Friday, June 28, 2002

Conspiratorial Blogger Writes that the shift in political philosophy between conservatives and Liberals shows in a Supreme Court decision on speech.
It's become rather obvious that Osama Bin Laden is dead, as Mark Steyn writes:
Supposedly, he’s trimmed his beard, and is receiving dialysis from machines supplied by rogue elements of the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence services, while waiting for a doctor to be flown in to perform a kidney transplant. I doubt it... In the Pakistani badlands, meanwhile, he could perhaps rely on the fact that the $25 million bounty on his head is too large to have any meaning to your average Baluchistani villager, unschooled in such matters as exchange rates. But those duplicitous ISI guys are another matter, and I wouldn’t trust any doctor they ushered into the room.
Advantage, Blogosphere? Last Friday I commented on Aziz Poonawalla's proposal for a Federated Palestinian-Israeli state as a solution to the conflict. This week the Washington Times published a Torygraph article on a. . .highly similar peace proposal put forward by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi:
Rather than trying to carve out a Palestinian state alongside Israel, Mr. Gadhafi showed a slide depicting his idea of a Jewish-Arab "Federal Republic of the Holy Land," comprising five regions and Jerusalem as a "city state."
When questioners asked if it was practical, Mr. Gadhafi said that Israel would first have to admit all of the Palestinian refugees, and then elections would be held to decide who would lead the new federated state.
Are national leaders getting ideas from bloggers? You be the judge.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Meanwhile, Fouad Ajami asks whether the Palestinians will be able to develop a normal political order. A member of the Multicult would ask "who's normal political order? What is normal for them is not and should not be what Western culture calls normal". That's part of the point of both links, below - the antipathy to Western Civilization and to Israel.

But it also hits on another, separate but equally important topic, the policy advocated by, among others, Aziz, which I commented on the other day. The thing is, until the question is answered, and how it is answered, it would be a bit much to expect Israeli Jews to take the risk of abolishing Israel and forming a joint state with their neighbors, a state that will be predominantly Arab and Palestinian.
Dennis Prager exposes the anti-Israel Left, and incorporates into his column the same chant I mentioned in the post below. He says the anti-Israel Left's motivation boils down to nihilism in the end. There is something to that, and that might indicate why they have some sympathy, or understanding, or whatever word you prefer, for those who are happy to see their children blow up other people's children, and go to great lengths to rationalize it.
Catching Up on Links: Hey-hey, ho-ho, Western Civ has got to stay. But it probably won't. I wish those working for it luck, but without a lot more support, it'll be another noble failure.

The opponents of the Western Civ curriculum are not the kind of people who will be embarassed when caught out in a fib involving a propaganda smear against those that disagree with them (the article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, in this case). Exposing their distortions won't be enough. They'll turn the tables and point fingers, and before it's all over they'll accuse people of conducting a "witch hunt" against them, while they hunt down Western Civ and eliminate it. It's a repeated pattern.
Pejman Yousefzadeh exposes Noam Chomsky as a distorter of facts and dissembler. Unfortunately, his high reputation among the Left seems to be immune to this. Christopher Hitchens, a man of impecable Left credentials, has tried, but Chomsky is still held in high esteme. Doesn't mean the effort is pointless (far from it), it's just an observation of the sad state of some movements that consider morality and truth to be on their side.
How Curved is Your Bannana? No, that's not the coy question Monica asked Bill. That's what EUnuchcrats have been asking. A British judge seems to have overturned it on the grounds of risibility. Well, really because that kind of thing was "unknown to law", but I take that as meaning the same thing.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Pictures worth a thousand words. Today only, I'm guessing. My friend Rob (English) comments: "The next generation of terrorists being brainwashed"
"Every time Hugo Young draws wind for another paragraph extolling the merits of the euro, the poverty-stricken ink-makers of India hear the foreman's whip crack over them, and bend weeping to their tasks. And that is of course as it should be".

That and the one legged lesbian peasant woman who's poverty Must Be Alleviated, but who's (picturesque and quaint) Traditional Way of Life must not be changed by. . .alleviating her poverty.
Daniel Pipes has, with Jonathan Schanzer, done it once again. This time a litany of the, well, typical antics on campi. Again, many folks might have gotten sick of this, tired of it, not necessarily supportive of what happens but exhausted with the topic. But IMO it's like getting exhausted with the war and giving up for lack of interest. Make no mistake, this is a battle that's just as important - and a nonviolent one (for the pacifists out there who prefer a conflict where words and persuasion are the tools, not bullets and arms).

