Friday, September 02, 2005

Left, Right and Responding to Katrina

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has created an earthquake in the blogosphere, magnifying the seeming growing rift between the left and right in this country.

“Commissar” at Politburo Diktat compiled a list of leftwing and rightwing blogs and their respective comments about Katrina. In summation, rightwing blogs seem to ask: “How can we help?” while leftwing blogs rhetorically ask: “Who can we blame?” (I say "rhetorically" because it’s obvious who they’ll blame… Do I need to say it?)

Before I continue, I’d like to add that:

A) I do not believe that all left-wingers seek only to place blame or that they don’t want to help.
B) I am not arguing that our rescue attempts are necessarily well-organized and that there isn’t room for legitimate criticism.

With no further adieu, here is the link to the list: Bloggers on Hurricane Katrina Hat tip: LGF

I’m of two minds regarding the general responses to Katrina. My first thought is: Do people on the right and left actually think differently? I don’t mean have different opinions on certain issues—that is obvious—but is there something in the deep recesses of our minds that are simply… different? Is the divide based on the difference between personality types? Could it be that, very generally speaking, people who lean rightward are more optimistic about life and the future—have more of a “can do” attitude—whereas people on the left are less so?

Do these differing outlooks on life affect how we react to problems? If a glass of milk spills, do you attempt to clean up as quickly as possible, or do you immediately point fingers and make allegations about why the spill occurred? If you are an outsider watching such a spectacle, what sort of conclusions do you draw about the two types of people and their responses to spilled milk? “Ooops! The milk spilled—quick, get paper towel while I try to stem the flow of milk onto the floor.” Or, “Oh no! Look at what happened! There’s milk everywhere. I knew that was gonna happen!”

I know a lot of people that lean leftward and vote democratic instinctively—they are most of my family and my parents’ friends. Most of them are not members of the “cry-over-spilled-milk-who-is-to-blame” crowd. Most of them are optimistic about the future and generally proud of our society, despite its faults. Nevertheless, for a long time I’ve noticed their knee-jerk partisanship on nearly ever issue.

Therefore, could the response to Katrina from the left of the blogosphere’s be a result of partisanship? In other words, if a Democrat was in power, would the right be blaming Kerry for Katrina? Perhaps a few partisan opportunists would. But would a preponderance of right-wingers turn a natural disaster into a partisan political issue?

The reactions to Katrina in the blogosphere reminds me why, as I straddle the line between left and right, I find myself tilting right.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Blog Spam

I can't believe that I'm getting spammed in my very own blog!!! It's in the "comments" section, check it out.

What next, spam from a single, hot, 20-something year old female sex freak with a webcam who "just loves blogger guys... if you want to chat and maybe meet (and then you know what!-LOL) go to this site www.hornysuckercan' because it's more private..."?

Or, should I expect a comment posting from an Honorable Mr. M'buto Sese Soko Njengle who had ten million dollars cash bequeathed to him after the death of his uncle who was the former dictator of Zaire (Congo) and he needs me to help him invest the money and I can keep half if ony I give him my checking account number...blah blah?


I think spammers should get the death penalty. That sounds like justice to me.

Stevie Wonder is God

After years of being apart, I have finally been reunited with Stevie Wonder’s Hotter Than July album (it had been in my brother’s car for two years). Since the reunion, I’ve been on a hopeless Stevie Wonder kick, pulling out every Stevie Wonder CD I own. I’m reminded of a philosophy course I took a long time ago. The professor was giving an example of false logic, or something like that. But his example was this:

God is love,
Love is blind,
Stevie Wonder is blind,
Therefore Stevie Wonder is god.

Stevie Wonder’s musical genius, his cleaver and brilliant lyrics, his soulful voice, and his heart of gold reinforces my contention that rap and hip-hop “music” were the worst things to ever happen to African-American (American in general) culture. How many African-American kids know that Coolio’s “Gangsta Paradise” rap was cannibalized form Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” song?

