Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Listening to Kurzweil talk takes a skilled ear because his mind is so quick just following his interconnected thoughts is like following an organizational flow chart. In a rapid fire yet calm manner he seems to be quietly shouting "Think of the possibilities!" Indeed, some of the wonderous things technology will bring us are going to be revolutionary in ways the human race has never seen before, however, I see problems that exist today that stand in the way of this fantastical future Kurweil presents. I think Kurzweil is so jazzed by the light of what is possible that he fails to see the dark side if you will.
In his latest book THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR: When Humans Transcend Biology, Kurzweil introduces us to a world that the greatest sci-fi writers could only dream of. The Singularity is the story of the destiny of the human-machine civilization. At the rate technology is progressing he believes this brave new world is only 30 or 40 years out.
In the book he examines technological evolution, all the latest findings in brain research, the revolutions in genetics, nanotechnology and robotics. He describes, these and other related new technologies, all of which promise enormous benefits to humans, like a limitless life spans and greatly enhanced intelligence. According to Kurzweil with boundless energy harnessed from the sun coupled with AI (artificial intelligence) with its exponential expansion we will eventually be able to manipulate the universe itself. Hunger and disease, even death itself will be wiped away from the human experience. In the human-machine civilization virtual nothing will be impossible. If you can think it it will be done.
Wait a Minute Here...
What are we talking about? Is it a wonderous world of limitless possibilities or a cross between the Borg and the Matrix of the movies. Frankly, some of Kurzweil visions frighten me. In fact I find it odd that Ray Kurzweil lists Bill Joy, one of the founders of Sun MicroSystems, among his friends. Several years ago Bill Joy drew a lot of attention with an essay he wrote called "Why the future doesn't need us". In it he raises all kinds of alarm bells citing the very technologies Kurzweil is touting as the rescuer of mankind. Which one of these men will ultimately be proven prescient only time will tell.
If AI develops without any human regulation it will just extend human competition and continue to magnify the difference between life's winners and losers. Face it, the technological revolution is already widening the gap between the educated and the uneducated. I work in the Information Technology field in computer networking and firewall security, and while I do not consider myself especially brilliant I find it amazing how little the average person understands about what goes on once they click that mouse. Just like turning on the light switch at home we take for granted the incredible amount of effort and expertise it took for that 60 watt bulb to illuminate the room. Most of us are technological dummies.
Now consider the pathology of an AI machine that can think, yes, think, circles around you and me. Will it have the morals and ethics that are inherent in the human soul? Do you doubt that there will be those who will design machines with virtues that don't comply with the regulations we as humans specify? Would these lead to an ever increasing game of developing legions of compliance AIs that can help detect and eliminate non-complying AIs.
Consider too the current hysteria over GE (genetically enhanced/engineered) foods. Even when no one can find a specific real world problem with scientifically engineered products which are in a sense no different than centuries old practice of hybridizing food crops there are entire continents that have banned them. The luddites are not going to go quietly into the world of Kurzweil's super-technology. To be sure, Kurzweil discusses the dangers inherent in such technology and addresses the major criticisms of his theories, but his eyes are full of wonder and he supposes that simple logic is going to assuage the paranoid masses.
It is a blast to hear Ray Kurzweil talk about the future and what these wonderful new technologies will offer mankind. We have seen technology greatly enhance our lives in profound ways in less than 100 short years. So far, God help us, we have not vaporized ourselves with the nuclear weapons we have developed. I think it's precisely because human beings have been charged with the ultimate decision as to whether or not they get used. I am not so certain that machine intelligence would be so easily disuaded just because a few billion biological lifeforms would perish.
We should step into "Kurzweil's Singularity" with our eyes wide open and with one foot firmly on the ground.
Monday, December 26, 2005
Complacency and Laziness Leads to the End of Western Civilization...
There are two writers that I admire greatly and if they are not favorites of yours they really ought to be. Mark Steyn and Victor Davis Hanson are two of the most prolific and well respected opinion columnists of our day.
Steyn, who playfully refers to himself as the one-man global content provider, is seemingly everywhere these days. He writes for numerous newpapers all over the world and shows up on countless talk radio shows as well as TV interviews and CSPAN. He is known for his sharp wit and the ablilty to cut to the essence of a topic with a few turns of a phrase. He makes me laugh out loud.
Hanson is a renown historian - particularly war history - and has a knack for clarifying history as it is being made. Making sense of current events in a larger historical context is not an easy thing to do, but Hanson, making use of his extensive knowledge of history and understanding of basic human nature, puts into focus the world of today and what it all means. Case in point: click here to read a short article and see how VDH can use history to make some sense of today's world. Hanson can also be read in numerous online newspapers, and seen on CSPAN and other TV outlets.
Both these men weave their way into a common theme more often than not: The Demise of Western Civilization. Each in his own way chronicles how rich, successful nations/empires have fallen (or are falling) by succumbing to their own complacency. Add in stupidity, laziness and intolerance and you have the recipe for for the end of this great American experiment with human freedom.
Hanson and Steyn both have a reverence for the American experiment and are like rhetorical fog horns trying to warn us of the impending danger in the shallows. Steyn, a Canadian now living in New Hamshire, speaks in defense of his adopted country with a passion that is frankly inspiring. Hanson, who is offically a Democrat has nothing but disdain for the modern leftist Democrats in Washington who are willing to sacrifice America's role on the world stage to regain their political power. He knows full well that these lefists want to an end to the United States as we know it, prefering a more European-like social/political structure.
Like mystics holding a crystal ball that can see both into the past and into the future, Steyn and Hanson are reading to us the proverbial writing on the wall. I would urge everyone to read everything you can by these two men. Each in his own way will describe how America really is a force for good in the world. They will clearly point out how the great American experiment in freedom and democracy is being torn asunder. We ignore their warnings at our own peril.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Peter Jackson's King Kong was spectacular! Spectacularly expensive, that is. Sure, it may have cost him 200+ million to bring to the big screen but in relative terms it cost me just about as much to see it at my local cinaplex.
Let's see 2 tickets at $8.25 a piece and we shared 1 small popcorn for $3.50 and a small Coke for $3.25 for a cool $23.50 total. There are families in some third world countries that live on less. Seriously, if Hollywood (the movie business in general) wants to know why people don't go to movies anymore perhaps they should consider this.
Getting on to the review, I must say it was a fantastic ride! It was visually stunning in every respect. Set in the depression era Jackson's version of King Kong looked completely realistic with every New York eyeful.
The scenes on Skull Island were the most visually riveting of any movie I have ever seen. The fight scene between Kong and a trio of T. Rex looking characters was simply an incredible bit of movie making. Not once in this 3 hour spectacle did it ever look fakey or unbelievable.
The acting was superb except for maybe a miscast Jack Black (I think Jack Black is a fine comedic actor but his character's mannerisms seemed out of place as if from a different era). Naomi Watts was excellent as the damsel in distress. Miss Ann Darrow was a struggling vaudville actress who used her slapstick routine to win over the beast in a beautifully touching scene.
There was one scene that could have landed on the editing room floor and no one would have missed it. It was unnecessary to advance the story and elicited moans of disgust in the packed theater. I won't go into it here but if you see the movie maybe we can compare notes, I'll bet you'll pick out the scene I am refering to as soon as you see it.
As movies go these days it is a movie a 13 year-old could see and still remain pure of heart. There was spectacular violence between Kong and the beasts of Skull Island but not blood oozing or even overly gratuitous. There was little to no cussing, no nudity and just a few classy kissing scenes.
Peter Jackson is fast becoming the George Lucas and Steven Spielberg of his day. Lord of The Rings was a masterpiece and King Kong was an admirable follow-up. I may gripe about the amount of money I spent but this movie about and oversized monkey was no dog!
