That's nearly 7 new cases a day. As near as I can figure, on April 19th there were 243 cases. That's 156 new cases in one month and one week, with the rate of new cases escalating rapidly. WHO reports that an effort to educate traditional healers is underway but they still seem to be blaming a lot of contagion on the practice of giving injections.

On April 27th WHO was reporting 275 cases in total. That is 124 cases in the last month. If nothing changes, we may well see 200 new cases in June.

Further WHO Marburg updates should be posted to this page.
Other links:
Canada. com
Angola Ministry of Health says epidemic ebbing (May 12th)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Go Read

Old Man Lincoln.

Public Service Message

This poor guy. Southern Dem is a police officer who posts on DU sometimes. So today he posted this message:
A friendly reminder from the Police for this weekend. A lot of people will be celebrating with family and friends this weekend. Some of you will be partaking in intoxicating beverages.

My message is for those that drink... DO NOT DRIVE. If you want to kill yourself go buy a gun. Do not put other peoples lives in danger with your carelessness. Sure, most of the time you make it home ok. You never think its going to be you that gets into an accident. Ever planned on being in an accident? Didn't think so. DO NOT DRIVE. A DUI is not something you want. If you kill or seriously injure someone you will go to prison, not jail.

We will be watching this weekend. In my Department alone there are 75 of us tasked with DUI enforcement this extended weekend. Last year I made 7 DUI arrests in a 2 day period. Want to see how much a DUI arrest effects your life?

Why are we hard on DUIs? Because we have to witness the aftermath. Peoples dead loved ones, dead children and senseless injury. I am tired of dealing with death. It could be my family you run into.

Quite a few people got really nasty. He got accusations that all police are allowed to drink and drive, etc. A few samples:
Friendly reminders do not have "we are watching" attached to them. I am not for drinking and driving, but I am also not for a police state where the cops feel that they can threaten people and call themselves "friendly" in the same breath. Keep your threats to yourself and do your job.
You are probably right. I have been hearing a lot of "click it or ticket" ads lately, and the police uses the same "friendly reminder" to say they are "cracking down" on seat belt laws. I just do not like the language for these kinds of threats...the whole "Big brother with a friendly face" attitude that accompanies all police states.
Let's put it this way. I am a law abiding citizen, 37 year old father of two children, pay my taxes (and your paycheck I might add).

Everytime I turn on my TV, I have a jack-booted Mass state trooper in my face telling me "forget to wear your seatbelt, and we're taking you down punk!". Fine, get the drunken idiots off the road. But these "freindly warnings" only serve to make law abiding citizens feel like we're living in a fascist police state.
So Southern Dem tries to respond:
Funny, I only get that here.
The "facist police state" thing. Most do not see DUI laws as facist. Friendly reminders do not deter drunks. Some people need consequences.
He does get some support:
Rather than drink and drive, call someone like me.

As my friends and family know, I'm more than happy to come and drive folks home at any time, day or night. Over twenty years without a moving violation and over 15 years without drinking, I once did enough drinking (and driving) to be grateful I survived. There should be enough people who, like me, don't drink anymore and would enjoy doing his bit to make sure a friend or relative doesn't wind up killing someone - even themselves.
but they continue:
It must be a bully thing, to shove people and impose threats and then call it "service".

The irony of you posting that quote is appreciated. Cops that parade around their authority like you're doing, are performing no service except attempting to impose, like a form of intellecual rape, the police state invading a discussion to be a bully.

Take off the uniform before you post, and be a human being, like you will be after you retire, like you were before you became an agent of "the man" and like the rest of us.

Abraham lincoln fought to free slaves, and you're imposing a sort of slave-vibe here with your threats... the irony of you quoting him is really profound... i hope you get that.
I'm sitting here at home, stone sober, reading my favorite BB and some fucking cop comes on here and threatens me ...


Watch you own self, bub. I was a cop for years and cops are the very WORST at DUI. I've seen them drive when they should've been going to the ER for alcohol poisoning.
So this is my public-service message. If you drink and drive in the south, just remember that you may be facing a police officer who is not only out there working when everyone else is playing, but has also just been called a fascist, a bully, and been accused of intellectual rape. You might want to sit this one out - because he's not going to be in a good mood.

