Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Dialogue on Justice

GBlagg: I hoped today we could discuss the issue of justice.
S&S: Ah, yes justice. The ‘dividing line’.
GBlagg: The ‘dividing line’?
S&S: You will understand soon enough.
Where would you like to begin?
GBlagg: Well, I have been thinking lately about how it is that I form my opinions on issues. What process I use to come to these opinions. What exactly is it that my rational mind uses to measure and weigh the information in order to decide where my beliefs should fall.
S&S: And?
GBlagg: And, I have found that I almost universally rely on the idea of justice.
S&S: Ah. so here already we have come to the idea of the ‘dividing line’. The ‘dividing line’ of 'justice'.
GBlagg: Explain.
S&S: Man uses many different ‘filters’ in the decision process.
But here you wish to deal with the ‘filter’ of ‘justice’. You say you look to ‘justice’ to make decisions. Admittedly, I am much the same.
But this is not the case for many among us. The ‘filter’ of ‘justice’ is the ‘dividing line’ between you and those who use other ‘filters’ through which to come to an understanding of their own opinions.
GBlagg: Such as?
S&S: Well, let me ask you first...just what is it you would define as ‘justice’?
GBlagg: That one gets as one deserves, whether through actions good or evil. Good actions should result in positive outcomes and evil actions, negative outcomes. And adversely, good actions should not result in negative outcomes, nor should evil actions result in positive ones. And of course, reality being what it is, ‘justice’ is the working towards forcing reality to fit this balance.
S&S: Give an example, please.
GBlagg: OK. We have two young men.
One works hard in school. He avoids trouble through his teen years, goes to college, gets a decent job, finds a nice girl to marry, and lives within the law.
The other drops out of high school, he gets into drugs, runs afoul of the law, and lands in prison.
The first man lives a happy life, content and well liked.
The second spends his life in and out of the penal system.
S&S: I see. So the outcomes of their lives seem to you to be just. But what of the idea that society should see these men as equal?
GBlagg: That is insanity. They are not equal. One has spent his life doing what is right, the other the opposite. To call them equal is unjust. So as shown here, justice demands inequality.
S&S: I tend to agree, yet ‘equality’ is another ‘filter’. One that is used by many in our society.
Here we have the ‘dividing line’ of ‘justice’ and ‘equality’.
GBlagg: Go on.
S&S: Those who see through the ‘filter’ of ‘equality’, see no differences in actions. No difference at all between a good or evil action. As long as the outcome ends in what they see as ‘equality’, the means to that end mean very little to them. The originating actions, motives, and rationales simply do not matter. ‘Equality’ matters above all.
This person would see in the example you gave, a harsh unfairness. Both men, they would say, should suffer equal outcomes in their lives...‘equality’, they say, demands it. Equal happiness, equal social status, equal work and job opportunities.
GBlagg: I have dealt with many who think and act exactly as you describe. I can think of many examples of this type of thinking. Socialism and Communism come to mind. And affirmative action and feminist job quotas. Redistributive taxation and the entire entitlement culture.
S&S: You mentioned Socialism. Let us look at that for a moment.
GBlagg: It is the nearly perfect example. It is simply ‘injustice’ disguised as ‘equality’. At its core it is nothing more than the unproductive acting as parasites on the productive.
S&S: But it would be argued that this is in the name of ‘compassion’.
GBlagg: ‘It would be argued’, yes. But this is a lame argument. If one truly believes in ‘equality’, no man can have more than any other, yes? If this is so, then how is it ‘compassionate’ to those who actually work hard to take what they have truly earned and give it to those who haven’t? Where is the ‘equality’ in ‘compassion’ here?
For Socialism to work, it must work in the real world. And humans, being what they are, the lazy will ultimately take advantage of this so called ‘equality’. It is much the same as what we see in this countries entitlement culture. People believing that they are entitled simply through the accident of birth to that which another man has earned. There is no ‘justice’ here. And definitely no ‘equality’ of ‘compassion’.
S&S: OK, good. But are there any other points of divergence between the ‘justice’ and ‘equality’ crowds?
GBlagg: Well, how about the constant complaint that there are more of one race in prison than another?
S&S: OK, proceed.
GBlagg: We have both heard the argument that a certain minority is over represented in the justice system. The argument goes that inequality in race is proven through the fact that there is not the same proportion of race differential in prison as there is in free society. And added to that, there is usually a demand that those numbers be artificially made equal.
It seems to me, though, that ‘justice’ demands that it should not matter what the color of a man’s skin. If he is a criminal, he should be punished. If this means that one race is over represented in our penal system, then so be it. Let ‘justice’ decide, not ‘equality’.
S&S: Are there any other examples you can think of?
GBlagg: Well to be precise, it really has to do with ‘equality’ and ‘injustice’.
It goes to the whole Larry Summers debacle. Many feminists believe that there should be the exact same number of women as men in every job classification. As many women as men truck drives, miners, crab fishermen, roofers, scientists, etc. Many are so adamant, they seek laws to force this to be the case. They demand ‘equality’ in jobs women would sooner choose not to work. ‘Equality’ in jobs women would in all honesty not be as good at. This is unjust and insane.
And affirmative action is another example. It is the forcing of ‘equality’ with little or no regard to ‘justice’. Something as insignificant as the amount of melanin in one’s skin awards one an advantage in college admissions?
S&S: It seems the point has been made. But there are other ‘filters’ that work against ‘justice’.
Gblagg: Such as?
S&S: Well, how about the ‘filter’ of ‘peace at all costs’?
GBlagg: OK, I can see that. I have met those who believe that war is never right. That there are no such things as a just wars.
S&S: Yes, of course. So how does this oppose ‘justice’?
GBlagg: Where is the ‘justice’ in refusing to fight even as tyranny sweeps one’s country? Or remaining passive as men are beheaded, children slaughtered, or women raped?
Would it have been ‘just’ to stand by and let the Germans continue on through Europe in World War II? To finish the genocide of the Jews?
How can one, in all honesty, say it is always wrong to fight tyranny?
If ‘War is Never the Answer’, I need to see the question.
S&S: Yes, they are a mindless crowd. But let us move forward.
Let us look at the ‘filter’ of ‘moral relativism’. Does this ‘filter’ oppose ‘justice’?
GBlagg: I would say yes.
S&S: Explain.
GBlagg: In order for there to be justice, judgements must first be made. Justice demands judgements. Judgements of good and evil, right and wrong. Justice can not exist without judgement.
‘Moral relativism’ denies good and evil. It abhors judgements. This links back to the ‘equality’ argument. It argues that there is no right or wrong. So all men, all actions, all beliefs, all outcomes are ‘equal. And who are we to judge?.
S&S: I see. And how is this ‘unjust’.
GBlagg: We need simply take a look at the Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams case. He murdered an entire family in cold blood. He never took responsibility for these killings. He threatened the jurors at his trial.
He was a founding member of the Crips street gang.
Ah, but he wrote children’s books.
So on one side we have three people. Left lying bleeding, dying, gasping for life. And on the other, we have a book with some pretty pictures that may or may not influence some young thug to stay out of a gang.
Hmm, this is a tough one.
But this is ‘moral relativism’.
S&S: Can you think of any other examples?
GBlagg: Sure. Let us look at the way many feminists look at the fetus. They see it as being no different than a virus or a bacteria. Simply a parasite on the mother. So morally, to get rid of it is not unlike simply taking penicillin to cure a bug.
The idea of whether it is just or not to steal the future from a human being in the making either never enters the picture or is purposefully ignored.
S&S: So do we now understand the idea of the ‘dividing line’?
GBlagg: In those terms, now, yes. But, subconsciously and in all reality, I think I’d grasped the difference between what you call the ‘filter’ of ‘justice’ and those that oppose it all along.
S&S: As you say.