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Love it or hate it, Wal-Mart is a lightening rod of debate in this country. There are organizations too numerous to count that work night and day to bring the giant retailer to its knees. Some are simply marxists and since Wal-Mart represents to them the epitomy of the capitalist pig it is natually a prime target (pardon the pun). Others are tied to the labor union movement which try as the might they can't really make a dent in Wal-Mart's "right to work" employment model. There are those groups that oppose Wal-Mart for the preservation of their small town way of life. These people are neither marxists or disgruntled workers but rather nostalgics whose resistance can be understood on many levels.
Me, well, I have been sour on Wal-Mart for a couple of reasons - not necessarily logical or even profound - but no less valid in this land of opinion and free enterprise. Briefly: I find their stores messy, cluttered and disorganized. Second, some of their strong-arm tactics with American manufacturers and distributors are just plain despicable. "It's not personal, it's just business" is a worn out idiom - nothing is more personal than a one-horse town losing its factory to a Chinese sweatshop and seeing hundreds of regular Americans treking down to the local food shelf.
Recently I have come across numerous articles and essays in defense of Wal-Mart. In particular Christopher Chantrill's brilliant piece "Stand Up for Wal-Mart" on his web site RoadtoTheMiddleClass.com. He clearly defines what Wal-Mart has done for the efficiency of America with it's distrbution and retail practices which have forced its competitors to match if they want to stay in the game. It is a different world out there than when Sears and Montgomery Wards were dominating this segment. America is as competitve as it is in part due to Wal-Mart and its embrace of technology and maximum efficiency at all levels of its business. I find much of what Chantrill says in this piece hard to argue with.
Over at American Thinker Mr. Lifson eludes to Zogby's polling (one should be skeptical of any Zogby poll) as a tool of the aforementioned union war against the giant retailer. I admit too that it was a PBS: Frontline special that got my ire up over Wal-Marts China centric supply chain. Frontline is not a neutral observer and obviously their program pushed all the right emotional buttons while trying to come off as a "balanced" piece.
I may still never be a regular shopper at Wal-Mart, but I do understand that in this changing world as one who is committed to free enterprise and capitalism I must learn to squelch emotion and look at the facts from both sides. Wal-Mart is good for America in many respects - but it can also be bad for "Americans" at a personal level when by its direct actions good people lose their jobs over a few pennies per unit.
In summation: Wal-Mart - Always Controversial. ALWAYS
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Check out happynews.com and new website that plans to deliver the good news to your PC everyday. I have no idea if such a thing will survive, because face it, how interesting is "man does not bite dog"? I do, however, applaud them for giving it a go.
At first glance it seems to be well edited and professionally done. I also understand that they gladly take submissions from the general public. All submitted content will also be edited and fact checked before being posted - which strangely enough doesn't seem to happen too often at your more established news outlets (see: CBS News, NYT, LAT and WaPo).
In my heart I hope they succeed, I really do. We, as a society, need a respite from death, death, death, war, war, war, sex, sex, sex, scandal, scandal, scandal and John Stewart every once and a while. Let's hope HappyNews.com starts a journalistic revolution.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
In the September issue of Discover Magazine writer Cynthia Fox introduces us to Ruth Pavelko, a 55 year-old woman dying of advanced heart disease. Due to a miracle of medical science Ruth is no longer close to death. In the article "Can Stem Cells Save Dying Hearts" we learn that doctors injected 30 million cells - one million of them (adult) stem cells from her own bone marrow - into her body. Six months later the patient no longer has the crippling weakness that doomed her to a short, sedentary existance.
Once again the application of adult stem cell therapy is producing real results that is actually helping people unlike the promise of embyonic stem cells that have only enriched the lives of university researchers. Reading this in a science magazine like Discover is one thing, (a magazine not prone to prop up religious argument, as is evidenced by an article in the same issue celebrating Darwinist and atheist Sir Richard Dawkins) but again we do not hear about these incredible achievments in the NYT and all its disciples in the main stream media.
As I've said in previous posts on the subject of stem cell research the only viable reason the MSM ignores these stories is because it doesn't fit into their real agenda - oh yes, the MSM has an agenda when it comes to anything that "The Church" takes a stand on. We can use the term The Church loosely when describing a host of negatives the media lays at the feet of Christianity in general, but in this case, their maniacal support for embryonic stem cell research, the media has focused its hate squarely on the Roman Catholic Church.
For all its problems the Roman Catholic Church holds the high ground on this and other moral issues. The Catholic Church is made up of human beings and all human beings are imperfect sinners. Still, we expect the "The Church" to hold the bar high when it comes to issue of sanctity of human life. If not The Church then who?
sanc-ti-ty (sangkti-te) n. 1. Holiness of life or disposition; saintliness. 2. The quality or condition of being considered sacred; inviolability. 3. Something considered sacred.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
I had an interesting conversation with a colleague about China recently that made me think about the "One World" dream and the One World dreamers. This gentleman had spent a serious amount of time in the PRC in two stints, one in the 90's and the other more recently. In the 90's no one in China dared to talk about politics or world affairs. During his last visit everyone was excited to talk openly about politics. It was as if their eyes had been opened. In China there is a growing middle class in a society of increasing wealth (I speak in relative terms here...). China was once a backward looking nation self-isolated by an intransigent government and a hopeless population. Today, despite the hardline communist government, the future is brighter for China and the credit goes to the most unlikely hero.
What I find so ironic is that the usual crowd cooing over the concept of one big happy world without borders and nationalities is not likely to accept the force behind this dream as it literally comes true. Instead of the kumbaya crowd bringing the world together with the power of happy thoughts and karma delivered by NGO's and cultural affairs officers, it is business that is creating world harmony. Not just business in general, but big business, in fact, more precisely multi-national corporations.
All over India and China, Taiwan and Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico and South America multi-national corporations are bringing jobs and progress to people who had no chance of upward mobility before they came. In the process some Americans and Europeans will suffer, but in the long run the short term pain will make us stronger (or we will wither and die) . If government corruption can be held in check in all these places the world will be a better place.
There are places so inhospitable to "business" as we know it that it will take great change before the promise of "One World" ever comes true. The Middle East (sans Israel), Russia and parts of South America come to mind. These places are so bad for legitimate business transactions that some companies that do business in these countries have a spot for bribes on the expense report that their salesmen turn in at the end of the week.
What are the kool-aid sipping marxists and their anarchists minions going to think about a world where it is free market business that is the unifying force for world peace. Gone are the days of the people's revolution against rich capitalists. Communism as a viable transport to world harmony is dead, let's face it, as the last great communist power in the world the Chinese are the world's best capitalists right now. Hugo Chavez may be trying to revive marxisim in the western hemisphere, but he will find little traction against the tide of multi-nationals sweeping over the globe.
It is global communications, via satellites and fiber optic cables along with transportation that is the driving force behind the shrinking world that has leveled the playing field for billions of people formerly trapped in a cycle of hopeless poverty. These innovations were brought to us by... you guessed it... big multi-national corporations.
I don't even buy into this One World crap since it is eminently clear that people are not at all the same. The average American has nothing in common with a jihadist terrorist or a Tibetan monk. The average American has less and less in common with most Europeans these days. Still, if a harmonious world is possible at all it is more likely to happen at the point of pen signing a business contract than it is at the point of a gun or at the urging of the kumbaya crowd singing around the campfire spewing happy thoughts.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
I have often wondered how the most hated man in the world feels about his plight - especially around the holidays. No, I'm not talking about President Bush, rather the unidentified man probably living somewhere in the great northwest near Seattle in the United States of America. He is a married father of four, white, Catholic, and works for Microsoft. He drives an SUV to work everyday and stops by Wal-Mart on his way home for something he doesn't really need but wants anyway. He pays his taxes in full, his mortgage on time, and contributes to the collection plate at his church every week (and to the Salvation Army when he can). After regularly putting in 50 hour weeks he plays golf with his buddies on the odd Staurday, but lives for his for his salmon fishing trips once a year. He tries to spend time with his kids but never feels like he doing enough for them, despite the football and soccer games, and the dance recitals he never misses.
Yes, he is the most hated man in the world.
