Monday, May 31, 2004

Extended Holiday Weekend Brain Drippings

Thursday 27 May

  • The media are all torqued up about gas prices, but no one I know is talking about it. Sure the prices are higher than we have seen, but everyone I know is taking it in stride

  • Speaking of gasoline, New Jersey prohibits the customer from pumping his own. It's aggravating sitting around waiting for the attendant to arrive and "assist" you in doing something you do for yourself on a daily basis.

  • Friday 28 May

  • An 11 year old in Brooklyn was not allowed to pitch in a Little League game against a rival church league because he was too good.. Apparently, the church league's bylaws allow banning participants that are significantly more proficient than their peers.

  • We went to Rutt's Hut today for lunch. The place is classic New Jersey. Behind the counter, a thirtiesh Italian-American asked my eighty year old mother in law for ID when we ordered beers with our hot dogs. She laughed and thanked him, and he said, "Wait, there's more." And he gave her a big exaggerated wink. Later, I went back the counter for a second hot dog, and the same guy acknowledged my NRA t-shirt, saying "To a fellow NRA member, this one's on me."

  • With casualties in Iraq now approaching 800 over the better part of a year, here is a little perspective: In 1944, 790 sailors died in one day when the Pacific Fleet encountered a typhoon.

  • Saturday 29 May

  • This Memorial Day weekend I am remembering and honoring my Dad, a Marine who loved his country and family. I also honor my good fried Mike, A Navy Seal who sits a dozen feet away at work. Thanks to both of these fine men, who served our country and protected our freedom, and to all those currently serving in our military a hearty "THANK YOU" for their service.

  • Bob Brinker on his "Money Talk" problem today offered the following analysis of the Islamic terrorists:
    Their religion as they interperet it demands they kill all unbelievers. Further, they believe that failure to achieve that goal will result in the same reward as success. Consequently, their is no moderating influence in radical Islam, and no grounds on which to negotiate with the jihadists.
    Clearly, if you accept Brinker's premise (as I do) we have no option in the war against radical Islam other than total victory.

  • Sunday 30 May

  • I watched tonight on A&E two programs: The Butcher of Baghdad and Son's of Saddam. The brutality of this family was unbelievable. Everyone inclined to complain about the righteousness of this war should be made to invest two hours in these stories.

  • Fox News reported tonight that President Bush has been given the pistol Saddam Hessein was carrying upon his capture. It is stored in the small study off the Oval Office. You remember that study - Bill Clinton had other, less noble ideas about how to use it.
  • Wednesday, May 26, 2004

    Off to New Jersey

    We are off to visit my wife's family in Ridgewood, so blogging will be sporadic (if at all). Looking forward to $40 fill-ups and the beloved New Jersey Turnpike (Exit 18W, thank you very much). Back Tuesday.

    The World Trade Center

    I miss the World Trade Center.

    Not architecturally, but viscerally. The twin towers was not a gracious edifice; indeed upon its completion, it was said to be no more attractive than "two sticks of butter." But I grew up about twenty miles from Manhattan, and you could see the World Trade Center from the high point of my hometown. Like millions of others, I developed a relationship with those buildings that transcended their design shortcomings.

    On three occasions I took good friends, none of whom had ever seen New York City, on the train from Ridgewood, NJ to Hoboken, followed by the PATH subway to the subterranean labrynth below the Twin Towers. We rode the elevator to the observation deck, and my buddies enjoyed their first view of New York - from 110 stories up.

    One Thanksgiving Day, while visiting a great friend in Brooklyn, I went for a run over the Brooklyn Bridge. Headed uptown on Broadway (this was during Mayor Koch's bike lane fantasy, so there was a clear running lane) to Herald Square, then headed back downtown on Fifth Avenue, with the World Trade Center as my destination.

    After stopping briefly to stretch at Washington Square Arch, which framed the Towers perfectly against a bright blue autumn sky, I continued on to the financial district. As I ran past the towers, the wind funneled up the Narrows and into the Upper Bay, and passed between the towers. As I ran out of the shadow of Tower 1 in mid-stride, I was literally blown over. Knocked flat down.