Timothy Treadwell...An Obsession

Timothy Treadwell.
His story has a grip on my psyche that is almost obsessive in its magnitude.
For those unaware of his story, he is ‘The Grizzly Man”. He spent over a dozen summers in Alaska, living among brown bears in nothing but a tent. No guns, no bear spray, no electric fences. His film and photography can only be described as amazing. He ‘loved’ ‘his bears’. He felt they were misunderstood as dangerous man-killers. He taught children this message. He took risks no sane man would take. He and a female companion were killed and eaten by ‘his bears’.
Part of the attraction of Mr. Treadwell and his story for me is that I can see the allure. I can understand his fascination. I have more than a few times come upon bears in the wild and each event has been an experience I will never forget. There is a rawness to the meetings. A closeness to nature and the natural world that is hard to describe. A realization that this creature you are staring down can end your life at a moment’s whim. And when it does not, feelings of closeness and awe overtake you. Of being a part of the environment rather than something from the outside. It is a kinship with nature. I am sure this was one aspect of the addiction Timothy Treadwell developed while living in the last frontier.
But my obsession with Mr. Treadwell comes less from the nature of the world than from the nature of the man.
You see, Timothy Treadwell was the quintessential Liberal. I willingly admit that I do not know this man’s politics. But this matters little. It is in his actions that I find the perfect case study. And this is what this man’s life has become for me. A study in the Liberal mind.
I have devoured every book I could find on his life and his unfortunate demise. I have watched all or parts of Werner Hertzog’s documentary “The Grizzly Man” nearly a half dozen times. Seen the reactions of his associates to the documentary. Read numerous articles and blog posts on the subject. Spent literally hours in thought on the mental processes of this man’s mind.
And here is what I have found.
Mr. Treadwell exhibited all of the mental aspects that are the building blocks of the Liberal psyche.
There was his simmering anger at ‘the establishment’ for not recognizing his obvious talents. Treadwell endeavored many times to get his ‘scientific’ study of the brown bears of Alaska recognized by the academic community. He was often at odds with the Alaskan Park Service over his claims of poaching and his ‘protection’ of ‘his bears’. His anger boils over at one point in “The Grizzly Man” when he goes on an extended tirade against ‘the establishment’ and how he is the true protector of ‘his bears’.
Which brings us to the next aspect of the Liberal mind. Narcissism. Treadwell truly believed he alone stood between the bears and their ultimate annihilation. That he was their sole savior.
He longed to be a star. His friends freely admitted his lust to be viewed as ‘a rock star’. He reveled in his appearances on the Letterman and Rosie O’Donnell shows.
In his younger years, if he felt the story of his life was not exciting enough, he would merely change the facts to make it so.
One need only watch his self-important blustering and posturing on nearly every frame of “The Grizzly Man” film to get the point here. ‘Hey look at me, I’m Timothy!’ Like a child crying for attention.
And here we have the next point, a child like naivete. I use the term ‘naivete’ here with reservation as it refers to a lack of understanding of the facts. I feel Treadwell understood the dangers present in his endeavors but either consciously or subconsciously chose to ignore them. His reality would crumble if the truth of the nature of the grizzly were to rise to the surface of his mind.
And every meeting with the bears that did not end in his death simply reinforced this reality for him. He felt no need for the protections most other outdoorsmen in bear country would consider merely common sense...things such as guns, bear spray, electric fences around one’s tent. He felt these things could injure the bears he loved, and childishly refused to use them.
His was a life of activism, another Liberal attribute. Activism is described here as an uncritical, irrational drive toward a particular goal.
Mr. Treadwell saw in his life a chance to prove brown bears were misunderstood as dangerous wild animals. He was driven to make this contention so, the facts be damned. He paid the ultimate price for his dismissal of reality in the advancing of his cause.
Let me close with these last thoughts. I can not deny that Treadwell had a pair of brass ones. No matter the mental meanderings one must enforce upon one’s own psyche, to live among brown and grizzly bears for months at a time alone in the wilderness takes a man of no small mettle. For this he can be admired. But his knowing disassociation with reality always seems to creep back into any honest discussion on the subject. For his life cannot be truly understood without the acknowledgment of the facts of his death. He felt the reason for his life(his activism) was to show the world that it misunderstood ‘his bears’. The facts of his death proved otherwise. He felt it was his life’s work to protect all ‘his bears’. The deaths of the bears found feeding on his corpse gave lie to this, as well.
Yet in the last moments of Treadwell’s life something happened. While in the jaws of a grizzly, he shouted to his female companion to run. He understood his life was over and tried to save hers. In the final seconds of his existence he left 'Timothy' behind and grew up.

Crossposted @ The Wide Awakes

Friday, February 24, 2006

It's Safe, They're Over There

SAMARRA, Iraq Feb 23, 2006 (AP)— Insurgents posing as police destroyed the golden dome of one of Iraq's holiest Shiite shrines Wednesday, setting off an unprecedented spasm of sectarian violence. Angry crowds thronged the streets, militiamen attacked Sunni mosques, and at least 19 people were killed...

Shiite leaders called for calm, but militants attacked Sunni mosques and a gunfight broke out between Shiite militiamen and guards at a Sunni political party in Basra. Army Capt. Jassim al-Wahash said about 500 soldiers were sent to Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad to prevent clashes between Shiites and Sunnis...

A leading Sunni politician, Tariq al-Hashimi, said 29 Sunni mosques had been attacked nationwide. He urged clerics and politicians to calm the situation "before it spins out of control."...

So let me get this straight, MSM echo chamber....You’ll post this story that will obviously upset and enrage Sunni Muslims who may have been unaware of the bombing into rioting and killing, but we won’t show the cartoons because it might enrage Muslims into rioting and killing.
Looks like I’m adding journalists to those whose nuanced thinking my Conservative pea brain will never quite comprehend.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Muslim Control

Here are three quick clips from the recent news...
From The Boston Globe...
''Our primary reason," the editors confessed, is ''fear of retaliation from . . . bloodthirsty Islamists who seek to impose their will on those who do not believe as they do . . . Simply stated, we are being terrorized, and . . . could not in good conscience place the men and women who work at the Phoenix and its related companies in physical jeopardy. As we feel forced, literally, to bend to maniacal pressure, this may be the darkest moment in our 40-year-publishing history."

From News.telegraph...
For the past two weeks, Patrick Sookhdeo has been canvassing the opinions of Muslim clerics in Britain on the row over the cartoons featuring images of Mohammed that were first published in Denmark and then reprinted in several other European countries.
"They think they have won the debate," he says with a sigh. "They believe that the British Government has capitulated to them, because it feared the consequences if it did not.
"The cartoons, you see, have not been published in this country, and the Government has been very critical of those countries in which they were published. To many of the Islamic clerics, that's a clear victory.
"It's confirmation of what they believe to be a familiar pattern: if spokesmen for British Muslims threaten what they call 'adverse consequences' - violence to the rest of us - then the British Government will cave in. I think it is a very dangerous precedent."