When he sits down for his turkey dinner this Thanksgiving he had better realize that because of him and his decadent lifestyle millions around the world will suffer. What a bastard.
My fellow Americans we should be ashamed of ourselves. We are going to sit down, bow our heads, and thank the Lord for the goodness he has showered upon us and we will think nothing of how we are destroying this planet that is the source of this bounty. In the process of raping the world to make our lives comfortable we deprive countless third-worlders even a bare subsistence. Why the best thing we could do is throw off our prosperous shackles and join with our third-world brothers and sisters and suffer. Then and only then would the world be set right again.
Whew, thanks for waking me up! For a minute there I was starting to believe the rhetoric of the left.
In all seriousness I can't take this anymore. I am fed up to here with the America haters inside and outside this great land. The answer to poverty and scarcity in the third-world is surely not a weak and impoverished America. Nothing could be further from the truth. The answer to poverty is prosperity. Yes, what is needed is more rich people and people who want to be rich.
As the resources that are currently pulled from the ground become scarce the cost will rise and new technologies will arise (out of necessity) to recycle what we currently disgard. This is already happening to some degree, even when the act of doing so is not actually cost
Greater productivity and management of scarce resources will also have a positive benefit for the environment (if the global warming cabal doesn't shut us down first). Since America uses 25% or more of the world's resources then logic should indicate that we would also be the world's most polluted nation as well. But we are not, not even close. The capitalist West is an untouched wilderness compared to the industrial nations of the former Soviet-bloc. The current economic darlings of China and India are extremely polluted because poverty does not clean up after itself the way prosperity does. Again, the answer to pollution is not a weak and impoverished West, but rather a rich and prosperous third-world.
So, my fellow Americans as we sit down to our turkey dinner this Thanksgiving it is right to give thanks to the good Lord, but we should also put in a good word for the rest of the world in hopes that they will seek prosperity and ignore the "greens" and the "leftists" who continue to shower virtue on sickness that is poverty.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Read it HERE
Friday, November 11, 2005
The oil companies exist in a long term world. They were spending billions of dollars on facilities and exploration back when they were making little to no profit at all. Believe it or not they are probably not going to increase their long term spending because of a short term bump in profits.
The funny thing is even when the price for a barrel of oil does fall and oil company profits go in the tank the good old government will continue to rake in "record profits". I am not so much defending the oil companies who have gleefully enjoyed this speculation driven price increase all the way to the bank as I am chastizing the government for using their bully pulpit to berate the very industry that enriches them. Paul Sperry's revealing article in the American Spectator really says it all :
And isn't it ironic that the same town complaining about big oil's profits benefits from them big-time? Oil companies fork over 35% of their profits to Washington -- and that doesn't include the average 16% cut government takes at the pump. Perhaps it should be the pols at the witness table explaining how they're spending their own multibillion-dollar windfall.
Once again the media in this country fails to tell the whole story. The average person never complains about the huge take the government gets when he or she sees the price at the pump go up and up. But in truth the government makes more money over the long haul from oil than the oil companies do. Like the media, politicains live in a short term world - it's called the election cycle. They both benefit from the affliction of short term memory that seems to have infected nearly all Americans.
Lee Raymond, the outgoing CEO of Exxon-Mobil, was very candid in a recent interview on the Charlie Rose show. He said that the oil industry is very interested in effiency and does not oppose hybrid cars or efforts to make cars more efficient. They have spent billions making their operations more efficient and cleaner. They have studied extensively alternate energy sources with an eye on replacing oil (since they want to be in business in the future) and have absolutely concluded that oil is the most efficient, cost effective energy source for transportation. They spent billions on research in the 70's and renewed their efforts recently only to find that the laws of thermo-dynamics have not changed.
Raymond also reminded Charlie that Exxon and all the other oil companies operate in an integrated world - a global economy. Events such as Katrina and war and instability in the Middle East will affect the price oil regardless of how much or how little we pump out of the ground in America. I found that a very interesting and sobering statement. In other words we can not allow the politicians to use the stale rhetoric of severing our dependancy on Middle East oil as the holy grail to our energy woes. It just doesn't work that way.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
If they stopped for a minute and took a look in the mirror they might have seen this coming, but for the French ruling class arrogance is a right. So convinced of their superiority over the dim bulbs running America they openly delighted in the misery caused by the recent acts of God visited upon President Bush and America. There were those who said that America was being paid back for it's arrogance. Well, today France burns.
Is the world shocked? Is the world thinking any less of France and the European social model because of these violent riots? I seem to remember the NYT and other left leaning media outlets delight in reprinting clips from newspapers all over the world that were expressing shock at the social mayhem caused by a catastrophic hurricane in New Orleans. Guilty as charged, yes the social fabric became unraveled in New Orleans when the infrastructure was ripped apart by a massive storm. But in France the social fabric is unraveling due to man-made actions - there is a difference.
What would seem an obvious conclusion to you and me is being varnished over by the mainstream media. Even on some of the most reliable blogs I am seeing the desire to blame this on economic reasons and a down playing of any Islamo-facist coordination. I remain skeptical.
Still, the reason America takes no delight in the events in France, home of uber America-hater Jacques Chirac, is two-fold: one, we are a compassionate people and do not partake in schadenfreude, and two, it can happen here.
(You may have noticed I have employed a little German here when talking about the French, it was intended...)
Perhaps Europe isn't as inclusive and enlightened as many have claimed. Maybe America has been just a little better at integrating many cultures into one. Yet, over the past thirty years we have moved away from the melting pot model and have taken a hard left down the road to Muticultural City, passing Diversityville along the way. I have heard that there are neighborhoods in Multicultural City that post signs that say "Americans need not apply". How sad is that?
Monday, October 31, 2005
My word one can't turn on the TV or the radio these days without being frightened half to death. If HaliBushHitlerBurton doesn't get you the bird flu will! The hysteria building over the so-called avian flu seems a little over the top at this juncture. With a total of about a hundred cases and 62 deaths in a world with 6+ billion souls the hype doesn't quite measure up to the facts.
The bird flu officially known as H5N1 is making headlines around the world provoking the Bush Administration to get in the act with proclamations that government ordered quarantines and military order will be authorized in the event a pandemic ensues.
The cynics and conspiracy buffs are all abuzz with theories that this is a rouse to sell vaccines and drugs (the Bush Aminstration is behind this too, of course). Personally I think the President is mostly guilty of "me tooism" - stung by the criticism of the Katrina affair George doesn't want to be seen as uncaring toward the elderly and weak who would most surely be the first victims of this flu should it ever strike this country. The White House wants to be out in front of this one.
Last night the Discovery Channel or the History Channel aired a "Worst Case Scenario" special that would see the world fall into such ruin that there would be no hope of ever clawing our way back again. It was thoroughly depressing and not even that entertaining.
Out on the Internet there are a few voices of reason - bloggers, of course - but there is certain official who likes to see his face on TV so he can sell his books who sent me over the top. Michael Osterholm, who is familiar to us Minnesotans having been our state epidemiologist before becoming a world famous doomsayer, was all over the TV last night scaring the shit out of everybody. I have been listening to this guy for years telling me that one thing after another is going to kill me. First it was AIDs, then acid rain and ozone holes. Last year it was SARS followed by the regular old flu because of the vaccine shortage. After 9/11 there he was telling us that anthrax and small pox would devour major urban centers like the giant heart that ate Philadelphia.
I'm sure Mr. Osterholm is eminently qualified to speak to these issues but so far I am still alive, amazing I know, but yes, I am still kicking. I sincerely hope nothing comes of this (other than a few giant pharmaceuticals shore up their bottom lines) and Michael Osterholm continues his hitless streak.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Michael Fumento posts yet another article extolling the virtues of another successful adult stem cell therapy at TechCentralStation.com. The promise of adult stem cell therapy is breathtaking. Since embryonic stem cells have, to the best of my knowledge, produced no viable therapies to date we have to wonder why there is such a push to get Federal and State money, and such a desire to endorse this research over the proven efficacy of adult stem cell research.