Here are the lyrics for Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise":

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I take a look at my life and realize there's not much left
coz I've been blastin and laughin so long,
that even my mama thinks that my mind is gone
but I ain't never crossed a man that didn't deserve it
me be treated like a punk you know that's unheard of
you better watch how you're talking,
and where you're walking
or you and your homies might be lined in chalk
I really hate to trip but i gotta, loc
As I Grow I see myself in the pistol smoke, fool
I'm the kinda G the little homies wanna be like on my knees in the night,
saying prayers in the streetlight

been spending most their lives,
living in the gangsta's paradise
been spending most their lives,
living in the gangsta's paradise
keep spending most our lives,
living in the gangsta's paradise
keep spending most our lives,
living in the gangsta's paradise

They got the situation, they got me facin'
I can't live a normal life,
I was raised by the stripes so I gotta be down with the hood team
too much television watching got me chasing dreams
I'm an educated fool with money on my mind
got my 10 in my hand and a gleam in my eye
I'm a loc'd out gangsta set trippin' banger
and my homies is down so don't arouse my anger,
fool death ain't nothing but a heartbeat away,
I'm living life, do or die, what can I say
I'm 23 now, but will I live to see 24
the way things are going I don't know


Tell me why are we, so blind to see
That the one's we hurt, are you and me
been spending most their lives, living in the gangsta's paradise
been spending most their lives, living in the gangsta's paradise
spending most our lives, living in the gangsta's paradise
spending most our lives, living in the gangsta's paradise

Power and the money, money and the power
minute after minute, hour after hour
everybody's running, but half of them ain't looking
what's going on in the kitchen, but I don't know what's kickin'
they say I gotta learn, but nobody's here to teach me
if they can't understand it, how can they reach me
I guess they can't, I guess they won't
I guess they front, that's why I know my life is out of luck,

fool been spending most their lives, living in the gangsta's paradise
been spending most their lives, living in the gangsta's paradise
spending most our lives, living in the gangsta's paradise
spending most our lives, living in the gangsta's paradise

Tell me why are we, so blind to see
That the one's we hurt, are you and me
Tell me why are we, so blind to see
That the one's we hurt, are you and me (fade out)

And here are Stevie's original lyrics:

They've been spending most their lives
Living in a pastime paradise
They've been spending most their lives
Living in a pastime paradise
They've been wasting most their time
Glorifying days long gone behind
They've been wasting most their days
In remembrance of ignorance oldest praise

Tell me who of them will come to be
How many of them are you and me
Race Relations
Miscreation the evils of the world

They've been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise
They've been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise
They've been looking in their minds
For the day that sorrows gone from time
They keep telling of the day
When the Savior of love will come to stay
Tell me who of them will come to be
How many of them are you and me
Proclamation of
Race Relations
Verification of
World Salvation
Stimulation the peace of the world

They've been spending most their
Living in a pastime paradise
They've been spending most their lives
Living in a pastime paradise
They've been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise
They've been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise
We've been spending too much of our lives
Living in a pastime paradise
Let's start living our lives
Living for the future paradise
Praise to our lives
Living for the future paradise
Shame to anyone who lives
Living in the pastime paradise

Wonder's lyrics make you think. They are philosophical. To me, his song is about living your life in the now and not wasting time remembering the past or waiting hopelessly for a messianic age, or heaven. I am sure there is more to the song than my take, if my take is even accurate. The point is, however, that his lyrics get me thinking and pondering things. Plus, Wonder has a fantastic voice backed by originally composed music.

Coolio's lyrics, on the other hand, leave about as much to the imagination as a hard-core porno movie. The main melody of the "song" was borrowed from Wonder, and little if any musicianship went into its creation.

Hurricane relief and the monotheistic faiths

Here’s something interesting. I went to and and entered “Christian and charity and Katrina” in the search engine and came up with a number of websites that had information about Christian charities and how to help the hurricane victims. I did the same thing again, but this time switched “Christian” to “Jewish.” Again, a number of websites about Jewish charities assisting the hurricane victims. Then—you guessed it—I typed in Islamic, and even Muslim, and what did I get? A few articles about Islamic charities that were used as fronts to fund terrorist groups, and not much else. I didn’t see any websites about Islamic humanitarian organizations collecting money for Katrina victims.

This is not to say that there are no Muslim groups helping the hurricane victims; it only shows that my cursory search failed to locate them. Nor am I arguing that individual Muslims have not donated any money to help; I’m sure many have. I am not sure if my unscientific experiment proves anything. But I did learn one valuable lesson: If you do give money to an Islamic charity to help hurricane victims, make absolutely sure that your donation does not go to buy explosives for Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

I recalibrated my search slightly and found this group: They seem to be doing the right thing.
What I want to know is, while these levies were breaking in New Orleans, where were the cohens?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Love Animals. Don't Rape Them.

Washington state has no law against bestiality, but that will probably change. Shockingly, not everybody agrees bestiality should be illegal.