From Dawn the Internet Edition...
Pakistan on Monday sent out a pointed message to the United Nations and the European Union, particularly Denmark, to redress the damage caused by publication of blasphemous cartoons and demanded practical steps to prevent recurrence of such reprehensible acts.

Addressing a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam declared Pakistan expected the EU and the UN to take specific measures after the publication of the offensive cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), first in a Danish newspaper and then in other European publications.

“We want Denmark and other European governments to take action, practical steps that would stop from such events happening in future,” Ms Aslam emphasized.

“What we want from the European Union now is concrete steps. It’s not enough to say that in their society there is no tolerance for discrimination and they regret the hurt the cartoons caused. This needs to be backed up with laws,” she asserted.

“In this case we do expect the European Union to put in place some laws which would ensure that in future there are no such incidents,” the Foreign Office spokesperson said.

How can one read the above stories without seeing the obvious connective thread of 'control'? Control of media, of national, and of international law. Control through intimidation and threat.
Control is blood in the water.
I know I harp on the saying, ‘if you reinforce bad behavior, you get more of it’, but for God’s sakes are we all blind?
Because I can assure you our enemy is not. They see us all too well. They know we long for safety and peace. They know our media are cowards and hypocrites. They know the world community will be cowed rather than stand for what is right. They know all this and over and over they have gone about to prove it.
They have a taste of control, do we really think a taste is all they came for?
And how have we responded? With appeasement and capitulation. By bowing to intimidation. Through self blame and mutual understanding. With fear and self deception.
We need to see this for what it is, a war on Western ideals. And the using of those very ideals against us. The longer our heads stay imbedded in the sand, the more dire the future consequences.
There is blood in the water and the sharks have a taste. We must not let fear control our actions, the sharks won’t circle forever.

Afghans Live in Fear

The Afghani Free Press.
Posted February 20, 2006 1:35 PM EST

3'9" Afghani Player Wins Slam Dunk Contest

Abdul ‘Spud’ Goupda, a guard for the Islamabad Crescents, won the Afghanistan Basketball Association’s Slam Dunk Contest on Sunday. The Slam Dunk Contest is but one of many activities during the All Star Weekend here in Tora Bora.
“I must say, I am very happy to have won,” Mr. Goupda said. “I only wish it had been a fairer contest.”
“The shot that won for me was really more of a lay up than a dunk, but this was all it took and I am proud to have been part of this great contest. Excepting, of course, that I was the only entrant to show up and actually perform. It is a very happy day and a very sad day, as well.”
The wee guard is referring, surely, to the unfortunate disappearance of every other national player.

Nearly All Afghani Basketball Association Players Gone Missing

Asked about the missing players, Mr. Goupda had this to say,” Oh, it is a very bad thing. A very, very bad thing. I am sure it is because of the words of the American sorceress hag that has caused this terrible event. You see, all of my fellow players have gone into hiding. She is an evil woman, a very evil woman.”
“Are there no laws in America to protect us from this devil woman? From her threatening words and actions? Is it she who steers the Great Satan? My friends are very frightened. What have they done to this witch after all?”
Mr. Goupda explained further, “They have hidden in the mountains. In the caves. She has driven them from their homes, from their families. Now they live like frightened children, in terror. Her words and her threats...she is the devil!”
He refers here to the words from the American Senator Hillary Clinton and her veiled threats to the great people of Afghanistan.
You cannot explain to me why we have not captured or killed the tallest man in Afghanistan.

Mr. Goupda continued, “I am ever so happy for the trophy, but my friends must be in such terror. The Americans, it seems, are coming to track them down and kill them. It is has been said the offer is five million rubas.”
When asked what a ruba is, the tiny jump shooter replied, “It is an island in the Caribbean, but that is not important right now. My friends, even the shorter ones, live in the fear of being mistaken as the tallest man in Afghanistan. Our 7'3" center has not left his knees since he heard, and it is not even a Friday night.”

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Wolf Who Ate Chicken Little

Cracker, at times, forces me to listen to Air America. Often through threat of bodily harm.
Jerry Springer I can stand. After all, is Jerry Springer....of The Jerry Springer Show. Who in their right mind could take this man seriously? ‘Cross dressing hillbilly midgets who dress too sexy weigh in on the ‘culture of corruption’, And Dick Cheney lies, but is he the real baby daddy? All today on The Springer Show.’
But I have a much harder time dealing with Al Franken. He is grating and boring, but mostly
redundant and irritating. Why, you may ask? Well, there are only so many times my aural senses can be assaulted by the words, ‘lie’, ‘lies’, ‘liar’, ‘lying’, or any other tense, contraction, or slang for the base word ‘lie’.
My God, Al, we get it. Bush and his regime lie. Every day, every hour. Even, I am sure in their dreams. They are liars. Lying liars who lie even when they’re lying in their liable sleep.
It gets painful to listen to. Al, the horse is dead.
So Cracker and I came up with a way in which we could listen without the need to physically tear the radio from the dash in a mad psychotic rage. A drinking game. Take a shot every time Mr. Franken uses any form of the base word ‘lie’.
Cracker then gets what he wants...he can to listen to his favorite radio station, he no longer need hide in the closet. And I get what I want, to be so drunk after only five minutes that I can no longer comprehend Mr. Franken’s annoying assault on my rational mind.

But let us get serious for a moment.
It came to my mind one sunny day while listening to Mr. Franken drone on, that the only way to get through to some people is to speak to them in their own language. If someone is acting like a child, one must treat them like a child. Speak to them like one would to a child. It is hard to argue that many on the activist Left do not, in fact, opine and act in a childlike manner. Narcissistic and bratty. Juvenile and immature.
I, like most of you I am sure, was read stories as a child. Many were just puff, but a few had a message. A basic moral statement aimed to influence the values of the child. To teach life lessons. To build character.
There are two stories I believe the Left need revisit. The story of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ and ‘Chicken Little’.
If you recall these stories, their themes are much the same. The boy ‘cries wolf’ so often that when there is true peril, no one listens. Chicken Little shouts ‘the sky is falling’ to anyone follish enough to listen, finally in the end, meeting a dire fate.
When Mr. Franken beats the dead horse of ‘lies’, he injures his own ability to be taken seriously. He loses credibility.
When the Left continues to cry of a loss of rights and freedoms, and yet those losses never seem to in reality appear; they slowly lose any influence those cries may have held.
When they attack every Bush appointee as a racist, fascist, xenophobe who will surely be the end of all civilization as we know it, they look like simple minded children toying with the fears of the masses when the end does not in fact occur..
When they carp on the sad state of the economy and the dire straits of the poor in America and it is obvious to most intellectually honest persons that these things simply are not the case, they look like silly little chickens calling for the end.
All this would be quiet cute, if it were not for the inherent hazards. As in the boy and the wolf, when real danger is threatened, it then often goes unheeded. Or as with Chicken Little, the real peril is ignored while make believe dangers are childishly pursued.
But in the end, it is simply a problem of discernment. Of knowing where to use one’s energy. Of understanding what is true danger. Of identifying what battles to fight. These abilities are learned through maturity and wisdom. Can we really expect such things from the mind of a child?

