Look closer. Think harder. Choose the sound argument over the clever one.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Dark Night of Fascism

Eugene Volokh takes us back to another time when baseless, hysterical accusations of American fascism were flying:

The next thing I knew, the discussion was onto the subject of fascism in America. Everybody was talking about police repression and the anxiety and paranoia as good folks waited for the knock on the door and the descent of the knout on the nape of the neck. I couldn't make any sense out of it. . . . This was the mid-1960's. . . . [T]he folks were running wilder and freer than any people in history. ...

At a panel discussion at Princeton in 1965, Günter Grass, a survivor of Hitler's Germany, remarks:

"For the past hour, I have my eyes fixed on the doors here," he said. "You talk about fascism and police repression. In Germany when I was a student, they come through those doors long ago. Here they must be very slow."

Grass was enjoying himself for the first time all evening. He was not simply saying, "You really don't have so much to worry about." He was indulging his sense of the absurd. He was saying: "You American intellectuals — you want so desperately to feel besieged and persecuted!"

Hat-Tip: Instapundit

Today's example: The fourth reich.

Update, 5/4: ShrinkWrapped gives more perspective.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Word Test

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Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!

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Link: The Commonly Confused Words Test written by shortredhead78 on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Hat-tip: Captain Ed

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Chicago Sight: Blues Brothers

Life-size, um, sculptures at the House of Blues shop in Midway airport.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Kon-Tiki Proof

One way to prove that something is possible is to actually do it. I call this the Kon-Tiki proof, from Thor Heyerdahl's famous journey:

Heyerdahl believed that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in the south Pacific in Pre-Columbian times. His aim in mounting the Kon-Tiki expedition was to show, by using only the materials and technologies available to them at the time, that there were no technical reasons to prevent them from having done so.

Another candidate for the Kon-Tiki proof was in the news recently. The CIA concluded that special-purpose trailers found in Iraq were actually mobile biological weapons factories. A team from the Pentagon suggested they were instead for hydrogen production.

Somebody should go Kon-Tiki on this. Take one of the trailers and make hydrogen. Document every step and publish it for public scrutiny. Invite neutral observers and partisans from both sides. That would prove its purpose pretty conclusively. As a control (particularly if they couldn't make hydrogen), try making something similar to a biological weapon with it, too. (I understand one can use inert biological substances in place of dangerous ones.)

Another Kon-Tiki example: the press' recounting Florida ballots in the razor-thin 2000 Presidential election.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Racism: The Atom Bomb of Leftist Discourse

Though not the post's point, very well put:

The invocation of racism is a sort of atom bomb of leftist discourse: it shuts down any debate that previously existed, and exiles the accused into a limbo of the discredited. This, of course, is why it is done so readily. Now, let's state up front that this is often well deserved -- and let's acknowledge that it just as often is not.

I find it not deserved much more often than it is, though he's encountered right-wing racism I haven't. And perhaps the cases that catch my attention are particularly ridiculous.

HT: Instapundit

Da Vinci Distortions

The movie The Da Vinci Code is coming out. I've been meaning to read the book. I hear it's excellent, and I look forward to seeing the movie.

Keep in mind that the book's fiction begins before the first chapter: in the introduction, where he claims a factual basis.

See Jesus and Da Vinci for more information, and enjoy the movie.

Update: See the first full-length trailer on Google Video.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ivan Denisovich

Hats off to the Chicago Public Library for making A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich their city-wide book to read for Spring 2006.

What Stalin perpetrated in the Soviet Union and her subjects is truly mind-numbing: deliberately murdering almost 62 million people. Behind that staggering statistic is an abyss of human suffering you can't comprehend, for both the victims and the survivors. This book gives you a sobering glimpse.

Hugh Hewitt credits this book for helping him see Communism for what it really was.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Saddam recruited to strike American interests

You probably won't see this in the news. From a document captured during Operation Iraqi Freedom:

We urge you to inform the above mentioned unit of the names of people wishing to volunteer for suicide action to liberate Palestine and strike American interests according to the following below for your information and to let us know.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Their enemy is our enemy

Time for another installment of Know Thine Enemy.

On Friday, terrorists murdered 79 Shiite worshippers in Iraq's Buratha mosque, and injured over 160 more.

Iraq is and has been a violent place. But don't let that stand in the way of your forming an opinion about the perpetrators.

Though they're targeting Shiites, they're indiscriminately killing civilians. Recall the Geneva Conventions:

The parties to a conflict must at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants in order to spare the civilian population and civilian property. Neither the civilian population as a whole nor individual civilians may be attacked.

  • Attacks may be made solely against military objectives. People who do not or can no longer take part in the hostilities are entitled to respect for their lives and for their physical and mental integrity. Such people must in all circumstances be protected and treated with humanity, without any unfavorable distinction whatever.

What would you think of people who would deliberately do that at your church (or nightclub or university), just for not believing what they do?

I'm glad our armed forces are actively on the hunt for these monsters. May they hunt them down to the last sick scumbag.

Previously: The Enemy in Iraq.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

United 93

The movie United 93 is coming out, and so are those making blatantly false statements about the event on which it's based.

What I find fascinating is that someone will cite the 9/11 Commission Report as supporting evidence of his point of “absolutely no evidence of passenger uprising,” when the report says the exact opposite.