Roach told me she is receiving cooperation from the Democratic leaders of the legislature [to outlaw bestiality-ed.], but to her surprise, the proposed bill has stirred some controversy. The most prominent voice so far against outlawing bestiality is the Seattle Post Intelligencer's liberal columnist, Robert L. Jamieson Jr. In a July 23 column, Jamieson ridiculed Roach's proposal, writing that practices such as masturbation, oral sex, and gay sex were once considered wrong, too, and so why worry now about human/animal copulation if the animal isn't injured? "Human sex with animals remains a towering taboo, booty and the beast. But as Princeton University philosopher Peter Singer, the father of the animal rights movement, has put it, 'Sex with animals does not always involve cruelty.'"

Jamieson may be correct that masturbation, gay sex, et cetera, used to be illegal, or considered wrong, but one difference between gay sex and bestiality is that the former is performed by two consenting adults. A horse or dog or chicken cannot give consent to have sex.

Now, the author of the article, Wesley J. Smith, objects to bestiality because of his belief in “human exceptionalism.” Although I am an agnostic, I too believe in human exceptionalism. I think most humans do as well, even if they deny it and argue that humans are animals no different than any other animal.

Smith continues:

This concept is taught in most of our major colleges and universities. Similarly, the animal liberation movement claims that it is the ability to feel pain, rather than humanhood, which bestows equal moral value. "We are all animals," a PETA advocacy slogan asserts, by which they are not merely stating a biological fact but espousing an explicit moral equality between man and beasts.

If you, dear reader, ever end up in a debate with a PETA type on this very topic, ask them this: “If you are driving down the road and all of a sudden you see a little girl and a chicken and you have to make a split-second decision to swerve one way or the other—thus killing either the girl or the chicken—which one will you hit?”

If they answer “the chicken” then it’s obvious that they too differentiate between the value of human life over that of other animals. And it makes sense to run-over the chicken instead of the girl. Humans have far more complex brains than do chickens. Humans have hopes and dreams and goals for the future. Chickens do not. Thus, ending the life of a human being prematurely has far greater consequence than ending the life of a delicious chicken.

Read the rest of the article, here.

Hurricanes and Blame

The science on global warming is very unclear. We don’t know how much human-generated emissions are responsible for the slight increases in temperatures in recent decades. We know the earth has experienced climate changes many times in the past, and we were not in existence during most of them; thus we were not responsible. Most of us recognize, however, that it’s a good idea to reduce our emissions for a variety of reasons other than global warming.

Whether or not humanity is responsible for global warming, scientists are hardly in agreement about how the rising temperatures will affect our environment. Some argue hurricanes have become stronger because of global warming. But records show that the strength of hurricanes has been ebbing and flowing since records were kept. Cyclones, basically hurricanes in the far east, have not increased in strength, although one would expect they would if global warming was the culprit.

With so many unanswered questions about emissions, global warming, and the effect global warming may or may not have on the environment, it is shocking to me that anybody could point fingers as to who was responsible—as if any of us could be responsible—for the destruction wrought by Katrina. But already a number of elected officials and pundits have blamed the president, the governor of Mississippi, and others for the hurricane.

As we are still rescuing people, relocating them, and trying to prevent the outbreak of diseases, it’s hard to imagine that anybody at this time could be so low and slimy as to start laying blame for an act of nature that we don’t really understand very well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

More on Darwinism V. Intelligent Design

John Derbyshire explains why the president is wrong on Intelligent Design.

Money quote:
What, then, should we teach our kids in high-school science classes? The answer seems to me very obvious. We should teach them consensus science, and we should teach it conservatively. Consensus science is the science that most scientists believe ought to be taught. "Conservatively" means eschewing theories that are speculative, unproven, require higher math, or even just are new, in favor of what is well settled in the consensus. It means teaching science unskeptically, as settled fact.

Consider physics, for example. It became known, in the early years of the last century, that Newton's physics breaks down at very large or very tiny scales of distance, time, and speed. New theories were cooked up to explain the discrepancies: the special and general theories of relativity, quantum theory and its offspring. By the 1930s these new theories were widely accepted, though some of the fine details remained (and some still remain!) to be worked out.

Then, in the late 1950s, along came your humble correspondent, to study physics to advanced level at a good English secondary school. What did they teach us? Newtonian mechanics! I didn't take a class in relativity theory until my third year at university, age 21. I never have formally studied quantum mechanics, though I flatter myself I understand it well enough.

My schoolmasters did the right thing. Newton's mechanics is the foundation of all physics. "But it's wrong!" you may protest. Well, so it is; but it is right enough to form that essential foundation; right enough that you cannot understand the nature of its wrongness until you have mastered it. (Along with some college-level math.) Furthermore, it is consensus science. By that I mean, if you were to poll 10,000 productive working physicists and ask them what ought to be taught in our high schools, I imagine that upwards of 9,900 of them would say: "Well, you have to get Newtonian mechanics into their heads..."