    I got up laughing at myself, checked for blood (only minor scrapes), and continued back past City Hall, over the bridge and through the Fulton Street Mall, where a pedestrian, seeing my Clemson shirt shouted "Go Tiger!" as I zoomed past him laughing and waving. A wonderful afternoon in New York!

    Now, whenever I visit The City, my eye is drawn to the gap in the skyline that the towers used to occupy. Like a tongue to a missing tooth, my eyes are drawn to the hole in lower Manhattan, and I find myself yearning for the Towers' solid anchor. Over the years, the Towers had morphed themselves from sticks of butter to railroad spikes, driven firmly into the southern tip of Manhattan.

    And I come back to the fact that my relationship with the World Trade Center was largely peripheral. It was there as I grew up, I dismissed it as poor architecture, I looked at it from the Bridge, I visited with friends, I ran around it. And still I miss it. Three years later.

    What of the people that lost loved ones? What to me is a missing tooth in lower Manhattan must to them be more like a stinging, persistent cold-sore. I can't even imagine their pain.

    I miss the World Trade Center.

    Tuesday, May 25, 2004

    Pro wrestling veteran Bobby "The Brain" Heenan was on Dennis Miller last night, and he related the following anecdote about fellow wrestler Andre the Giant:
    Andre liked to have a little nip to start the day to, you know, settle his shooting hand [waves pointing hand around like a pistol] Well, he got on a plane at 7 AM and the stewardess asked, "What can I get you?" Andre repiled, "A screwdriver." A few minutes later, she came back with a Black & Decker power screwdriver, and Andre asked, "What would you have done if I had asked for a Bloody Mary?"
    My brush with greatness in the world of professional wrestling? My high school health teacher was Carl Albano, Captain Lou's brother.

    Monday, May 24, 2004

    Testing the new photo posting capabilities of Blogspot. This is the beach in Salvo, NC, not far from where the Great White Shark was recently spotted. Obviously, no surfing on this day.

    Miss Manners

    I was in line at Home Depot over the weekend, and the woman in front of me received a call on her cell phone. Fortunately, she had already handed her credit card to the clerk, so the transaction continued. Upon completion of the sale, however, the woman was unable to open her purse to put away her credit card without putting down her phone.

    She just stood there at the register talking on her cell phone with one hand and holding her credit card with the other. The clerk and I were looking at each other in disbelief, unable to do anything. I couldn't give her my air conditioner filters to ring up because the other lady refused to even look in our direction. She just talked and talked, staring all the while out the window.

    After she completed her call, which I estimate took slightly over a minute, she put her phone down, put away her credit hard, and stepped away from the counter, only to receive another call. I was able to get to the register, and the clerk remarked that it was the rudest thing she had ever seen. I agreed, adding that I like going out without my cell phone, as I am guaranteed a little peace and quiet.

    As I left, the woman was standing in the middle of the exit doors talking, forcing everyone to go around her to leave the store.

    Weekend Brain Drippings

    Friday 21 May

  • On Fox News, Susan Estrich says that John Kerry needs to voice his positive vision for the future. Meanwhile, blogs across America are already ridiculing Kerry's new campaign slogan. "Letting America be America Again." Memo to Susan: if that's your guy's idea of vision and leadership, we wish you the best of luck!

  • Also on Fox News is a report from Rodanthe, NC about a group of fisherman in a boat offshore that were shocked to see a fish in the ocean! Well, granted it was a 16' white shark, but come on, we know sharks are out there. The 24 hour news cycle must be fed.

  • For three days last week I thought I might be adding an1879 $4 gold piece to my coin collection, valued at a minimum of Fifty. Thousand. Dollars. Never mind. (Anyone know what a $4 paper note is worth?)

  • Chris Matthews, interviewing Cokie Roberts on Hardball, actually agree that Ronald Reagan had a deep and well considered political philosophy. The point of this liberal Reaganfest was only to set up the conclusion that George W. Bush does not.

  • Martha Washington camped with the soldiers every winter of the Revolutionary War. Which, by the way lasted eight long years on American soil. Now Americans are hacked off about quagmires, defined as any war lasting more than a couple months.