Dusting Their Butts Soundly

Darcey at Dust My Broom observes that he is 500 years old in blog-years. Clap for him. This is one of the most original blogs out there, providing an honest and different voice. He has posted some of his blogging strategies and I think they are great advice as well as being excellent reading. One of them would be excellent advice for a lot of media types - try for at least three sources and research the opposite view.

But on to specifics. One of the unique elements of Darcey's blogging has been his constant dogging of Indian politics. His latest concentration is on the Poundmaker rebellion. This is a group of people who are trying to overturn an entrenched tribal government that does not represent their interests. See Ianism on corruption. See this post for an explanation of the Poundmaker insurrection (completely peaceful):
“We want that in adequate hands, to be controlled by proper minds. We don’t want anybody going crazy on our money and misusing it,” said Tootoosis. “We’ve already made too many people into millionaires as it is.”

Antoine couldn’t be reached for comment. In the past, he has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for untendered contracts while other councillors have received band contracts from him. Accounting records from 1998-2003 indicate more than $304,000 from provincial gaming revenues and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) flowed to councillors, some band members and Antoine — who used it for vehicle insurance and spending at a local store, rather than improving life on the reserve.

In 2001, the day before a number of files were to be turned over to federal officials conducting a band audit, the band office was burned down. The audit, intended to verify the propriety of payments, was ordered by INAC at the request of the RCMP.

People on the reserve “have had enough of the state of the band dictatorship,” said Tootoosis.
Human nature is human nature, no matter the shape of your eyes or skin color. Where there is money, there will be greed. Darcey has documented the state of affairs in many Indian groups very well. Another thing he has done well is to document anti-Semitism as promulgated among some of these "leaders". The truth is that all who are ruling unjustly and enriching themselves unfairly find it useful to engender hatred of outside, uninvolved groups. It's practically the dictator's doctrine. Scream "the Jeeeeews," point somewhere, and while everyone is looking in that direction pick their pockets.

Darcey isn't playing that game. Neither should any rational person.

No Way Out But Forward - Israel and Iraq

Maybe you can tell, maybe you can't. I'm in a better mood than I have been lately, in part because the AUT academic boycott went down. Down like the Titanic. Down to an ignoble end. Not as ignoble as it deserved, but at least we are heading in the right direction. As Tom Carter notes, the current rise of anti-Semitism is dangerous and a huge moral problem.

Carl at No Oil For Pacifists has an incredibly good roundup of links on the subject. He also observes that this isn't over and that the motivation remains. Carl fishes out the discarded AUT statements and exposes them to the light of day. Among others, Carl links to SC&A's outraged response to the boycott and David Pryce-Jones' excellent article about anti-Zionism and psychological warfare (PW) against Israel:
The master idea in this case is simplicity itself: Jewish nationalism, or Zionism, is an absolute evil, Palestinian nationalism is an absolute virtue. To establish this, the Jews must be shown to be wicked and wrong in every matter great and small, so that the Palestinians appear victims through no fault of their own, innocent people in special need of redress and rescue. With skill and persistence, the Palestinians and their Arab supporters have built up a worldwide PW lobby with helpers in the United Nations, the European Union, the Red Cross, the churches, the universities, and so on.
The truth is that the United Nations has taken the position that Zionism is racism, but the UN seems to believe that anti-Semitism is not. So much for the UN. Even the educated Arabs don't really buy this, no matter how much propaganda the mullahs may spread. From MEMRI, these excerpts from Saudi columnist Hussein Shubakshi:
"…The extent of tremendous hatred of the Jews is baffling. Therefore we ask, 'Why do we hate the Jews?'

