April 24, 2004

pick of the weekend

First the bad news. If you are an American unfortunate enough to suffer from chronic pain, you probably already know you are for all intents and purposes accursed, and that your accursedness is entirely because of the War on Drugs and its obscenely puritanical attitude toward pain: better you suffer unspeakable agony than be allowed proper pharmaceutical relief. Thanks to this zero-tolerance viciousness, government-intimidated doctors are generally terrified to prescribe the painkillers you need, and if – in agonized desperation – you persist in trying to obtain such drugs, the Authorities gleefully await the opportunity to pounce and maliciously destroy your life. Linked below is just such a story. The facts alone are an outrage, the portrait of an atrocity by vindictive prosecutors and a compliant judiciary. The unspeakable horror the report leaves out is that the victim has almost certainly been given a defacto death sentence: he is white, has no criminal background whatsoever, has neither Mafia nor Aryan Nations connections, and once in prison is thus sure to be repeatedly gang-raped by predatory blacks, many of whom are AIDS carriers delighted to deliberately infect “whitey” as “a revolutionary act.” The relevant link is here.

Now the good news, especially for those of us who believe the ‘’global warming” hypothesis – the favorite shibboleth of the Luddite faction of the environmental movement – is at best questionable: more knee-jerk emotionalism and subversive ideology than diligently postulated science. The likelihood that the "global warming" hysteria is based on incomplete evidence and is thus at least premature is the underlying message of recently discovered data on the Ordovician Ice Age, which is throwing a curve into some of the favored notions about greenhouse gasses and planetary heat retention -- largely because this particular global freeze-out occurred when the atmosphere contained five to 10 times the standard pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide. This report, which summarizes the unknowns of the Ordovician mystery, is a follow-up to the global-warming story Linda posted on the 22nd and is available here.

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posted by Loren at 01:51 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 23, 2004

picks of the day

Another twofer. The morgue of the Bethany College student newspaper reveals a younger John Kerry with his trousers at half mast, denouncing American liberty as “a farce,” available here, and a British journalist accurately describes the United Nations as a “ship of fools” – and the worst possible solution for the problems of Iraq, linked here.

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posted by Loren at 12:52 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 22, 2004

picks of the day

Two picks today. One is an unusually vivid portrait of the long-suffering Iranian people, and how part of the agenda of terrorist Islam is to rob the Iranians of their ancient (and surprisingly libertarian) pre-Islamic heritage. While this sort of legacy-thievery is surely not new to scholars, who struggle with the residue of its Christian variant whenever they attempt to study the great cultures and civilizations of pre-Christian Europe -- the true and unimaginably ancient foundation of Western Civilization – it is nevertheless a kind of deliberate cultural genocide most Americans (with the tragic exception of American aboriginals) have never encountered. Though the Taliban wantonly destroyed the antique Buddhas of Afghanistan, the cylinder of Cyrus yet lives, and its 25-century-old ideals have come back to terrify the mullahs, just as reported here. The second pick, from a New Zealand newspaper, shows just how clearly the folks Down Under comprehend the terrorist nature of Islam and the magnitude of its threat – a much more accurate understanding than is typically allowed past the politically “correct” censorship of North American media. The New Zealand report is available here.

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posted by Loren at 11:30 AM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 21, 2004

pick of the day

Thanks to computers, I collect stories and hoard then against times of need. The Village Voice ran a superbly thought provoking essay on outsourcing a month ago, and I clicked it aside as a possible pick, then shunted it to the bottom of the pile as other developments took precedence. But today is a slow news day -- nothing more than the obligatory denunciation of the usual suspects and the predictable rehash of the usual scandals – so the best, most complete, a-plague-on-all-their-houses discussion of outsourcing I’ve seen anywhere is now available here.

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posted by Loren at 12:06 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 20, 2004

pick of the day

Regular readers of this site have probably already guessed that I am harshly critical of the present-day U.S. public education system – that I believe it has been “dumbed down” not accidentally but deliberately – and that the dumbing-down is part of a much broader, mostly feminist-directed effort to subvert American liberty, destroy Western Civilization and thus overthrow “the white male patriarchy.” An essay by Alan Caruba makes many of these same points, says a lot more too, and is available here.

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posted by Loren at 01:54 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 19, 2004

picks of the day

Two picks today – one about the War, the other about the 9/11 commission.

The first link is to a report by Niall Ferguson, a historian who is both a professor at New York University and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Ferguson’s piece is in The New York Times and may require registration, but the hassle is well worth it, for The Times, though presently the captive of a cult of anti-American leftists under Pinch Sulzberger, is nevertheless still our national newspaper of record. And this essay -- which, by the way, urges ruthless suppression of the Iraqi uprising – discuses a vital aspect of Iraq history most Americans probably don’t know: that the British ruled it, first directly and then indirectly – and by necessity with an iron hand -- from 1920 until 1955. Alas, the entire chain of command running U.S. operations in Iraq is apparently ignorant of this critical history -- a profound indictment, breathtaking in its implication the conditions exposed nearly 50 years ago by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer in The Ugly American still cripple our foreign policy today. The Ferguson piece is available here.

The second link is to an essay about increasing partisanship on the 9/11 commission and how it is compromising the commission’s credibility, with author John Carlson approaching the issue from a refreshing new perspective: instead of damning the commissioners who have already become notorious for their partisan demagoguery, Carlson focuses on the most non-partisan member of all, Commissioner Slade Gorton. Carlson notes that though Gorton was a Republican U.S. Senator from Washington state for 18 years, Gorton's questioning of witnesses is both unique and exemplary in its cool objectivity, an essential characteristic for all other commissioners to adopt -- that is, if the commission is to achieve the ends for which it was officially convened. I agree – and suspect Gorton’s example is likely to be ignored (if not deliberately suppressed) by the national media -- but I post the essay for another reason too: Gorton is not well known outside of Washington state. For example, few non-Washingtonians know that he is man of uncompromised principles – a gentleman of the first order. He is also a true defender of the Second Amendment, and before he was elected senator, he was probably the finest attorney general in the state’s history -- one of Gorton’s accomplishments was to give Washington the toughest, most user-friendly consumer protection law in the nation. After winning his Senate seat and two re-elections, always by easy margins, his defeat by Maria Cantwell in the 2000 election was a loss not only for Washingtonians but for all America. Gorton was beaten by only 2,229 votes, one of the many dismal consequences of the takeover of the state Republican Party by genuinely Talibanic Christian Fundamentalists during the 1990s. By their intolerance of all other viewpoints – especially their advocacy of defacto theocracy – the fundamentalists drove some 60,000 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents out of the GOP and into the Libertarian camp. The Democrats – in Washington primarily a party of the far (and often venomously anti-American) Left – have securely dominated the state ever since. The lesson – and its application to November 2004 – should be obvious. Hence this link to introduce readers of Civilization Calls to Gorton, and thereby illustrate something of the magnitude of the loss that – thanks to the authoritarian fundamentalists – we Washingtonians sustained in 2000 election.

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posted by Loren at 11:41 AM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 17, 2004

pick of the weekend

This weekend’s pick is actually a foursome of contemplative readings: Two essential essays by conservatives who recognize the necessity of the Iraqi front in the war against Islamic terror, but pull no punches in pointing out the glaring Bush Administration follies that led to the present crisis, available here and here. British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s forthright defense of the urgent necessity for victory in Iraq, a truly eloquent presentation, (in contrast to which, our own officials’ breathtaking inarticulateness seems ever more shameful), available here. And last but surely not least – as if to renew our memories of the dreadful cost in blood that earned the very freedoms we now all too often take for granted -- the poignant story of the archaeological work that has revealed so many of the secrets of the ill-fated C.S.S. Hunley, the world’s first operational submarine, the first submarine to sink an enemy ship, and yet another proud testimony to the determined ingenuity that was so characteristic of the doomed Confederate States of America, here.

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posted by Loren at 12:36 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 16, 2004

pick of the day

Once in a while, even the nation’s most deliberately mediocre paper can successfully defend the public interest, and with the disclosures linked below, USA Today has done just that, whether by accident or as a harbinger of a major format change remains to be seen.

Though it is almost an aside, what adds a man-bites-dog dimension to this whole story -- or more precisely, the story behind the story -- is that USA Today is generally regarded as the very antithesis of serious journalism, a national-circulation version of the typically mercenary Gannett local daily. I knew several people who worked for Gannett papers, and based on their (fairly constant) complaints, Gannett editorial personnel are routinely either singled out for fast promotion to the business-side of management or reduced to the operational status of clerks: they were hired as journalists, to be sure, and they were maybe once proud of their talents and achievements, but unless they have the desire and aptitude to become bottom-line types, they are soon forced by the economic realities of the Age of Monopoly Media to accept defacto demotion to the singularly unfulfilling role of information-industry production-line workers, demoralized men and women whose uninspiring duty is merely to pack the spaces around the day’s advertisements with copy crafted to retain the patronage of the advertisers. The costs of this MBA-ruled approach – the cost to an informed public and especially to truth itself – are obviously ruinous. But Gannett is not alone in this sad malfeasance; it is more-or-less evident at most U.S. newspapers today, and it is gravely intensified in the many newsrooms oppressed by word or story quotas. The recent journalistic scandals – Jayson Blair et al – are merely one of its predictable consequences. The hate-America bias of so many of today’s reporters and editors, inflamed by newsroom working conditions and encouraged by upper management as part of a devil’s bargain to minimize labor costs, is another. The most glaring result, however, is the steady deterioration in both the quality of reporting and the significance of the reports – a deliberate decline in which Gannett has surely been one of the leaders.

In any case it thus came as a huge surprise to me to discover, courtesy of the always-reliable Lucianne.com (see link in "News Sites," below), a USA Today story that is not only of major significance, but could actually be pivotal in shaping U.S. foreign policy. Moreover, it centers on a decidedly troublesome and potentially infuriating revelation: the fact that merely because of one antagonistic essay written by a lone Brookings Institution academic who is hostile to America’s survival and therefore terrified of American power, the Senate is now making plans to shackle the U.S. military’s special operations capabilities with the same crippling chains that already bind the nation’s intelligence apparatus – the lessons of 9/11 be damned. USA Today’s report is available here. A summary of the academic’s manifesto is available here, while this links to her professional biography. Let us hope the major media – especially the conservative media – grow this story the legs it deserves.

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posted by Loren at 02:38 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 15, 2004

pick of the day

The abrasive arrogance of Jamie Gorelick – a high ranking member of the erstwhile Clinton Administration who now sits on the 9/11 Commission – is so overwhelmingly huge it is evident even in the briefest glimpses of her televised performances. There is a smirking, self-congratulatory quality about Gorelick unlike anything I have ever witnessed on the part of any American official male or female, a smugness disturbingly reminiscent of Stalinist bureaucrats, Mafia dons and untouchably corrupt Third World dictators. Not that I am particularly surprised. The glaring elitism evidenced by Gorelick’s demeanor was endemic in an administration notorious for its brazen commitment to matrifascist ideologies of political “correctness,” victim-identity cultism and war against the “white male patriarchy” -- so hypocritically respectful of Islamic terrorists’ rights, it facilitated the outrages of 9/11 just as surely as it murdered Branch Davidians and persecuted firearms owners. But even those damning facts pale in light of the always troublesome but now ever-more-disruptive conflict of interest between Gorelick’s former command role in the Clinton/Reno Justice Department and her present position as a commissioner. The Wall Street Journal explores why Gorelick should be forced to resign from the Commission in disgrace and then subpoenaed before it as a hostile witness, with a summary of her thoroughly compromising but curiously unpublicized history available here.

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posted by Loren at 12:01 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 14, 2004

pick of the day

I did not have a lot of time to sort through the day’s news because of the demands of a grave crisis in my personal life – the ongoing dissolution of a relationship turning suddenly even more sour than usual, and the attendant, growing possibility I will soon be without a home or even the kind of Internet access essential to continue my contributions to this site. Hence my participation in this blog may soon become erratic or may even end entirely, a likelihood for which I apologize in advance, especially to those faithful readers who visit this site daily. Meanwhile, from last night’s much-abbreviated survey of on-line news, here is a pointed commentary by a veteran newsman who properly denounces the Democrats for poisoning the 9/11 commission with malicious partisanship.

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posted by Loren at 03:48 PM : Comments (3) : TrackBack

April 13, 2004

The August Memo

Following is the text of the presidential daily briefing everyone is talking about. (Link takes the reader to FOXNews.)

(Readers: please click the link, or follow the Permalink, to expand.)

Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997' has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America."

After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a [deleted text] service. An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an [deleted text] service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative's access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.

I think it meet to pause for a moment to clarify: "[deleted text] service" in this context means that the information came from a protected source. Even the media should understand that those resources remain anonymous; after all, the AP lives and breathes by their "unnamed sources".

In case anyone is interested in a transcript of Bin Laden's 1998 statements, it can be found here. (Note: it is both fascinating and revolting. He is convinced of his own rhetoric and rationalizations. It goes to illustrate that real villains are not the simplistic creatures Hollywood paints.)

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Ladin's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own US attack.

Ressam says Bin Ladin was aware of the Los Angeles operation.

Before anyone starts crying out, "Why weren't these men apprehended before the fact," I feel I should point out a couple of details. First, Ahmed Ressam was convicted for the foiled Millennium plot targeting Los Angeles International Airport in 1999. (PBS has an interesting chronology of his activities here.) It should also be noted that when asked, he did not recognize any of the 9/11 highjackers from photos, but did identify other sleepers within US borders.

Osama bin Laden hadn't been within the borders of the United States for years, and so fell outside legal jurisdiction. The same is true for his closest lieutenants. In retrospect, it seems logical that assassination would have been a good idea. However, President Ford instituted a policy against assassination in 1976 with Executive Order 11905.