  • John Kerry is threatening to refuse acceptance of his party's nomination at their convention in Boston. Why? Because the Dem's beloved Campaign Finance Reform would put him at a disadvantage were he to do so. As loopholes go, this kind of makes the non-existent "gun show loophole" seem like a rookie effort, doesn't it.

  • Saturday 22 May

  • Again on Fox News, Jesse Jackson is now inserting himself into the Iraqi prison scandal. What a freaking media whore. Fortunately, Charles Krauthammer is there with the real story.

  • My wife has likened blogging to a bunch of teenage girls leaving their diaries on the streetcorner, hopong someone will read them. My response? "Well, okay, I guess so."

  • Friday, May 21, 2004

    Kerry Maintains High Level of Nuance

    John Kerry, in a recent AP interview, maintains his uncanny ability to advocate both sides of any issue, has found a new line to straddle: judicial appointments.
    Democrat John Kerry said Wednesday he's open to appointing anti-abortion judges as long as that doesn't lead to the Supreme Court overturning the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion legal.
    Setting aside for a moment the intellectual banality of such a declaration, it is important to note that the "landmark" 1973 decision didn't make abortion legal. It was already legal in many states. What Roe v Wade did was to make prohibition of abortion illegal. And the left has taken that and turned it into any limitation anywhere for any reason. Here's what the current debate often sounds like:
    Can we please ask underage girls to talk to their parents? THIRTEEN YEAR OLDS WILL BE BLEEDING TO DEATH IN ALLEYS!
    Maybe we could ask women to wait 24 hours as a "cooling off" time, just in case they change their minds?
    How about maybe we stop sucking the brains out of viable fetuses?
    But I digress. Back to John Kerry. Planned Parenthood's Gloria Feldt feigned dismay at Kerry's moderation, saying "I'd like to hear him use language that is stronger."

    NARAL's Beth Cavendish wasn't fooled by Kerry's sudden centrism, however, stating, "There's a huge difference between Bush and Kerry on choice and this is not going to undermine the pages-long documentation that Kerry is pro-choice."

    She's right, of course. But Kerry's "pages long record" as a far-left liberal will undermine his day-long record as a moderate. In the same interview in which he casually demonstrated his "tolerance" for the pro-life viewpoint, Kerry was careful to throw some red meat to the base, pointing to his vote in confirmation of Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court.
    If You're Looking For Me To Admit That I Made A Mistake In My Years In The Senate, There You Go - There's One.
    (that's in caps because that's how Kerry talks - ed)
    That's mighty big of you there, John. Twenty four years in the Senate, and that's your sole mistake. Quite a steady Eddie you are.

    So what would President Kerry do? Here's his vision:
    I've heard some people say, well, what's the message? What's he doing? The message is clear, folks: We're going to make America stronger at home by being fiscally responsible, investing in health care and education, becoming energy independent, and we're going to make ourselves stronger in the world by restoring America's respect and influence with a better foreign policy. It's that simple.
    Well, there ya go! He's going to be "fiscally responsible," which is Democrat for raising taxes, "invest" in health care and education, because apparently there isn't anything that can't be improved with even more federal money, and institute "better" foreign policy, so the French will stop being so hacked off. A little short on specifics, to be sure.

    Finally, in a flourish of presidential leadership and vision, Kerry pledged to be out of Iraq by the end of his first term (that's almost five years from now and corresponds to the end of Bush's second term - some feat!) credited the Republicans for creating 900,000 jobs this year, agreed with the Bush administration on the Israeli situation, and declared that he, like Bush, would re-nominate Greenspan to the Fed. Way to set yourself apart from Ralph Nader!

    Thursday, May 20, 2004

    Taranto Solves the Problem

    A few days ago in this post I was questioned what kinds of love would qualify under the same-sex marriage laws:
    What about two adult sisters? They love each other. Is the state now forced to legislate the difference between romantic and platonic love?
    Well, Mister James Taranto over at the Wall Street Journals opinion page has solved the problem of differentiating platonic from romantic love:
    Four municipalities--Provincetown, Somerville, Springfield and Worcester--are already defying the law and marrying all comers.