Am I just aware of it more, or is there more of this phenomenon going around - people making arguments while A) completely misinformed, B) completely uninformed or C) outright lying?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Chicago Sight: Midway's Bird

Chicago's Midway Airport has my favorite work of art.

It's not easy to tell from the pictures. A large array of wires hangs from the ceiling. Little toys (like old hot-wheels cars) attached to each wire form the bird's shape in 3-D, and its shadow below.


(Does explaining art ruin it? I hope not.)

What Helen used to say

From CNN's Transcript, Bush Talks to Press, November 7, 2002", Helen (presumably Thomas) asks (emphasis mine):

[Bush:] Helen?

QUESTION: Mr. President, what is the logic of your insistence on invading Iraq at some point, which may someday have nuclear weapons, and not laying a glove on North Korea, which may have them or may produce them, both of which, of course, would be against international law? ...

This was the day before the UN Security Council voted unanimously to adopt Res. 1441.

I'm not claiming she's an international law expert, just that no one disputed the legality back then, even those as far left as she is.

Monday, April 03, 2006

the fourth reich?

Scott points me to this post by Christopher J. Priest: the fourth reich. It's so much the archetypical piece of paranoid hysterical moonbatism that I would think it's a joke, an unfair caricature written by a Republican, if I didn't know better. It doesn't really deserve a serious response, but as a favor to a friend, let's wander through it. (Let me know if I miss something important.)

Republicans are using the very liberties we espouse to foment a political monolith...

A less hysterical person might call that "a majority."

These men are, in fact, crafting a one-party, one-thought, one-idea system, where what we think and what we believe are dictated to us in daily talking points emailed from Washington. ...

Daily e-mails?! Why, that's self-evidently evil! But Dems use e-mail, too! Ok, how about a more serious response: a less paranoid person might show us the text of all e-mails sent by both parties, choose a few from each at random and show compelling evidence how one is any more "one-thought, one-idea" than the next.

Challenges to the party line are not to be tolerated.

Except on issues like immigration, the Iraq war, the size of government, etc.

Impeaching the sitting president is an act reserved for high crimes and misdemeanors. Clinton’s lying under oath certainly fit the misdemeanor description, but it was a real stretch.

At least he says "lying under oath" instead of "sex." But that's a felony, not a misdemeanor. Unless the Constitution makes provision for a President serving his term from prison (it doesn't), or being above the law (it doesn't), that leaves impeachment.

Reagan's 1984 Republicans enjoyed a laugh about bombing the Soviet Union. Bush's 2006 Republicans actually want to do it.

I've gotta sign up for these "one-thought, one-idea" e-mails! One really says "let's bomb the Soviet Union"? Oh, wait! The Soviet Union doesn't exist any more, so it would have to be "let's bring back the Soviet Union, then bomb them!"

Republicans used the cover of an American tragedy to invade a sovereign country that has never attacked us in naive hope of (1) avenging Bush's daddy, (2) installing a western-style democracy, and (3) snatching the oil--and thus reducing our dependence on Saudi Arabia.

Hey, some substance! Let's look closer.

First, I think he's talking about Iraq, not Afghanistan. He considers Saddam's murdering his way into power a legitimate path to sovereignty (talk about blood for oil). Was the Taliban's take-over in Afghanistan any less "sovereign" by his standards?

"Never attacked us?" When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, we attacked two countries, Germany and Italy, who "never attacked us," and had no more link to the Pearl Harbor attack than Iraq does to 9/11. We decided then to fight against world fascism. Likewise, after 9/11, we decided that outlaw regimes like Iraq, with ties to terrorism and pursuing WMD, who declared war on the US as flagrantly as Osama bin Laden did, needed to be opposed.

"...snatching the oil..." Groundless accusations are cheap, and he provides no more evidence for this than anything else. Shouldn't US oil companies brag about this to their shareholders? Their stock prices would soar! There was discussion before the war about calling the war's costs loans (to be repaid), but that didn't go far. And, of course, there's the blind eye to Saddam shedding serious blood for oil.

Name me one substantial positive or effective foreign policy objective President Bush has achieved in his six years in office.


These guys even put it to music!

...(I mean, substitute “gay” for “Jew” and see what you get)...

Good advice! Take this article and substitute "Jew" for "Republican" and "GOP" and see what you get! An article Hitler himself would approve. "Crush the evil other!"

The saddest and most tragic bi-product of Karl Rove’s brilliance ...

ARC's Law: "As a Lefty online discussion thread grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one." A pretty fitting reference in such a Godwinian post.

Even the graphic at the end seems to be ripped off of this, which Michael Moore ripped off, too.

A parting thought, from Vodkapundit:

President Bush isn’t a fascist, and I can prove it.

We’ve seen what American bookstores and publications and universities do when confronted with real fascists: they knuckle under. You might not be able to find those Danish cartoons anyplace respectable, but you’ll sure find lots of anti-Bush stuff.

Ipso facto, America is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.
[P.S.: Forgive me--I forward-dated this article so I wouldn't lose the draft. I'm fixing it now.]

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Congresswoman flushes...

Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney flushes her moral voice and credibility over a scuffle with Capitol Police:
McKinney's lawyer says McKinney is "just a victim of being in Congress while black." Riiight, because the real goal of this racist nation is to have minorities elected to national public office, then start discriminating against them. ...

Isn't there any point after which you can't pull the race card?

Good question.

Update (4/4): Sadly, it seems to be getting worse (and worse).

On a brighter note, some are coming to the Capitol Police's defense.

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