Friday, February 17, 2006

A 'Paucity' of Reality

This Bryant Gumbel thing really hit a nerve with me. Here is what he said for any who may have missed it...
Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don’t like them and won’t watch them ... Because they’re so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention. Try not to point out that something’s not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what’s called a kiss-and-cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won ... So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done, when we can move on to March Madness — for God’s sake, let the games begin.

Where do I start?
How about, you Mr. Gumbel, are naive, simplistic, patronizing, and uninformed.
It is, of course, your statement...‘a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention’, that has me so riled up. You surely can not be serious, because if you are, the name calling above can only be a start.
First, do you truly believe that there are so few blacks in the Republican party because the party chooses this to be so? In the real world of politics, every voter is an asset. In your fantasy world, Mr. Gumbel’s, racists bar your people at the door. But the fact is....and I will say it again...the fact is...if blacks en masse were eager to enter the Republican party they would be accepted with open arms. This is reality. Political reality. A reality that would end the Democratic party as it is known today.
Second, do you really see the GOP as so lily white? What of Ms. Rice, Mr. Powell, Herman Cain, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, etc...? Oh that’s right, they’re simply Uncle Toms bent on enriching themselves through hard work and personal responsibility. They can’t be ‘real blacks’, can they Mr. Gumbel? Your ‘real blacks’ must be life long Democrats. Unable to provide for themselves. Surviving only by the leeching off of government’s redistributive powers. This, Bryant, so you can feel they are being true to their race. What elitist tripe this is.
But in your case, Mr. Gumbel, it makes perfect sense. ‘Cuz it sure ain’t yo talent done got you where you at. You down with that?
Here is a little advice, Bryant. Stick to sports and leave the Liberal politics to your Democratic leadership. They probably won’t do it any better, but the paucity of blacks in that group makes the Winter Olympics look like an Usher concert.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pancho The Alien and The Echo Chamber

The ongoing melt down of the American media continues. From its childish tantrums over the vice-president’s hunting accident to the multi-faceted hypocrisy intrinsic in the non-airing of the Mohammed cartoons. The true face of our media is being revealed by the day. And the image is not a pretty one.
How does one reconcile one’s need for information with the obviously unhinged and immature creatures from whom one is forced to accept it? I do not have that answer and felt there was only one place I could go to ease my confounded mind. To gain some incite and maybe even a little wisdom. That place is of course, to Pancho the alien, my expert on nearly everything.
So I put my reservations aside, took a dozen Advil, and made the call.

S&S: Good day, Pancho.
Pancho: It is so good to hear from you, Earthling. It has been awhile, I feared for your health...
S&S: Yeah, well...
Pancho: Good, so you are fine. I as well...
S&S: Uh, can we just...
Pancho: Your abilities at the feminine trait of small talk are unmatched throughout the galaxy.
S&S: What?
Pancho: You see I am being sarcastic. I am blowing smoke up your rectum.
S&S: It’s ‘your ass’...
Pancho: Why, what did I do?
S&S: No, no, not ‘rectum’
Pancho: Oh good, he’ll be OK. I thought I’d damn well killed ‘em...
S&S: Shut up. I brought you here for a reason. I have a question about how things are handled in The Collectivist Federation of Planets.
Pancho: Great. You called the right man. I recall my early days at The Department of Reactionary Misinformation as some of my most cherished. I started out as Assistant Pseudo Clerk to the Director of Hyperbole and quickly moved up ten pay grades, all the way to Neo-Assistant Proto-Clerk.
S&S: Sounds like quite a bureaucracy.
Pancho: Oh, thank you so much. Now who’s smoking whose rectum?
S&S: Drop it. I only hope your vast experiences there won’t be needed in answering my primitive questions.
Pancho: Go on...
S&S: They concern the media in America, or in reality I guess, the media in your Federation. The news media on my planet are out of control. I wonder how advanced life forms like yourselves deal with such an enigma.
Pancho: Oh, we had enough eons ago. The Division of Nanny-like Protection funded a study to uncover the amount of stress the proletariat endured due to the excesses of our galactic media.
S&S: Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. What did they find?
Pancho: It was bad. We found that the attention wasted by our working class through the media’s lust for controversy, their anti-establishment mentality, their puerile interest in the trivial, and their neurotic need for personal reinforcement was not only inefficient, but down right annoying.
S&S: Sounds like a very scientific study.
Pancho: Yep. It was done by the text.
S&S: You mean ‘by the book’.
Pancho: Oh, I wouldn’t waste my time on that. I’d just hold out and wait for the movie.
S&S: Ugh.
Ok, so it was bad. What did your people decide to do?
Pancho: Well, The Department of Funding Unfunded Programs got together and decided to form a committee to look into what to do with the situation.
S&S: And?
Pancho: Well, they came up with some ideas and passed them along to The Bureau of Moving Plans to Other Divisions Department. And that was that.
S&S: Help me out here. What was the plan? Was it implemented? How did it work out? C’mon, give me something here...
Pancho: Excuse me...I guess I dropped the spheres on that one.
S&S: It’s ‘balls’...can’t you see its ‘balls’.
Pancho: No, sorry. It must be wearing pants.
S&S: Enough!
What happened with the galactic media?
Pancho: Oh, that. Well we decided that we could have it all. We could let the media continue to do what they do and yet the average comrade could go on with his life as normal, but not have to be bothered by the annoying inanities.
S&S: Go on.
Pancho: We put aside four uninhabited planets for what we call The Echo Chamber. We sent all our ‘journalists’ to the first planet... New Ork. The Second planet, P’litser, we populated with critics and such. Their only task is to devise award shows and scholarly honours for our journalist friends. Minutia, the third planet, is manned with Federation employees whose only job is to come up with pop stories to keep the inhabitants of New Ork busy.
S&S: And the fourth planet?
Pancho: Ah, Lefteria. This planet is designed to keep all our columnists and broadcasters heading in the right direction. Did I say ‘right’ direction? Now that is funny.
S&S: Do you need a minute? No? Good.
So you have four planets, how does that cure your problem?
Pancho: Oh, well, we let them do their stories and such, but there is a force field around the planets that does not allow their mindlessness out into the universe.
S&S: Hmmm, I like it. But let me ask you a few questions about some of the planets involved.
Pancho: Knock yourself off.
S&S: ‘Out’! ‘Out’! For God’s sakes, ‘out’!
Pancho: Hey, relax, you asked me here...
S&S: No, no...let’s just go on.
Tell me more about the third planet, Minutia.
Pancho: Minutia, eh? Well, that’s where it all begins. Everything stems from here. Ideas such as ‘death toll radio’...the theory that all radio news must have at least 3 items dealing with death, murder, or mayhem. And ‘if it bleeds, it leads’...this is the theory of leading any newscast with some form of violence or destruction. And then we have “scare the little guy’...these are news stories invented to add stress to the lives of the average Joe through the fear-mongering of events that have a near zero chance of actually affecting him. And then there are the ‘it must be important because a celebrity did it’ stories...I think those are pretty self explanatory. Also, of course, we have the ‘make the leader look stupid or guilty’ items...ceaseless attacks on those in power from those who wish they were. There are many more. Is that enough?
S&S: Oh yes, thank you. Tell me about the second planet, then, P’litser.
Pancho: Sure. P’litser is where all our media friends go to fan their flaming egos. Our planning committee found that most journalists couldn’t care less about the facts of their stories, they’re simply looking for some accolades. Looking for their peers to give them a stretch around.
S&S: ‘Reach’, damn it! ‘Reach’!
Pancho: Ok, ok...just don’t shoot.
S&S: Put your hands down and tell me about Lefteria.
Pancho: Sure, but try to relax. Lefteria is the planet where our journalists can go to spend time with their fellow story tellers. They can get training in many diverse areas...areas dealing with such ideas as socialism, secularism, anti-establishmentism, and galacti-culturalism. This elite planet personifies the whole Echo Chamber ideal. Where each man, woman, or other can stretch the boundaries of their beliefs by conversing with others who think exactly as themselves.
S&S: Great, sounds like paradise...
Pancho: Ooh, sarcasm. You wear it fountain.
S&S: ‘Well’! ‘Well’! ‘Well’!
Pancho: What? I’ve told you all I know.
S&S: Thank God, because I can’t take a moment more.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Global Warming With Pancho the Alien