From the article:
It's still true that, as I wrote two years ago, "When an ESC hiccups it makes page one, but reports of ASCs actually saving human lives are often ignored." A search of the Lexis-Nexis database reveals that the incredible liver breakthrough was picked up by two lesser British newspapers and UPI. BBC.com also mentioned it. That's it. No U.S. newspaper seems to have mentioned it.
I find this incredible, incredibly revealing that is... For what possible reason would the major media supress this wonderful news? Of course there are billions in research dollars at stake for ESC research- but what difference would that make to the media? I would expect there are research dollars for ASC as well - again what is the media's interest in that?
I know the anti-Christians all over this land support ESC research solely because the Church is against it. The cynic in me says this is why the media acts the way it does on this issue. The Church, by the way, endorses Adult Stem Cell research.
Friday, October 21, 2005
I found this article mildly interesting only because when the shoe is on the other foot the MSM trips over itself not to pass judgement on the hate filled hip-hop culture.
Lynx and Lamb are apparently singers who are proud to be white and don't mind telling the world. Normally if they would have stopped there I wouldn't have minded too much. It is the praising of infamous Nazis that turns my stomach. The parents of these two girls are sickos, enough said.
The dynamic duo of Lamb and Lynx probably don't get much airplay in America, and rightly so. We do not need any more animosity pouring out of our radios - we have plenty of hate and ugliness already with the gansta rap and something called the hip-hop culture. While there are some people from within the black community who have stood up and said the preaching (singing???) of hate has got to stop, there has been little in the way of actually doing anything about it. As long as it sells it will keep being peddled to our kids.
So, while I HATE to see these beautiful young girls being brainwashed into such intolerance and hatred how can society condemn them while forking out billions to buy and worship hip-hop hate.
Maybe I don't understand the hip-hop and rap cultures (I will grant you that) but the white racists can say the same thing, can't they?
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Harm de Blij the noted geographer and a professor at a Michigan university is a fascinating and passionate man. Seeing him talk at a World Affairs conference which aired recently on CSPAN's Book TV was a real eye opener.
De Blij (pronounced duh blay) is a Dutch born immigrant who came to this country as a young man after WWII. Harm speaks eloquently on a number of subjects not the least of which is one of our favorite topics here - global warming. In his book "Why Geography Matters" Harm delves deep into the cause and effect of climate change on geo-politics and human development. Toward the end of his talk at the World Affairs conference he paused briefly, lowered his voice and decalred that he couldn't leave without a few words about the current global warming hysteria. It is, in a word - HYSTERIA!
De Blij points out that we are currently living in an Ice Age. We happen to be in a inter-glacial period where global temperatures rise as part of a natural cycle that repeats itself many times during each Ice Age. The current ice age started some 35 million years ago. De Blij goes over the numbers in an interview with The Pittsburgh Tribune's Bill Steigerwald:
Q: We're being told over and over by the mainstream media and scientists as well that global warming is a real problem for earthlings. Yet you say we need to prepare for a quick climate change that will be a precipitous cooling. What's that all about?
A: We are living in an Ice Age -- which consists of long cold spells interrupted by short warm spells. This is something that every student in introductory geography learns all over the world. It started about 30 or 35 million years ago. It's been going on. It's been getting colder. Approximately, 30 million years ago, the Antarctic ice sheet began to form; 20 million years ago glaciers began to form in high mountains even in the tropical areas; 10 million years ago the Arctic Ocean froze over. About 1.8 million years ago, we began a sequence of events that is still going on, which is as follows: It is very cold for 100,000 years in a row -- never, of course, continuously cold, but up and down. Then it gets very warm, very quickly, and for about an average of 10,000 to 12,000 years it is about as warm as it is today. Then that ends with a precipitous cooling, and it is cold for another 100,000 years.
Just 18,000 years ago, ice sheets hundreds of feet high covered all of North America down to the Ohio River. All that melted when global warming started. It melted in a matter of a few thousand years. It was some dramatic event: Huge slabs of ice the size of the Canadian province of Quebec would slide into the ocean, raise the sea level, cool the water, change local climate. The coastal plains, along which we humans had been migrating, got inundated. It must have been an incredibly dramatic time.
Then about 7,000 years ago, it was warm like it is now and it has been that warm ever since. We are now at the point that the period of global warming like the one that got rid of the glaciers the last time has been going on for about 15,000 years. We are already well into the autumn of our warm spell. So even though we worry about global warming, I am saying that what we are likely to experience is an increasing number of extremes and then a collapse of the system and a return to glacial conditions. It's happened for 2 million years and it's going to happen again, whether or not we do to the atmosphere what we are doing. Nature will overpower our pollution of the atmosphere.
Q: What's your official position on global warming?
A: That it is existing, that it is happening, but that it will not go on indefinitely.
Harm believes we should have endorsed the Kyoto Protocol not as a substantiative effort to stop global warming but rather as an international gesture of cooperation. I don't necessarily agree that a gesture is worth even the short term problems Kyoto would cause to the economy while China and India get off scott free, but I trust that his reading of geologic history is accurate.
Furiously drawing graphs on the overhead projector he shows that this current period of warming has happened in a blink of geologic time in which all of recorded human history has occured. He goes on to state that this inter-glacial period could come crashing down in a very short period of time. He is not talking about thousands of years or even hundreds of years, but rather mere decades. The impact on humanity and world politics would be all encompassing. Canada, northern Europe and most of Russia would cease to exist. The industrial heart of the United States would be under miles of ice forcing our entire population south. He decalres that China will be the big winner because of it's geography and proximity to southeast Asia and Indonesia. A scary thought in and of itself.
The picture de Blij paints is illustrated in a fascinating Sci-Fi novel by Larry Niven called "Fallen Angels" in which the Greens have taken over the political structure of the world by using global warming as a pretext to stop technological progress. When the burning of fossil fuels is banned the atmosphere is robbed of the particulate matter needed for water droplets to form and therefore clouds become more and more scarce. Without clouds the warmth of the planet escapes into the night sky and a glacial age ensues. Harm de Blij and the author Larry Niven both refer to the "mini ice age" that plagued Britain an few centuries ago. Niven speculates that the increased burning of coal for heat by the large population on the island nation had a part in the warming period that followed allowing Britain to become the preeminent power in the world.
In the end, however, Niven, de Blij and you and I will come to realize that we are powerless against the forces of nature and if we endure the next glacial period it will have to be by our wits AND our technology. Until then, my advice, make hay while the sun shines!
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Jordanian journalist Yassin Musharbash has put down on paper the goals and objectives of the world's foremost terrorist organization. It reads like a comic book caper where the arch villain, with his manical laughter and that crazed look in his eyes, gleefully spills his dastardly plans to the super hero he has suspended over a vat of roiling acid.
The problem is that much of the civilized world reads the War on Terror as if it were a comic book. For hundreds of years the leaders of the Islamic world have sought to regain what they had lost and then some, but they lacked the money and the means to strike the West in any meaningful way. Today, flush with oil money and access to the modern world they strike us with the one weapon that has been the downfall of many an empire: our own complacency.
Here, without further fanfare the plot:
The First Phase Known as "the awakening" -- this has already been carried out and was supposed to have lasted from 2000 to 2003, or more precisely from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. The aim of the attacks of 9/11 was to provoke the US into declaring war on the Islamic world and thereby "awakening" Muslims. "The first phase was judged by the strategists and masterminds behind al-Qaida as very successful," writes Hussein. "The battle field was opened up and the Americans and their allies became a closer and easier target." The terrorist network is also reported as being satisfied that its message can now be heard "everywhere."
The Second Phase "Opening Eyes" is, according to Hussein's definition, the period we are now in and should last until 2006. Hussein says the terrorists hope to make the western conspiracy aware of the "Islamic community." Hussein believes this is a phase in which al-Qaida wants an organization to develop into a movement. The network is banking on recruiting young men during this period. Iraq should become the center for all global operations, with an "army" set up there and bases established in other Arabic states.