"The immediate answer will be: 'No, we don't hate the Jews, we hate the Zionists.' [But] this is nonsense. We don't hear [preachers saying in their sermons,] 'Oh Allah, destroy the Zionists, the Zionist enterprise, the offspring of Herzl, and the Basel plan.' Is our current hatred of the Jews the result of the political situation in general and the Palestinian problem in particular? This is a pivotal and important question, and must be answered honestly.
He goes on to review the historical reality. The Palestinians cry for the right of return to Israel, but the Arab countries are not willing to allow the (probably hundreds of thousands) of Jews they expelled back. Until the world and Arabs are willing to discard their official rabid anti-Semitism, no real settlement will be made with Palestinians. The Arab world is beginning to look at Israel and Jews with a different eye. Beginning to. It will be a long, slow slog.

The question of our times is this - why, when the doors to peace are opening, is the western world sinking back into that fever of anti-Semitism? And how on earth could the AUT boycotters believe they are helping the Palestinian cause by engendering hatred of Jews? No rational, dispassionate person could believe that.

I will leave you with another link to an Arabic moderate discussed at MEMRI. This is MEMRI's summary:
On several reformist Arabic-language websites, Tunisian thinker Al-'Afif Al-Akhdar posted an in-depth analysis of the necessary reforms needed in the Arab and Muslim world concluding that secularism is vital for its future. [1] Secularization and modernization, he writes, are global historic processes that cannot be avoided in the long run. He also explains secularism is the key to full citizenship for men, women, Muslims, and non-Muslims, as well as to proper relations among all elements of society.

According to Al-Akhdar's analysis, Islamist thought is primitive and is incapable of accepting human thought over divine decree. He adds, Islamists seeking to prevent the modernization of the Arab and Muslim world, and struggle against secularism, is a manifestation of modernization. While their struggle is doomed to fail, he explains, it may nevertheless be impossible to skip stages of history, and Islamic countries may have to experience Islamic rule before finally despairing of its false promises to eventually adopt a secular regime.

Al-Akhdar rejects the argument that secularism is anti-religious, and maintains that there is nothing to prevent a secular state from allowing religious education – providing that it is modern religious education that has undergone reform. As an example of a country that has instituted educational reform and now teaches modern philosophy alongside Islamic philosophy, he cites Tunisia.

He also explains that secularism will lead to a disconnect from negative phenomena in Islam, such as autocracy and theocracy, yet at the same time will renew the connection with positive Islamic phenomena such as rationalist and philosophical thought. Additionally, Al-Akhdar finds elements of secularism in the cultural heritage of Islam, and claims that in nearly 1,400 years of Muslim history, clerics and rulers (caliphs) had a de facto division of roles and authorities between them.

Clarifying that in practical terms, the secularization process will be adapted to the conditions of each Muslim country, Al-Akhdar adds that women and minorities will be the promoters of the process since they are the main victims of Muslim theocracies. He also calls upon the world to condemn the Islamist education and media, and calls for a U.N. Security Council resolution sanctioning military intervention if Islamists use force against the weaker elements of society or take over a regime against the will of the country's citizens.
Now the US stands as an example that can support the arguments of the reformists in the Islamic world. Other western democracies are afraid of and hostile to religion - all forms of religion. Only in the US are Muslims really full members of western society. The Muslim world wants all the trappings of democracy, while also wanting to remain Muslim. Simple enough, and we must constantly insist that they can do it.

My contention is that the left, by fostering anti-Semitism and hatred of all religion, is the worst enemy of Muslims. They make no sense, they don't really believe in the right of Arabs or poor people around the world to develop their own forms of government and they don't seem comfortable with pluralistic societies at home. This is no model for peace. The left is more than willing to deal with and appease the worst fanatics in the Islamic world, but they don't really support Islamic moderates.

The truth is that the west started the rabid form of anti-Semitism we know today, the one which led to the massacre of millions of Jews in WWII, and the one which led to Israel's refounding. It is western documents, such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and "Mein Kampf" that are often used to support anti-Semitism in the ME. We started it, we're going to have to insist we were wrong and that there is a better way.

The dictatorial governments of the ME have the same stake that the Nazis and the tsars did in fostering anti-Semitism. It directs attention away from the abuses in their own countries. "Kill the Jews," they pay people to say, "and the problems of the world will be solved." This is all to avoid the people from noticing that their own governments are the ones who are oppressing them. It exports their revolutionaries and those who cry out against injustice. These corrupt people are using the mask of religion to turn their own freedom-fighters to crusaders against democracy.