As much as I love to complain about Wisconsin weather, I guess when it comes to natural disasters, we're pretty lucky here. No earthquakes, no hurricanes...

My heart goes out to all of the hurricane Katrina victims.

Sowell, Powell, Finkelstein, and Chomsky

I have agreed with almost everything I’ve ever read by Thomas Sowell. An African-American whose political views obviously tilt rightward, Sowell has no doubt been the target of the same scorn that has been heaped upon African-Americans like Bill Cosby, or Condoleeza Rice, or Colin Powell—all of whom are “guilty” of being black conservatives, or at least of questioning some of the African-American community’s sacred cows.

The mainstream American Jewish community also has a few well-known dissenters, people who say things that are not easy for the Jewish community to hear. I refer to Noam Chomsky, or Norman Finkelstein. Are these people the Jewish versions of a Sowell, Powell, or Rice?

No. And here is why:

When all is said and done, Thomas Sowell—like the mainstream (leftwing) African-American leadership—wants what’s best for African-Americans. Sowell just has different ideas about how to go about it. Similarly, Bill Cosby created an uproar when he suggested that deficits in personal responsibility and sound values were the leading cause of African-American poverty, and not necessarily racism. You may agree or disagree, but there can be no doubt that both Cosby and Sowell desire the same ends as a Jesse Jackson or Kweise Mfume. Again, they just have different ideas about how to get there.

…Jewish elites in the United States have enjoyed enormous prosperity. From this combination of economic and political power has sprung, unsurprisingly, a mindset of Jewish superiority. Wrapping themselves in the mantle of The Holocaust, these Jewish elites pretend—and, in their own solipsistic universe, perhaps imagine themselves—to be victims, dismissing any and all criticism as manifestations of “anti-Semitism.” And, from this lethal brew of formidable power, chauvinistic arrogance, feigned (or imagined) victimhood, and Holocaust-immunity to criticism has sprung a terrifying recklessness and ruthlessness on the part of American Jewish elites. Alongside Israel, they are the main formentors of anti-Semitism in the world today. Coddling them is not the answer. They need to be stopped.

These words were not written by a neo or paleo-Nazi—they were written by Norman Finkelstein in his book Beyond Chutzpa: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. These are the words of a man who hates Jews—period. The fact that Finkelstein was born of Jewish parents doesn’t change the fact that he’s an anti-Semite. Unfortunately, because of his Jewish ancestry, his odious views are given airtime on many a university campus, as are the words of Noam Chomsky.

People like Finkelstein and Chomsky do not want what is best for Jews. Both men advocate positions that, if realized, would result in the deaths of a lot of Jews and the loss of freedom for the survivors. Both men, for example, believe Israel has no right to exist. I don’t have the energy to go out and find more examples of their self-hatred—it’s all on record—but that is the primary difference between them and people like Sowell.

Monday, August 29, 2005

“If you want peace, work for justice”

If you live in America, I’m sure you’ve seen this bumper sticker before. It has a nice sort of leftwing progressive ring to it, doesn’t it? One of my neighbor’s car has this popular bumper sticker slapped on the rear bumper. But something about this slogan scares me. On the surface it seems hunky-dory: After all, good people want peace, and good people believe in justice. So why the concern?

“If you want peace, work for justice.”

Let’s look at this closer. The opposite of “peace” is “violence.” The slogan suggests that “justice” creates “peace"; so following this line of reasoning, one can conclude that “injustice” generates “violence.”

I guess the first question I have for the bearer of this slogan is: Are people who commit violence in the name of a perceived injustice thus justified? Is that what this slogan actually suggests? It seems so to me. In my mind, however, promotion of violence doesn't seem very liberal and progressive...

There is a lot of injustice in the world. Is it always okay to respond violently in response? Who, exactly, is to be the arbiter just how “unjust” something is? How violently should one respond in relation to a real or perceived injustice? And what constitutes a real or perceived injustice? This is where the slogan gets really morally and ethically iffy, especially when dealing with complex historical and religious issues.

A lot of Nazis might have honestly believed that Jews represented a real threat. Did that perception justify genocide? After emancipation, African-Americans were forced to ride in the backs busses (among many other horrible indignities)—would that have justified the indiscriminate bombings of busses in the South?

As we know, the Jews did not represent a threat to Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, many Nazis and others believed the Jews were wreaking injustice on non-Jews, and the result was that European Jewry was all but eradicated.