    Advocates Fear Obesity Strategy Blockage

    From the Associated Press comes a report in sore need of a solid fisking:
    Anti-obesity advocates said Tuesday that they fear a bloc of poor nations, led by sugar producers, could derail a global plan for fighting the world's weight problem
    Whoa! Lord forbid that the poor people try to feed their hungry selling sugar when the liberals have rich fat people they need to help!
    With one out of every four people in the world now overweight and outnumbering those who are hungry, diseases ... are on the rise almost everywhere.
    Ah, there's the root of the cause; you can control more people's lives attacking obesity than you can fighting hunger.
    But some countries are upset with the plan's recommended limits on how much sugar people should eat and the possible use of taxes ... to encourage healthier eating habits
    WTF?? Global limits on sugar consumption, supported by taxation? Is there any aspect of our lives these people are prepared to leave alone, or even untaxed? Just one: people catch diseases having sex, but I haven't heard any call from the liberal intelligentsia for limits on intercourse or "bareback" taxes to encourage safe sex. The developing countries, which actually aspire to the alleged obesity problems the liberals hope to abolish (in lieu of the alternative starvation crisis) get it, though:
    Many of the developing country ministers believe that the problem of diabetes and heart disease ... is not really an issue for them compared to the agonies of malnutrition and HIV.
    It wasn't more than a few decades ago that we were treated to grave warnings of overpopulation, coupled with mass food shortages and starvation. In short, a global calorie shortage. That failed to materialize, and in fact the opposite happened, so the neo-totalitarians have turned on a dime to attack that. These people have no principles beyond attacking the status quo in an attempt to gain control of the lives and behaviors of as many people as they can.

    Wednesday, May 19, 2004

    Who is George Soros

    A colleague of mine is reading George Soros' new book, and since Soros is the deepest pocket behind the political 527 organization, I thought it worth my while to do a little research into the man.

    Soros is among the richest men in the world, and was a huge lobbyist for campaign finance reform (CFR), in order to "reduce the corrupting influence of very large donors" and to ban "issue advocacy"advertising by groups like the NRA.

    During debate on CFR legislation, Chris Dodd (D-CT) described soft money as "Money that threatens to drown out the voice of the average voter of average means; money that creates the appearance that a wealthy few have a disproportionate say over public policy."

    Unremarked upon by Dodd and other CFR supporters was the support of Soros for the bill, and that without the millions of lobbying dollars spent by that single wealthy individual, the bill would probably have failed. A further little-known wrinkle is that Soros spent millions more to create legal "research" in order to engineer the ultimate defeat of Supreme Court challenges to CFR.

    Having essentially created and ramrodded CFR through the congress and courts, Soros has turned his attention on his real goal, the defeat of George W. Bush, calling it "the central focus of my life," and promising to spend all of his billions of dollars if necessary.

    Contrast this with Dodd's decrial of "money that threatens to drown out the voice of the voter of average means." The NRA, surely a group of individuals of average means, is now prohibited from running campaign advertising, while Soros-funded organizations such as MoveOn, are not (a result recently affirmed by the Federal Election Committee).

    So now that Soros has succeeded in maximizing his own influence while minimizing that of we commoners, it is reasonable to ask what agenda lies behind his efforts.

    Soros believes in "the open society," a system of global democracy that subjugates national statehood. I do not want to turn this post into an analysis of the implications of stateless global democracy, but suffice it to say that we are clearly not yet ready for a Star Trek economy.

    So how does Soros (the inventor of the "hedge fund" which makes money for wealthy shareholders in declining markets and known as the man who "broke the bank of England" netting $1.1 billion dollars on the backs of working people) justify his funding of groups operating outside the bounds of his own CFR bill?
    I am not motivated by self-interest, but what I believe to be the public interest. So when the RNC attacks me and distorts my motives ... you see, I'm different from their contributers.
    Got that, readers? If you want to contribute to an NRA ad because you like your pistol, you are prohibited thanks to the efforts and wealth of George Soros.