The proof of my contention lies in Iraq. The vote and the new government there is such a terrible threat to these people that more and more "useful idiots" are sent into Iraq to kill themselves and Islamic innocents. The fight is not against the infidel, but against those who believe in human rights. Both Israel and Iraq are facing the same rage, the same bombs, the same fools. And Israel and Iraq share a common sin - a government elected by the people.

Bray v. Linda Foley

Hiawatha Bray, a reporter for the Boston Globe, has started up a blog entitled "Choose Honor" to publish an open letter to Linda Foley. In part it reads:
I take my membership in the Guild very seriously. That's why I was dismayed to learn that you, the president of my union, made a speech on May 13 in which you asserted that the US military has deliberately killed journalists....

At a time when the public's trust in the integrity of journalism is at a new low, our profession can't afford to encourage the perception that we're economical with the truth.

I therefore call upon you to state clearly and unambiguously whether you believe that any branch of the US military or government has adopted a deliberate policy of targeting journalists in war zones. This is a simple question, easily answered. I can see no rational reason for you to hesitate about answering it.
Hat tip to Instapundit. An archive of Bray's columns (technology) at the Boston Globe.

Friday, May 27, 2005

David Rosen Acquitted

See the AP article here. The judge had knocked out one count, and the jury found him innocent on the remaining two:
Jury foreman Michael Johnson, 40, said Rosen did not have the "means or clout" to carry out what the government alleged.

"I truly believe that Rosen's role was as a fundraiser," Johnson said. "He said he wasn't an accountant."

Another juror, Angelo Sanders, 29, said Rosen's calm demeanor on the witness stand helped his cause. "I think everyone thinks he got in over his head," Sanders said.
I think this ensures that Hillary will be a presidential candidate in 2008. Right now she looks better to me than Kerry (although he has signed, but not sent in his military records release). It's going to be a wonderful weekend for the man and his family.

The Slippery Slope

For more about the situation in the UK on weapons control (see Right to Carry), see this Volokh post containing several good links. One of those links is to the superb essay All Way Down The Slippery Slope, which covers the entire history of gun/weapon control in the UK. It is quite long and if you don't have the time to read the whole thing, I recommend starting with this part:
Today, as a result of Parliament's 1967 abrogation of the common law rules on justifiable use of deadly force, should a person use a firearm for protection against a violent home intruder, he will be arrested, and a case will be brought against him by the Crown Prosecution Service.[173] In one notorious case, an elderly lady tried to frighten off a gang of thugs by firing a blank from her imitation firearm. She was arrested and charged with the crime of putting someone in fear with an imitation firearm.
Other citizens choose to protect themselves with knives, but carrying a knife for defensive protection is considered illegal possession of an offensive weapon. One American tourist learned about this Orwellian offensive weapon law the hard way. After she used a pen knife to stab some men who were attacking her, a British court convicted her of carrying an offensive weapon.
A man who uses a knife as a tool of his trade was jailed today after police found him carrying three of them in his car. Dean Payne, 26, is the first person to be jailed under a new law making the carrying of a knife punishable by imprisonment. Payne told ... magistrates that he had to provide his own knife for his job cutting straps around newspaper bundles at the distribution plant where he works .... Police found the three knives--a lock knife, a small printer's knife, and a Stanley knife--in a routine search of his car.... The court agreed he had no intention of using the knives for "offensive" purposes but jailed him for two weeks anyway.
Here's a BBC article looking at crime trends in the UK and in the big bad weapon-loving US:
According to a recent UN study, England and Wales have the highest crime rate and worst record for "very serious" offences of the 18 industrial countries surveyed.

But would allowing law-abiding people to "have arms for their defence", as the 1689 English Bill of Rights promised, increase violence? Would Britain be following America's bad example?
It is true that in contrast to Britain's tight gun restrictions, half of American households have firearms, and 33 states now permit law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons.