But recovering, restoring, and reforming our educational and communications institutions is as significant a matter when it comes to preserving our civilization as fighting the war. The two go hand in glove, in fact. Without confidence that our civilization is worth fighting for and preserving, then we can't win the one. Winning the war while losing "the home front hearts and minds" will, eventually, negate the victory and render meaningless the sacrifices people make in battle. They are paired like a double-helix.
Christian Pacifism I just read Telford Work's article/column/post on the Hauerwas controversy. This is my first exposure to his work, it's very good. I'm not familiar with everything he's written so I don't know if he's covered the stuff I'll be commenting on elsewhere in his writings.

What he wrote struck me, especially in this section:
"In this case I consider Christian pacifism compatible with qualified Christian rhetorical support and appreciation of an American war on declared enemies like Al-Qaeda and its allies - a war in which Christians themselves need not and should not participate."
Which as someone with a background in History (and specific interest in the Eastern Roman Empire) hit a chord with me. Because the Byzantines (Orthodox Christians) felt the same way regarding the seriousness of Christian doctrine, and yet they were in a paradox because they also had to fight many wars (sometimes aggressive, but usually broadly defensive). They never developed a doctrine like the Western Church regarding "just war", much less a religiously accepted concept akin to a Crusade (one Emperor - Nikephoros II Phokas - tried to get the Patriarch to consider those who died fighting enemies of the faith martyrs. The Patriarch said, in effect, "no dice. It's a sin"). This was a society I admire for several reasons (though it had its flaws).

So there was this society - this religion - which manifestly depended for its survival upon the willingness of its members to sin, because they were engaged in a life-and-death struggle with a society (an Islamic one) for whom war against non-believers (such as the Eastern Christians - especially the Eastern Christians of the Roman Empire, because of its prestige as the foremost Christian power. That might strike a chord, too) - was considered glorious and even a religious requirement.

Likewise, and this probably comes close to the serious, robust Christianity that is advocated, was (to quote the words of Warren Treadgold in his A History of the Byzantine State and Society, p.849) :
"The reluctance of the Byzantine church to accept that ends could justify means (even to the point of insisting that killing enemy soldiers in battle was sinful) led to a feeling that no one could engage in politics, war, or commerce without some moral taint. This put the Byzantines at a certain disadvantage... But the church could forgive even the worst political sins of someone who performed services for Christianity [the concept of redemption]. While scrupulousness and forgiveness are certainly admirable things, in practice the Byzantine's combination of them decreased respect for the state and for commerce, and perversely increased amorality in public life, because emperors, officials, or merchants despaired of avoiding sin. Yet state power was so pervasive that almost everyone needed it at some time for defense or patronage, and all had to defer to it. Therefore most ordinary Byzantines felt dependent upon the government without admiring it or identifying much with it."
So a Byzantine priest or monk might (or, often, might not) encourage defense of the faith against its enemies, but had to consider the act of defending it a sin if it involved the killing of others (perhaps forgetting that the Commandment is a admonishment against murder).

Of course, eventually Byzantium was conquered, its capital is now Istanbul, its heartland is Turkish and Moslem. For many centuries, the remaining Christians were reduced to the status of Dhiminis. So a society that had several admirable traits, from a Christian point of view at least, ceased to exist.

Of course, today there are relatively few Christians at all in areas that were conquered by Islam. I, personally, don't think that this is what Christ had in mind.

Here in America we may not have an explicitly Christian nation (some may disagree with that, others will just as vehemently insist it is not), but the vast majority of Americans consider themselves Christian. Are they, to be good Christians, to expect everyone who is a non-Christian to do the fighting for them? Can they (as Telford and others perhaps believe they are morally obligated to) in good conscience expect the non-Christians to do all the fighting?

Are they destined to be Dhiminis? Either through Islamic conquest because a good Christian would not effectively resist, or by a priori reducing themselves to such a status without conquest (by not being willing to serve in the armed forces, avoiding commercial enterprises and governmental positions where they might be compelled to make decisions that would be, from a strict standpoint, sinful, so that even if Islam does not take over, we have already reduced ourselves to such a status within the current society, voluntarily, by avoiding such positions)?

IMO, and just IMO, "it's not easy being Christian" is an insufficient answer. It is true that, for humanity, sin is unavoidable (in Christian doctrine). But is that the same thing as this standard? I don't know, myself. It's something to be grappled with. But I'm not sure it's a morally virtuous position to declare those Christians who are willing to defend the Christian Community to be sinners. Note that even at a basic level of enforcing Commandments, it involves a willingness to use force - including violent force - to do so. What if you're not dealing with Mary Magdalene? Is the moral position, for example, for a Christian to do nothing to stop a Ted Bundy from killing a woman, if it could involve violence? Is it more Christian to allow the woman to be killed if stopping that would go beyond attempts at non-violent persuasion and prayer? Christ himself showed a streak that, if it wasn't violent, it did use force - clearing the temple of moneylenders.