    If George Soros, on the other hand, wants to buy an entire MoveOn ad campaign in support of the central focus in his life, defeating George W. Bush, that is okay, because he is not like you. Soros believes, in effect, that he is above the law, or even the questioning of his motives, because he is sure he is right. He believes the purety and altruism of his motives render him above the law he helped create.

    Having used global international markets and capitalism to make himself one of the wealthiest men in the world, George Soros now seeks to utilize the very fruits of those systems to tear them apart.

    Tuesday, May 18, 2004

    Corey's Strange Trip

    This is Corey, the Golden Lab:

    His owner found him on I-95 in eastern Virginia, hunting frogs for food, ridden with parasites and disease. He took Corey in, nursed him back to health, and made him the family pet.

    Later, stricken by hard times, his owner asked his parents to look after Corey until he could get back on his feet. Upon trying to reclaim Corey, his owner discovered his parents had given him away to another family. Read the whole sad tale here: Man seeks dog adopted by Eastern Shore family

    The Problem with Court Edicts

    Same-sex marriage has become a cause-celebre in an astonishingly short span of time. I don't remember it even appearing anywhere but on the periphery of the social radar screen as recently as a year ago. That said, having been thrust from zero to sixty-nine in 5 seconds, it is important to remember the secular arguments against this agenda.

    The effect of same-sex marriage is to redefine the institution from "the union of a man and a woman" to "the union of two consenting adults." Clearly, that in and of itself is not earth-shattering, hurts no one, and does not signal the fall of civilization. Some might argue that a little commitment in the gay community would be a moderating influence.

    The problem, however, is that when we change the institution of marriage once, the issue continues to "walk." And when the courts overule the majority of society and unilaterally morph marriage from a societal and religious institution into an individual right, they open a can of pythons.

    If two adults can marry without regard to gender, what about three? or four? What about a father and an adult daughter? (that's a true story, not a hypothesis, by the way) What about Elizabeth Smart, who was brainwashed to believe she was married? What about two adult sisters? They love each other. Is the state now forced to legislate the difference between romantic and platonic love?

    By dictating society into a legal corner without benefit of accompanying legislative debate in which these ancillary situations could be properly addressed and planned for, the courts have effectively created a vacuum and it is impossible to predict what will fill this void.

    The fact is, if marriage is defined by the individual participants, rather than by society at large and/or churches, it loses its larger meaning as an institution.

    Monday, May 17, 2004

    Dispatch from the Land of Allah

    Here's something to remember next time you see liberal activists complaining about "civil rights" violations anywhere in the west. That they are silent about this behavior in the Muslim world underscores their hypocracy in stunning fashion.
    (A) 15-year-old identified as Kadriye, or K.D., was raped by a visiting relative and impregnated. When told of her condition, her father, brothers, uncles and male cousins resolved to kill her for getting pregnant out of wedlock and sullying the family's honour.

    For a while, K.D.'s mother and older sister managed to hide her in neighbouring homes. Eventually, however, her 16-year-old brother found her and lured her outside, saying he only wanted to talk.

    He then slashed her with a meat cleaver around the head and shoulders and pounded her with rocks. She died in hospital. The family refused to claim the body.
    Got that? A little girl is raped by a relative and it is SHE that has sullied the family honor and subsequently savagely murdered. That's some "civilization" and "culture" you're running over there in Istanbul.

    Michael Williams Kidnapped?

    What has become of Michael Williams, the Master of None? A link to one of the most prolific writers in the blogosphere appears in my blogroll, but since Friday, May 14th, it has lead to an ad for a John Kerry fundraising picnic. I doubt Michael would have posted this himself, which begs an interesting question:

    Who did post that page, and why hasn't Michael been able to fix it for the better part of four days now? And if this is not Michael's doing, what are we to make of the ethics of Kerry supporters stealing someone's web page and bandwidth?

    Update 5/18: Well, the picnic as is gone, although Michael's blog is still not loading. This must be driving him nuts out there somewhere, because he loves his blog.

    City Employees Working OVERTIME??

    I awoke this morning to news that hundreds of gay couples had been granted marriage licenses in Cambridge, Mass., starting at midnight last night. Let's get this straight:

    A group of city employees, probably members of AFSCME (the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of the most militant unions in the country - you know, the helpful people at the DMV) came to work at midnight on Sunday night? Here in Norfolk, the city shuts down on a Friday for Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and on the following Monday for Martin Luther King. And these people came to work in the middle of the night on a Sunday? What level of overtime does that merit?