But despite, or because, of this, violent crime in America has been plummeting for 10 consecutive years, even as British violence has been rising. By 1995 English rates of violent crime were already far higher than America's for every major violent crime except murder and rape.

You are now six times more likely to be mugged in London than New York.
One of the comments:
I'd rather, if my granny were to be mugged, that she had the choice to pull out her purse, or her .45 Magnum. She's a little too old to learn kung-fu, or to run away. She may well hand her purse over anyway, but at least she has the choice. Criminals carry guns anyway, so it's about time the rest of the population had the same choice.
This is a little older, but it is aimed at women. You'll enjoy this page in particular:
Experts are divided over the exact causes of the current surge in violent crime - which has been mirrored across Europe. Lack of parental control is seen as one factor. Figures show that 40 per cent of street crime is committed by 10- to 16-year-olds. The crimes are often committed while they play truant from school and an amazing quarter of all 15- and 16-year-old boys admit to carrying a knife or other weapon.

Alcohol and drugs are also helping fuel the rise of violent crime, with the use of crack cocaine reaching epidemic levels, particularly among 14- to 18-year-olds. At the same time prices of guns are tumbling - changing hands for just £200.
Soooo. Your average citizen can't have a gun and certainly can't even wave it around in self-defense. Carrying a pen-knife is illegal - if you use it to defend yourself, you will be charged of a crime. But the criminals - ah, the criminals:
The government is also looking at ideas of zero tolerance introduced by ex-Mayor Guiliani in New York that dramatically reduced violent crime there. A New Yorker is now six times less likely to get mugged than a Londoner.

Critics, however, say the government has already announced 50 initiatives on crime with mixed results. And Home Secretary David Blunkett has already admitted that one of those - a £20million anti-robbery scheme - has been unimpressive.

Sending more offenders to prison may not be the answer either. We have a record number of people in prison, with 70,000 behind bars. And we already lock up more young people than any other country. Yet 75 per cent of them go on to re-offend when they get out.
And the number of violent crimes are still rising. This article dates from April of this year. Now they are finally getting serious and imposing stiffer sentencing. That will do some good.

Lt. St. Jacques

Okay - what this guy did was wrong. I'm not denying that. He got beers for his squad on their final patrol.

Now he is being threatened with court-martial. See the story and his own account at Florida Cracker's.

Reading Along

The Watcher of Weasels has this week's Council's winners up. I linked to the voting list because there are some great, great posts there. The Smarter Cop's, for example, should be saved to your hard drive. Varifrank's is a must-read.

Right To Carry

In the US:
Day By Day

In the UK:
Doctors want to ban long kitchen knives:
It's time to ban long kitchen knives because they serve no good purpose except as weapons, write doctors in the British Medical Journal.
When you ban guns, criminals start stabbing people. Soon only the criminals in the UK will have carving knives.

An anecdote of my own (which should explain why I am no fan of gun control):
Decades ago, when I was working in data processing in the NE, I worked long hours. Often enough I left the building after dark and alone. I would park underneath a light in the parking lot, and I always looked out through the glass doors to see if any one was around before I left the building. One night at about eleven, I left the building and went to my car - the only one in the parking lot except for the company van.

As I reached my car, out of the corner of my eye I saw a man walking swiftly toward my car from the corner of the building. I whirled, unlocked the car door, and, using it to shield myself, fished under the driver's seat for the socially unacceptable instrument I had stashed there. I came up for air holding my extremely large socially unacceptable instrument over the car door. He was about twenty-five feet from me.

He looked at my extremly large socially unacceptable instrument, I looked at him, he turned and left. No words were spoken.

There are several things you have to understand.

First, on the other side of the street (I was in back of the building), there were houses. If he had been stranded and needed help, that's where he would have been. Second, the socially unacceptable instrument was not a gun. If he had had a gun, this story would not have ended the same way.

Second, it was not a gun because in the state where I was, a gun would have been illegal. Finally, the socially unacceptable instrument was also illegal. I knew I was taking a risk by having it in the car. I still believe I picked the lesser of the two risks.

A state that does not believe its citizens have the right to defend themselves is a state in which I do not want to live. I left. I love the South. I will never forget that night.