Or, and here's another challenge. Does Christian pacifism consist only of the Haeverwas kind, of staying safe here behind the protection of others while criticizing the society who's defenses shield him, but risking nothing serious on behalf of his faith? Conversely does it consist of cheering on those (who by ones definition are not behaving as the Christian faith demands) who fight while, being a good Christian, not only not doing so but saying it would be morally wrong, contrary to faith, to do so oneself (to fight), but not risking something on behalf of the faith (as the early Martyrs did, who preached the Good Word in a nakedly hostile society and eventually, ICXC - Christ Conquered)? Depending upon the answer, then it's likely Dhiminitude; I mean, I don't see that many of the people invoking Christian teaching to explain their Pacifism then going out to peacefully spread the Good Word to distant, hostile lands (indeed, they're often against doing so, on the grounds that it would be wrong to try and "impose our beliefs on others" - by preaching them, and/or for multicultural reasons. This, to me at least, a layman and not a theologian, seems to violate Christian teaching, rather than practicing it strictly. But, again, I'm not theologically trained). So I'm groping for answers. Or perhaps just for the answer I want (and discarding the ones I don't like because they aren't the answer I want). But its a serious question.
Andrew Sullivan writes, re Salon's Woes that "Maybe blogging really is the only viable form of Internet commentary in the future. But I hope not."

Nah. NRO is going to make it. It seems to be going strong. There are some other places doing fine, too. And where one can, others can follow (and probably NRO isn't only successful because it's right-wing; some places with other slants will do well, too). A sound economic model for web commentary will be discovered, via muddling and experimentation (the Hayekian Way).

The successful sites will probably have lower overheads - they will piggyback, won't overpay their commentators, etc. They will also probably work out a better model of aquiring revenue (even NRO will have to improve on this score, too). What they'll likely have to do is become a "brand" that is popular enough among readers that they'll buy stuff there (this is Rush's economic model, and though he offers a "free" side he doesn't use his website as a loss-leader. He expects it to make money. Again, I doubt that this will only work for Conservatives - it can work for others as well).

True, perhaps, that the commonality among most of these is that they have non-internet visibility. Well, Salon had (and so far still has) Microsoft support (and linkage support). So that might be a wash. Anyhow, people tend to forget that this is still, comparatively speaking, early days in the development of internet usage & marketing. As it expands and deepens, things will sort out.
No Crash Today, much, no doubt, to the disatisfaction of some folks. BBC reporters, for one, who were almost gleeful this morning talking about how bad things were going to get in America's stockmarket.

Note this also means, to me at least, that the market as a whole is close to bottoming out and that whatever bubble had existed was popped in the prior drops. But we'll see.
Too True This is a problem indeed. I guess that's why, personally, I disagree with those (like Glenn Reynolds, among others) who consider the Bloggosphere a type of cocktail party with references. For most of us, the Captain's analogy is more apt - it's a sort of open journal, or diary, that you should write for its own sake, not counting on an audience. It'd be nice if people came to this site, for example, and liked it (or railed against it, but at least found it interesting), just like it would be nice if I had enough time to read other people's sites (other than some key ones I frequent often); many more get ignored (if "hits" are a standard) than frequented, and not necessarily because they're bad, or worse than the "main" ones (which are often popular because they were "early adopters" - that's not the sole reason, though, but it's a common one). If I stopped working and just zoned on Blogs, I probably still wouldn't scratch the surface of the ones that are decent.

So if it's a cocktail party, then a lot of us are going "stag" and (largely) standing in the corner, muttering to ourselves, while the Belles attract Beaus like Scarlett at the Twelve Oaks Barbeque. Better to think of it as a open diary - which, if others read it, great - and a place to vent. If and when one gets noticed, even if only briefly, then super. If not, you'll go crazy if you fixate on it.
What is Unconstitutional? According to a Federal Court ruling, the Pledge of Allegiance is (via Instapundit again).
Long but Good Thanks to Instapundit for highlighting Teleford Work's superb piece on the Stanley Haurwas controversy.
I Hope This is True: Two Stratfor articles, this one on Turkmenistan and potential peaceful "regime change" would be nice. Even getting reform through the pressure would be good. But this one on Bush telling the House of Saud to stuff it is even better. Not every Stratfor analysis pans out. But one of the Big Questions in the War on Islamist Radicals has been "will we exempt the House of Saud, for economic and geostrategic reasons, from it?". This would be a big step in saying "no, we won't". As, actually, will imposing "regime change" in Iraq - which isn't just aimed at Iraq, but at their local enemy, the Saudis. Make no mistake about that - for all that they don't like each other, the Saudis are opposed to a changed Iraq because they don't want to risk seeing a democratic Arab state nearby. That is, for them, a much greater threat - especially on the ideological/political legitimacy level - than Saddam's "National Socialist" Ba'ath regime is.