(Note: No, Virginia, the EO does not cover the well-publicised deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein. They were combatants, as explained in this article on Slate.)

Although Bin Ladin has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Ladin associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

There is a key phrase in the preceeding quote: "...he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks." There is no question that available intelligence indicated that he was planning something. The problem was that no one knew when or how he planned to deliver his strike. From this report, and by the statements delivered in his 1997 and 1998 interviews, we knew that Osama bin Laden meant us harm. The real issue is the fact that the US Intelligence agencies were underfunded and understaffed by -- wait for it -- former President William J. Clinton. Moreover, this article by Lisa Meyers on MSNBC outlines several opportunities to nab Bin Laden that were missed or passed over by the Clinton Administration.

We knew he was planning something, but the newly-elected President Bush did not have enough information with which to act. He ordered stepped-up intelligence, but alas, it was too late.

Al-Qa'ida members — including some who are US citizens — have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qa'ida members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our Embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladin cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.

This is the most heartbreaking part of the report. I have taken the liberty of boldfacng the relevant phrases.

Read and re-read the blockquote above, and let the relevance sink in. The. Enemy. Was. Living. Among. Us. For. Years. Intelligence knew about it. Clinton did nothing to dismantle their support structure for the eight years he was in office.

I find it laughable to think that anyone could have expected President Bush, within his first three hundred days of office, to defuse a situation that was almost a decade in the making.

But wait, there is more:

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [deleted text] service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar' Abd aI-Rahman and other US-held extremists.

The reading comprehension-challenged are encouraged to look at that paragraph again. "We have not been able to corroborate..." usually means that the rumor was mentioned, but no one else could be found who had heard the same intelligence. Such leads are usually flagged for follow-up, but without hard evidence showing that a hijacking was imminent, there was little agents could do besides investigate and pray that they caught the criminal/s in time.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

Note the lack of hard evidence. Again, no one knew the specifics, only that there was an increase of questionable activity. Damnably, there wasn't enough evidence at that time to arrest anyone.

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

An anonymous tip was paid to the US Embassy in the United Arab Emirates in May of 2001. No specifics were mentioned; no one was named.


This memo does not give any hard, actionable data. It is merely an outline of Bin Laden's past activities, avowed intentions, and rumors of gathering danger. In no way does it specify that on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, a group of Muslim terrorists would highjack four of our aircraft and effect the deaths of nigh 3,000 of our brothers and sisters.

Reasonable people will stop for a moment, and put themselves in President Bush's shoes, imagining themselves with the memo in hand on that morning in August, 2001. The empathetic will be able to understand something of the urgent concern he must have felt as he quietly gave orders to find out, for God's sake what that crazy bastard in Afghanistan was planning, and what we could to to prevent it.

It was too late. There was no time to gather the scattered bits of data and collate them into a cohesive whole that clearly stated the who would be involved in the time, place, and method of attack.

No matter what I write, the partisan finger pointing will go on, with some assigning the blame to President Bush, and others like me trying to point out that Clinton had just as much information, and did nothing about it for eight years.

Finger-pointers seem to miss one fact, which I will try to state simply: No matter who was derelict in their duties to protect America, no matter whether or not those attacks could have been prevented, they still happened. This is a past-tense fact. It cannot be changed or undone.

Politically speaking, I hope the 9/11 commission comes back with suggestions that may seem obvious: (1) never again hobble intelligence agencies with lack of funds, staff, and cooperation; and (2) let there be no-holds-barred in addressing threats to this nation and her people.

Regardless of the Commission's findings, the tragedy opened the eyes of many of us. We cannot undo it. But we can move forward with determination and fortitude to do what we must to ensure that such evil is never again perpetrated upon our countrymen. This means making hard choices. It means following-through with our promises: those who have, and would, attack us must be brought to justice, or have justice brought to them. We cannot falter now. To do so would only seem like a weakness, and invite further attacks of the nature that Spain now sees.

We must move on. The War on Terror progresses, but it is not won. Not yet. We must win. For the safety and security of us all, we must be victorious.

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posted by Linda at 06:55 PM : Comments (1) : TrackBack

pick of the day

Having witnessed the Washington state gubernatorial candidacy of theocracy-advocate Ellen Craswell in 1996, I no longer doubt that authoritarian Christian fundamentalists truly are plotting to overthrow the Constitution of the United States, and like anyone else who follows contemporary politics, I strongly suspect at least some of those plotters have found a comfortable home in today’s national Republican Party. Craswell’s nomination surely made the GOP-fundamentalist connection clear in Washington state, with ruinous consequences for Republican Sen. Slade Gorton’s re-election campaign in 2000, when conservatives of secular values and non-traditional spiritualities abandoned him in droves. More recent events suggest the authoritarian fundamentalists are busy at the federal level too. Last month President Bush revealed his opposition to homosexual unions and his support for a draconian Constitutional amendment that could nullify the right to privacy (see "Dreadful Alternatives," for which you must scroll down to March 8). Just a few days ago, The Baltimore Sun reported that Attorney General John Ashcroft is waging nationwide war on pornography – a massive effort that will divert untold manpower and uncounted millions of dollars from the fight against Islamic terrorism. Lost in the hurly burly of the initial press reports is the frightening probability Ashcroft’s Porn War could be the death knell for the First Amendment, with dire implications for the rest of the Bill of Rights as well. This truly alarming analysis – by attorney Eugene Volokh, a leading authority on Constitutional law – is available here.

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posted by Loren at 11:33 AM : Comments (0) : TrackBack
» Who Tends the Fires links with: From so far Beneath the fold it's off the Page...

April 12, 2004

Alternative reality: Preventing 9/11

Some widows of 9/11 are asserting that President Bush should have acted on the vague data given him in an Aug. 6, 2001 memo, claiming that the memo gave the, "who, what, where, when, and how" of the attacks.

The article explains why this isn't necessarily true, and posits an alternity in which the Administration did act upon what information they had.

My deepest sympathies are forever with those who lost loved ones on 9/11. There is still a wound in our collective souls. I know that if the Bush Administration could have prevented it, they would have. Can you imagine how maddening it was to know that terrorists were planning to murder our citizens, but not having enough information to determine where, when, and by whom?

That is why it is more important to focus and pull together to make sure that 9/11 never happens again. It's going to take a lot of work, focus, and determination. It means making hard choices that are not comforting on the surface. Nevertheless, we must take the long view and think not of what feels good today. We have to fight with an eye to the futures of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Never Forget.
Never Again.

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posted by Linda at 05:07 PM : Comments (1) : TrackBack

A Bit of Perspective on the Crisis in Iraq

by Loren Bliss

While I freely acknowledge the strategic necessity for invading Iraq and have never doubted our ability to prevail in Iraq militarily, even before the invasion I was troubled by the fact our post-World-War-II history of attempts to manage the non-military aspects of foreign policy is one of chronic failure – failures typically caused by a ruinous combination of ignorance, arrogance, misguided optimism and a neurotic craving to be loved rather than feared and respected. It makes no difference which party is in power; Republicans and Democrats are equally inept -- think not only Cuba, Vietnam and Southeast Asia in general but most especially Iran and China and Eastern Europe.

More to the point, examination of every one of these foreign-policy debacles demonstrates conclusively that – whatever the other causative factors may have been – each of the disasters were ultimately manifestations of a basic flaw in U.S. society itself: an aggressive, sometimes vicious anti-intellectuality expressed in an appalling ignorance of history, geography and foreign language that was endemic to the United States even when its public education system was controlled by militantly patriotic conservatives in the years immediately after World War II. It is an ignorance as crippling as nationwide illiteracy – a mind-withering, liberty-eroding ignorance that has radically worsened with the capture of public education by the hate-America, down-with-Western-Civilization cult of the post-Marxist, feminist-dominated Left.

Hence I was profoundly skeptical about the non-military aspects of the Iraq operation from the very beginning – all the more so because the apparent (and sometimes strident) anti-intellectuality of the Bush Administration was a veritable microcosm of the selfsame factors historically responsible for all the other post-World-War-II U.S. foreign policy failures. My awareness of the thoroughly disheartening results of a Brookings Institution study of 33 U.S. foreign policy crises between 1946 and 1976 merely intensified my skepticism: this study, cited by Walter C. Clemens Jr. in America and the World, 1898-2025, found that in the "short-run some three-fourths of the outcomes were favorable, but that, three years after the initial show of force, the success rate dropped to less than one-half. Beyond the initial success, American policy failed to achieve goals in nearly two-thirds of the incidents."

Nevertheless, despite my skepticism, I had fervently hoped the Bush Administration would prove the exception to the rule, that it would not duplicate the abysmal foreign-affairs records set by its Democratic and Republican predecessors in all the years following the epic triumphs of reconstructing Germany and Japan. Thus, except to sometimes complain that I thought we were being far too gentle a conqueror in Iraq, I remained mostly silent about my doubts.

No more. While mass media is busy playing sophomoronic “gotcha” games in its ongoing vendetta against the Bush Administration, not one single columnist or commentator seems to have grasped the horrific significance of the past few days’ events. The obvious intelligence failure that left the U.S. and allied troops unprepared for the Iraqi uprisings, the uprisings themselves and the fact they are so widespread, the concurrent unraveling of the Iraqi provisional government – all of these are symptoms of an impending failure not merely of the Vietnam class but rather a region-wide disaster approaching the 1949 loss of China in magnitude and consequence.

In this context, to be silent -- or to reflexively support President Bush with stubbornly mindless, cheerleaderish denial of the overwhelming evidence of the administration's ruinous mistakes in Iraqi governance -- is merely to worsen the crisis. Indeed, what the administration needs most of all is criticism that is both outspokenly harsh but patriotically beyond question. Perhaps then the administration will adjust its policies accordingly, so that we may (once again) subdue terrorist Islam, just as Charles Martel did at Tours in 732 and John Sobieski did at Vienna in 1683. For if we fail -- if by our own folly we are driven from Iraq and from the Middle East -- the global caliphate will indeed become a reality, and humanity will face the darkest and longest dark age ever, perhaps one lasting for all the remainder of human time.

That said, let me add that I passionately support President Bush’s re-election. While I have major differences with the President on domestic policy (and many libertarian concerns rising from the coterie of authoritarian Christian fundamentalists with whom he surrounds himself), the fact remains that Kerry and his hate-America followers have already pledged they will, in effect, surrender the world to terrorist Islam – this by treating Islam’s 1300-year war against civilization as a mere crime problem. Bush's re-election is the only antidote to that awful prospect. But Bush’s re-election is doomed unless there are radical improvements in Iraqi governance.

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posted by Loren at 01:24 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

pick of the day

Today's pick adds another dimension to the above commentary on the Iraqi crisis; it is a discussion by Chidanand Rajghatta in The Times of India recalling The Ugly American, the once-influential novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer that prophetically documented U.S. foreign policy failures in Southeast Asia, thereby prompting President Eisenhower to make a sincere (but ultimately ill-fated) attempt to reform the State Department and the diplomatic service. While Rajghatta's work has a distinctly angry flavor and makes several points with which most conservatives would probably disagree, it nevertheless provides an interesting perspective on how the war with terrorist Islam appears from much shorter range. Rajghatta's assertion that from one U.S. presidential administration to the next, "There is...very little institutional record or memory, and even less inclination, that can help U.S. mandarins learn from past mistakes," is an undeniably justified indictment. His complete essay is available here.

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posted by Loren at 12:54 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 10, 2004

pick of the weekend

Sometimes – given a skilled writer – a “mere” book review becomes a vehicle for profound insight, and this weekend’s pick is a rare example of just such an essay. It is ostensibly Asia Times contributor John Parker’s critical review of a volume entitled Anti-Americanism, by Jean-Francois Revel. The book is a French intellectual’s formidably logical condemnation of the world-wide hate-America cult – no, your eyes are not deceiving you – but Parker's splendid review is, in its own right, a mercilessly ironic deconstruction of anti-American hysteria. Parker's writing is as caustic as anything by H. L. Mencken, and it is quite possibly the best such work I have ever seen. Here is a sample passage:

Indeed, it is not the slightest exaggeration to say that in 2004, anti-American sentiment has become the biggest single obstacle to human progress. It sustains repressive dictatorships everywhere; excuses corruption, torture, the oppression of women, and mass murder; provides ideological oxygen for vile, stupid "revolutionary movements" like the Maoist insurgents in Nepal; and has even promoted the spread of disease (as when, for example, Europeans haughtily dismissed Bush's AIDS initiative as insincere - God forbid that they should concur with any policy of the wicked Bush, even at the cost of a few million more African lives). By focusing monomaniacally on "why America is wrong", instead of asking "what is right", the global anti-American elite has massively failed to fulfill the most fundamental responsibility of the intellectual class: to provide dispassionate, truthful analysis that can guide society to make proper decisions. And it has contemptuously cast aside the irreplaceable, post-Cold War opportunity to irreversibly consolidate the "liberal revolution" praised by Revel - in which inheres the only true hope of lasting, global peace and development - all in the name of redressing the gaping psychological insecurities of its members.

Parker’s review is not a quick and easy read, but like the book that is its subject, it is a long-overdue antidote to a toxin that is notorious for paralyzing the intellect. Parker's writing is deliciously sarcastic and delightfully thought-provoking, something to relish, contemplate and share with friends, available here.