We Will Remember Paul R. Smith

His citation for the Medal of Honor
You have to read the narrative. This man was a hero. If you read the narrative, you will see that our guys were losing. Sgt 1st Class Paul Ray Smith made sure they didn't. The enemy force was at least 100. They were climbing the walls, in the towers or close to getting there, and firing within the compound. Knowing that his unit could lose - that it looked like they were losing, he turned that around:
Sgt. 1st Class Smith ordered one of his Soldiers to back the damaged APC back into the courtyard after the wounded men had been evacuated. Knowing the APC ’s .50-Cal. machinegun was the largest weapon between the enemy and the friendly position, Sgt. 1st Class Smith immediately assumed the track commander’s position behind the weapon, and told a soldier who accompanied him to “feed me ammunition whenever you hear the gun get quiet.” Sgt. 1st Class Smith fired on the advancing enemy from the unprotected position atop the APC and expended at least three boxes of ammunition before being mortally wounded by enemy fire. The enemy attack was defeated. Sgt. 1st Class Smith’s actions saved the lives of at least 100 Soldiers, caused the failure of a deliberate enemy attack hours after 1st Brigade seized the Baghdad Airport, and resulted in an estimated 20-50 enemy soldiers killed. His actions inspired his platoon, his Company, the 11th Engineer Battalion and Task Force 2-7 Infantry.

Sgt. 1st Class Smith’s actions to lead Soldiers in direct contact with a numerically superior enemy--to personally engage the enemy with a fragmentation grenade, AT-4, and individual weapon, to ultimately assume the track commander’s position to fire the .50-Cal. machinegun through at least three boxes of ammunition before being mortally wounded--demonstrates conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. His actions prevented a penetration in the Task Force 2-7 sector, defended the aid station, mortars, and scouts, and allowed the evacuation of Soldiers wounded by indirect enemy fire.
Heroes. They still exist. Strategy Revolutions:
I think that a hero is an ordinary person that does something extraordinary at a critical time. No hero ever sacrificed himself for an ideal. Heroes do what they do for those around them....

I can tell you that most real heroes don't brag and walk around with all their medals glinting in the sun....

Like what Will Rodgers said, "Not everyone can be a hero; someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by."
But do we? Do we clap any more? I went to Google News and searched for Paul R. Smith, Medal of Honor. A lousy 2 pages. I can't even bring myself to google Jennifer Wilbanks. I know what I would find. In that lousy two pages, one of the articles is this one at Miami Herald.com (a Philadelphia Inquirer article). What it talks about is not heroism, but the fact that (gasp) there are projects in the works to celebrate heroes in our armed forces:
"The market is primed, because there has been a generational upsurge in the culture," said J. Patrick McGrail, professor of communications and theater arts at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa.

"It's the older people, who were against the Vietnam War, that oppose this one. The young don't have the same antipathy. The people going over there are 18, 19, 20 - this is their war. They are a rightist, conventional generation, they've been asked to go, and that's OK with them."
A rightist, conventional generation? How dare you, you fool, you maven of theater arts. Is it any wonder that we have no respect for this generation of journalists? Is it any wonder that we read the words of Linda Foley and want to spit? Could it be that people looked at the Pentagon in flames and the large, smoking hole in New York City and saw an act of war? Could it be that there are still some Americans willing to risk their lives to fight that war?
"Popular culture is emphasizing a different angle than the press," said screenwriter Owen West, a trader with Goldman Sachs who served with the Marines in Iraq. Because of press coverage, he noted, a victim and a villain - Jessica Lynch and Lynndie England - are "far and away the most famous soldiers to emerge from Iraq."

In contrast, he said, "The coverage of our sole Medal of Honor winner, Sgt. First Class Paul Smith, who sacrificed his life in a hellacious firefight, burned out in two days."
Exactly. Exactly. The article ends:
McGrail, of Susquehanna University, thinks the public is ready for war as entertainment because it already feels connected to the subject.