I have come to believe that the scarcity of critical thought on our planet has reached near disastrous proportions. That the discerning mind is now as rare as Paris Hilton in comfortable shoes. Or Susan Surandon dating a man.
With this in mind, I have taken it upon myself to go forth and rediscover, somewhere out there in the vast universe, the owner of a great and powerful intellect. A creature with logic capabilities far greater than those we as humans possess, one with a superior ability to dissect and describe the shared universe in which we all exist. And at long last, I feel, I found success.
Meet Pancho. He is a scientist. He is an alien(take that as you will). And he is my expert...On everything(so get used to him, you’ll be hearing a lot more from him).
So when I came across an article from The Globe and Mail online entitled “World at its warmest of past 1,200 years, researchers show”, I contacted Pancho for his thoughts.

S&S: Good morning, Pancho.
Pancho: And to you as well, Earthling.
S&S: What’s with the horn growing out of the middle of your head?
Pancho: Oh, that...well, it’s mating season. But I’m sure you didn’t call me here to discuss my amorous habits...
S&S: Truer words have never been spoken. I actually contacted you for some input on an article I recently had the pleasure to peruse. And to help explain some problems I had with a few of its points and assumptions.
Pancho: It would be my pleasure. My great discerning intellect is at your disposal.
S&S: Why do I have the feeling that ‘disposal’ is an apt choice of words?
Pancho: Eh?
S&S: Never mind. Let’s just get to it.
Pancho: I am at your service.
S&S: It’d would probably be easier if we took a few paragraphs, read them and then discussed them. How’s that sound to you?
Pancho: Perfect. That should work like a well oiled marine.
S&S: Uh, don’t you mean ‘machine’?
Pancho: Oh yes, of course. It will work like a well machined marine.
S&S: Let’s just get on with it.
The last part of the 20th century is considered by many scientists to be the warmest period since modern record-keeping began around the 1850s, but new research indicates the era is even more remarkable.
The warmth in which the Northern Hemisphere has basked since the middle of the 20th century has been the most widespread and longest period of unusual climate experienced at any time during at least the past 1,200 years, according to a research paper in the journal Science.
The finding, by a pair of climate researchers from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, U.K., was based on comparisons of the current warm period to other hot and cold intervals since the year 800.

S&S: As an expert, when a journalist refers to ‘many scientists’, what number is he likely referring to?
Pancho: That’s an easy one. The word ‘many’ usually correlates to the number of Leftist scientists the journalist has in his Rolodex.
S&S: By that logic, couldn’t he just as accurately used the word ‘all’?
Pancho: Yes, of course. But we are just splitting rabbits here, are we not?
S&S: I believe that’s hairs, but I disagree...
Pancho: Why would we be splitting rabbit hair....
S&S: Enough! Let’s move on.
When the writer states, ‘The warmth in which the Northern Hemisphere has basked since the middle of the 20th century has been the most widespread and longest period of unusual climate...’, what the heck does he mean? If there are, in fact, periods of unusual climates, then aren’t unusual periods actually part of the usual process. Aren’t they, in fact, ‘usual’?
Pancho: Usually I wouldn’t use a word like unusual. I consider such words unusable in the usual scientific discourse. Usually adjectives aren’t used. And I’m not used to their usage.
S&S: Ouch.
Pancho: You felling ok, you look kind of pale? You’re alright? Good.
Our author’s next point I find rather odd, though. My species only has records of climate on our planet for the last 500 years. Strange how you barbaric sub-evolved creatures have kept such accurate records since ‘the year 800'.
S&S: We’ll get to that a little later, let’s read on...
Among these long periods of alternating temperatures were the "Little Ice Age" that sent Northern Europe into a deep freeze, and the Medieval Warm Period around 1000, when an interval of more benign climate coincided with the rise of the sea-faring Vikings.

S&S: Here he freely admits to the Earth experiencing ‘long periods of alternating temperatures’, doesn’t this cause the article’s entire argument to fall apart?
Pancho: You see I would expect just that point coming from you, a non-scientist. You see all weather is merely another sign of global warming. Record snows on Hawaiian mountains are proof of global warming. Hurricanes in the gulf are portends of global warming. Heat waves in the Midwest are signs of global warming. Cold snaps in the guessed it, global warming.
S&S: Of course, why couldn’t I see that...moron.
Pancho: No, that’s Morlon. I’m a Morlon, from the eighth planet of Sagittariun system, Morlo.
S&S: Can we move on?
The research was undertaken to help determine whether recent warming is a natural phenomenon, part of the normal long-term fluctuations of temperatures that have been observed around the world, or something whose intensity makes it without precedent.
The researchers think their work bolsters the case that global warming due to human activity has created a change in climate unlike anything seen in more than a millennium.
The findings "provide additional support for the case that recent warmth is unusual in the context of natural changes in the last 1,200 years," said Timothy Osborn, one of the researchers, who added that the results are "probably related" to greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.

S&S: Finally, some intellectual honesty. But aren’t there other causes of ‘greenhouse gas emissions’?
Pancho: Yes, of course. We have found many plants and animals on Morlon give off such gases in very high quantities. Which is why The Bureau of Fixing Any Problems That Seem Scary has enacted a law to destroy all such flora and fauna.
S&S: Hmmm, your planet sounds very nice.
But back to the above paragraph. Why, I wonder, are we just looking at history of climate change ‘in the last 1,200 years’? Was there not ‘climate change’ before this millennia?
Pancho: Yes, you idiot, but not the kind that backs the author and his pet scientist’s theories. In our studies of Earth’s history, we found a history of climate change. Often brought on by natural forces such as changes in the Earths orbit, a change in the tilt of your planet’s axis, or a wobble of the axis. But let’s keep that on the low down.
S&S: The down low?
Pancho: No thanks, I don’t go that way.
Although direct temperature measurements extend back only about 150 years, the researchers were able to infer earlier readings throughout the Northern Hemisphere by looking at the signs that temperatures left in tree rings, ice cores and seashells from 14 sites across North America, Europe and Asia.
Two of the temperature estimates were from Canada -- one from tree-ring measurements taken in the Rockies near the Columbia Ice Field, the other from tree rings in a Northern Quebec boreal forest.
Other records were based on tree samples from the United States, Austria, Sweden, Russia and Mongolia, among others, along with Greenland ice cores and seashells from Chesapeake Bay in the United States.