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posted by Loren at 12:42 PM : Comments (1) : TrackBack
» Common Sense and Wonder links with: Anti-Americanism

April 09, 2004

pick of the day

Compulsory wearing of the Burka is only one of the outrages women face under Islam, and it is a mere inconvenience compared to the horror of female circumcision – removal of all or part of the clitoris, often with a shard of glass wielded by some dirty-fingered crone who was similarly mutilated during her own girlhood. Hence it seems profoundly contradictory that so many Western-world feminists – especially the female supremacists who are properly labeled “matrifascists” – enthusiastically support Islam and its terrorists. Surely these women are aware of Islam’s epicentral and overwhelming misogynism, even if they are ignorant of the doctrinal connection between Islam and clitorectomy. But the ugly fact of the matter is that matrifascists are so envenomed by their hatred of American liberty and Western Civilization in general, they reflexively regard any “enemy of the white patriarchy” as a suitable ally with whom to make common cause. Moreover, the matrifascists believe that the forces of “herstory” are irrevocably on their side – that Islamic triumph and imposition of its global caliphate will inevitably lead to worldwide revolution -- a final, epic gender-war in which all forms of patriarchy or even positive male identity will be banished forever. Once patriarchy is toppled and slain, the victors would impose “gynocracy,” a female-supremacist system based on the combination of an all-female version of the Nazi ubermenschen and Marx’s dictatorship of the proletariat: a matrifascist utopia complete with extermination camps to rid the world of all males save those deemed essential to sperm banking. (And no, this is not dementia; see Grace Shinell’s “Women’s Primacy in the Coming Reformation,” Heresies, Summer 1978 -- that is, of you can find a hard copy, since Google has conveniently censored Shinell's essay from its on-line version.) Meanwhile,
is a Dutch report that documents Islam’s endorsement of the mandatory savaging of female genitalia.

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posted by Loren at 12:09 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 08, 2004

pick of the day

Terrorists are not the only perpetrators of Islam’s 1300-year war on civilization. It is also fought by a vast and often clandestine army of lawyers, academics and lobbyists, united in their malevolent determination to destroy the “infidel” cultures of the Occident and the Orient, and on the ashes impose a global caliphate – the harshest, most mercilessly vicious regime the human mind has ever contrived. Exaggeration? Alarmism? Neither. Note carefully the following quote:

“Islamists in Canada have recently set up an Islamic Institute of Civil Justice to oversee tribunals that would arbitrate family disputes and other civil matters between people from Muslim origin on the basis of the Islamic Sharia law. This is the first time in any western country that the medieval precepts of the Sharia have been given any validity. One can imagine that the Islamists will use this as a lever to work for similar recognition in many other western countries. After all, if Canada is prepared to recognise Sharia law in this way why not every other country in the west.”

The writer is a Canadian feminist named Azam Kamguian, who has been rudely awakened to the profoundly subversive dangers of multi-culturalism – the very ideology that has already prompted the human-rights outrage of Canada rejecting the liberties born of 25 centuries of Graeco-British law and imposing a modified form of Sharia on all Canadian Moslems. Like too many feminists, Kamguian is not a particularly inspiring writer – the matrifascist prejudice that prosodic excellence is a concession to “patriarchal oppression” is clearly evident in her work. But her words, available here, are nevertheless worth reading, especially as a terrifying omen of what the multi-culturalists and their Moslem allies might attempt even in the United States. And for anyone who seeks the truth about Islam, the site on which Kamguian is featured is a Must Read, well worth exploring in depth.

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posted by Loren at 12:17 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 07, 2004

pick of the day

The Left constantly compares the war against Islamic terrorism – especially the fighting on the Iraqi front and sometimes even Israel’s struggle for survival – to the Vietnam War. The leftist position is that Vietnam was a classic example of failed “American imperialism,” that because of the courage and determination of the Viet Cong and their Communist-block allies, Vietnam became first a deadly quagmire for the American soldiers and finally the one great disaster in United States military history. There is no doubt Vietnam was a dreadful loss, both for the U.S. and for our South Vietnamese allies, but the leftist version of how this came about -- as we shall see here -- is a self-serving revision of history that borders on outright falsehood, a fact that becomes ever more relevant as the Left becomes ever more strident in its claims that the debacle of Vietnam is repeating itself in the Middle East.

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posted by Loren at 11:55 AM : Comments (1) : TrackBack
» Who Tends the Fires links with: From so far Beneath the fold it's off the Page...

April 06, 2004

pick of the day

The Council on American-Islamic Relations aka CAIR bills itself as a kind of Muslim anti-defamation organization, but it is in fact a wealthy and influential lobby dedicated to the defense of the religion whose name literally translates as “submission,” and it is venomously outspoken in its condemnation of any slight against Islam, whether real or imagined. CAIR is also one of the primary sources of the deliberate falsehood that Islam means “peace” – a lie eagerly embraced by millions of non-Muslim Americans whose abysmal ignorance of history makes them easy prey to all such happy-face fabrication -- especially the politically “correct” denial that the atrocities of 9/11 marked the resumption of Islam’s unspeakably bloody, 1300-year war against the civilizations of the Occident and the Orient. If CAIR’s repeated protests against actual (or more often imaginary) expressions of anti-Muslim prejudice were accompanied by resounding condemnations of Islamic terrorism, CAIR might make a vital contribution toward reducing the growing suspicion with which non-Muslim Americans view their Islamic neighbors. But CAIR remains stonily silent on this crucial topic, and at long last a major U.S. journalist – in this case Joel Mowbray -- takes the group to task for its outrageous hypocrisy. Mowbray’s report is available here.

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posted by Loren at 09:56 AM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 05, 2004

Picks of the Day

Two interesting picks this first Monday of 2004 daylight saving time:

Number one is another story from the Australian press, this one an exclusive interview with a private-sector spook who says the secret, unacknowledged reason for invading Iraq was to pressure Saudi Arabia to stop financing Islamic terrorism. This report also notes that while Iraq “is the most strategically located nation in the Middle East,” the difficulty of explaining such realpolitik – even to some supporters – prompted the Bush Administration to settle on the “weapons of mass destruction” rationale. The story doesn’t say so, but here is yet another expression of a singularly American problem: thanks largely to leftist domination of public schools, our people have been deliberately dumbed-down into the most abysmally ignorant population in the industrial world, so benighted that a real dialog between citizens and elected representatives is increasingly difficult. Thus the ruinous reduction of complex matters to sound-bites and bumper-stickers, complete with the danger such oversimplifications will trigger crises of their own – just as the WMD issue has already. Even so, the report, available here, says President Bush had no other choice. It is a compelling read, not the least because it supports my own view of why the war is so necessary.

Number two discusses an often-overlooked aspect of the 2004 presidential campaign – the strong, sometimes bitter opposition of Vietnamese immigrants to John Kerry. Many of these immigrants are now citizens, and when they cast their ballots in November, they intend to vote against the man who – as far as they are concerned – betrayed them twice, siding with the Communist enemy not just during the anti-war movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s but again as recently as 2001. Here is the story, complete with commentary noting – once again – how a Kerry position is marred by curious and ultimately damning contradictions.

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posted by Loren at 10:23 AM : Comments (1) : TrackBack

April 02, 2004

pick of the day

Christopher Hitchens has repeatedly distinguished himself by being one of an exceptionally small group of outspokenly pro-war leftists. Hitchens’ ideology is libertarian enough that he understands the nature of the Islamic menace and why the religion whose very name means “submission” is so infinitely threatening to American liberty – and anathema to all civilization whether Occidental or Oriental. Hitchens thus recognizes that Islam must be stopped at all cost, lest it succeed in its tyrannical dreams of enslaving the entire planet as Caliphate Earth. In this essay Hitchens discusses the significance of Fallujah – implying, in his concluding lines, that what an Islamic mob did in Fallujah is just what an Islamic mob might do to "infidels" in Baltimore or Denver or Atlanta -- that is, if the global caliphate were to become reality.

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posted by Loren at 09:25 AM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

April 01, 2004

pick of the day

James Taranto’s “Best of the Web” column in The Wall Street Journal is one of my favorite daily must-reads, but Tuesday’s edition was among the best ever. Not only does Taranto excoriate the terrorists of Fallujah, he denounces Bill Clinton for cravenly withdrawing from Somalia after the similar incident there in 1993. Then he comments on several other matters relevant to the war, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s curious belief that diversity and multiculturalism will somehow convince terrorists to be less terrible, and the woefully under-reported Saudi Arabian tactic of waging war against the “infidels” by hiking oil prices -- yet another expression of Islamic vengefulness against the Bush Administration, the people of the United States, and civilization in general. Here is the link.

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posted by Loren at 09:56 AM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

March 31, 2004

pick of the day

In a trend that bodes ill for the November election, the Left is behaving ever more thuggishly. First there was the widely reported trashing of Republican Headquarters in Ohio, then the goon-squad tactics by Democrats in Boston, now the violent assault by pro-immigration activists on Karl Rove’s home in Washington D.C. Sunday. While many Americans may regard these recent episodes as unprecedented, the ugly truth of the matter is that they are not – mass media has merely downplayed the escalating plague of leftist violence that was initiated by the feminist movement in Seattle nearly 30 years ago. The first matrifascist vandalism occurred there in 1975 and 1976 – bridges and buildings spray-painted with the slogan “all men are rapists” and churches and public buildings defaced with “end patriarchy” and “goddess rules” – but these outrages were mostly ignored by the media. Since then the epidemic of vandalism has spread nationwide: war memorials are an especially common target. While all such hooliganism is moronic, the incident at the Rove residence was unusually notable for its ironic idiocy. Here is an especially scathing commentary from The Wall Street Journal.

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posted by Loren at 09:41 AM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

March 29, 2004

The right to peacefully assemble belongs to everyone.

During President Bush's fundraiser in Boston, the usual occurred: concerned citizens from differing political viewpoints assembled to voice their dissenting opinions; one of the strengths this nation.

Yet, as we've seen in the last few years, some elements believe that they have more of a right to speak than others, and seem incapable of practicing non-violent, reasoned discourse.

Read Matt Margolis' account of what happened. The actions of the Leftist protesters disgust me. The action of the ironworkers incenses me. Matt, in stark comparison to his vile attackers, notes:

"...I would like to say that I think it is horribly sad that anyone would resort to violence because they disagree with someone. I came to the event as a Bush supporter wanting to express that support. It is horrifically un-American to threaten, intimidate and assault another person because of who or what they support. I will always stand up for what I believe in – if I risk getting hurt then so be it. I wholeheartedly believe that George W. Bush is the only choice for leading this country down the right path."

I encourage you to read the entire.

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posted by Linda at 06:14 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

pick of the day

The outrageous prices of prescription drugs – and the ruinous cost of medical care generally – is one of the major hot-button issues in American politics. But the associated controversies seem to be losing much of their former intensity. Perhaps this is because a growing number of U.S. voters recognize they are damned no matter what – that unless they are exceptionally wealthy, they are going to be victimized by the health care system regardless of who is in charge. It is increasingly evident, for example, that socialized medicine will solve nothing -- that it would merely shift responsibility from a tyranny of greed to a tyranny of ideological self-righteousness, granting absolute and unlimited authority to a bureaucracy that is already infamous for vindictive enforcement of gender and race quotas -- note the well-documented discrimination against white male military veterans (and Caucasian males in general) by feminist-dominated social service agencies. But it is also ever more obvious that continued tolerance of the present, monopoly-ruled health care system merely reinforces the near-absolute power and authority of those who are responsible for its notorious abuses. Here is a gripping report on how drug makers sought to keep lucrative cold and diet remedies on the market even after their own study linked them to deadly and crippling strokes.

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posted by Loren at 09:33 AM : Comments (1) : TrackBack

March 27, 2004

pick of the weekend

Remember the persistent allegations that the Oklahoma City bombing – though carried out by American neo-Nazis – was the result of an Islamic terrorist operation? The possibility is not at all far-fetched. LA Weekly writer Jim Crogan says the upcoming trial of Terry Nichols may finally result in examination of all the relevant evidence, including the material apparently suppressed by Janet Reno’s Justice Department, probably on orders from the Clinton White House. While Crogan does not speculate on the government’s motives, it seems obvious that – if indeed there was a Clinton Administration coverup (and it surely appears there was) – its purpose was ideological: reinforcement of “diversity” doctrines associated with political “correctness” and yet additional Clintonesque denial of Islam’s 1300-year war against civilization. Crogran’s detailed report is available here. As to the connections between neo-Nazis and Islamic extremists, the best sources are reports from the left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center. While SPLC’s credibility has been severely damaged by its recent, hysterical condemnation of the pagan renaissance as “racist,” its documentation of the neo-Nazi/Moslem connection is probably the best such material available to the civilian community, accessible by clicking here.

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posted by Loren at 08:07 AM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

March 26, 2004

pick of the day

Richard Clarke, the former counter-terrorism official who has so resoundingly denounced the Bush Administration, claims he is a Republican with no political axe to grind. But Federal Election Commission records show this is untrue – that all Clarke’s financial contributions have gone to Democrats. Here are the damning details, including additional facts that shed light on Clarke’s probable anti-Bush, pro-Kerry motives.

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posted by Loren at 09:36 AM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

March 25, 2004

picks of the day

Astute readers will note that today the above title is plural – two “picks of the day” rather than the customary one. Both links are to reports that focus on the Clinton Administration’s ruinous failure to respond adequately to Islamic terrorism.

The shorter of the two, an article The Washington Post buried on page A21, documents how President Clinton’s “mind-set” led to repeated refusals to take decisive action against Islamic terror. It thereby exposes as a deliberate lie the double-pronged claim by Richard Clarke that fighting terrorism was among the Clinton Administration’s topmost priorities, but that the Bush Administration somehow failed to grasp the immediacy of the terrorist threat. The Post’s report is available here.