Likewise, a regime that is friendly to the U.S. ruling in Baghdad, even if it doesn't turn out to be as democratic as one might like (though things are starting to move in the right direction in Afganistan and there i.'s no reason to believe that the Iraqi people would be less committed to democratic processes than many of the Loya Jurga delegates turned out to be), it will allow us to confront the House of Saud in a way that we haven't been able to currently. This will become even more possible if, as a "collateral effect", the people of Iran overthrow the Ayatollahs. Our need for an alliance of convenience with the Princes will come to an abrupt end in such a case.

That, above all, is why they want to hold us off from action in the region and try to distract us with this Palestinian stuff. They fear the “regime change” outcome, which will make them eminently dispensable. Their "friendly, moderate" status depends entirely upon the fact that our political class perceives that they need the Saudis to counterbalance these other regimes, and are willing to ally with them as a result. The need goes away, and so does whatever residual usefulness they have, and we'll be freer to tackle the source of so much of the agitation and propaganda that leads to the very thing we're fighting.
International Criminal Court: About to begin operations (July 1st). Pete Du Pont has a column in the WSJ today.

The problem with this organization, at least from an American point of view, is that it operates from the Continental European judicial tradition. This is fine for the Europeans, but it's not our practice. They can have it if they want, but why we would want to participate is beyond me. It also allows certain things that the Europeans accused us of wanting to do to captive terrorists (but haven't), and were outraged by. These include:

Secret testimony.
Re-trials of people who have been found innocent in a previous trial (double jeopardy, within our tradition).
No right to a jury trial.
There is no provision preventing judges from being drawn from such bastions of jurisprudence as China, Zaire, Cuba, Syria, and the like.

The other problem is, of course, that it will be highly selective, based on political motives, about who it tries. I doubt, for example, that if Castro's men shoot down a civil aircraft again (as they did a couple years ago), the Europeans will be in any rush to get them, and him, called to the dock and tried.

In addition, the "laws" the court will enforce would be voided for vagueness in an American system. They are very loosely defined (thus enabling a more. . .flexable - that is, selective - application of such laws. The interpretation can be broad or narrow depending on the needs of the moment). The court is, like most institutions and like the institutions of the EU, largely unaccountable and insulated from the governed. There is no democratic accountability here, and that design (like the design of the EU's institutions) is deliberate. Of course, with some of the countries involved (and I'm not talking about the European ones so much here, but many of the non-European signatories), a entity governed by such principles would not be familiar either.
WorldCom Finance Fraud!
World Markets Dive
Accountancy Standards Questioned, Investers Distrustful of American Equities Markets
Those are the headlines today, and the story on the BBC World Newshour (that and "Brazil to Meet Germany in World Cup Final". Have to have our priorities in order). Some sorts of reforms to create independent auditing are certainly in order. In the meantime, if the bubble hadn't popped yet, well, we're in for a crash now.

The problem has been that Global Crossing (always left out for certain reasons), Enron, WorldCom, and probably other companies, have all been emulating the accounting practices that governments have long used. That just doesn't fly.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Does Anyone Think the usual suspects who consider any disproportionate representation in a given sphere to be prima facia evidence of discrimination will be up in arms over the latest University graduation rates that show a "disparity", with women forming 57% of graduates and men 43%. Glenn Reynolds has some pithy comments to the effect to which Universities have become a "hostile environment" for men.

Anyone want to place a bet on when - if - Title IX (which forbids gender discrimination, not specifically descrimination against women) - will be invoked on behalf of men? Don't hold your breath. Selective application of laws and of "Civil Rights principles" is, unfortunately, the way things function today.

Which is not to say that I myself think that a 57-43 split is prima facia evidence of discrimination against men (one has to go into details beyond the figures - the explanations of why - to prove or disprove anything). But the hipocracy of the "Diversity" faction is on display here. They will, of course, downplay and pooh-pooh the numbers, numbers that they would see as an outrage if the situation were reversed.
More On Word Choice: This one from Tammy Bruce, in her debut column on Frontpage. She writes:
"I’ve never liked euphemisms, and coming from the Left Elite I was instilled with the importance of words and the role they play in politics. If you control the definition, you control the debate.
But also that what a word conveys can be necessary, and specifically endorses both the word "Homeland" and the phrase "Radical Islamists".