The Third Phase This is described as "Arising and Standing Up" and should last from 2007 to 2010. "There will be a focus on Syria," prophesies Hussein, based on what his sources told him. The fighting cadres are supposedly already prepared and some are in Iraq. Attacks on Turkey and -- even more explosive -- in Israel are predicted. Al-Qaida's masterminds hope that attacks on Israel will help the terrorist group become a recognized organization. The author also believes that countries neighboring Iraq, such as Jordan, are also in danger.
The Fourth Phase Between 2010 and 2013, Hussein writes that al-Qaida will aim to bring about the collapse of the hated Arabic governments. The estimate is that "the creeping loss of the regimes' power will lead to a steady growth in strength within al-Qaida." At the same time attacks will be carried out against oil suppliers and the US economy will be targeted using cyber terrorism.
The Fifth Phase This will be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, can be declared. The plan is that by this time, between 2013 and 2016, Western influence in the Islamic world will be so reduced and Israel weakened so much, that resistance will not be feared. Al-Qaida hopes that by then the Islamic state will be able to bring about a new world order.
The Sixth Phase Hussein believes that from 2016 onwards there will a period of "total confrontation." As soon as the caliphate has been declared the "Islamic army" it will instigate the "fight between the believers and the non-believers" which has so often been predicted by Osama bin Laden.
The Seventh Phase This final stage is described as "definitive victory." Hussein writes that in the terrorists' eyes, because the rest of the world will be so beaten down by the "one-and-a-half billion Muslims," the caliphate will undoubtedly succeed. This phase should be completed by 2020, although the war shouldn't last longer than two years.
What part of this plan is impossible? Unless we in the West decide to heed the warning that President Bush has outlined 900,000 times since 9/11 then I believe that none of this is impossible - in fact it is all very probable.
Anytime I start to doubt that the Iraq War was the right thing to do I remind myself of the enemy we face. I realize that not only is Iraq the key to Western victory over islamo-facism it is hinge pin that all of modernity is swinging on.
There are enough goof balls in the West that believe we are leading unsustainable lifestyles, and enough people who detest Judeo-Christian precepts and the dynamic world it has created, who would gladly throw it all away. Just wait until they find that their political correctness and benign stewardship of mother earth has no meaning to their new Islamic rulers once this civilization crashes down.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
The Metropolitan Council (of the Twin Cities - Minneapolis/St. Paul) may regret ever sending me a survey form. According to the welcome letter I was randomly selected to participate in their state of the metro questionaire. I gleefully filled it out...
I have never been a big fan of the Met Council primarily over their growth restriction policies. By drawing an imaginary line beyond which they would not extend regional services they have managed to drive up property values on the inside making the nice houses in the outer ring suburbs out of reach for most of us. In turn it has forced people who desire a little more space and little more house for their money move further and further out encouraging the very sprawl they sought to supress. Eventually the road capacity out in the hinterlands becomes an issue and even more development follows the bigger, wider new roads.
Yes, the effects of unintended circumstances often plague central planning. This is not to say the Met Council doesn't play an important role in the areas where metro services cross city lines such as waste management, roads and mass transit.
The survey asked what was the single best thing and what was the single worst thing about our metro area. After traveling to nearly all the major cities in our region of the country I think it's fair to say that our prosperity is easily the best thing about the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. The worst thing is something we share with every city, county and state in the union: illegal immigration! I can almost guarantee this will not see the light of day when the results of this survey is published in a few months - but they have to hear it.
The other thing they will not like to hear is the inadequate state of our freeway capacity. The Twin Cities is around the 14th or 15th largest metro area in the country and yet we still have for the most part a 2 lane beltway circling the central cities. I am all for mass transist (I ride the bus everyday) when and where it makes sense. Still, the need for lane miles and sensible freeway design is elemental to the quality of life these central planners are so transfixed on.
Recently the Met Council opened up a one billion dollar light rail line to much fanfare. It runs 12 miles between the Mall of America, the airport and downtown Minneapolis... That's right - one billion dollars for 12 miles. Despite the fact that the ridership and usage surpasses what was expected the line accomplishes absolutely nothing in the way of traffic congestion relief. Seems like a whole lot of money for such a little return especially since the state and regional government will be subsidizing the damn thing in perpetuity.
Commuter rail defenders will say "well you have to start somewhere!" Indeed. Then WHY is the next line being pushed a rail link between the St. Cloud area and downtown Minneapolis? St Cloud is a city 70 miles away and the only thing a commuter rail will accomplish out there is more urban sprawl which is exactly what the Met Council is trying to supress.
I would be the first in line to ride the rail from my neighborhood in St. Paul that took me to my office in downtown Minneapolis - and there would be thousands of people standing behind me. A line from the east metro intersecting downtown St. Paul and ending in downtown Minneapolis would take thousands of cars off the freeway. A second line from the south metro to downtown Minneapolis would also relieve major daily freeway congestion. I may cost several billion dollars - but so does concrete for roads and overpasses and the gas to run all those cars riding on them.
I understand that the urbanization of more and more land will at some point be disasterous. What I don't understand is the central cities and the Met Council's excruciatingly slow pace on urban renewal. City life can be quite enjoyable and very practical especially as our population ages. Yet all the redevelopment seems to be on high end condos in the downtown areas when the need is for decent, modestly priced single family homes in nice neighborhoods. Perhaps my lack of knowledge about the economics of urban redevelopment hampers me on this - but why can't there be profitability in buldozing urban blight and building homes? It would seem to address the problem of sprawl and the infrastructure (roads, sewers, utilities etc) would already be there.
By and large my response to their survey is probably a lone voice barking in the wind. I do appreciate, however, that they do seemingly care what the Average Joe thinks.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
I rarely read Richard Cohen. Like Robert Scheer of the LA Times and Derrick Jackson of the Boston Globe I doubt he has anything to say we haven't heard a million times before. Besides the cynicism and hatred of all things conservative is a real turn off for us right-wingers. There are plenty of good liberal writers worth reading so that we can keep that mirror up in front of us - but these three are not among them.
Yesterday Cohen surprised me with a hit piece on his own party. Lets face it, the Democrats and the socialists have for years successfully portrayed the Republicans and conservatives as the intolerant, hateful and racist party. I think the libs are guilty of what psychologists like to call projection; pasting us with the qualities they themselves possess.
Cohen was lamenting the passing of the time honored tradition of politicians and public figures using boiler plate platitudes before addressing specific topics. For instance one might use the word "allegedly" when attributing a crime to a perp he knows to be guilty as sin. Today's Democrat skips right past the platitude and straight to the charge: President Bush IS a liar, Bill Bennet IS a racist, Tom Delay IS guilty - you get the drift.
Mr. Cohen goes on to defend William Bennet who was guilty of thinking out loud and nothing more when he made the "abort all black babies" statement on his radio show.
For prominent Democrats, it seemed it was not enough to forget their manners about DeLay. They then abandoned their party's tradition -- I would say "obligation" -- of defending unpopular speech by piling on William Bennett, the former education secretary, best-selling author and now, inevitably, talk show host.
Responding to a caller who argued that if abortion were outlawed the Social Security trust fund would benefit -- more people, more contributions, was the apparent (idiotic) reasoning -- Bennett said, sure, he understood what the fellow was saying. It was similar to the theory that the low crime rate of recent years was the consequence of high abortion rates: the fewer African American males born, the fewer crimes committed. (Young black males commit a disproportionate share of crime.) This theory has been around for some time. Bennett was not referring to anything new.
But he did add something very important: If implemented, the idea would be "an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do."
He should have saved his breath. Prominent Democrats -- Harry Reid in the Senate, John Conyers and Rahm Emanuel in the House and, of course, Pelosi -- jumped all over him.
...and the alphabet networks wasted no time hauling out the twin buffoons of Sharpton and Jackson to condemn Bennet and all conservatives. I find it very racist of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC to constantly use the aforementioned buffoons as spokesmen for the entire American black community.