The longer piece, a full-length Front Page Magazine essay by David Horowitz, is much more damning: it reveals the alarming extent to which Clinton’s characteristic “mind-set” was not the accidental result of poor leadership but was instead the deliberate expression of hate-America ideology – the leftist ideologies of Bill and Hillary Clinton themselves and of many of Clinton’s key appointees. This article is a keeper – the best, most thoroughly documented and compellingly rational summary I have seen anywhere of the extent to which today’s Democratic Party has become a subversive cabal and thus cannot be trusted to govern. Almost as a bonus – and surely a boon to secular conservatives and conservatives who practice alternative spiritualities – the Horowitz report includes an eloquent warning against the dangers of fundamentalism. It is a long read but worth every minute it takes, something to peruse at your leisure, to download for your personal archives and to disseminate to all your friends and acquaintances, available here.

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posted by Loren at 10:12 AM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

March 24, 2004

pick of the day

Ever wonder why George Soros and so many other Democrat fat-cats – not to mention that rich Democrat fat-cat named John Kerry who’s running for President – are enthusiastic supporters of higher taxes? Truth is, plutocrats of the Kerry-class aren't troubled by tax hikes because their legions of accountants guarantee that increased taxes won’t touch them at all – that the burden will be shifted entirely onto the backs of working people much further down the socioeconomic ladder. Here’s an eye-opening analysis by a conservative economist.

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posted by Loren at 08:02 AM : Comments (1) : TrackBack

March 23, 2004

pick of the day

Mass media has resoundingly denounced Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for refusing to recuse himself from a case that involves Vice President Dick Cheney, stridently proclaiming a “conflict of interest” because Scalia once went duck hunting with Cheney. But in an unusually brazen demonstration of bias and hypocrisy, the same publications and broadcast outlets have totally ignored the much more profound conflicts of interest in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s association with radical feminism and her willingness to subvert the U.S. Constitution by making the American judiciary subservient to foreign laws and treaties. This outrage is detailed here in an especially damning report by Accuracy in Media.

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posted by Loren at 09:48 AM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

March 22, 2004

pick of the day

Unprecedented media bias gave America the impression that John Kerry’s victories in the recent Democratic primaries were underwritten by record voter turnouts, but the truth is quite the opposite. The Democratic turnout nationwide was the third lowest ever, and in some states, these turnouts set all-time record lows. Here is a revealing report that cites data from a reliable, non-partisan source.

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posted by Loren at 08:17 AM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

March 20, 2004

pick of the day

One of the many Big Lies that props up the cult of political “correctness” and its doctrines of moral equivalence and “diversity” is the claim that Islam means “peace.” In fact Islam means “submission” – a significant truth repeatedly made clear by the Qur’an itself – which explains much of Islam’s reflexive antagonism not only to American liberty but to any expression whatsoever of the human impulse toward individual freedom and democratic governance. Another of the PC-cult’s Big Lies is that American Moslems do not share the malevolent anti-Jewish hatred that is one of the defining characteristics of Islam elsewhere in the world. Here is a report that tells a very different story.

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posted by Loren at 06:57 AM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

March 19, 2004

At least he has experience writing fiction.

In this story via the AP, USA Today announced that it has completed its investigation of the work of Jack Kelley, and found that the "newspapers' former star foreign correspondent had fabricated substantial portions of at least eight major stories."

When one recalls the fact that in the past, Kelley's "reports" described situations such as tagging along with Israeli settlers who shot at a passing Palestinian taxi, or the discovery of a Bosnian girl's journal a la Anne Frank; or the discovery of a three-ring notebook belonging to a Yugoslav army officer, ordering him to "cleanse" a village, these fabrications become an outrage.

Publications in mainstream media serve to inform the average American. When bald lies, fabrications, and plagarisms are presented, it can result in a poorly educated population. It is possible that this is the intent, which lends a sinister air to Kelley's practiced unprofessionalism.

In closing, journalists like Mr. Kelley and Mr. Blair should consider carrying a copy of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics at all times. They are even strongly encouraged to read and practice it.

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posted by Linda at 08:06 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack
» Who Tends the Fires links with: The DailySpam!: the Page 3 Girls Edition!

Pick of the Day

THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE to developing an adequate defense against Islamic terrorism is that the institutions of American liberty are not organized to wage war on an enemy identified solely by religion. We can make war on hostile states, and we can even (as we did in the Cold War) make war on hostile ideologies -- though there too we were severely restrained by our own legal prohibitions against the suppression of speech and ideas. But the Constitutional taboo against making war on a given religion is nearly absolute, and in the case of Islam -- which even in its most liberal forms is implacably hostile to Occidental notions of democracy and community -- this not only imposes a gag on forthright discussion of the Islamic threat, it also provides Islamic terrorists with a vast loophole through which to attack civilization and further their infinitely oppressive quest for a global caliphate. Here, by an Irish journalist, is an unusually forthright discussion of the problem.

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posted by Loren at 04:56 AM : Comments (1) : TrackBack

March 18, 2004

Understanding Spain

by Loren Bliss

Mass media has generally treated the outcome of Sunday’s Spanish election as a major victory for Islamic terrorists and a huge defeat for the Bush Administration and its anti-terrorist coalition, but this assessment – while no doubt accurate – overlooks the extent to which the dismaying election result was the logical outgrowth of long-simmering Spanish anti-Americanism. From this perspective, the chief impact of the March 11 terrorist attack was that it enabled the Socialist Workers Party to turn the election into a referendum on the popularity of the United States – the first such referendum in Spanish history – which gave voice to resentments that have lingered at least since the Spanish Civil War and more likely since the Spanish-American War of 1898.

That this is the correct understanding of Sunday’s socialist victory – and that other Western European nations will probably follow Spain’s lead in repudiating alliance with the U.S. – is strongly suggested by an essay published in the Fall 2003 edition of Hoover Digest. Written by Russell A. Berman, Stanford University’s Walter A. Haas professor in the humanities and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, the essay is entitled "Europe and America: a Cultural Divide?" Its basis is opinion-poll data that describes the disturbing extent to which not only the Spanish people but Western Europeans in general were avowedly hostile toward the United States long before the atrocities of the 11th.

Here are key passages of Berman’s eye-opening work:

"According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, 57 percent of the French, 54 percent of Germans, and 56 percent of Spaniards held unfavorable views regarding the United States in June 2003. In contrast, unfavorable views were held by only 26 percent of the British and 38 percent of Italians, figures that explain part of the history of British and Italian support for the United States in the Iraq war..."

"Data regarding unfavorable attitudes toward Americans as people (rather than toward the United States government) show less antipathy but nonetheless a still troubled picture, with a similar distribution: 42 percent of the French, 29 percent of Germans, and 41 percent of Spaniards (as compared to 18 percent of Italians and 15 percent of the British) view Americans unfavorably. The difference between the two sets of data shows that some parts of the European population do indeed distinguish between the government and the people but that there is nonetheless considerable anti-Americanism directed broadly at the people and the culture.

"When the topic of the public opinion survey shifts to the spread of ‘American ideas and customs’—as opposed to attitudes toward the government or the people—the results become even more pointed: 27 percent of the French believe that the spread of American ideas and customs is good, but an overwhelming 72 percent consider it bad. Similarly, 24 percent of Germans think of American ideas as good, while 72 percent see this influence as bad. The attitudes of the British and Italians are, again, somewhat less severe than elsewhere in Europe: 56 percent of the British see the spread of American ideas as bad, as do 45 percent of Italians. When asked specifically about American ideas of democracy, 65 percent of the French, 55 percent of Germans, and 61 percent of Spaniards said they disliked them.

"Perhaps most telling, when asked to choose between the freedom to pursue one’s goals without state interference and, alternatively, the power of the state to guarantee that nobody is in need, 58 percent of Americans opted for freedom. The results in Europe are very different. In no European country was there majority support for individual freedom as opposed to the power of the state. In Great Britain, only 33 percent chose freedom, in France 36 percent, in Italy 24 percent, and in Germany 39 percent. Interestingly, the importance of individual freedom attracts greater approval in parts of the developing world than in Western Europe: Guatemala is at 61 percent, Ghana at 63 percent, Nigeria at 61 percent, India at 53 percent, and Pakistan at 61 percent—levels of support for freedom that put Europe to shame. On this issue so crucial to the relationship between state and economy, American individualist attitudes are closer to the rest of the world than is the European trust in the role of the state.

"This difference in values between the United States and Europe is only part of the larger cultural divide. In the post–Cold War world, this gap has entered public discussion more forcefully than in the past and has contributed to the recent political dueling in the context of the Iraq war. These transatlantic tensions cannot be simplistically explained away as the fault of particular politicians..."

(Ed. note: Emphasis added. -- L.)

Since the data shows Spanish attitudes to be little different from those of France or Germany – note especially the 61 percent opposition to American modes of democracy – the outcome of Sunday’s election was clearly inevitable even before the terrorist attacks, never mind that pre-election polls showed the socialists losing by a slender margin. This fact is further reflected in the election result itself: the SWP garnered 42.6 percent of the vote, a figure significantly close to the 41 percent of the Spanish population that dislikes the American people (and is presumably antagonistic toward the U.S. government as well).

But there is another element at work here that was beyond the scope of Berman’s revealing analysis -- the harder-to-quantify fact that Spanish support for socialism never died. The ill-fated Spanish Republic (1931-1939) was primarily a socialist endeavor. Though the republic eventually deteriorated into Soviet-dominated Marxist tyranny under pressures of the Spanish Civil War – the arms embargo imposed on the republic by the U.S., Britain and France is rightfully blamed for giving the U.S.S.R. the upper hand – popular support for socialism remained strong throughout republican Spain.

All such sentiments were of course brutally suppressed by the eventual victory of the fascists under Gen. Francisco Franco in the civil war (1936-1939). But while Nazi Germany and fascist Italy were Franco’s topmost supporters, the victory left in its wake a lingering anti-Americanism as well. There was not only the matter of the embargo, which helped Franco even as it wounded the republic: there was also the fact that several American corporations, especially Texaco, had given Franco pivotal support in unpunished defiance of the Non-intervention Pact, to which the U.S. was an important signatory. Indeed it is arguable that Franco would have lost the war without Texaco’s guarantee of uninterrupted petroleum supplies.

After Franco’s death in 1975, it became apparent that socialism had merely been driven underground, and with the ascension of King Juan Carlos I and the end of the fascist reign of terror, widespread support for socialism quickly re-emerged – nearly as strong as it had been in the days of the republic. And the Spanish have long memories: with the resurrection of socialism came bitter recollections of how the U.S. paid lip-service to non-intervention but actually aided Franco.

No doubt incoming prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the winner in Sunday’s election, played on these lingering grievances by emphasizing the fact his own grandfather was one of the approximately 600,000 socialists executed by Franco. Zapatero, who has resoundingly denounced the Bush Administration and the entire war on terror, is also notorious for deliberately disrespecting the U.S. flag by sitting down when it passed during a public ceremony – an unprecedented breach of protocol for a politician that nevertheless further bolstered his popularity. (The flag incident is discussed near the bottom of a Washington Post transcript, which may be found by clicking this link.)

Indeed, there is enough documentation of Spanish anti-Americanism that it warrants a category of its own on Google. For example, a February 2003 news analysis by John Vinocur in the International Herald-Tribune states that "Spanish anti-Americanism...goes back to the Spanish-American War," in which Spain lost to the U.S. the last remnants of its once-vast colonial empire, and that today’s anti-American agitation "brings together the anti-globalist, anti-capitalist, anti-clericalist and anti-Semitic elements of the country's right- and left-wing extremes." (Here is the link to the IHT report, which is also relevant in that it details some of the ambitions of the ousted conservatives.)

Hence – despite the staunchly pro-American position of outgoing prime minister José Maria Aznar – Spain’s role in the anti-terrorist coalition was probably doomed from the beginning, particularly given the double-barreled combination of the anti-Americanism unique to Spain and the anti-Americanism common to Western Europe in general.

Which suggests that the real error of the U.S. was yet another glaring intelligence failure: the likelihood the U.S. has never understood how to make use of what the old Soviet KGB regarded as "cultural intelligence" – data about the dominant attitudes in a given society – and the apparent total disregard of the overwhelming probability Spain would prove an unreliable ally from the very beginning. As a consequence, the forces of terrorist Islam have now achieved an unprecedented propaganda victory: an opportunistic, exclamatory expression of long-simmering anti-Americanism that can easily be distorted to appear as if a once-proud Western European nation has suddenly and abjectly surrendered.

Based on the Pew polling data – particularly its troubling evidence regarding the serflike attitudes of today’s British subjects – the alliance with Britain may be similarly ill-fated. The wretched truth of the matter is that Western Europe – Britain included – is probably already lost to Islamic terrorism, just as Spain was lost long before the attacks of 3/11. If the definition of a serf is one who is slavishly dependent upon an overlord and quite content with such a restricted state, the Pew data demonstrates that the Western European majority has already reverted to a modern version of the selfsame degraded condition from which it was liberated less than three centuries ago. And as long as serfs are clothed, fed, housed and cared for, they do not care if their cause is benevolent or malevolent, or if their master is god or demon.

Hence, through absolutely no fault of its own, America may indeed stand alone, and much sooner than anyone publicly anticipates. In this dreadful context, the fact that one of our own great political parties has been captured by those who favor dependency, appeasement and surrender shows just how dangerously compelling the cult of serfhood has become – that it is literally an invitation to national suicide. The only rational alternative – the only hope for the survival of American liberty and what remains of Western Civilization – is the Bush Doctrine: warrior-like assertion of America’s absolute right to defend itself by all means necessary -- and the whining serfdoms of this planet be damned.

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posted by Loren at 12:03 AM : Comments (1) : TrackBack
» Who Tends the Fires links with: Whattaya mean, Tabloid "News"blog?!?

March 11, 2004

Laughing Wolf on "The Scary Looking Gun Ban"

Laughing Wolf summates the motives behind anti-gun thinking rather well. (Just follow the link.)