S&S: What!?! So this great scientific theory is based on the study of ‘14 sites’. Fourteen whole sites!
Pancho: That is not so odd, you neophyte. In fact, I was sponsored by the Federation of Planets to conduct a study of life on your planet, Earth. I took samples from the Sahara desert, the top of Mount McKinley, the center of the Arctic Circle, and the Marianas Trench.
S&S: What were your findings.
Pancho: Well, I proved through my thorough exhaustive investigation, that there are in fact no life forms presently on planet Earth.
S&S: Uh,’re talking to me...I’m a life form...
Pancho: And your point is?
S&S: Well, you’re the expert here, but again, I’m a life form...
Pancho: Doh! Looks like it’s back to The Federation’s Bureau of Studies to Back Up Questionable Assumptions Department to beg for more funding.
Tree rings are an excellent gauge of past climate conditions, particularly if the trees are from cold-weather locations near the tree line, where growth is highly dependent on temperature conditions.
Dr. Osborn said that in such places, the amount of growth is limited by how warm the summer is. If it is warmer, the tree growth is greater and the tree ring is wider. Colder years have the opposite effect. Each year provides only one tree ring. "So counting back the rings can give the precise date to when each ring actually grew," he said.
Through recent measurements, scientists have been able to determine how much a tree will grow at any given temperature, allowing accurate estimates of previous temperatures.

S&S: Alright, now my head hurts.
Pancho: Can I get you something....
S&S: No, you moron...
Pancho: Morlon.
S&S: Oh my God! Whatever...
So I am to believe we are to base our entire future on tree rings? Tree rings!?
Pancho: That is not so odd. On Morlon, we often use tree rings as calenders...they are quite accurate. You have your nuclear clocks, we have our tree rings. Or we did, anyway. Until, as I’ve stated before, we destroyed the trees in order to protect the environment.
S&S: Your race reminds me of some humans here on Earth.
Pancho: I sure appreciate you giving me my propellers...
S&S: It’s ‘props’, you idiot...PROPS!!
Pancho: No thanks, I work without them.
S&S: Arrrgghhh!
There are usually periods in which some regions of the globe are warming and others are cooling.
But Dr. Osborn said the 20th century was remarkable for the geographical extent of the warming because "all records indicate warm conditions at the same time."
Reliable records from trees and other sources go back only about 1,200 years, but this allowed the researchers to measure the magnitude of the current bout of warming against two of the best known long-term weather conditions, the Little Ice Age from about 1580 to 1850, and the Medieval Warm Period from 890 to 1170.
These eras were not continuously warm or cool, but were punctuated by hot and cold spells.
However, their temperature extremes were not as pronounced as the current warming, according to the research.

S&S: Is it normal for scientists to extrapolate normal climatic conditions of a 4.5 billion year old planet from somewhat questionable information of a mere 1,200 years?
Pancho: Why, of course. On Morlon, I did a study for The Federation’s Bureau of Things We Can Spend Our Excess Budget On So That We Still Get an Increase Next Solar Year Department using much the same logic.
S&S: Ok, I’ll bite...
Pancho: Well, I had my interns count how many spaceships passed a certain point during rush hour. I can’t remember the exact number, but I think it was ten. So between 8 and 9 AM, ten spacecraft passed by. Well, logic told me that since there are 10 hours in the Morlon day, then one hundred spaceships would pass by in a day.
S&S: That’s just genius. You are amazing...
Pancho: Yes, thank you. But as it turns out The Division of Checking Up on Questionable Findings did an audit. They sent out a team to check my results, and as it turns out my findings were incorrect. The number was much less than one hundred...
S&S: Surprising...
Pancho: Yes, surprising. It was like something out of left of study.
S&S: If I’m not mistaken, it’s ‘field’.
Pancho: As you will. But you’re right, it was out of my field of study. They cut my funding.
S&S: I’m in hell...
Pancho: What is this hell you speak of?
S&S: Shut up. Let’s just get this over with.
Not all scientists agree that the 20th century is the warmest period in recent history.
In 2003, a team led by researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced that it believed the 20th century wasn't the warmest, nor the one with the most extreme weather of the past 1,000 years.
But this research has been criticized for its selection of the indicators used to estimate historic temperatures, among other problems.
The new paper tried to overcome some of these shortcomings by carefully selecting items, such as tree rings, that are directly connected to temperature changes.
Although the new paper looked at data up to only 1995, recent years have continued with even more pronounced warmth.
The World Meteorological Organization said late last year that the decade from 1996-2005 contained nine of the 10 warmest years on record.

S&S: So ‘this research has been criticized for its selection of the indicators’, yet fourteen sites to indicate planet wide weather is not?
Pancho: Fourteen is a lot. We Morlons have fourteen thumbs, you know. More than we really know what to do with. We just have no where to put them.
S&S: I’m sure that’s so.
I have one last question for you. The World Meteorological Organization said ‘the decade from 1996-2005 contained nine of the 10 warmest years on record’. But it does not tell where the temperature readings it uses were taken. If they were taken worldwide and measured against the tree ring and ice cores taken in mainly Northern climates and ‘cold-weather locations near the tree line’, as stated earlier in the article, wouldn’t it make sense that today’s weather would be found to be warmer? Temperatures of the entire Earth against those of Northern climates?
Pancho: Excellent point, Earthling. If you wish I could put in a good word for you at The Department of Cynical Aliens. They’re always looking for a few good primates. Seems most of your kind just trail the leader.
S&S: Alright, that’s it. It is ‘follow the leader', you freak. Follow the leader!
Pancho: Relax. I’ll gladly follow him, but how am I to follow him if I don’t know where he’s at...
S&S: No. Don’t say it. For God sakes don’t say it.
Pancho: All I’m asking, really, is take me to your leader.
S&S: That’s it. I’m done.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Those People

All day today, I had the pleasure of listening to caller after caller on talk radio programs belching the same inane point,‘How irresponsible of the Dutch to run those cartoons when they knew how the Muslims would react?’
First, I have to wonder where these same mental giants were when The New York Times was chasing records with its coverage of the Abu Ghraib debacle. Or its stories on the flushing of the Koran in Guantanamo.
But my main point is one I hit on in my last post. And it is the ‘those people’ mentality.
‘That’s just what ‘those people’ do.’ ‘Why would you upset ‘those people’?’ ‘Those people’ get very angry when you insult their prophet.’ ‘America’s policies in the Middle East are the cause of ‘those people’s’ simmering anger.’
Why is it, I wonder, we hold the worldwide Muslim community to such low standards? And by ‘we’, of course, I refer to bleeding hearts and liberals. Are our Islamic brethren seen as less civilized to those on the Left? As a lower life form? As children unable to control their most base of emotions? It sure seems that way.
There is an old saying that seems lost to the modern mind on so many issues and it is this: If one reinforces bad behavior, one gets more of it.
By making excuses for and cow toeing to the sorrowful actions of the militant Islamo-fascists we do ourselves no favors. Each time we appease the anger and violence perpetrated by these thugs we are assuring ourselves more of that behavior in the future.
When the world press is intimidated into purposefully ignoring conflicting ideas and stories in fear of Muslim reaction, there is truly no more free press. Is that where we are headed? To a world where Muslims can act as they please through threat of retaliation? Through fear of resulting violence?
Whether one feels it was socially irresponsible for the Danish press to run those pictures or not is no longer the issue. Simply, if one believes in the freedom of press, it was well within their right to do so. Odd still, how the American press whose self love is ever evident has been so hesitant to do so. It surely shows a great lack of testicular fortitude and reminds one of deals made with Saddam Hussein in pre-war Baghdad. Their silence is deafening.
It is painfully obvious at this point in time that our great American press has already ceded control of their hallowed pages to the likes of Hamas and Al Qaeda. To the anger, the brutality, the threats of radical Islam. To the intimidation of rioting mad men. And yes, to the whims of ‘those people’.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Who Are We to Judge

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A lawyer for an Ohio trucker who pleaded guilty to plotting to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge asked a federal judge Friday to throw out the case on the grounds that the government illegally spied on him.
Iyman Faris' challenge is among the first to seek evidence of warrantless electronic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, a practice that began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Government officials have reportedly credited the practice with uncovering Faris' terrorist plot and several others.