It is the party of the conservatives that is actually tolerant of diverse viewpoints. Liberals and Democrats in general regard their attitudes and beliefs to be so self evident that anything else is just crazy talk. Anyone who strays from the reservation is voted off permanently.
How many of you know that the junior Senator from Minnesota, the honorable Norm Coleman, was the Democratic Mayor of St. Paul in the early 90's? The problem with Norm was he wouldn't raise taxes. He also expressed that he and his wife were personally pro-life. The local Democratic party shunned him, failed to endorse his re-election run and mounted a frontal challenge against him keeping his job. Norm switched parties and won re-election easily.
His succsessor, Mayor Randy Kelly, a lifelong Democrat and a former state senator, had the audacity to endorse President Bush in this time of global war and now faces the same fate as Senator Coleman. The DFL is working against Mayor Kelly's re-election. Mr. Kelly has no intention of becoming republican - he gleefully embraces multiculturalism and "diversity" and all the other feel-good garbage the Democrats love - and he has since announced a significant raising of property taxes. Will his loyalty to the party and his about face on raising taxes save him? Not likely - he has commited an irreparable transgression when he refused to denouce his endorsement of Bush. The DFL has banned him from their clubhouse.
These are not the actions of a tolerant party. These are not the actions of a party that believes strongly in freedom of speech or freedom of expression. Their morally superior attitudes actually makes them more close-minded than their backward looking rivals on the right.
I used to vote for Democrats in another life, today I would be hard pressed to name even one who really impresses me as anything but a party line hack. Kelly was impressive despite his love of anything that says "diversity" because he saw the truth in some conservative ideals like low taxes and supporting private enterprise rather than punishing it with onerous regulations. I am afraid he will now bend over backwards for the wet kiss of the DFL. He will likely still lose the election. Mayor Kelly will experience first hand what the party of tolerance and free speech is really all about.
Friday, September 23, 2005
I am not quite sure what message this movie was supposed to impart on me. In the end I don't think the movie maker knows the answer to that question either...
The short answer would be: Racism is bad. America is Racist.
Leaving it at that would be doing this searing and intense movie a disservice. First off, the acting was superb. Everyone of these characters including the ones played by well-known actors was convincing and real. There was never a dull moment and the script was on point with each passing frame. Even when it seemed to be getting preachy along came a counterpoint that kept things in perspective. Every racial stereotype was represented, examined and blown apart. It was all at once satisfying and infuriating, but mostly it was sad.
For some there was redemption and others - death. No one was untouched by racism and the effects of misunderstanding, including me. You see, that very afternoon on my commute home after a long day at work I found myself uttering ugly remarks out my car window when I passed a fancy and expensive pickup truck decorated as a loud and proud shrine to 'ol Mexico. "Why don't you go back there if it's so great! 'Cause its' not great - it's a shithole!"
I wasn't proud of what I said - but I didn't feel unjustified either. I wondered how I would be received in Mexico City if I drove through town decked out in Red White and Blue...
Bigotry is ugly, but it is also universal and Americans have had to deal with it in a way unlike any country in history. If we all make an effort to teach our children not to repeat the mistakes of the past someday - maybe not in this lifetime - we can have the color blind culture we need.
Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Larenz Tate, Ludacris, Matt Dillon, Ryan Phillippe, Terrence DaShon Howard, Thandie Newton, Michael Pena, Shaun Toub
Paul Haggis Director
Paul Haggis Screenwriter
Robert Moresco Screenwriter
Cathy Schulman Producer
Don Cheadle Producer
Bob Yari Producer
James Muro Director of Photography
Mark Isham Composer
This week Charlie had on the Finance Minister of India and I must say it was a treat to listen to him quietly validate many things we capitalists believe about growing and sustaining an economy. In the process they have lifted millions out of poverty and into the middle class.
P Chidambaram is a US educated lawyer who upon graduating from Harvard Business School returned to India a hard core leftist. (It has to make you wonder what they're teaching at Harvard) Once he was faced with the reality of the condition of the socialist system in India he under went a remarkable transformation into a pro-growth capitalist. He realized that the government was ill suited for certain aspects of economic stewardship and private enterprise was an asset not an enemy.
India's economy under Chidambaram led policies has become the second fastest growing economy in the world. At 7% annual growth they trail China by mere fractions of a percentage point. Where India has it over China is in age demographics. A majority of their population is under 35 years of age with a huge proportion of that being under twenty five. China's population is an aging one not unlike the US or Europe.
He is convinced that India can become one of the two or three largest economies in the world in a decade or so. At India's present trajectory number two Japan is realistically in its sights.
Keeping the numbers in perspective India and China have a long way to go to reach into the same realm as the US in per capita income and wealth. Still, the numbers are no less staggering. India has nearly 240 million in the middle class. That's close to number of people in all of the US. They also have 300 million below the poverty line. The rest live somewhere between destitution and the middle class. Per capita income in India is around $700 and in China it is around $1000, and America - over $30,000. If adjusted for buying power those numbers are more like US = $25,000 China = $7,000 India = $3,000. Due to the sheer size of India and China's population it is unlikely that they will ever approach the US, but with those numbers both countries total national income could potentially dwarf the US in just a few decades.
India needs massive capital investment in jobs, and infrastructure if any of their dreams are going to come true. Chidambaram's policies are more likely to attract foriegn investment than what the had before. This is true primarily because India is serious about education - real education and not the self-esteem, self-loathing baloney America is getting.
Since India has embarked on a path away from command and control socialism they have seen remarkable improvement in nearly every aspect of their counties fortunes, monetary and otherwise. China, Europe and even America should be taking notice.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Christopher Hitchens - author, opinion writer for Slate and Vanity Fair
George Galloway - a British politician, and a Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow in East London.
Fact: Christopher Hitchens is a leftist. Fact: George Galloway is a leftist. Now that we have a few basic facts straight we can analyze this rather remarkable event.
The debate format is one I wish presidential contenders would use. Each man had a ten minute opening followed by a few questions by the moderator. Soon thereafter it became a free wheeling slugfest. Hitchens clearly has a way with words. He is an intellectual in the most annoying sort of way - he knows it. This, I say, as opposed to someone like Bill Maher who only thinks he is an intellectual. Galloway too, has a way with words, he is quick of mind and acid of tongue. George has a way of driving home a point with just a few words leaving everyone else speechless. I saw him take apart half a dozen US Senators a few months back. Senators are supposed to be America's master debaters. Some would mash those two words together and remove the "de". That would be much closer to describing the current crop of US Senators.
Hitchens, on the side for the war against Saddam Hussein, had facts on hand and scored several body blows that Galloway offered no response in defense of himself. This for instance: Hitchens referencing a recent trip Galloway made to Syria
To hear him speak, you would think, would you not, that he was a pacifist, that he defines himself as anti-war. Now how can this be said, in good conscience, by someone who has just, standing by the side of the dictator of Syria, on the 30th of July, referred to the 154 heroic operations conducted in Iraq by the so-called resistance, or the resistance that is run as we know by a senior bin Ladenist and by many of the former secret police of the Baathist regime? How can someone say, and say they're anti-war and they care about casualties that they praise the 154 operations a day?
Now among the people killed by these heroic operations, in Iraq, some of them run from Syria and paid for by the human toothbrush and slobbering dauphin Assad, Mr. Galloway's new pal. Among the victims of these, of these operations was specialist Casey Sheehan, who was trying to clean up the festering slum of what had once been called Saddam City, and was now known to us as Sadr City where the water-supply is coming back on, it's taking a while, because people keep blowing it up, but it's coming back on. Now I will put a simple moral proposition to you and see if I've phrased it alright. Is it not rather revolting to appear in Damascus by the side of Assad and to praise the people who killed Casey Sheehan, and then to come to America and appeal to the emotions of his mother?
Not only is Galloway opposed to American and British presence in Iraq he actively supports the terrorists. Galloway is a well spoken Michael Moore if you ask me.