"The first Gulf War was a masterpiece of military message control and people didn't know anything about what was going on. Now, we have embedded journalists and a lot of news coming at us all the time, so people feel they are intimately familiar with the topic."
If we are connected with the subject, it is not because of the media. It is because we know those who go and mourn those who do not come back. It is not the journalists who are telling the tale of this war - it is the milbloggers and by word of mouth that we get our news. We are not ready for war as entertainment - we are more than ready to honor those we should honor. We owe them.

BlackFive on why he blogs:
I had been reading Stephen Den Beste, Bill Whittle, Frank J.'s IMAO, and Misha for awhile at that point.

I started Blackfive and decided to write about Mat and other Americans like him - people that Newsweek would never tell you about.
You must read Blackfive's tale. It begins:
Memorial Day is like any other day when you're in an Army at War.

On Memorial Day, May 26th, 2003 at approximately 7:00AM, Major Mathew E. Schram was leading a resupply convoy in Western Iraq near the Syrian border. Major Schram was the Support Operations Officer for the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (out of Ft. Carson, Colorado). He had responsibility for organizing the logistical arm of the regiment - ensuring that the Cavalrymen never ran out of food, fuel or ammo.
It tells the tale of the ambush and Major Schram's engagement of it to protect the convoy. And then, after the tale of Major Schram's death and his funeral, it continues:
The one part that I left out of this post is that Major Schram's convoy was followed by a car with a Newsweek reporter in it. Once the action began, the reporter and his driver turned and got the hell out of there. If it wasn't for Mat's charge up into the ambushers, they never would have made it out of there alive.

Newsweek never ran a story about my good friend, Mat.
No, they didn't. They don't want to confront the tale of a man such as Major Schram, a soldier and an officer who didn't have to be out there with the convoy but who was, because he thought he should be. He bothers them. They will include him as a death statistic. They will not tell the tale of his life, what he thought, what he stood for, and how and why he died. They will not tell a tale of honor and duty.

They want to tell their tale of deluded young rightist conventional fools who were too stupid to run to Canada when they could have. They don't want to tell the tale of a Wall Street trader who enlists. They don't want to tell the tale of the thousands of heroes in our armed forces. They winced at admitting that the Iraqis actually wanted to vote. The story that they wanted to tell, you see, was that the Iraqis really didn't want their own government, that Saddam Hussein was the best dictator he could be given the backwardness of the Iraqi population. They don't want to tell the tale of the thousands of Iraqis who are getting killed for the terrible sin of trying to form their own government. It might (gasp) fill in the gaps in their narrative in a way they can't tolerate.

All these tales they don't want to tell have a common meaning. It is time to admit that the national media largely does hate the military. They are its enemy. They will never, ever be those sitting on the curb and clapping. That is up to us. Don't forget this Memorial Day p it is only we who will keep it.

And to put you in the mood, see the Carnival of the Liberated (link to Dean's World), a collection of posts by Iraqi and Afghan bloggers. Kurdo writes of the Saddam underwear photos:
The greatest photo of the year. I don't care if they sue this newspaper or not, I don't care if this is against Geneva Convictions.

I personally was scared from Saddam even in my dreams. I have seen this guy in my dreams and I have started to shiver. To see this man (Sa'ed Al-Ra'es) (Mr. President) as he used to call himself like that in a pair of Iraqi underwear, is the strongest message for all his victims that it is time to live in peace for ever.
"For All His Victims To live in peace for ever." Not a bad memorial epitaph for Major Schram and Sgt 1st Class Paul R. Smith, but it is not one our press will ever report. I leave you with Dean Esmay's post on Hacks And Boneheads:
Here's a thought for shallow, whining, self-serving, self-loathing cynics like Dan: A press corps that is more obsessed with the far less than 1% of our armed forces who commit serious crimes, while spending almost no time at all on stories of the heroism, friendship with Afghans and Iraqis, valor, and honor that members of our armed forces exhibit every single day, is a press corps that thoroughly deserves to be called out as nasty, shallow, ignorant, defeatist--and incredibly unpatriotic.
Yes, that is what we really think. Dean is speaking for me and for many people, who do intend to remember what this Memorial Day is all about and who will be sitting on the curb and clapping.

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