Again it comes down to a matter of degree, not kind, and the kind of images a writer wants to convey. Anyhow, I won't prattle on any further on this for now. I just post the link to the article because it's aproporiate to what I've been blathering about recently.

initially I wrote "Tammy Baldwin"; that's an entirely different person. Sorry.
Sneaky Propaganda Techniques Ok, so here's an example of what I, personally, would consider a sneaky propaganda technique. I was listening to the BBC World Newshour on my drive into work today. The first half hour concentrated on an analysis of the impact of the Bush Speech. They interviewed two people from each side: the first segment on the topic had a Palestinian spokesman and a former Labour Cabinet Minister of Israel. The last segment had a Palestinian reporter and a Israeli professor. All four had a broad agreement on some central points: one that the expectation that the Palestinians should get rid of Arafat before there can be peace was an "undemocratic" attempt to "impose" leadership changes on the Palestinians (no, they can make their choice of who they want in charge - but we're allowed to make our own choices based on that decision). Two that the speech was "the Sharon line". There were other areas where all four were. . . lets say, disturbed. . .about the speech. This in a speech the same news report conceeded "drew broad support from the Arab world".

But they didn't interview any such people. Nor did they interview, say, a Likud person (which one might have thought would be appropriate given that the others were saying it was the "Sharon line"). In selecting who was worthy of an interview segment on the BBC World Newshour, they managed to convey to the listener what the approved range of opinion is; to tell the listener how to think about the speech. Without resorting to loaded words (all the people interviewed were able to sound quite reasonable. They just held certain shared assumptions, such as, for example, the unreasonableness of placing an onus for changes and concessions primarily upon the Palestinian side as opposed to placing them primarily upon the Israeli side, as in Oslo).

A similar sort of - lets call it slant - came out in the later segment on the G8 meeting, which spent the vast majority of the segment time interviewing protestors and closed with playing one of their songs, with the BBC corespondent even saying that the Protestors were going to try to bring the G8 "down to earth" (ok, so they did use a loaded phrase there - slipping it into the rest of the report). Again, selectivity of what and how to report is what made it a "sneaky propaganda technique" - by the emphasis, they shape the listener's opinion (presuming at least that many listeners won't be analyizing what they're listening to as much as I did. I was taught the Chomskyite Method, one could say. Though I come to vastly different conclusions than a Chomskyite would).

Anyhow, the effectiveness was in the careful selection and emphasis - not in the use of loaded buzzwords. It had all the appearance, even, of a reasoned discussion and portrayal of things. But it lacked the substance of a reasoned, fair, even-handed outlaying of the facts and of both sides, of the broad range of actual opinion. The unstated underlying assumptions guided what was portrayed, not how it was portrayed (they might save that for cocktail parties). That made it more sneaky and probably more effective.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Islamofascism Revisited: Just a belated post re my below nitpicking, Mr. Den Beste responds with a well-reasoned explanation.

He makes fair points. Simple labels are just that. I do, myself, worry somewhat about my use of "Leftist", "Left", even "Radical", much less "Islamofascist" (I guess I worry less about using that last one); because it covers such a wide gamut. I'm aware of that. It's very easy to lump in people for whom what I'm discussing does not apply (there are, for example, Leftists who feel no sense of "community of feeling" with Islamic radicals/Islamofascists. Christopher Hitchens, to name just one).

So they are crude and clumsy in that sense. But - well perhaps I'm not as adroit as the Cap'n, as able to avoid the simplistic labels when I'm blathering. Part of it is that I'm verbose enough (speaking here for myself, not for others, as always, though it is a topic-of-interest, I at least hope); lengthy digressions happen enough as it is, without pausing with a lengthy definition as to what or who is being included (for example, defining what a Frankfort-School Leftist is, and that this may include very many people who have never heard of the "Frankfort School", or have any direct familiarity with the writings of Marcuse, Adorno, et al, but who's outlooks and world-view are shaped by them. As in the students in the poll that Lileks' screed was about. See the post directly below. There are also or similar "cultural Marxists" - again to use a shorthand alluding to the bodies of thought of the leftism that is, IMO, prevalent today - that aren't "Frankfurt School" but are similar in tone and content).

I, personally, think "Islamofascist" is, if anything, more sharply defined. But reasonable people can differ on that. It's a shorthand - a perhaps inefficient and insufficient shorthand - way of describing something that allows me (at least) to move on to the rest of my diatribe. In any case, I don't think it's "sneaky". If anything, it's unsubtle - like a hammer, not a scalpel. A scalpel is a well reasoned argument (or a insidious bit of clever propaganda. That can be a scalpel as well). IMO, it jumps right out and tells the reader right away what the author's point of view is. Just like when you read about "the opressive patriarchy's inherent violence against women and people of color" - phrases like that don't fly under the radar. They might be propaganda. They're certainly loaded words. But they're not that sneaky.

The other argument is that words and phrases of this sort, neologisms and newspeak (which is often in the eye of the beholder. "Newspeak" itself is a loaded word that lets you know, right up front, what the author thinks about a certain term or choice of words. It aint sneaky one bit) may twist and distort the language and cloud reasoning and argument (this is one of Steven's points as well, and it's a well taken one. It's, in fact, convincing, at least to me).