Galloway had a few direct hits of his own that left me with questions to ask myself as a supporter of the war to remove Saddam Hussein. When asked when and if America will leave Iraq Galloway points to the large permanent military bases being built there. On the face of it George has a point.
On style and substance for debate scoring Hitchens wins hands down. This is true mainly because Galloway is guilty of lecturing, hollering really loud and spitting all over the microphone. George, as mentioned, scored points with truths and half-truths that without reasoned rebuttal would make it appear that Saddam Hussein and his dear sons were trying to their best for the people of Iraq if only it hadn't been for those nasty Westerners. Hitchens did a convincing job of pointing out just how bad the Hussein crime family really was.
For me the absolute highlight was when Galloway challenged Hitchens to acknowledge that Colin Powell was sorry for his UN testimony. Hitchens had this to say:
Amy Goodwin (moderator): Your response to Colin Powell saying that his UN speech making the case of weapons of mass destruction was a stain on his record. Just a minute response.
CH: Mmm, I don't give a damn about what Colin Powell thinks about anything. I never have, and I never will. I think he's, I've noticed that he's, having being for a long time, the most overrated public figure in the United States. He's running for the nomination to most overrated man in the world. But I don't really care.
On this I couldn't agree with Hitchens more. Powell, for my money, was the most ineffective Secretary of State we've seen in a long time. He may have been a good soldier but he was a not a good fit for Secretary of State.
The debate lost steam toward the end when the audience took to applauding and jeering all to often. It's just too bad we can't get any Americans to go toe to toe like this, after all it is America who is doing the heavy lifting in Iraq.
As we have heard before from the men fighting this war - we are winning on the battlefield, soon Iraq will be able to defend itself against a rather cowardly insurgency. But the media and people like Galloway are clearly winning the war against George W. Bush. This is as much the Bush Administrations fault as it is the media's. Just saying "we will be resolute and never waver" and "stay the course" is not enough any more. We need to hear a strategy to put the nail in it.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Mr. Wheeler pulls no punches and makes connections between Islam and other failed ideologies in ways I have never heard before. According to Wheeler, Islam is as fatally flawed as communism and nazism. He cleverly and accurately ties these repressive ideologies together at a very base level.
from the interview:
All three of the great barbarisms of modern times have been pathologies of envy. Nazism, preaching race-envy toward “rich exploitative Jews”; Communism preaching class-envy toward “rich exploitative capitalists”; Jihadism preaching culture-envy toward “rich exploitative America/Israel/the West.”
Adding to this line of reasoning Mr. Wheeler explains the sickness of modern liberalism here:
the liberal left is motivated by the fear of being envied. It is a very ancient and primitive fear, exactly the same as a primitive tribesman’s fear of envious Black Magic or a peasant villager’s fear of the envious Evil Eye.
People in our society who are susceptible to this fear – such as heirs who inherited rather than earning their wealth and Hollywood celebrities who do so little to earn their millions – become liberals as a psychological strategy to avoid being envied. Liberalism is a not a political philosophy. It is the politicalization of envy-appeasement.
Thus liberals are masochists as well – for the more one fears being envied, the more one is driven to masochistic self-humiliation in attempts at envy appeasement. Liberals have a compulsion to apologize to those that envy them, apologize for being white, for being male, for being successful, for the success of their country, their culture, their civilization. This renders liberals incapable of passionately defending America.
No liberal will ever admit to these qualities to be sure, they will only lash out and attack anyone questioning their "patriotism". Bruce Springsteen comes to mind - a man of enormous wealth and yet pretends to commune with the downtrodden by railing against moneymen in fancy suits. Springsteen, who I have always enjoyed as an entertainer is the absolute epitomy of what Jack Wheeler has described. Already a multi-millionaire Springsteen has been known to allow ASCAP and BMI to use his name in lawsuits against small time bar and club owners who don't pay the licensing fees to these agencies. Bruce likes his royalty checks!
But I digress, the point of Mr. Wheeler is making here is that Islam should be discredited for the morally bankrupt ideology that it is. We would not treat slavery or cannibalism with kid gloves, making excuses for the horrendous nature of these practices then why do we pretend that the subjugation of women (treated as property of men and dismissed as equals to men) and the use of terrorism as a negotiating tool are acceptable in the 21st century?
(The Wahhabis) have the Saudi billions to spread what we should be calling a perversion of Islam. You are certainly right, Jamie, to point out that most Moslems are not radical crazies, that we are at war with the latter not the former, whom we need not demonize.
Most Moslems are human beings first. However much they see their personal identity suffused with Islam, they want the same things as everyone else: a peaceful and productive life, safety and happiness for their children. Were most Germans under Hitler, Japanese under Tojo, Russians under Stalin? Probably – and irrelevantly. It was not our job to “reach out to them.” It was our job to defeat their rulers and true believers, to render them no longer capable of being a threat to us.
Wow, Wheeler is brutally honest here. I do, however, understand why President Bush could never say anything but " We are not at war with Islam, we are war with radical jihadists who have hijacked the religion of peace." If the President were honest he would conclude as Wheeler has the there needs to be a reformation of Islam if it is ever to peacefully coexist with the rest of the modern world.
Alas, the self loathing West is it's own worst enemy. Why do we bear the brunt of Islamic anger and like a battered woman automatically conclude that we must have done something to deserve it. Ask yourself why al Qaeda is targeting innocent Iraqi's now. What did the average Iraqi do to deserve daily car bombings? Hope for a better future? Well shame on them...
Saturday, September 10, 2005
In the wide spectrum of political ideologies there exists a balancing point where the vast majority of us find ourselves. Most of our colleagues, friends and families are decent, law abiding citizens who have no malice or ill-will toward the next guy. We follow the rules and generally try to do the right thing. Despite our personal political beliefs we are really more alike than we realize. It is one of the great things about America that we can vehemently disagree about politics and we don't have to hate each other.
I have a great deal of politically liberal family, friends and co-workers who I adore and greatly admire. As mentioned we are all more alike in the way we live our lives and do our jobs because we often share common goals and live a common experience. Most of us are not the ones attending political rallies and trying to get ourselves arrested for "a cause". Most of us watch these things on TV and depending on where we fit into the grand design, we shake our heads or we shake our fists.
Therein lies the crux of divisions that face this country. Outside the goofy (or dangerous) radicals on either end of the spectrum most of us are standing in the middle of the teeter-totter with our sympathies leaning to one side or the other.
It's The Judeo-Christians vs The Secularists
Twice in the last few weeks I have heard two people I respect and admire utter the exact same phrase ..."they're taking over America!" They were talking, of course, about the Christian fundamentalists - or in their world view - the Christian Right. The loathing they have for these politically active Christians is palpable. Their blind intolerance prevents them from seeing that the gay radicals they sympathize with are absolutely no different. "They're trying get Creationism taught in the public schools," they lament. Obviously they haven't been in a high school counselors office lately to bear witness to these shrines to homosexuality plastered all over the walls.
Both of these guys are of above average intelligence and have very successful careers but have little time for matters of faith. This is perfectly acceptable in America. They talk of how our commitment to a secular government is what has allowed this country to become a great and powerful nation, and they are absolutely right. What they fail to see is that our great secular government is great precisely because it is made up of some of the most religious people on Earth.
Stepping over to the other side of the tipping point those of us who hold strong religious views also see the secularists "taking over America". We have watched the culture become crude and unrefined as to be lacking in any discrimination or decorum. We have watched as our children slip from our control at a younger and younger age. They have seen a culture of dependancy on this so-called secular government grow in size and scope knowing full well that it is not producing good results. We have seen that the clear difference between right and wrong, and good and evil become gray and muddled. We talk of how our freedom of religion and faith in the Creator of all things is what has made us a fortunate and powerful nation - and we are absolutely right. What we fail to see sometimes is that most of the people who hold dear to secular values don't really want to bring this country down - they just don't want to be judged by our God's laws.
Can't We all Just Get Along?