You know what. I’ve seen pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge, and I must say I’m not terribly impressed. The damn thing is over a century old.
Don’t our comrades in the great state of New York deserve something better? Newer, less masculine, and shinier perhaps?
Stupid NSA.
But the real issue here is, what did we expect? Those people blow sh** up, that is what they do. They can’t and shouldn’t be held to any higher standard than that. They just can’t help themselves. Can’t we see that?
Much like the uprisings over the Danish cartoons or the riots after the Rodney King episode, we must strive to understand that some people just can’t control themselves. Is it right to hold such people accountable? Well of course not. That would be judgmental.
The enlightened do not look at the actions of individuals, but the root causes of those actions. And do we not all wish to be seen as enlightened? Of course we do.
So let us not look at Mr. Faris’ attempted actions with disgust or anger. He was likely molested as a child. Or suffered from ADD. Or was a victim of discrimination. Or he simply hated all Americans for their support of the Zionists and their aims at world domination. Whatever.
We, as a society, need learn that personal responsibility is an obligation that should not be forced upon any whom we deem below us. We should not expect good behavior from these people. Our expectations only add to their bad behavior through the exertion of undue pressure on them to act in a civilized manner.
They simply need a time out. Some time alone to think about what they’ve done. And when they feel they can reenter the civilized world, we should welcome them with open arms. No need for retaliation and no onerous burden of high expectations.

Crossposted @ The Wide Awakes

Saturday, February 04, 2006

From Gblagg’s 'Little Book of Liberal Euphemism Part III'

It is my unwavering belief that words do, in fact, have meaning. Unfortunately, Liberals have usurped our language and with it the meanings of many of our words and terms. With that, I give you Gblagg’s 'Little Book of Liberal Euphemism Part III' (for parts I and II go here and here).

Free Speech: any idea or opinion that should in no way be exposed to dispute, disagreement, or consequence as this would be an obvious form of censorship(see Censorship) and/or a cause of injury to the speaker’s self-esteem(see Self-Esteem). DOES NOT, however, include the speech of those parties in disagreement.

Censorship: simply the threat of dispute or disagreement with and/or the mere fear of consequence arising from any idea or opinion. DOES NOT require any physical prevention from the presentation of idea or opinion.

Self-Esteem: that part of the human psyche which is developed not by the accomplishments of overcoming weaknesses and challenges, but from the disregarding of failings and deifying of victimization.

Satire: Any of a wide range of anti-establishment opinion, including but not limited to, insulting representations of female African-American Secretaries of State and armless and legless American soldiers. Can not, however, include likenesses of prophets wearing turbans shaped like suicide bombs.

Evil: an outmoded idea that has no basis in reality except as in the actual use of the word in context (i.e. “It is evil to call Islamo-fascists evil”) or when referring to any member of the Bush regime.

Activist: a member of the American proletariat whose main stream beliefs embrace the compassionate values of socialism(see Socialism), animal rights, atheism, euthanasia, and pro-choice in all its forms.

Wiretapping of Terrorists and their Domestic Contacts: the NSA’s illegal eavesdropping of telephone conversations between law abiding American citizens. The fact that this has never happened in no way changes the definition of the term.

Fascism: uh, George Bush, duh....

Socialism: the form of government our founding fathers actually had in mind. What the hell else can ‘General Welfare’ mean?

Hurricane: a open invitation from Mother Nature for Progressives to look compassionate by means of harping on global warming, race politics, and the greedy rich while actually doing little to improve the situation.

Weather: in any and all its forms, proof of Global Warming(see Global Warming). I.E. If it is extremely hot out, one would expect this from Global Warming; or if there is a cold snap, here’s further proof of Global Warming.

Global Warming: The warming (or is it cooling, I forget) of Earth caused only by the excesses of man. Ignoring, of course, the natural cycles of heating and cooling that have been the normal state of nature since the beginning of Earth itself.

Hollywood: the bastion of righteousness where a clear thinking non-hating comrade should look to in order find a true morality and an ethical ideology. Why waste one’s time studying mythical religions when all the answers are right there for $7.95...and they come with popcorn and a Coke.

Economics: the study of the period of time it will take for a Capitalist society to produce enough wealth so that Socialism might actually work...and how long it will take for Socialism to destroy that wealth.

Euthanasia: who says we don’t have ideas on lowering health care costs. And hell, the Norwegians do it.

Universal Health Care: same thing we have at present, but now the rich have to pay for that, too.

Energy Policy: uh, whatever Bush is for, we’re against. Oh yeah, and those poor caribou...

Free Speech and Censorship

Odd that I as a Conservative American must spend my valuable time (better spent denying the poor their right to universal health care and enriching myself through their forced enslavement) reeducating my fellow citizens on the our shared common language. Odd, yet I must admit invigorating at the same time.
Today my attack on our common cultural insanity will include an English lesson. No, not a primer in language for our friends swarming like crabs from South of the border, but a lesson in definition. A study in meaning.
Now you philosophers out there need just sit back down, take another Valium, suck in deep relaxing breath, and deal with this thought...if words have no meaning, communication becomes impossible. Our words must have real concrete meanings. Objective, literal definitions.
But enough mental masturbation, let’s get to the real reason for this exercise in reeducation.
And it is in the meaning of the term ‘freedom of speech’ and in its antonym ‘censorship. The definitions of these terms have been either sadly lost or purposefully redefined in our country and culture today.
So let us begin by looking at the term ‘freedom of speech’.
As we are all aware, it is protected in The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

But just what does this term, ‘freedom of speech’, actually mean? Is it the ability to state an idea or opinion without the fear of undue retribution? Without the fear of physical attack or jail? Yes, I think we could all agree on this.
But does one’s ‘freedom of speech’ protect one from any future consequence from that speech? Well obviously not, as the simple thought experiment of yelling ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater illustrates.
How about excluding or protecting one from the disagreement or dispute one’s speech may generate? It is here, I believe, that the meaning of this term has become perverted. One man’s freedom to opine does not trump the freedom of speech of any man whom may disagree with him and an undefined point in the future.. This second man’s disagreement is not censorship, it is simply the right of the disputer to his own liberty of word.
And here we have come to ‘censorship’. So what does this word mean?
Is it censorship for a man or group of men to tell you your ideas are inane and should not see the light of day? The answer is no. Not if they do not in reality have some power to censor your ideas. Their thoughts and disagreement with your ideas are not censorship, they are simply another form of ‘free speech’. Their ‘free speech’. ‘Censorship’ can only arise when one with the power to censor your ideas actually does so. It must be understood that 'censorship’ requires the power to prevent thoughts and ideas from reaching the public domain. Disagreement is not censorship. Boycotts are not censorship. Threats are not censorship.
I am not sure where the redefining of these terms originated, but I have some ideas. I believe it stems from a weakness of argument. From malformed self-esteem. From a narcissistic victim mentality. If one has faith in his ideas and opinions, hard formed through thought and pragmatism, he is open to dispute and debate. It is the man who fears the strength of his ideas to stand on their own who uses name calling and victim status to deny all debate.
And if you don’t agree with that, just keep your trap shut and quit trying to intimidate me.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Nature of Place