Here we have an example of a perceived injustice that resulted in an extremely violent reaction. Thus, according to the logic of the above bumper sticker, the Holocaust may have been an understandable reaction to the unjust evil machinations of world Jewry. We don’t really know what the bearers of this bumper sticker believe because the message leaves it to the reader’s subjective perception of what constitutes an injustice and how violently (the opposite of “peace”) one should respond to it.

Let’s go back to the Jim Crow South:

How did African-Americans respond to the injustice of Jim Crow Laws? By and large they protested against racism peacefully, using their moral authority to shame white society into eventually scratching Jim Crow laws.

The above cases represent two interesting examples of perceived injustice, real injustice, and responses to them. What is bothersome about the aforementioned bumper sticker is that it makes no distinctions between real injustices, perceived injustices, and the types of reaction one should use in the face of them.

BadgerCare: A Bad Idea

I just caught a snippet of an NPR radio segment about BadgerCare, a healthcare plan here in Wisconsin.

Badger healthcare?! Where are our priorities? What’s going on?

I realize the badger is our state animal—that Wisconsin is the badger state—but to dedicate a multi-multi-million dollar health care program for badgers? It’s ridiculous!

Maybe our eminently intelligent elected officials should create a healthcare plan that helps PEOPLE instead of badgers. Last I checked, badgers don’t vote, they don’t pay taxes—so why their own healthcare plan? And if we give badgers healthcare, why not provide every type of animal native to Wisconsin a healthcare plan, too?

/Idiot mode off

Gourmet Dog Treats vs. Cat puke

Why on earth would any dog owner spend a lot of money on so-called “gourmet” dog treats?

Just a second ago one of my cats puked, and then my dog came by and ate it up. A dog would eat its own shit, if you let it. We are talking about an animal whose favorite odor is rotting fish! When it comes to food, dogs do not exactly have discerning tastes.

If you want to give your dog a treat, give him your leftovers. Then, take the money you saved on overpriced gourmet dog treats and send it to Feed The Children or something.

Your dog will be happy, and you'll feel good too.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The secular case for the West Bank

The mainstream media generally portrays Israel’s desire to hold on to parts of the West Bank as having to do with Jewish religious zeal. Although Judea and Samaria (West Bank) played a huge role in Jewish history, most Israelis want to retain at least some control over parts of the said territory because of its strategic value rather than for messianic reasons.

To understand the strategic importance of the West Bank one must appreciate Israel’s topography. The West Bank is the kidney bean shaped area that juts out from the Jordan River in the east. I drew the boundary myself, so please excuse any slight border inaccuracies. It is important to note that the light brown colored areas indicate elevation. The green areas along the coast are about sea level; the dark green along the Jordan river and dead sea are below sea level.

The distance from the Mediterranean sea to the border of the northern West Bank is about ten miles. From 1948-1967 Israel was a mere ten miles wide along its most populated areas, the coastal plain. What’s more, this area is overlooked by the mountainous West Bank. Thus, a drive from the Mediterranean sea going east starts on flat, level ground which gradually becomes hilly after about ten miles. Within a very short period of time the hills become steeper as the elevation rises. Finally, one reaches the ridge of the Judean and Samarian mountain ranges. Jerusalem (where I drew a circle), for example, is situated on the ridge of the mountains between Judea and Samaria. As one continues east, the land makes a dramatic plunge down to the Jordan River valley and Dead Sea—the lowest point on earth. Any invading army from the east would have to make a difficult steep climb up the eastern slopes of the West Bank in order to attack Israel’s narrow waist. The West Bank provides Israel a measure of strategic depth as well as high-ground from which to better defend itself.

There is nothing in International law that precludes Israel from retaining some of the West Bank. Resolution 242 calls on Israel to withdraw from “territories occupied” in exchange for peaceful borders. 242 does not call on Israel to withdraw from “the” territories or “all” the territories. The exclusion of the definite article “the” was intentional. The drafters of the resolution understood that Israel was a victim of Arab aggression and that Israel had a right to defensible borders in the future.

The West Bank is very different from the Gaza strip. In the event of a final status peace agreement, expect Israel to retain settlements located close to the 1967 border, as well as the sparsly populated desert areas east of the ridge of the West Bank mountain ranges. And if you think Israel will relenquish the 15 or so Jewish neighborhoods built in "east" Jerusalem after 1967, home to some 150,000+ Israelis, you are sorely mistaken.

Update 8/29/05:

Sharon: Not All Settlements in Final Deal

Interviewed on Channel 10 TV, Sharon insisted that all of the main settlement blocs would remain under Israeli sovereignty, but "not all the settlements of today in Judea and Samaria will remain," calling the West Bank by its biblical names.

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