The fact that such words give away what the author thinks about the people he's lumped into whatever bag he's placed them in, and by that what he'd like you, the reader, to think about them too (one hope might be to persuade any readers that a writer might be lucky enough to have. Another might just be to rant and vent, using his or her forum as a sort of "open diary" to express thoughts. This is separate - then it hardly matters and this discussion is moot. Or perhaps it does matter because it leads to sloppy thought on the part of the writer, and if one has an Aristotelian view of the virtues, then being sloppy even in a area that no one else might see isn't an excuse because it's likely to spill over into other areas of the person's life, outside of the "private", so a person should self-discipline. But I digress. See how easy it is? Where was I?)

I'm not sure that it's such a bad thing that the use of a term quickly identifies how an author thinks about a given topic, that it carries connotations plus conveys what the author thinks about it (and the rest. I'm not sure it compels anyone to share that view. Writing "Islamofascist" is perhaps less helpful in convincing people who look on these guys as not-fascist, for whatever reason they do not, than a more careful, less-loaded terminology would. Thus I'm not sure it helps get the reader to think the same about the topic as the author does. It probably hurts. That's probably a better reason to avoid clumsy catch-phrase terminology). It's more likely to turn off people who start reading but hold different conceptions; it's preaching to the choir, in effect (same as "differently abled", the only people who don't make fun of such neologisms are those who already share the views of those who invented such terms. It, as he pointed out, doesn't convince anyone to treat anyone differently. It just makes the whole thing a joke or, worse).

I haven't read USS Clueless that long - a few months now - I've found it thoughtful and thought-provoking (which is why a fairly large percentage of what I expound upon here takes something from there as a starting point). But I don't think it's any less clear what the author thinks about things (and what he might hope to convince others to think, or at least consider, about them) than a site that doesn't avoid the shorthand terms. Personally, I'm pretty confident in my views as well (admittedly I don't express them as well as some others, something to improve upon); I'm not as convinced that some of these terms are "propaganda techniques" (kind of a loaded phrase which tells you what the author thinks about them and. . .but now I'm being a bit cruel and unfair).

It is more, I think, the lengths to which a writer is willing to go to fully argue first principles and starting premises on a given topic, given space and time limitations, I think, than an attempt to propagandize (again, propaganda methods I think implies an attempt to beguile people who wouldn't otherwise agree through manipulation and verbal slight-of-hand. These terms are usually so crude that they make the starting point of a discussion those who already agree on some things - the preaching to the choir effect, again. Someone who doesn't think of certain Islamic fringe thought as "Islamofascistic" already won't be convinced simply because that person sees the word without any additional argument for why it is used; thus they're not going to get "indoctrinated" into believing certain opinions. Usually that happens through selective use of facts - thus folks convince people that a certain world-view is the one to adopt, are indoctrinated with it, and then they start spouting neologisms like "differently abled". It's a chicken and egg thing; it takes four, sometimes five, sometimes six, years of classes to get people to think this way. Then you get a degree in Sociology or Womyn's Studies or whatever and start editing books for insensitivity. But, at least IMO, you don't start with seeing "Islamofascist" and all the sudden become a right-wing Republican and start conspiring to disenfranchise people in Broward County. Again, it takes years and some screed that starts with a premise that you don't concur with has to convince you before it has any chance of indoctrinating you; you're either already there or it isn't going to take you there, by itself, without some supporting rationale).

No, I don't think that's it. The point that he makes that is good is that can lead to sloppy reasoning on the part of the speaker and those who already agree with him. This can lead to discourse that is cut off from any consideration of reasoned disagreement - this is how you end up with folks who react badly to the slightest, civil criticism, and who don't take opposing views seriously (and yes, there are people like that of all ideological stripes. I personally believe those at one end of the spectrum are, at least currently, more pernicious, because they've been more effective, and the way institutions are set up now they can pretty much, if they want, avoid ever encountering a reasoned point of view from the other side if they want to - one has to, often, seek out Conservative thought, deliberately - and are more effectively cut off from feedback on how well or badly ideas work in practice - Thomas Sowell has written about this, among others. On the other hand, the broad "opinion leader" and "public intellectual" culture will almost immediately jump out at a conservative that makes an outragious statement or implements a bad policy - just witness not only the "leftist" reaction to Bush's steel tarrifs, for example, but that of admitted right-wingers. Or the number of self-identified conservatives who think Bush is setting bad precidents in how he's handling some "War on Terror" cases. The internal criticism mechanism of the "right" seems much more healthy at the moment, to me at least, than that of the Left. Thus my own priorities in what I rail against).