I wouldn’t live in a large city for all the cash in the world. They are dirty, smelly, and in all truth downright ugly. But these are not my reasons.
City life makes humans weak. And dare I say, rather stupid.
One loses one’s individuality in a large city. To survive in such close quarters, a system of social engineering must be in place that controls most every element of the individuals life. We mustn’t do or say anything that could offend a neighbor or passerby. One’s residence, businesses, and travel options are micro-managed by city councils and various needling officials. These things must be agreed upon by one’s fellow urbanites...agreements that cede freedom for the sake of comfort, safety, and availability.
The weakness of our modern times are in effect more strongly, though rather subconsciously, in such an environment. With protection and aid so nearby, the need to command the world around oneself becomes much less vital. The forces, that in a more rural and/or wild area would cause a man to sharpen and hone his abilities are all but missing in the urban scene. Sure, one must always be on alert for crime and its inherent threat to one’s person, but law enforcement and hospital care are never far away.
This is no minor point. The difference in an Alaskan and a New Yorker is more than the locale in which they reside. The man himself is different. The Alaskan’s heart and mind are keener. He is less feminized. More self reliant. Yes, I’ll say it, more of a man.
It should come as no surprise that the city man tends to be rather more Liberal. He is a temporal creature. His removal from nature and its intrinsic dangers have made him less of a pragmatist. More at ease in a park than in a forest or wood. From this arises his Disneyesque view of the outdoors. His distaste for hunting and firearms. He will often view animals as humans in animal clothing if he chooses to view them at all. Does he feel a hole in his soul? Can he fill it with steel and cement?
By contrast the rural man appreciates the wildness of his surroundings. He feels a closeness to nature. It lights a fire in his soul and connects him to something greater. He sees nature for what it is, both beautiful and terrible all in the same moment. He respects the dangers around him and thus endeavors to be always prepared. His environment makes him strong. Makes him more of a man.
In closing, I offer this from Henry David Thoreau’s masterpiece Walden, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Impressions vs. Results

Let me begin with this warning...this is going to be a rather complicated post. It will take no small amount of thought from the author and concentration by the reader in able for its points to be transplanted. I freely admit to being no Jerry Springer. I claim no ability to make a cultural statement through the use of bisexual kleptomaniac midgets as metaphor. I’m not that smart nor so damned nuanced. That said, here goes.
We will start at the beginning.
It has always seemed to me that there is a reason for government to exist. As a Libertarian leaning life form, that is no small confession. But that is what I believe. So if government does in fact exist for a reason, what might this be? Hmmm, how about the protection of life, liberty, and property? Maybe National Defense? Possibly to provide roads? A system of laws? I’d even go as far as for the education our young.
These are all good, important things. Things most intellectually honest Americans would agree on. So how do we get to these ends? How does government with this list of what it ought to do, then accomplish this agenda?
Well, any businessman worth his salt is screaming at his screen right now, “Set goals! Decide what it is to be accomplished and institute plans to reach those results. Then get to work to meet them!’
Doesn’t seem too complicated, huh? Well, that was the easy part.
We as citizens of this great land should demand results. We should be able to identify what problems need to be solved and set goals to accomplish them. We should plan accordingly. Well, that is the logic at least.
But what at present do we actually see in action?
Let’s look at some examples and see what we can learn.
Social Security as it now exists is heading for disaster. It can not stand in its present form. It will be a noose around the financial necks of our children and their’s as well. One party has identified this problem. Decided on the goal of making the system solvent and offered plans to affect that end. The other party has dismissed the coming disaster as hype and used fear and half truths to attack any attempts to avert it.
America needs a real energy program. A program that weans us off our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. One party sees this dependence as a national security issue. It has proffered the ideas of increased drilling in ANWR and off shore, more nuclear reactors for electricity, and investment in new technology. The other party screams of total destruction of the ecosystem, global warming, and an American consumption society gone wild.
Our national school system is a mess. We spend nearly $10,000 per student per year. More than most industrial nations. Yet our children continue to do worse than those of countries that spend much less. The efforts of our students in math and science is embarrassing...and dangerous. One party has offered vouchers as a plan to induce competition to the education system, thereby increasing its quality. It has questioned the power of the NEA, wondering if the protection of bad and dangerous teachers is really such a good idea. The other party rails against any change in the system. It claims any change from business as usual would be a cruel experiment on our children.
There are poor people in the United States(I refuse to use the word poverty as one man’s poverty is another man’s splendor). One party believes the way to help the poor is to empower them. To welcome them into the ownership society. To let them own their retirement, their health care, their homes. The other party harps ‘the rich are getting richer’, ‘record profits’, and ‘the income gap’.
OK, that’s enough examples. Here is the point of this post. Conservatives are goal oriented. They look for results. They develop and institute plans to reach these results. Liberals act and speak simply for impression. For effect, for appearance.
One more point. When a problem is identified and a goal is set, sometimes hard choices must be made to reach that goal. Keep this in mind.
Let us use the examples above and see just how this works out.
Conservatives want to fix Social Security. Liberals choose to frighten people, by claiming the Right wants to steal their retirement. This leaves the impression that they are protecting the elderly. They have no plan, just impressions. Hard choices need to be made on this issue, but the Left will leave those to the Right. Again leaving the impression that they are the good guys. No plans, just compassion.
Conservatives want a realistic energy policy. The Left cries for the caribou. They blame evil drivers of SUVs for all the evil in the world. They decry the horrors of nuclear energy. All so that they appear as environmentally correct. Many impressions, few realistic plans.
Conservatives want better more efficient schools. Liberals cry, ‘what about the children’, ‘we need more money...or they’ll cut after school programs’, and ‘schools are worse in poor neighborhoods’! OK, then you on the Left, let’s have a program! Enough emotion, how about a plan?
Conservatives care about the poor, but understand that only the individual can change his own circumstance for the long haul. Liberals shout that they lack opportunity. There must be a living wage. Or that Walmart is evil. The War on Poverty has been with us for over half a century, yet there are still poor among us. Can we finally agree that government is not the answer...can we quit with the emotional rhetoric? Can we get a workable plan?
I have no doubt that this essay has angered many who call themselves Left of center. But in reality, I am giving you Liberals a break. Because if the above is in fact untrue, it leads me to only one other conclusion. And that is that our goals are actually different. That you do not wish to fix Social Security, that it is simply one more notch on your belt of Socialism. That you do not wish America to be oil independent. Instead, you hope for a weaker America in the global community. That you do not wish to reform our educational system. That a dumbed down citizenry fits nicely in your future plans. That you do not want the poor to do better. Because this would mean you would loose an ‘impression’, no more use of ‘the politics of envy’.
I will end with this simple point...Compassion and rhetoric are meaningless if in the end they lead to no solutions.

Crossposted @ The Wide Awakes