His post also reveals the fallacy of such authoritarian thinking, and helps me gel my own thought on the matter: ultimately, it's about fear. The authoritarians fear loss of control. People like me fear the loss of freedom. I do not think that the two psychologies can ever meet in the middle. Either someone wants to tell me how to live, what to eat, how I should think or express myself, whether I should own guns, etc.; or they don't.

I prefer the company of people who are content to let me live in peace, without interference, and trust that I am an ethical person with a strong sense of responsiblity and accountability.

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posted by Linda at 11:45 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack


In the 2000 Presidential campaign, a microphone picked it up when George W. Bush leaned over to Dick Cheney and whispered that he thought Adam Clymer was a "major league asshole." By the end of the day, the various networks and news agencies had it plastered everywhere, as a lead-in, with reporters and pundits sternly declaiming GW for his "meanness and nastiness."

Yesterday, John Kerry made a very serious allegation with the statement, "these guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group that I've ever seen," and no one made a peep. It's true that ABC, CBS, and NBC played the clip, but they certainly didn't lead with it, and ABC avoided offering a value judgement about it. NBC, on the other hand, merely tagged it as "harsh", and CBS passingly suggested that it demonstrated the "dark side" of politics.

Think about that.

Then think about this: if Kerry makes allegations of that nature, shouldn't he be expected to provide real, substantial, material proof? Oh -- but he hasn't any, has he? Besides, next week he'll be claiming that he and the President have always been the best of chums.

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posted by Linda at 04:46 PM : Comments (4) : TrackBack

March 10, 2004

IRS Revenue Ruling 2004-06 Update

Back in January, I urged all my readers to get in touch with their elected representatives, and direct them to write the IRS in oppostion of proposed IRS Revenue Ruling 2004-06. I'm sure regular readers remember the provisions of this outrageous clause. It could impose vague, open-ended criteria on alerts sent to subscribers of online and printed newsletters from such agencies as the GOA and NRA, and apply them after the fact. This could effectively silence such organizations, thereby denying voters important information on matters such as anti-gun legislation.

I promised you all updates on this issue as appropriate.

I've been keeping an eye out, but could find no news either online, or in printed media. So, I wrote to Gun Owners of America, who were responsible for the original alert, asking them what's become of the measure.

Here is their reply:

Dear Linda,

Thank you for your email and your interest in this very important issue. To date, there is still no final disposition on the IRS regs, as the agency has not announced its final ruling. We'll be sure to alert our
members when it does.

Thanks again for the email and for your activism in defending our liberties.

Frank Pejack
Public Liaison, Gun Owners of America

I will update again on this matter as events unfold.

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posted by Linda at 07:10 PM : Comments (0) : TrackBack

March 08, 2004

Dreadful Alternatives

by Loren Bliss

I AM STRICKEN by such a painful sense of betrayal, its pangs have not dulled even slightly with the passage of nearly two weeks. On the basis of everything I can discover, the proposed Constitutional amendment endorsed last week by President Bush is a Trojan Horse cunningly designed by its fundamentalist Christian authors to undermine every last vestige of America’s 228-year experiment with liberty, and its clandestine intent is to clear the way for imposition of a theocracy as viciously heavy-handed as anything characteristic of the Taliban.

What I am reporting here are dire analyses by others presumably far more qualified than I to pass judgement on Constitutional matters. The following is an excerpt from libertarian-conservative Andrew Sullivan’s blog on 26 February, the day after the President announced his support for the proposed amendment:

"THE FMA AS TROJAN HORSE: Here's an email from a Republican lawyer who sees the religious right amendment as a device to do far more than just deny gay couples constitutional protection. The amendment is just the beginning of the religious right agenda:

‘Now that opponents and proponents of gay marriage are all riled about the FMA its time to talk about the true impact of including a definition of marriage in the Constitution. The potential impact of inclusion of the FMA will effect every American straight or gay because the FMA is not about gay marriage, it is a dangerous Trojan Horse that could completely redefine the powers of the federal government. As an attorney who is researching this issue, let me explain to the best of my ability, why I haven’t been sleeping well since Tuesday.’

‘Under the Constitution of the United States there is no express right to privacy, rather this right to be free from excessive government interference in our personal lives has arisen from Supreme Court precedent that cites the lack of regulation of intimate relationships and the protections of the bill of rights as the basis for an inference of the right to privacy. The right to privacy, according to the Supreme Court, is found in the penumbras and emanations of these two factors. A shadow of a right, very delicate and now threatened.

‘By including a provision regulating the most intimate of relationships into the Constitution, the traditional analysis that the court has used to limit government power will be fundamentally changed and the right to privacy, if it is not destroyed completely, will be severely curtailed. As a result, decisions like Roe v. Wade, (Abortion), Griswold v. Connecticut (Birth Control), Lawrence v. Texas (Private Sexual Acts), will all be fair game for re-analysis under this new jurisprudential regime as the Constitutional foundation for those decisions will have been altered. A brilliant strategy really, with one amendment the religious right could wipe out access to birth control, abortion, and even non-procreative sex (as Senator Santorum so eagerly wants to do).

‘This debate isn’t only about federalism, it’s about the reversal of two hundred years of liberal democracy that respects individuals. So why isn’t anyone talking about this aspect of it?’

"With luck, this agenda will be revealed as this amendment is discussed and debated. The most important thing to remember is who is behind this amendment: Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer, Robert Bork, Rick Santorum. For them, gays are just the beginning, the soft targets before the real battle. Memo to straights: you're next."

Seeking additional expert opinion, I read the above to a lawyer named David Minikel, who works out of a busy office near Tacoma, Washington, and whose judicial victories include winning one of his clients a rare pardon from President Bush in 2002. Minikel said he agreed that the proposed amendment, if approved, "would open a Pandora’s Box," because until now the thrust of the Constitution "has always been to limit government power, not expand it." Which means, Minikel added, the fears expressed by Sullivan and his correspondent are "legitimate concerns."

Moreover, "the only time the United States ever tried to amend the Constitution to discriminate against a class of people – those who drink – it was a disaster." The 18th Amendment imposed national prohibition; it required the 21st Amendment to repeal it. And the 18th Amendment, said Minikel, "was an aberration" -- apart from that one instance, the function of the Constitution has always been "telling the government you can’t take away our rights."

Astute readers will note that I have gotten this far in this essay without once using the terms "gay" or "lesbian" or "homosexual" in my own remarks. That is because what is happening here is related only incidentally to individual expressions of sexuality or love – which the demagogues of the authoritarian right are using as a kind of latter-day Reichstag Fire to stir up homophobia, encourage gay-bashing and panic the electorate into enacting dire measures.

Thus the proposed federal marriage amendment– a logical outgrowth of the kind of theocratic thinking Ellen Craswell made infamous via her allies’ own web pages. Craswell was the 1996 Republican nominee for governor in Washington state, and her nomination marked the subversion and brazen takeover of the state GOP by a vindictively authoritarian fundamentalist fringe group, a veritable Taliban of intolerance and theocratic intent. Here are some representative samples of Craswell’s ideology:

"As Christians consider their responsibility, there are three vital principles to remember.

"First, government is God's institution! Civil government exists and functions by God's command, not because cave men created a social contract.

"Civil government began in Genesis 9:1-7, when God instructed Noah after the flood. In Exodus 20-22, God through Moses gives a specific pattern for civil government.

"Scripture is full of God's sovereignty and interest in civil government. In Daniel 2:20-21, God removes and sets up rulers. In Proverbs 21:1, he turns a ruler's heart. In Romans 13:1, He ordains civil powers. Clearly, government is not a secular institution but a God-ordained institution.

"A second key principle is that God has every right to direct His institutions. Indeed, Scripture reveals God's will, rules and leadership qualities for the home, the church... and the government!

"God also gives qualifications for leadership, both in the church (1 Timothy 3:1-7) and in civil government (Exodus 18:21). Imagine our state and nation under leaders with these Biblical qualities: ‘able’ and ‘fears God’ and speaks ‘truth’ and ‘hates covetousness’!

"The third vital principle to remember is that secularizing government is an affront to a Holy God! We are often told that government and politics should be secular. But would we allow Biblical Christianity to be excluded from our homes or churches? So why quietly capitulate to arguments saying we should keep God's Word and God's people out of God's institution of civil government?

"We need to petition God for revival before privatization of our faith results in complete secularization of government.

"The role of a civil leader is to enable government to fulfill God's purposes...Having ‘done our own thing’ for decades, we are now suffering the gaping devastation of crime, broken homes, abused and aborted children, sexual immorality, drug and alcohol problems, corrupt government, reckless taxing and spending, warped welfare programs and deficient education...Half-hearted measures will never solve these full- scale problems. The answer begins with a return to God and His ways."

Anyone who is not sufficiently troubled by the Talibanic tone of the material quoted above -- or anyone who merely wants to contemplate the full text of this brazen rationale for theocratic tyranny -- can access the entire manifesto, entitled, "The Biblical Basis for Christians in Politics and Government."

Predictably, the debate over the proposed marriage amendment is already more bitter than anything I’ve witnessed in years – maybe ever. The sheer venomousness of the authoritarian fundamentalists’ hatred of homosexuals is as appalling as it is infuriating, and the fundamentalists’ self-righteous intent to prohibit civil unions merely underscores the extent to which the cancer of religiously motivated intolerance – with all the associated risk of tyranny – is still gnawing at the American body politic.

But would the amendment as proposed in fact prohibit civil unions? Here is its exact wording:

"Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution nor the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."

The proverbial fly in the metaphorical ointment lies in the phrase, "marital status or the legal incidents thereof," which includes health insurance for domestic partners, survivors' rights and a variety of other boons that were formerly granted only to the legally married. Extension of those benefits to unwed domestic partners was typically the result of a long hard fight, whether via the courts or labor negotiations or both, and the prohibition against "any...law" nullifies the basis of all those victories. When President Bush attempted to reassure the public the amendment he had endorsed would in fact continue to support domestic partnerships, he apparently did not know of what he was speaking.

Nor are homosexuals the measure’s only intended victims. Prohibition of domestic partnerships could inflict particular hardship on elderly heterosexuals like myself – people retired and on fixed incomes who might choose to live together for companionship but cannot afford the tax hikes and pension reductions that would be imposed by formal matrimony. For this reason, I surely hope the American Association of Retired Persons is paying attention to this controversy. If not – since I belong to AARP – maybe I’ll send the organization’s officers a copy of this column in the hope it will alert them to the danger. It would not be incorrect to label the proposal a compulsory marriage act – an attempt to restructure law so that "the legal incidents" of marriage are available only through marriage itself – which the ensuing debate has already made clear is part of the fundamentalists’ malicious intent.

Moreover, the controversy has of course already again cloven the conservative community into its authoritarian and libertarian factions – a schism of precisely the sort I was discussing last week in "Divide et Impera" but of much greater and more potentially ruinous magnitude. The most important question is how much the split – which grows more acrimonious by the moment – will damage Republican prospects in November. Based on what happened in Washington state in the 2000 elections, when anger at the fundamentalists cost Sen. Slade Gorton (D-WA) his seat and gave control of the Senate to the Democrats, I believe the President’s decision to ally himself with those who would wreck the Constitution and impose theocracy will be a costly one – very costly indeed.

The greatest tragedy is that now we as Americans face a jarringly unsatisfying choice. We are offered John Kerry, who pledges to render us defenseless by dismissing Islam’s 1300-year war on civilization as merely a crime problem, or George Bush, who has cast his lot with those who would pervert America into the Christian version of a Talibanic state. I cannot recall a time in U.S. history when we faced such pivotal questions but were left with such dreadfully limited alternatives. It will not surprise me if voters elect to stay home in droves.

As to the fate of the measure itself, I take a lot of comfort from the words with which David Minikel concluded our conversation: fortunately, said Minikel, the Founders designed the Constitution so that it could not be changed in the heat of passion, and as a result, amendments have been few and far between. A debate of the sort underway now is healthy precisely because it compels people to think – "and when you think about (this proposal), you immediately start getting cold feet."

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posted by Loren at 07:21 PM : Comments (2) : TrackBack

February 26, 2004

A Pagan Mother's Take on Abortion

by Linda

I was six weeks pregnant when I observed blood spotting my underwear. Terrified, I called my midwife, who immediately arranged an ultrasound at the hospital. My husband met me, and off we went, both of us tight and pale with worry.

The good news is that everything was fine; in fact, she's at home, being tucked in for her nap as I write this. Yet, on that morning in early May of 2002, I was reminding myself to breathe in the face of the gnawing worry that I would lose the child who was conceived in so much love.

At six weeks' gestation, she wasn't much to look at. Roughly resembling a tadpole, the clearest indicator of her developing life was the fierce, hummingbird rhythm of her beating heart. She wasn't a baby, per se; not yet. Without reservation, I'm compelled to declare that I nevertheless fell in love; then, and every day since.

The bleeding, as it turns out, was merely from my cervix. A recent examination had irritated it. However, since the ultrasound tech spotted something that might be a cyst on the lining of my uterus, dangerously close to my child's developing umbilical cord, they scheduled another ultrasound for thirteen weeks' gestation.

At thirteen weeks, I saw a baby. Very tiny, to be sure, and utterly incapable of surviving outside my body, but she had defined limbs and appendages. I saw her skull. Her tiny face turned toward me. I saw her reacting to stimuli. I poked myself in the belly to see what would happen. She jumped and spun in her fluid-filled cave.

Seven weeks after that, halfway through the pregnancy, we saw that she was even better-developed, and were even able to discern gender. From that point forward, we ceased referring to her affectionately as "Tadpole", and instead used her name, which we'd picked out long before we ever conceived her.

This anecdote has a purpose. I mean to really pop the top on the proverbial can o'worms and discuss abortion.