Personally, when it comes to "Islamofacists" (at least what I'm mentally putting in that bag and what I keep out of it and not explaining fully to others when I do so), I think I know enough about the sort of people we're talking about here to have an informed opinion opposing them. I think the Captain has one as well. That doesn't mean that one closes one mind to the possibility that someone might make a convincing counter-argument to the effect that deliberately targeting any Israeli Jew - anyone's son will do - or any American - or anyone else - and blowing them to pieces as a conscious policy of killing civilians as the strategy, is somehow a strategy that is not only effective - perhaps it is effective - but morally justifiable, virtuous, and indeed worthy of praise and civic or spiritual reward. I just think the possibility is vanishingly small and if I did find an argument that convinced me it would probably be due to the fact that I had become deranged and not because the argument was really sound and virtuous. I am also aware of the "we're no better than them because we did X - we firebombed Dresden, we nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we massacred the Indians, etc" sorts of arguments, but they are unconvincing because the type of people who make them are not the kinds of people who think that our doing such things was either good or justified by circumstances, so I find it an implausible and insufficient justification to excuse, say, the Palestinian attackers/Jihadists now. Perhaps that's the word to use, btw; Jihadist. Except Jihad, while it definitely has aggressive - not "self-improvement" connotations, isn't very precise either; Jihad covers what we would consider "just war" - or at least war conducted within tolerable, generally accepted norms of violence - as well as the kind that involves the targeting of infants with exploding nailbombs, and not every Jihad involves a bin Ladinite or Arafatist strategy - or perhaps some will prefer "Hamasian", because they won't agree with the author here that Arafat is someone who helped shape, create, foster, and spread this strategy. And some won't like "Hamasian". Others won't like "Bin Ladinite", even. Oh well. I digressed again).

One of the reasons that Steven Den Beste is admirable is that he is very willing to go to great lengths to argue his premises from a starting point (not, mind, always or even usually, the foundational first principles; how exhaustive one can be is limited. Thus there's always, IMO, a shorthand - a area where the author is assuming - has to - that the reader agrees with the reader he is trying to convince on at least some principles. I digress again, that wasn't really his rationale for not using the words he eschews, but I guess it's sort of mine. Which does advance another point - and that is that people might use these simplistic terms for reasons other than attempting to propagandize or indoctrinate the reader. They might just be lazy, or only willing or able to take the starting-point for their argument back so far). Anyhow, he does go back "so far" - and has built up, by this point, a body of background writings that he can link to and refer people to (thus he doesn't have to invent the wheel each time he writes on a topic he's written on already).

By far most people who blog don't write posts as extensive as his. This isn't a criticism of either them or of him. Those who write pithy posts by nature aren't going to have as much ability to avoid loaded shorthand (folks who blather like me have less excuse). I know he's not criticizing others so much as explaining the choice he made. Although, well, again to be a bit unfair and cruel, the "loaded terms" he uses to explain his choice is an implicit criticism of those who are less careful. This isn't so much a dig at him for that choice but a unkind "gotcha" - the point is, it's not possible to completely escape this; here's a "first principle" of mine that is sort of related. And I think he'd agree on - after all, in his own piece he tongue-in-cheek identifies a "loaded word" he uses, so I think I won't be misconstruing him to say that he likely shares this "first principle", and that is that very often things are a matter of degree, not kind. Wars are cruel but there is such a thing as being too cruel, and there is such a thing as setting the standard of cruelty-avoidance at a level so impossibly high that it is obviously deliberately designed to make (usually one side) combat ineffective. There's a middle ground and sound judgement is required. Similarly, one can avoid "Nigger" without going to the extreme of "differently abled womyn of color who lives an alternative lifestyle involving her cat and a suction device, but which we think is equally valid to any other lifestyle choice but especially better than the patriarchal family."

He has set a very high standard for himself, which is commendable (not "pedantic" as someone claimed, unless attempting to explain one's reasoning as carefully as one can is pedantic now). But I'm not sure that makes people who are somewhere within that middle spectrum propagandists. Again, that's a judgement call - one for the reader to make. This is perhaps the longest post I've made so far and I'm not sure how clear it is. I will leave with this; if anything I wrote here seems to slight the Captain's work or (even worse) him personally, the error is all mine and it is due to poor choice of words (that doesn't mean don't slam me on it if that's the case).
I'll have to go to this site more often. I've heard of James Lileks, of course, but haven't read any of his stuff till now (I know, kind of lame). If I had I suppose I'd have avoided using "screed" as part of the nomenclature for my site (in my own pathetic defense, I've been using "rantinc screeds" to describe diatribes of mine for years, usually gaming related rants on IC message boards. Anyhow that's not important).

This screed of his is superb. It's been up for days but I've only now gotten to it (after some effusive - but not over effusive - praise of it). It centers on a poll that I've commented on myself, though not as well. Not nearly as well. Now I have seen a standard to try to emulate.