The secularists simply cannot fathom that it's possible that those of us who are Pro-Life do not wish to supress women and condemn them to life of as a baby factory. It's not about controlling women - it's about the babies. We, the faithful, cannot see past the great gay conspiracy to realize that 99% of the homosexuals in this world just want to live their lives without fear and discrimination. So we all put up battlefronts by drawing a line in the sand and look with suspicion toward the other side. We say hurtful things and dismiss the other sides argument with flippant and often nasty rhetoric. This is not helpful.
Funny how we can associate on a daily basis - engaging in successful experiences with people who hold views so different from ours - and yet we fear, and in some cases loath the beliefs the other guy holds. Could it be that both sides have valid arguments and concerns? Also funny (odd funny) we can all look at the same thing, say poverty for instance, and conclude that it's the other guys stance that is causing it. The religionists see bad personal decisions and moral depravity as one of the main causes of poverty, whereas the secularlists see the inequitable distribution of economic resources as the chief reason so many have so little. Both are probably valid points but never the twain shall meet. One side says "You can't legislate morality!" and the other says "forking out welfare and handouts only enables them to remain poverty striken". There is nothing so absolute as an intractable belief no matter how much we browbeat each other.
What a Country!
We live in a country where both Billy Graham and Howard Stern are cultural icons. Personally I find Stern reprehensible, but I am sure that there are those who feel the Billy Graham Crusades are moralistic judgments based on an irrelevant two-thousand year old book. In the incredibly diverse religious cultures present in America we find unbelievable acts of charity and love as well as unscrupulous acts of greed and immorality. For every Billy Graham and D. James Kennedy there is a Jimmy Swaggert and a Jim Baker. For those who wish to be free of moral judgments every concievable avenue of depravity can be found in America. Short of committing a 1st degree crime there's no one who is going to be stopping them. Children, however, should be off limits to perverts like Howard Stern and deranged Catholic priests. That being said, I know a lot of really fine, morally upright people who have no time for religion - that's their right - it's still a free country.
On any given night we can turn on the TV and find Howard Stern parading whores and prostitutes up on the screen and on the very next channel find Pat Robertson's 700 Club. Now one can argue that both Stern and Robertson are themselves whores and prostitutes, but one man, Robertson, is trying to do good work while he is enriching himself. The only person Howard Stern is helping is himself and perhaps a coulple of men out there who suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Good vs Evil
For many of those who dismiss Judeo-Christian dogma the terms good and evil are moral absolutes that really don't have a place in the "shades of gray" world they live in. I think this is very misguided. If light has darkness and hot has cold then good will be pitted against evil. If you ask them if they believe if evil exists in this world they are likey to say that one man's evil is a another man's virtue or some such nonsense.
Timothy McVay, Jeffery Dahlmer of the BTK killer are (were) evil men. Who would deny that Adolph Hitler was and evil man? To pretend that evil does not exist is denial. To deny that good exists is foolhardy. The secularists will dilute the argument by calling good men evil when they disagree with their politics - examples: George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and even Margaret Thatcher. These conservative people had the temerity to have and to hold strong views that are in oppostion to secular beliefs - therefore they are (were) evil. Very helpful in a debate, um, well, not really.
I may not be able to see God or Satan with my own eyes but I do see the good works of selfless men and women and I have also seen evil working through others. Tell me you haven't...
Fear and Loathing
It has been said that we fear what we can't understand. I guess that is true. Looking back I guess I have always been personally conservative and a religious person. Easy women and decadent behaviour has always turned me off. Even when my friends and I "experimented" in our youth I always felt lousy about the things we did. Call it Catholic guilt if you want... I never understood the appeal of hurting women and wrecking other people's stuff.
By the time I was in my thirties and raising a family I was finally opening my eyes to the socialist take over of the world. True socialism and God can't co-exist, they are mutally exclusive. I do not understand the socialist/secular mindset and therefore I must conclude that I fear it.
Considering my good friend, who is not religious, (he is spiritual, he claims) he finds absurdity in worshiping a God he cannot see and massive contradictions in the claims of the faithful versus the way we actually live. He fears, and frankly, he loathes what he sees as blatant hypocrisy coming from those preach from the Bible. He does not want to be judged by the judgmental! Yet he is the sort of person who can cast judgement on someone he has met only once and then dismiss that person as being unworthy of his time and attention. He has the gall to call them defective and belittle them behind their backs. Still we have to hear how we conservatives and religious nuts are the intollerant ones.
Perhaps we will never see eye to eye on matters of faith and politics but we can and do treat each other well. I believe that there are millions of such relationships in America. I do not fear or loath the people I know personally that do not share my beliefs and I guess that's what it's all about.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
editor's note: Please excuse the foul language in this post, the writer obviously got up on the wrong side of the bed...
For the life of me I cannot see the appeal of Don Imus. Why this freak is on the TV every morning is beyond me. He talks like he's got a mouth full of shit and I can practically smell the pungent odor of whisky and cigarettes masked by the gum that he is constantly chewing. His supporting cast is the most unappealing bunch of yes men I have ever seen. What kind of power does this guy hold over these people and the network?
This morning he starts off by saying "This is why people hate the media..." and then refers to an article on NewMax.com that takes him to task for declaring that Bush purposfully held off on helping the victims of Katrina in New Orleans because he doesn't like black people. He goes on to say if this had happened in Sedona AZ you can bet Bush would've reacted much faster, after all those are rich white folks in Sedona. He concludes, "I really believe that, I'm not just saying it?"
What a major league ass!
What is wrong with these people? Even one of my most liberal friends is sickened by the playing of the race card like this. How can so-called intelligent people even say these things let alone believe them? One must conclude that these people are really not that intelligent - or - they just don't care about basic facts. In a city that is nearly 70% African American simple math dictates that the large majority of "victims" will be black. Is that so hard to fathom? Of course not, but then we know why the major media is using this incredible human tragedy as a club to beat on a man they hate.
Tell me friends, what am I missing here with this asshole Don Imus? What is it about him that people find appealing? I find him to be glaringly arrogant and self impressed. At least with Rush Limbaugh your know his outbursts of braggadocio finds him with his tounge planted firmly in his cheek.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Is there a case to be made the the government should have been more prepared? Yes. This superstorm had been predicted for years. But stop and ask: Is LA as prepared as it should be for the "Big One"? Probably not. Disaster preparation is hard to do and extremely expensive. Should the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana have had better plans and contingencies? Yes, without a doubt, considering the unique geography and vital economic importance of the region.
Seeing the chaos and lawlessness on the TV was shocking. Still, I'm thinking I could find myself rifling through a grocery store if I had to feed my family trapped in a similar situation. I tread lightly on declaring absolutes toward the proper behavior of these victims. This is why I find the media's obsession with trying to find a scapegoat in all of this so repugnant.
As would be expected the "blame" goes all the way to the top. President Bush is a big boy and he can handle the criticism. Could federal government have had a better response? Sure. Absolutely. Everything can be done better especially with the benefit of hindsight. Consider if you will the sheer logistics of supplying a giant metropolitan area with food, supplies and fuel. Now, in one day it has all been wiped out. How long should it take move a massive amount of food, water, and supplies into an area where the infrastructure is gone?
Okay, you say, then the government should have mobilized the military and staked out the city(s) with guns and supplies for just such a situation. Maybe. But seriously, if you think the chorus from the news media is shrill now... Try to imagine the hysterical scenes on the evening news if George W. Bush ordered the military to occupy the city of New Orleans with the storm clouds brewing in the background. You and I both know the media would've gleefully superimposed Hitler's army marching on Paris.
I have done my share of beating up on "the government" over the years. In fact, it would be un-american not to. In times like these I say we give 'em a break and give 'em a hand. Right now they are telling us that what the victims need is cash. I'll do what I can.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
What can be said? Only prayers.
For the second time in four years our country has been slapped hard. We climbed from the rubble of ground zero and fought back then - we will climb out again.
Katrina, your name we will not soon forget, see 'ya. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.