Everyone has an opinion on the matter. What it comes down to, at the red-faced end of every debate, is the question not of when life begins, but whether or not a child in utero possesses a soul.

Really, that is the crux of the argument: when does life begin? Can an embryo feel pain? Is it sentient? All of those questions revolve around soul; the undefinable quality that's had scholars of philosophy and theology tied up in knots since mankind first discovered something called self-awareness.

Anyone can go out on the internet, walk into a bookstore, or take a stroll through a student union building, and see all kinds of arguments for and against abortion. So, let's pause for a moment while I make my position perfectly clear: I would never choose to have an abortion, yet I think that the choice should be available.

In other words, I'm pro-Choice. Dictionary.com defines the word "choice" thusly:

1. The act of choosing; selection.
2. The power, right, or liberty to choose; option.

3. One that is chosen.
4. A number or variety from which to choose: a wide choice of styles and colors.
5. The best or most preferable part.
6. Care in choosing.
7. An alternative.
(Em. mine--L.)

So, in other words, I am in favor of the individual's right to make the decision whether or not to bear a child. Since I embrace the notion that a person has the God-given liberty to make that very difficult decision, that means that the less government interferes with that agonizing quandary, the better.

Now, let me explain why I subscribe to the Right to choose.

First, there is my political philosophy, which is tied directly into my religious beliefs. Namely, I adhere to a libertarian philosophy, as defined (again) by Dictionary.com:

lib·er·tar·i·an n.
1. One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.
2. One who believes in free will.

Therefore, since I believe in minimizing the role of the state, and also because the exercise of free will is a notion that is sacred to me, I want the government to stay out of the personal lives of the people. Yes, that includes the current bullshit surrounding the proposed marriage Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, but that issue has already been tackled on this blog in Loren's most recent and excellent post.

Next, as a Pagan, I believe that all life has a vital essence; soul. I accept the argument that a soul is energy. Since energy cannot be destroyed, only transmuted, I believe that "soul" is indestructible. Since it is indestructible, it must be eternal, and if it is eternal, then the energy must be contained somewhere between transmutations.

Christians call this receptacle "Heaven". Pagans of my particular stripe call it "The Summerlands". Whatever moniker you prefer, it's generally agreed that it's a blissful place.

Therefore, in a theosophical nutshell, I believe that it is no hardship for a soul to wait in the lands of bliss until suitable parents can be found for its next body. Additionally, this thought also comforts me: if a woman is raped, or if bearing a child to term will seriously hurt, or even kill her, then it is the Grace of the Gods that allows her to choose not to carry the child in question. Let the soul wait a little; do not allow a child to come into the world if he or she will a.) potentially be repudiated thanks to the means of his/her conception, or b.) be deprived of someone who will rear him or her lovingly.

However, this is not permission to treat the idea of abortion lightly. Remember, I was there. I saw the miracle of developing life firsthand. Just this morning, she gave me Eskimo kisses and a tight hug, and then laughed up at me.

Whereas I believe that abortion is a personal decision, one to be left between the one/s making the choice, and their God, while also believing that the soul is eternal, and can find more fitting parents, I still believe that abortion is about ending a life. That decision should never be made lightly. Abortion should never be used routinely as a method of birth control.

I'm setting the thorny issues of rape, incest, and health considerations aside for a moment to address the promiscuous. If someone chooses to have sex, and they are neither mature or responsible enough to employ birth control, then they will very likely wind up with an unwanted pregnancy. This is not a good enough reason to choose abortion. (I can think of one exception. But that woman, who will eternally remain nameless, should just elect sterilization. I also think that the abusive, neglectful bitch needs to be gone over with a Louisville Slugger--and that for starters. But I won't go into any more detail.) The bottom line is that there are thousands of loving, capable couples out there who are unable to conceive for any number of reasons. Let stable, mature, responsible people rear the child you were too stupid and selfish to prevent. And next time use some type of prophylactic.

In the instance of rape, so-called "morning after" pills are routinely prescribed. If a woman chooses to take the medication, so much the better. If she does not, then she is opening herself up to the potential ramifications of that decision. She should think long and hard before refusing that pill. Yet, if she decides to do so, the ramifications -- the karma, if you will -- of that decison are hers alone to bear, up to and including abortion.

Incest is sticky, because it means that a male relative has violated the girl. Knowing that it is difficult for girls in this situation to get help -- let alone "morning after" pills -- if pregnancy results, she should be allowed to choose an abortion. She should be able to get one without parental consent. She should also be taken far away from the animal who raped her, and kept safe. But that's a rant for another day.

Facing a pregnancy that endangers the mother and/or child is a very different situation. Knowing people who have been there, it is an agonizing place to be. Ectopic pregnancy, severe toxemia, diabetes, kidney failure, severe and debilitating defects; all of these are situations that can see a pregnancy end, either through spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), or planned abortion. These women, as much as anyone else, have the right to sit down to think and pray. They should be allowed to take counsel with their mates, themselves, and their clergy, to make a decision that is ultimately between them and the Divine.

There may be those who will quibble with my stance, saying that no woman in such an emotionally extreme situation is in any place to make such an important decision. Frankly, that stripe of elitist knows nothing. Who else should make that decision? No, however distressed she may be, it is up to the woman and her partner (if he's around) to make the decision, and reap the consequences.

I know that the religious would also debate the point with me, saying the abortion is an abominaton in the eyes of God. Perhaps. But I don't think of God as a Being who creeps from house to house, peering in people's windows to see what they're doing. Nor are my Gods particularly vicious or vengeful. I believe in the ability of the Divine to look into a person's heart, and see the true motivations behind all their actions. Each case is judged individually, and damnation is applied only to those who are most deserving. I'm sorry that those people have forgotten that they have a loving God. I'm even sorrier that they nevertheless feel authorized to adjudicate the moral decisions of everyone else. Those people are well-intentioned fools.

Finally, there may be those who read this and crow that they found a conservative who wholeheartedly espouses abortion! No, my idiot child. Go back and read this screed again. I merely espouse a woman's right to choose whether or not she will have an abortion, and I do it with a heavy heart. But I am a Constitutional literalist: anything not already provided for therein is nothing that may be regulated by the government.

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posted by Linda at 08:40 PM : Comments (1) : TrackBack

Divide et Impera

by Loren Bliss

Modern-day conservatives belong ultimately to one of two groups: "authoritarians" or "libertarians." These groups are instinctively opposed to one another – often venomously so – but they are nevertheless united under the umbrella of the Republican Party by a common belief in the role of the United States as chief facilitator of global free-enterprise.

This libertarian/authoritarian alliance is simultaneously the Republican Party’s greatest strength and its Achilles heel. The GOP’s ideological melting-pot gives it the potential of speaking to the broadest possible spectrum of the American people – everyone from small business owners to topmost executives of Fortune 500 companies, from senior-citizen retirees to rank-and-file trade unionists of the sort who voted for Ronald Reagan (and view trade unionism an expression of enlightened self-interest), from soldiers and police officers to contractors and consultants. But the alliance has never been truly comfortable, and because the core beliefs of the two conservative groups are diametrically opposed, the party is always in danger of splitting into warring camps.

Smaller in number -- older, wealthier and often more dominant in Republican organizations -- the authoritarians are difficult for me to describe objectively simply because I have first-hand experience of their vindictiveness. In truth, most authoritarians are well-intentioned people who have merely not yet recognized that liberty is essential to the expression of free will and who thus believe overmuch in rigid hierarchies, whether determined by wealth, office or some combination of both. But their ranks include a tiny but disproportionately powerful cadre of Christian fundamentalists -- would-be tyrants whose identity is proclaimed by their self-righteousness, prudery, intolerance and a frightening preference for theocracy over constitutional government. There are also – often in league with the fundamentalists – a few surviving fascists of the Nixon/Pinochet/Franco variety, supporters of oligarchy and corporate colonialism. Indeed, despite his resignation in disgrace, the late President Richard Nixon remains one of the chief authoritarian idols, and there are at least a few authoritarians who no doubt secretly still idolize the late Adolf Hitler as well. Some may belong to the infamously conspiratorial John Birch Society. Others probably have darker connections.

Meanwhile, the libertarians – who include a substantial number of former leftists driven out of the Democratic Party when it was taken over by matrifascists and other authoritarian victim-identity cultists – are Bill-of-Rights literalists, devout believers in the Jeffersonian notion that government is best when it governs least, and passionate subscribers to the concept of "live and let live." They are probably by far the larger group of today’s conservatives – younger, more secular-minded and certainly more committed to the notions embodied in the Bill of Rights. They deeply respect the Founders, especially Thomas Jefferson, and they think highly of Ayn Rand. They are the epitome of what has been described as "South Park Republicans" or "granola Republicans"– as concerned about the environment as they are hawkish on national defense -- and they are unlikely to idolize any modern politician living or dead. But their very individualism often puts them at odds with the present-day Republican hierarchy, and the resultant standoff is undoubtedly a major factor in the growing membership of the Libertarian Party

Despite the conservative community’s vast potential for schism, it is only rarely some controversy actually divides it – and thus nominally Republican voters – into mutually hostile factions. But that is precisely what occurred in Washington state during the U.S. senatorial election of 2000, with the result that Republican incumbent Slade Gorton – a genuine gentleman whose lengthy history of honorable public service had hitherto drawn support from all quarters – lost to the Democrat Maria Cantwell by only 2,229 votes.

Despite Washington’s leftist reputation – President Harry Truman’s postmaster general once referred to "the 47 states and the Soviet of Washington" – it is an instinctively conservative state: definitively conservative ballot measures (like Initiative 200, which outlawed affirmative action) typically pass by 75 percent majorities. But Washington’s conservatives are predominantly either secular or non-traditionally religions: according to census data, only 28 percent of the state’s families regularly attend traditional Christian or Jewish religious services, and the fastest growing religion in the state is Wicca, a branch of Paganism. In this context it became a significant campaign issue when Gorton refused to repudiate the viciously intolerant, harshly authoritarian Christian fundamentalists who controlled much of the state GOP apparatus.

The fundamentalists had run theocracy-advocate Ellen Craswell ("The role of a civil leader is to enable government to fulfill God’s purposes") in a losing campaign for governor in 1996 – and in 2000 the Libertarian Party was poised to take advantage of the secular and non-traditionally religious conservatives’ lingering anger. Hence Libertarian candidate Jeff Jared got 64,734 votes, most of which would normally have gone to Gorton. Cantwell, an anti-Second Amendment eco-feminist, won after an automatic recount, and control of the Senate shifted back to the Democrats – with disastrous results both for President Bush’s appointments and the new administration’s efforts to assert control over the federal bureaucracy.

Another such example of conservative disunity was evident Monday on the Internet discussion-site Lucianne.com, in an unusually long double thread – still running early Tuesday morning – of posters’ responses to disclosures of John Kerry’s hatefully treasonous remarks about U.S. soldiers and Kerry’s equally offensive rants against National Guardsmen. A particularly astute poster who goes by the screen-name NorthernDog remarked that he "had not previously connected Kerry’s trashing of the NG today with the fact that it was NG troops that fired at Kent State," adding that, "I think this is a shorthand way for (Kerry) to tell anti-war protestors of the 1970s that he is still on their side." It was a connection I had not made either – not until I read NorthernDog’s remark – but it surely seems that is part of Kerry’s underlying purpose.

However the greater objective of this especially devious and singularly nasty Democrat strategy was revealed when the contributors to the threads began to discuss Kent State and immediately divided into two increasingly hostile camps: the authoritarians, who like their idol President Nixon applauded the shootings; and the libertarians, who noted that it is an "obscene atrocity" whenever people are murdered for exercising their First Amendment rights – whether at Kent State or at Waco. The Authoritarian quoted below goes by the screen-name Laocoon10; the Libertarians are respectively Shab93 and Wolfgang von Skeptik. Their exchange is abbreviated to save space:

Authoritarian: "The National Guard at Kent State in a very real sense saved America."

Libertarian: "No Guardsmen ever stuck by a story that they fired because they felt they'd been fired upon, or were in any danger whatsoever. An (Ohio) NG officer later admitted...he tried to plant a handgun on the body of Jeffrey Miller...‘Martial law’ was not formally declared. Classes were on...one fatal victim was escorting a hearing-impaired student to class. Another (fatality) was an ROTC student... the ROTC building...was burned down two days earlier... more than an hour after protestors had been disbursed and authorities were in control...and pardon my tinfoil hat, but it was later proven that FBI agents... burned down a campus ROTC building in Alabama in 1969."

Authoritarian: "... I simply don't care about what the leftist Spanish Inquisition squeezed from the Guardsmen in the post-mortem of Kent State. Some are almost certainly forced "confessions" designed to spare the soldiers legal and financial burdens...Kent State was a lot of things, but it was not an obscene atrocity... we owe those soldiers far more than any of us know."

Libertarian: "Anyone who believes Kent State ‘was not an obscene atrocity’ must of necessity then believe the government had equal right to murder the Branch Davidians at Waco..."

Authoritarian: "...With "friends" like this so-called "conservative"assisting the jackbooted secular Democrat statists, you can see why many parts of the nation are in such deep trouble...You and I have absolutely nothing in common. Stick with your Democrat buddies...I want nothing from you or your friends."

This impassioned debate took place Monday on a website noted for its informed posters and intelligent discussion -- and most of all for being several days ahead of the curve in terms of reflecting trends within the greater conservative community. If the discussion of Vietnam-related issues could bring out that much antagonism on Lucianne, what might it do to the Republican Party in general? As a poster who goes by the name of Thomcat put it, the discussion was "what digging up a septic tank would be like." In other words, the re-opening of all those old and bitter wounds – which I believe is precisely the clandestine intent of Kerry’s ploy.