    Think, too, about the cost implications: janitorial staff to open the building, clerical staff to process the paperwork, security in case a fabulous party were to break out, utilities, cleanup, disposal. And this was in Cambridge. Who knows what went on in Provincetown?

    What was the cost to Massachussetts taxpayers statewide simply because no one could wait until start of business Monday?

    Friday, May 14, 2004

    The Deciding Vote

    John Kerry is running a television ad in which he claims to have "cast the decisive vote on a bill that created 20 million new jobs."

    First, like the now discredited "game winning RBI" statistic, Kerry's vote was no more significant than any other. In fact, Kerry didn't even cast the last vote that day. Still, the ad would have us imagine the following scenario:
    The vote stands at 50-49, and the Senate sits breathless and silent as Kerry strides, grim-faced, to the well. The room darkens, a soft spot comes up on the junior senator from Massachussetts, the shadow of his chin completely eclipsing the entire Republican caucas, which has voted in lock-step against creating a single new job. And Kerry bodly annnounces, "I vote in favor of 20 million new jobs for my fellow Americans."

    The reality? The bill in question was controversial indeed, and Kerry has no explanation for how its passage could have created new jobs. It was Bill Clinton's first term TAX INCREASE ON THE MIDDLE CLASS, and it swept the Republicans into control of the House in the next mid-term election.

    Thursday, May 13, 2004

    All the News that Fits our Agenda, We Print

    Military operations continue in Iraq, with reduced notice of American casualties. Could it be that their aren't many? I watched video last night of American forces attacking a mosque in Karbala, with nary a peep from the local Muslims. Fox News has a report.

    It appears the Shi'ites have turned on the young thug al-Sadr, and are allowing us to hunt down his militia and exterminate them. So what is the New York Times reporting today? Here are the top headlines on its website:

  • In Huge Upset, Gandhi's Party Wins Election in India
    India??? Elections in India???

  • Harsh C.I.A. Methods Cited in Top Qaeda Interrogations
    They fly planes into buildings and saw off peoples heads, and we're harsh?

  • U.S. Officials Failed to Protect Slain Civilian, Family Says
    With all due respect, how could we have possibly protected Mr. Berg, when he was there independently on his own accord? And why are the accusations of a grieving family national "news"?

  • For '04 Democratic Campaigns, She's Queen of the Hat-Passers
    Let's get this straight. Marines are in the process of dismantling the insurgency in Iraq, with the tacit approval of the Iraqi shi'ites, but the Times thinks a Democrat using a loophole in their beloved campaign finance laws to raise millions is more worthy of celebration

  • Apparently, "all the news that's fit to print" excludes American military success.

    About not Politicizing Beheadings

    Can we collectively pray for one thing. please? Let's hope no Democrat politicizes the execution of Nick Berg with a line like this: "He was only in Iraq because the Bush economy failed to provide him a job in the United States."

    Wednesday, May 12, 2004

    The Murder of Nicholas Berg

    I have spent the better part of a day mulling over the execution of Nick Berg, of which the Islamists seem to be so proud. Striking, isn't it, that these sub-human murderers are afraid to show their faces. How brave and noble of them to kill innocents in the name of Allah, while simultaneously hiding behind a disguise. One is reminded of the worst of the Klan, running around not in Birmingham and Selma, but projected proudly and on a global scale.

    While we here in America have been devoting weeks of high-powered committee meetings and gallons of ink to some photos of hooded Iraqi thugs jerking off in front of a girl, these freaking animals HAVE BEEN SAWING THE HEAD OFF AN INNOCENT CIVILIAN. He screamed for the first THREE OF FIVE knife strokes, as his executioners shouted "God is Great."

    Meanwhile, our press attacks our transgression (see yesterday's post for some context), as al-Jazeera predictably celebrates the brutality, airing it unedited on its web site.