Indeed, when you look at it logically, no other conclusion is possible. The Democrats have no internal need to emphasize Kerry’s military service or that he was decorated for heroism – in fact they have constantly demonstrated that military service is repugnant to them. Nor do they have any internal need to defame the President by linking him to the atrocities the Ohio National Guard committed at Kent State: in the minds of Kerry supporters, those connections – bogus though they are – already exist. Thus, by simple process of elimination, the only purpose for Kerry’s constant harping on Vietnam is to be found outside the Democratic Party – and only in the damage the resurrection of such truculent issues could do to Republican unity.

Which brings us back to the object lesson of the 2000 senatorial election, and the likelihood Washington state has once again been used as John Ehrilchman testified in the Watergate hearings it had so often been used in the past -- as a proving ground for techniques of oppression.

It is an article of faith among most conservatives – at least among the conservatives I know personally, and among the conservatives whose posts I read daily on Lucianne – that former co-Presidents Bill and Hillary Clinton vehemently oppose Kerry’s candidacy. But the emergence of this astonishingly clever divide et impera tactic suggests the opposite conclusion. ("Divide and rule" was originally the slogan of France’s Louis XI, and not a statement by Machiavelli, to whom it is mistakenly attributed.) Indeed, Hillary played a major behind-the-scenes role in the Cantwell campaign, which won precisely by inflaming the selfsame division between libertarians and authoritarians, and it is therefore my best guess Hillary is behind the resurrection of the Vietnam and Kent State controversies too – and for precisely the same reason. America was dreadfully torn by those fevered, often frenzied disputes, and after reading the "Protesting America" threads on Lucianne throughout the day Monday, it was clear the wounds of that wretched time have never healed. And if Lucianne is what I believe it to be – a microcosm of the conservative macrocosm – then this Hillary-type divide-and-conquer operation surely promises resounding success for those who would see President Bush defeated in November.

But I do not believe that is what will happen.

Let me stress that while I have many differences with the President, I believe Bush’s defeat in November would be a tragedy of unthinkable proportions for American liberty and Western Culture in general. The Democrats have already stated they intend to treat Islam’s 1300-year war against civilization as nothing more than a crime problem – precisely the head-in-the-sand stance that invited the attacks of 9/11, precisely the stance that will allow radical Muslims to impose the unspeakable tyranny of their proposed global caliphate on the entire planet.

Moreover I am profoundly uncomfortable with President Bush’s re-election prospects. By renewing the effort to re-enact the so-called "assault weapons ban" – a truly egregious assault on the Second Amendment – Bush has betrayed his gun-culture supporters, and by proposing what amounts to a blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants, he has alienated most of his conservative base – and probably two-thirds of the electorate as well. In my part of the country, these positions have left many people who voted for Bush in 2000 saying, "I’m damn sure not gonna vote for Bush in 2004. He’s no better than the Democrats on guns and immigration, and now with the economy down the commode, a Democrat is exactly what we need. And since all these lost jobs went overseas and aren’t ever coming back, what we need is not just a Democrat, but a Democrat with a WPA-type make-work program." Hence Bush’s growing unpopularity as reflected in the polls.

Meanwhile, there’s the astoundingly venomous intolerance of the conservative authoritarians inflamed by Kerry’s resurrection of the Vietnam and Kent State issues – an intolerance the Democrats probably believe will force libertarian conservatives out of the Republican Party, probably into the Libertarian Party and perhaps even back into Democrat ranks. But in this instance I believe the Democrats have uncaged a tiger that will eventually savage its own handlers. Much as a psychologically dysfunctional family so often pulls together to turn on those who expose its scandals, so will the politically dysfunctional family of America pull together and turn on those who three decades ago spat on its soldiers and now dig up the buried corpses of Vietnam and Kent State and fling shovels of grave-dirt in the face of the entire nation. The turning-about will not happen tomorrow, and it will not happen next week. But by October it should be obvious. Indeed, I think by maliciously unearthing the issues of Vietnam and Kent State, the Democrats may very well have guaranteed the re-election of President Bush.

Loren Bliss was a journalist for 30 years – variously an editor, editorial-page columnist, public affairs writer and investigative reporter. He has covered politics, education, transportation, crime, and sociological issues. He is also a poet and has written several essays on the resurrection of the feminine aspects of the Divine and the resultant renaissance of Paganism. This is his fifth column for Civilization Calls.

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February 20, 2004

Resurrecting Vietnam (II)

by Loren Bliss

The passage of years has soft-focused most of the details of a disturbing incident that occurred in May 1970 -- a brief but wrenching encounter with mob violence a couple of months before I left New York City and traveled west to recover from a ruinous divorce and return to college -- and now, nearly 34 years later, all but a few of the images of what happened that night have dwindled into the increasing and often merciful vagueness that so often veils our memories of long-ago. But the justifiably terrified expression in the uniformed soldier’s uniquely colored golden-green eyes remains as clear as ever. I’m sorry I don’t also remember his name – though he identified himself to me with a grateful handshake after we left the sheltering doorway in which we had huddled there on Manhattan’s West 64th Street – and I remember only vaguely his explanation of the adverse circumstances that had dropped him, without a stitch of civilian clothing (and thus all too much like fresh meat flung into an alligator pit), amidst the post-Kent State fury of New York City. And fury it was, with all the city’s colleges closed by student-and-faculty strikes, even the high schools shut down by wildcat walkouts, and – no wimpy pacifist black armbands for New Yorkers – more people defiantly wearing red armbands than the old folks from the Russian neighborhoods had seen since the autumn of 1917 in Petrograd.

Indeed – and this is a confession – in May of 1970 I was part of the red armband legion myself. Like so many in New York – especially those of us in media – I knew that President Richard Nixon had commissioned the Rand Corporation to prepare the rationale for suspending the 1972 elections, and I knew the goons of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department Red Squad were everywhere. As a reporter I had crossed paths with the spooks more than once; I had witnessed the NYPD cops standing by doing nothing save grinning sadistic grins as a mob of several thousand "hard-hat" construction workers beat several hundred non-violent peace demonstrators bloody at City Hall, and I had seen the equally repugnant violent idiocy of the Weathermen in their bombed-out "safehouse" on East 11th Street – I had been at an editorial conference three blocks away when the Weathermen accidentally blew the place up. For me as for so many others it was exactly as a popular song of the period so aptly put it: "paranoia strikes deep/ into your minds it will creep/ it starts when you’re always afraid/ step out of line the Man come/ and take you away."

But I had remained publicly neutral – once vaguely hawkish, now decidedly anti-war though not openly committed to either side – until the Ohio National Guard obeyed an officer’s order to fire a deadly volley of M2 Ball into a crowd of unarmed anti-war protestors. A company of Guardsmen with their .30-‘06 caliber M-1 rifles had thus gunned down 12 Kent State University students, killing four and wounding nine more – leaving one student a permanent cripple -- merely because the authorities were unhappy the students were exercising rights of speech and assembly guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States: the same Constitution that I as a Regular Army soldier (1959-1962) had taken an oath to defend with my life. When President Nixon broadcast the next day that Kent State’s dead and wounded had gotten exactly what they deserved, I (like many of my colleagues) believed this marked the end of American liberty – that the massacre was the beginning of a deliberate nationwide slaughter ordered by Nixon himself – and that now there would be open war between the fascists who sought to impose dictatorship and a hard corps of radicals who would defend the Bill of Rights. When my Marxist neighbor offered me a red armband in the patio of our Chelsea apartment building, I tugged the four-inch-wide circlet of crimson cotton on over my coat-sleeve without a moments hesitation.

I had two girlfriends at the time, and by some quirky and vaguely ironic twist of fate, they lived on opposite ends of 89th Street: Janey lived on West 89th, Stephanie on East 89th, and on this particular night -- perhaps because of the pleasant early-summer weather, perhaps because of some long-forgotten reason related to the diverse motives that prompt New Yorkers to walk more miles than any other Americans, more likely because I simply felt I had sat too long in my newsroom chair that day at The Jersey Journal (where I was variously an investigative reporter and a rim-rat on the telegraph desk), I got off the Eighth Avenue train at West 54th Street station intending to walk the rest of the distance to Janey’s place. My chosen route led me up Sixth Avenue from the mouth of the subway, left along the sidewalk at the southern end of Central Park and right – uptown -- on Central Park West. As always, walking felt good , and my ability to create my own solitude amidst the omnipresent crowds enabled me to contemplate whatever I chose. But at this distance in years, I have no idea what I was thinking about that night, merely that when I reached the byzantine-looking Ethical Culture Society headquarters on the corner of Central Park West and West 64th Street, I decided to head west towards Broadway and accordingly had turned away from the park and crossed onto 64th.

There were dozens of anti-war, anti-Nixon rallies going on throughout the five boroughs of the City, and one of these was underway at the Ethical Culture Society’s temple-like facility; I could hear the yelling and chanting even through the massive masonry walls. When I was about midway up the block, the Ethical Culture Society’s double doors swung open and the mob of people who had been rallying for peace and Nixon’s impeachment boiled out onto West 64th street behind me. On the other side of the street and directly opposite me a uniformed soldier was walking toward the mob. He was dressed in Army Class A woolen winter greens with the leather-visored garrison cap, which marked him as someone from an outland military district (local soldiers were already wearing summer khakis), and his tunic had the unadorned sleeves characteristic of a man fresh out of training. When the peace mob saw the soldier, it let out an enraged snarl. The soldier stopped, gawked, reversed direction and began to run with a frantic gangling gait bred of panic and now as he crossed the street on a long diagonal toward me the peace mob was chasing him and yelling and I remember thinking "this is what a lynch mob is like."

Individuals in the mob were now hurling stones and bottles and bits of garbage and the mob was gaining on the soldier – it is impossible to run very fast in low-quarter Army dress shoes – and without much conscious thought I snatched up a discarded newel-post from a debris pile and hooked my left hand through the handle of a garbage-can lid and raised the lid as a shield and shouted at the soldier something like "here, on me," words that told him I was military too and that he’d found an unexpected ally in this terrible and unprovoked fight. I think I gestured at a doorway behind me and the soldier ducked into it, and I seem to remember a fleeting expression of out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire horror when he saw my red armband. I said something like "no, no, I’m not with them" and turned to confront the front rank of the mob, which as it stopped short on the sidewalk and spilled over into the street I could now see was also wearing red armbands.

I pointed at my own red armband and roared in their faces that they were behaving like Nazis on a Jew-hunt and I roared that they goddamned well should be ashamed of themselves for turning on a fellow member of the proletariat and I roared that they were revisionist pigs for violating the revolutionary solidarity of students and workers and soldiers, and though I was as frightened as I have ever been, somehow the armband and the denunciation and the combination of the impromptu newel-post war club and the garbage-can-lid shield and maybe too my tone of voice and the expression that was probably reflected on my face or maybe all of this together startled some sense into them and they backed off. As the drill sergeants of those years taught, "yew gots to be AG-ile, MO-bile and HOS-tile," and I was surely all of that. But as much as anything else I was thankful for the childhood years of vaguely Marxist indoctrination I had received from my father who’d been a Red in the ‘30s and whose library of political books, which I had absorbed during my teens, had given me just the right words to defuse this terrifying moment. Some of the peace mob now tried to apologize and I knew the soldier was going to be safe at least for now and I laid the newel post back on the debris pile and put the lid back on the garbage can and the soldier put down the dark green wine-bottle he had grabbed from the garbage can while it was open and I leaned against the building to hide the fact my knees were knocking together.

The mob thinned out, and then it dispersed completely, and I asked the soldier where he was going, and when he told me, I suggested we share a cab. He agreed, and during the ride I explained that my red armband "was just a symbol of protest, not sympathy for the Viet Cong or anything" and the soldier explained how he came to be in a winter uniform in mid-May – I don’t remember the details but I think he said he had recently completed advanced artillery training or possibly anti-aircraft school and had then been ordered to a permanent duty station in Alaska but had no sooner arrived than he had been compelled to come home on emergency leave because of a potentially fatal injury to a parent or maybe a potentially fatal illness. In those days you were not allowed to possess civilian clothing until after you completed advanced combat training, which is probably why the soldier had no civvies, or maybe some airline had (typically) lost his baggage. In any case he had taken a cab in from JFK and had decided that to emotionally prepare himself for the sight of his sick or severely injured parent he would walk the last couple of miles to his home, but instead he encountered the peace mob. By now we had reached 89th and Broadway, where I paid my share of the fare and gave the cabbie a generous tip. The soldier thanked me and we shook hands once more and I wished him good luck, and he went on his way in the bright yellow taxi, and I never saw him again.

As I have explained in other columns, I had been in the reserves between my release from Regular Army active duty in 1962 until I was honorably discharged at the end of 1965, and I had been more hawk than dove during most of those years, but I had not been especially passionate about either position. I had hoped for peace and foolishly believed President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s first lie he was a peace candidate and his second lie the North Vietnamese had attacked us without provocation in the Gulf of Tonkin. When I turned against the war in 1969 or more likely early 1970 it was because I had finally grown furious at the U.S. government for pointlessly squandering soldiers’ lives in a meat-grinder conflict it lacked the political will to win or even the command-level competence to properly fight. But the shooting at Kent State followed by Nixon’s enthusiastic endorsement of the National Guard’s deliberate atrocities came very close to changing me into one of those Jane-Fonda-like useful idiots who was willing to not only denounce U.S. policy but to turn against the entire notion of America and dismiss it as a fraud. After Kent State and Nixon’s expression of delight at the bloodshed, it was an easy position to take. Hence I understand fully the temptations that beset John Kerry and his ilk, because in those days the Democrats under Johnson, and the Republicans under Nixon, seemed united in a malevolent twinhood of tyranny. Indeed every man or woman I knew felt profound loathing toward each party and even the government itself during those dreadful years. But apart from the minority represented by Hanoi Jane Fonda and her ideological kindred – a hate-America family-tree that included both the "moderate" Kerry and the "radical" Weathermen – most of us did not embrace the enemy or declare war on our own nation, and we most assuredly did not cheer when Kerry denounced American military operations in Vietnam as "reminiscent of Genghis Kahn." .

In retrospect I would have to say it was a kindness of fate, or more likely the grace of some higher power whose existence in those days I often claimed to doubt, that I had been given a glimpse of the evil at the heart of a mob, and thus – though it would be a while before I fully understood, and many years before I could put it into words -- I had seen all too vividly the darker implications of revolution. Walking west on West 89th Street toward Janey’s apartment that night I was still wearing the red armband my neighbor had given me, but when I got to the doorway into Janey’s building, I was suddenly embarrassed by the armband and the mob viciousness it now seemed to represent, and with considerable self-disgust I pulled the armband off and somewhat furtively tucked it into a nearby garbage can. When I donned a red armband once again – in an anti-war demonstration at college a year later – it was merely because that is what had locally come to distinguish military veterans from the far more numerous pacifists, who wore armbands of black as if they were in mourning for lost relatives.

Because so many years have passed, it is easy to forget that though Nixon got us out of Vietnam, he did so only by the murderous betrayal of our South Vietnamese allies and resultant damage to our national credibility that has not yet been repaired. But Vietnam was truly the Democrats’ war, and the Democrats therefore bear the greater responsibility for the nation’s 58,168 Vietnam War dead. Moreover, it was a war of betrayals from the very beginning: the Democrats betrayed America when Johnson lied himself into office as the peace candidate in 1964, creating a legacy of electoral cynicism that lingers to this day, and the Democrats then betrayed America’s soldiers not once but thrice -- first by fabricating the Gulf of Tonkin incident, next by pointlessly sending our troops into the meat grinder, lastly by slandering the survivors and pelting them with feces when they returned. Now the Democrats are trying to resurrect the Vietnam era and somehow cleanse it of all its anguish and emotional wretchedness so they can rewrite its history and thus transform falsehood and treason into heroism and victory – all this to steal America’s future by robbing America’s past and thereby electing John Kerry as President – John Kerry who (lest we forget) condemned us as genocidal killers in 1970 and has already expressed his intent to leave us defenseless in 2005. In other words, the Democrats are trying to betray us once again.

Loren Bliss was a journalist for 30 years – variously an editor, editorial-page columnist, public affairs writer and investigative reporter. He has covered politics, education, transportation, crime, and sociological issues. He is also a poet and has written several essays on the resurrection of the feminine aspects of the Divine and the resultant renaissance of Paganism. This is his fourth column for Civilization Calls.

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February 13, 2004

Truth and Lies: John Kerry as a Useful Idiot

by Loren Bliss

ONCE AGAIN, SOMEBODY LIED, and once again -- just as Josef Goebbels predicted -- a chorus of malleable morons broadcast the deceit far and wide via the alchemy of incompetent journalism, and a venomous lie was thus transmogrified into an apparent truth.

I started this piece with the notion of quoting Vladimir Lenin on the revolutionary function of "useful idiots" and then following up with a few vivid examples of John Kerry’s useful idiocy – none more outrageous than his 1971 statement to Congress that U.S. behavior in Vietnam was "reminiscent of Genghis Kahn." Since Genghis Kahn is considered the very nadir of murderousness (worse than Hitler or even Stalin), this was tantamount to labeling America equivalent to the most bloodthirsty conqueror in history.

Hence, because I am of the old school and believe fervently in confirming my facts -- not distorting reality a la Maureen (Doctored Quotes) Dowd or simply making it up a la Jayson (Affirmative Action) Blair -- I dug out an ancient copy of Ten Classics of Marxism, a book produced in 1940 by International Publishers, a long-defunct Communist Party printing operation in New York City. I blew the dust of many years off the book’s exposed surfaces, paged dutifully through both "State and Revolution" and "‘Left-Wing Communism,’ an Infantile Disorder," and discovered I could not find the notion of "useful idiots" anywhere in Comrade Lenin’s turgid prose.

Next I turned to Bartlett, got no help there either, and finally embarked on a long Google search that led me to several Marxist websites (who even knew there were such things?) including one that looked as if it might have begun life as an official organ of the old Soviet government. Lots of references in Marxist literature (sic) to "idiots" – typically as a synonym for opponents of Lenin, Stalin and Marx himself – and many more occurrences of the term "useful," but zilch about "useful idiots."

Finally I telephoned the reference department of the Timberland Regional Library, which serves the five-county, predominantly rural district of southwestern Washington state in which I live. I was on a deadline, I explained, and wanted to use Lenin’s "useful idiots" quote in an Internet column, but I wanted the full passage in which the term had occurred and not just the phrase, because before I employed it, I wanted to make certain the context was accurate and that I had indeed chosen the proper tool for the job at hand.

The reference librarian, an articulate and helpful woman named Heather, called me back exactly as promised and read me the following:

"Lenin, it is said, once described left-liberals and social democrats as ‘useful idiots,’ and for years anti-communists have used the phrase to describe Soviet sympathizers in the West, sometimes suggesting that Lenin himself talked about ‘useful idiots in the West.’ But the expression does not appear in Lenin’s writing. We get queries on ‘useful idiots of the West’ all the time, declared Grant Harris, senior reference librarian at the Library of Congress, in the spring of 1987. We have not been able to identify this phrase among his published works."

The source of this passage is a work entitled They Never Said It: a Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions, authored by Paul F. Boller Jr. and John George, published by Oxford University Press in 1989. The text goes on to explain that the phrase apparently first appeared in a John Birch Society pamphlet labeling President Ronald Reagan a "useful idiot" because of some agreement he had negotiated with the Soviet Union.

Astute readers will note (he said, wiping the metaphorical egg off his face) that I too was taken in. I was sure I remembered the quote from the Lenin I had read in my thoroughly debauched youth, repressing my instinctively libertarian sensibilities in vain hope of becoming more attractive to the radical slum-goddess in the pad next door – this in New York City’s East Village of course. East Village years not withstanding, my recollection of quotes and sources is dependably accurate – so the fact repetition of the "useful idiots" Big Lie imposed a bogus memory shows not only how insidiously the Big Lie tactic works, but how diabolically astute was Hitler’s minister of propaganda.

Falsely attributed to Lenin and vindictively hurled at President Reagan, "useful idiot" originally described no truth beyond its fabricator’s malice, but through popularization and endurance, the phrase has become an accurate description of a legitimately disturbing reality. Which brings us back to the subject of John Kerry and whether we want to believe the Even Bigger Lie that a man who could slander his country as Kerry did is fit to be President.

I remember the Vietnam years vividly. I served a Regular Army enlistment including 19 months in Korea that overlapped with the real beginning of the Vietnam War in 1961, was in the reserve during the first major escalations and was honorably discharged at the end of 1965. It is only luck of the draw I went where I did, and if I had been called back to active duty for Vietnam, I would certainly have reported for duty as ordered. After all, that is precisely what I promised to do when I took the oath of enlistment: to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, to obey the lawful orders of my commander-in-chief and all officers appointed over me. Kerry took virtually the same oath.

Like John Kerry, I eventually became an anti-war activist, but that was not until 1970, five years after I was discharged. What provoked my activism was precisely what prompted the activism of so many other veterans – fury at the fact the United States was sending good men into the Southeast Asian meat-grinder on what amounted to suicide missions – missions that were clearly doomed because the politicians at home obviously lacked the will to win the war and thus tolerated gross incompetence amongst the higher commanders in country. (Anyone who doubts this indictment should read The Betrayal, an informative book by retired U.S. Marine Colonel John Corson, published by Norton in 1968 and still available in used bookstores.)

Indeed, if the Democrats want to resurrect controversies about Vietnam -- under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower an obscure duty station for a handful of spooks and advisors but escalated into a full-scale war by Democrat President Lyndon Baines Johnson -- the Democrats would do well to remember it was thus by definition the Democrats’ own war. It was also one of the most outrageous violations of campaign promises in American history.

Some of my old anger – that I voted in good faith for Johnson the Peace Candidate but instead got Lyndon the Fumbling Warmonger – probably still shows. Even so, I did not become a "useful idiot," which by its spurious but now widely accepted definition is someone whose activity provides aid and comfort to the enemy. It is one thing to protest a war, quite another to officially denounce your nation as a genocidal tyranny. I did not equate American soldiers with the murderous savages who obeyed a homicidal overlord named Genghis Kahn. I did not repeat the malicious John Kerry/Hanoi Jane Fonda slander that our soldiers in Vietnam were committing "war crimes on a day-to-day basis." I did not thereby help lay the groundwork for all the subsequent denunciations of "Amerika" as the new Nazi Germany – embodiment of all earthly evil.

But John Kerry did all these things, which as far as I am concerned invalidates his war record as surely as if a court-martial had convicted him of the "useful idiocy" of treason. John Kerry’s 1971 Congressional calumnies gave aid and comfort to the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese enemies and thus betrayed U.S. soldiers still in the midst of battle, and just as other falsehoods have acquired the aura of truth, so did John Kerry’s lies became one of the cornerstones of a Greater Lie that has given aid and comfort to all the enemies of America ever since. And I do not believe – especially now that Islam has renewed its 1300-year war against civilization -- we dare allow such a "useful idiot" to occupy the White House.

Loren Bliss was a journalist for 30 years – variously an editor, editorial-page columnist, public affairs writer and investigative reporter. He has covered politics, education, transportation, crime, and sociological issues. He is also a poet and has written several essays on the resurrection of the feminine aspects of the Divine and the resultant renaissance of Paganism. This is the second of his regular contributions to Civilization Calls.

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February 10, 2004

Step Right Up

by Loren Bliss

OBSERVING THE PRESIDENTIAL election campaign for the past couple of weeks I’ve been struck repeatedly by how successful the Democrats are at downplaying their suicidal foreign-policy proposals and their authoritarian domestic agenda. This is the party that would revert to the Clinton Administration’s ruinous practice of regarding Islam’s 1300-year war against civilization as merely a crime problem: the very do-nothing strategy that invited the attacks of 9/11. These same Democrats would impose socialized medicine, would torpedo public-school reform merely to serve the (unspoken) purpose of fostering an ever-growing number of voters utterly ignorant of the ideals and history of the United States, and would further balkanize the nation by resuming the official encouragement of victim-identity cultism so characteristic of the Donna Shalala years. Yet thanks to the bias and superficiality of mass media – that and the fact the American electorate all too often has the attention-span of an earthworm – the vital issues to be decided by the outcome of the 2004 election are becoming ever more obscure, all but ignored in the distracting but ultimately meaningless epidemic of journalistic flatulence that results when politics is covered as a mere Superbowl of personalities and pork.

But it is not just the electorate that is duped. One of my favorite conservative columnists and libertarian bloggers – one of the very best in the business – is Andrew Sullivan. Indeed my only real criticism of Mr. Sullivan is that sometimes he squanders too much general-interest bandwidth on special-interest matters relevant only to gays and lesbians – though given his own avowed orientation, it is surely an excess he can readily be forgiven, especially considering the overall astuteness of his thinking. However just last week I caught him in one of his extremely rare errors – an error that illustrates how very effectively the Democrats and their media allies have hidden the electoral stakes of 2004. Writing about the Democratic Party and its campaign to retake the federal government, Mr. Sullivan asserted in his London Sunday Times column (1 Feb 04) that "Democrats have gone a long way to reverse their anti-gun mentality." Which is, of course, precisely what the Democrats want the rest of us to believe – especially those of us who cherish the Second Amendment and take it at face value.

That the truth is something quite different will quickly become apparent to anyone who researches likely input for the Democrats’ 2004 platform proposals. Americans for Gun Safety, a group consistently aligned with Democratic Party strategists, commissioned a poll completed in October 2003 that detailed how to disguise gun control as a "gun safety" issue – the better to impose gun control on the public – and recommended the Democrats adopt just such camouflage. (The poll is available on the Internet at this link. ) Another Democrat strategy group, the Emerging Democratic Majority, has already commented favorably upon the AGS proposal. Meanwhile the hysterically anti-gun New York Times noted with approval (7 Feb 04) that likely-presidential-candidate John Kerry consistently voted for "stiff" gun-control laws; in Timesspeak the only truly "stiff" gun-control laws are those that seek to ban the private ownership of firearms. Hence the probability Democrat partisans have it exactly right when they gleefully speculate that, at the very least, a Kerry Presidency would impose Massachusetts’ draconian permit-and-registration scheme – the most vindictively restrictive gun-control regime in the country – on the entire United States. Most of all there is the fact that Democrat politics are still driven by fanatical anti-gunners – a loose coalition of pacifists, matrifascists and victim-identity cultists, the majority of whom despise not only the Second Amendment but the other nine amendments of the Bill of Rights too.

Though all politicians practice deception – the old joke that a politician is lying "anytime his lips are moving" surely has a basis in fact – I can’t recall any other circumstance in which either one of the nation’s two major parties has so methodically set out to bilk the voters. The fact today’s Democrats are even considering such a ploy tells us not only of their contempt for the electorate but the extent to which they are willing to embrace strategies that were formerly the identifying characteristics of fascists, Communists and Nazis. Hence whenever some Democrat promises Utopia and invites you to "step right up," reflect on carnival-king P.T. Barnum and his infamous credo of a new sucker born every minute.

Loren Bliss was a journalist for 30 years – variously an editor, editorial-page columnist, public affairs writer and investigative reporter. He has covered politics, education, transportation, crime, and sociological issues. He is also a poet and has written several essays on the resurrection of the feminine aspects of the Divine and the resultant renaissance of Paganism. This is the first of his regular contributions to Civilization Calls.

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