    Consider this as well: these very Islamist barbarians have promised more of the same for all of us - you, me, our families and friends - if we don't submit to their will. And if we do submit to their will, we get the same treatment anyway, as evidenced by the rule of the Taliban and every other sharia-based system. In short: submit or we will savage you, and we will savage you after you submit, too.

    This is an enemy that must be defeated, in the same way we defeated the totalitarian regimes of the last century.

    Finally, remember this as well: John Kerry has promised to fight terrorism as a law enforcement problem rather than a military campaign (AKA, the "Clinton Model"). Yeah, a few subpoenas and grand jury indictments will put the fear of allah into people willing to saw off living human heads because they are Americans.

    Tuesday, May 11, 2004

    A Little Context

    With the Iraqi prison abuse scandal raging, it is useful to take a moment from hand-wringing and how-could-they-do-this-whining to remember The Stanford Prison Experiment
    The brainchild of Stanford University Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo, the SPE was designed to study how psychologically "normal" people would react to role playing as prisoners and guards while being immersed in a simulated prison environment for two weeks.


    The guards that wanted to put in their time on a shift and go home did nothing to stop the guards that reveled in exercising their power over the prisoners. One guard was nicknamed "John Wayne" by the prisoners because he was so sadistic. Yet he was the "nicest" guard on the street, and he only made his transformation from the gentle Dr. Jekyll to the monstrous Mr. Hyde when he put on his guard's uniform.

    The guards were given wide latitude in how to treat the prisoners with the caveat they could never strike them. As the days went by the guards as a whole flexed their power by increasing their aggressive, humiliating and dehumanizing tactics against the prisoners.


    An outside observer who saw the SCP for the first time after it had been operating for nearly six days was horrified to see that it had become indistinguishable from a real prison environment. She was able to convince Professor Zimbardo after a prolonged and impassioned argument that as administrators of the "prison" he and his assistants had become blind to the unconscionable activities happening in front of their eyes. The SPE was a "controlled" experiment that had spun out of the control of the educators monitoring it. So after six days the SCP was abruptly shut down and the two-week experiment was terminated.
    This happened in under six days, with direct supervision, at a pastoral college campus, to unthreatened college students.

    Now take those same students, fly them halfway around the world, put them in a dangerous place, with dangerous inmates who don't even speak their language. I would submit that we should be encouraged that this scandal isn't much worse than it is.

    The Shallow End of the Gene Pool

    Last month, I left Blogspot after an incredibly irritating four hours in which I was unable to access their site.

    Blogspot is back, and significantly improved. Of real use is free built-in commenting, which is the chief reason I went
    here. I have decided to continue maintaining both sites, operating the other as a "mirror" site against future Blogspot problems. Sorry if this has caused anyone a case of whiplash.

    To Iraqis, prisoner abuse story is largely a non-issue

    We have now been subject to a week of hand-wringing, apologies, calls for resignations, promises of investigations, and self-flagellation.

    So how is the Iraqi prison abuse scandal playing in Iraq?According to this article, it's pretty much ignored.
    A typical reaction came from one of our key staff I'll call Abdul. He has a degree in English literature, is in his mid-30s, served in the Iraqi Army during the Iraq-Iran War, has a side business in women's cosmetics, and works with us in the coordination of several of our social institutions. He is somewhat typical of the many more educated Iraqis.

    When I questioned him about how most Iraqis view the prisoner abuse story, his first reaction was a startled stare. He didn't really even connect with my question. When I explained more fully, he said, "Well, actually, sir, to be quite honest with you, we think that it represents a small dot on a large piece of paper. We know that the hearts of almost all Americans are good and they do so much good for our people. And remember, sir, we lived under Saddam for nearly 30 years. To be quite honest with you, sir, we believe that the media is not fair and has not been fair for this entire war. After all, we Iraqis watch every despicable act committed by terrorists as they are glorified by Al Jazeera."

    Nearly all our translators and Iraqi staff indicate basically the same thing. Many Iraqis, even those who have televisions and watch Al Jazeera, are mostly nonplussed by the prisoner story.
    The author, a senior advisor of the CPA in Iraq, goes on to explain a little about the "insurgency" in Fallujah and Najaf:
    We just wish this could be kept in proper perspective. What we are thinking about often doesn't make the news. Many of you, I know, are interested in what we're doing in Fallujah and Najaf, Sadr's current headquarters. In Fallujah, it's not a matter of if, but when we eventually go in. We currently are working with an Iraqi general who is standing up an all Iraqi force to patrol the city. We hope to neutralize the opposition as much as possible, thereby preventing collateral damage. Eventually, however, it will be necessary for the Marines to regain control over the city.

    The same can be said for Najaf but for slightly different reasons. The Ayatollah Sistani has made it clear that he does not want to see Coalition Forces enter the city, one of Shi'as holiest sites. As each day passes, however, Sadr appears palpably to lose followers and influence. He is still a danger, however, and poses a threat. Yesterday, some of his militia attacked one of our coalition convoys close to Najaf: the score was 40 to 0 in favor of the coalition. He's probably gradually and painfully "getting it." Leadership sometimes requires great patience.

    This is one of those times.
    The lack of balanced reporting in the major media is really doing a great disservice to Americans. We mock al-Jazeera for portraying our efforts badly, but our own media outlets are not serving us much better.

    Monday, May 10, 2004

    Answering Clift

    Eleanor Clift wants to know why Kerry has come out bashing Bush on the prison abuse scandal.
    If ever there was a moment for John Kerry to come out swinging, this is it. It is the biggest story of the war, and he is essentially silent.
    Um, Eleanor? It's a little tough to ask the guy to occupy the moral high ground on a prisoner abuse problem when he has admitted to committing war crimes himself!
    He could demand that the now infamous Abu Ghurayb prison be torn down and that the administration ban the use of mercenary contractors in prison interrogation. He should call on the administration to hold people accountable up the chain of command to the highest levels.
    Now there's a bold vision. How does tearing down a building do anything to solve a problem? Are we to believe that Abu Ghurayb is the Iraqi version of Stephen King's Overlook Hotel from The Shining? And hold the people accountable? We are holding multiple investigations, so far seven have been charged, and we're not through yet. Would you happy if we re-established the Spanish Inquisition? Oh, never mind. All the Spaniards have gone home.

    Kerry's Conundrum

    A recent Rasmussen Poll revealed that 64% of voters believe that American society is generally fair and decent. Additionally, 62% believe the world would be a better place if other countries became more like the United States. The really interesting demographic, however, is how these numbers break down by ideology:
    Among Bush voters, 83% say that American society is generally fair and decent. Just 7% say it is basically unfair and discriminatory.

    While Bush voters are united behind this perception, Kerry voters are divided - 46% say fair and decent while 37% say unfair and discriminatory.

    81% of Bush voters also believe the world would be better if other nations were more like the United States. This view is shared by just 48% of Kerry voters.

    From an ideological perspective, 74% of conservatives say the world would be better if other nations were more like ours. Just 15% of conservatives believe it would be worse.

    However, among self-identified liberals, the numbers are 49% better and 37% worse. A plurality of those who say they are very liberal believe the world would be in worse shape if other nations were more like ours.

    Moderate voters, by a 3-to-1 margin think that having other nations more like us would create a better world.
    Michael Barone, writing in U.S. News and World Report notes the difficulties this imposes on Kerry. How can he rally his base, when so many have a negative view of their country? This also helps explain why Howard Dean's unrelenting negativity was greeted with so much enthusiasm: nearly 40 percent of Democratic supporters have a bad view of not only George Bush, but of America in general.

    Finally, consider this: if John Kerry attempts to mount a campaign with a positive vision of America, he will alienate close to 40% of his base.

    Thursday, May 06, 2004

    Senators stomp feet, pout

    Congress members on both sides are shocked and outraged about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners! The source of their outrage, however, seems to not be the abuse, but the fact that they weren't told of the investigation before the American public, instead finding out about through the media. Like the rest of us commoners.

    Daschle: ""Why were we not told in a classified briefing why this happened, and that it happened at all?"
    McCain: "That is inexcusable; it's an outrage."

    Our mini-theme of narcissism continues to expand, from the neo-communists to this writer to the entire United States Congress.