That piece, that screed, is something that needs to be read to the bitter end.
The Show Low Fire just got a segment on CTV News in Canada. That makes it international news. I comment because the smoke from there has been blowing through here where I live for several days now (most of last week, actually). I live in Southwest Colorado (we have the Missionary Ridge fire nearby, too, but the smoke that's blowing over Mancos is comming from the southwest - Arizona).
I doubt Lawrence Summers is a conservative (as the article concedes), but on many college campi today, a principled Liberal (in the true sense of the word) is to the right of virtually all the faculty (at least the humanities/liberal arts faculty), to the point where he would seem like a conservative by comparison with those radicals and would be highly controvercial as such. As Summers has been. Many actual Liberals (as opposed to radicals expropriating the term for their own use) have been tarred as such. Some have resisted and tried to keep their position, while others have ended up agreeing with Midge Decter that "there comes a time to join the side you're on".
Of Course this will never happen. The content of the U.S. Constitution is too controvercial these days for that to ever pass muster.
Talk about "USS CLUELESS", too bad that name is already taken. Because "Council Directive No 93/104/EC of 23 November 1993 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time" just sounds, its name, like something out of Rick Berman's feavered mind. Talk about "newspeak terms". Sheesh.
Comming End of the Third Way in Britain? This Torygraph columnist seems to think so, sooner rather than later. I have wondered if Britain of all places would buck the current Zietgist in Europe, which is (so far) a sweeping sea-change away from the Social Democrat-type parties that have dominated for most of the past decade and see the EU as a project they essentially own.

I'm not sure; the Conservatives will have to get a big swing in their favor to come all the way back and regain power. Their current leadership is sort of uninspiring, and no matter what one thinks of Blair, usually a charismatic leader isn't beaten by uninspiring ones. You don't beat something with nothing, as the old saw goes. I'm also not certain the Conservative Party really has a platform which will inspire people (the second most likely thing to motivate voters - not the first - after a candidate, is the programe the party runs on. Usually one needs a solid advocate for a policy first, and the efficacy of what is being pushed comes second).

As for the other options (the Liberal Democrats, mainly), they're even worse than Labour, so I'm not bothering to consider them as a possible future government of Britain.

Otherwise the column is pretty good. Blair isn't the worst Labourite that could have come to power (which is why he did come to power), but his programe is that of the Left in general: hostility to the institutions of Western (especially "Anglosphere") countries, almost always those of their own nation in particular (the French Left is a partial exception to that, for a variety of reasons. They typically embrace French institutions, and direct their ire against those of. . .Anglosphere countries). This section is apt not only regarding Labour in Britain, but the "Progressive" wing of the Democrat Party in America as well:
"What always struck me about Blairism was its peculiar dislike for the political institutions and traditions of its own country. This may have been a function of the bitterness that grows to malignant proportions in a party that has gone down heavily in repeated defeat. But it also reminded me of the dreamy attitude I found on the British New Left in the 1960s, which despised patriotism and saw any other country's solutions as superior to its own.

What New Labour really wanted was to turn Britain into a different place. It wanted to bolt on to our political system things that were not only historically unconnected with us, but were anomalous with our existing constitution. By implication, any feature of life that was not part of this new philosophy would have to have a damn good excuse for continuing to exist."
He's also largely right in comparing British institutions to those that are held up by the Left as superior examples that should serve as the model to replace them with (especially in regard to the stability and peacableness of British political life compared to that of Continental governments. Of course, the EU is consciously designed on the Continental model, abhorring any resemblance to the British model). It is precisely, IMO, the success of their institutions (and, over here, Americas) that make them an abominable affront to many on the Left. Perhaps more unconsciously than consciously, they stand as an empirical rebuke to so many of the Left's ideological dogmas. The fact that countries have succeeded and prospered with traditions and institutions such as these, rather than the more "rational", socially planned French-style systems, is not compatible with the undergirdings of their ideology.
Steven Den Beste comments on the cult of sensitivity that has transformed the virtue of sound judgement into the vice of judgementalism, on unthoughtful and thoughtful anti-war criticism. As usual the essay is very good. I have but a couple quibbles.

First, and he probably is aware of this but it's a pet peeve of mine, is that sensitivity and non-judgementalism and de-legitimization of criticism (for example, asking people to give their reasons for their statements leading to outrage and accusations, something he mentions and that is common) is highly selective. This atmosphere only applies to the radical left and it's third world mascots. One will notice that aspects of Western civilization or of concepts and people associated with the "right wing" are not covered by the demand for sensitivity. Indeed, that's why you can get called names and/or accused of being a oppressive fascist simply for asking the Enlightened radicals to explain their reasoning, much less if you have the gall to criticize and openly disagree with them. I hate to be repetitious, but here the concept of Liberating Tolerance rears its ugly head again. The people practicing this form of "selective sensitivity" may not have ever heard of the term or of Marcuse, but one doesn't have to have direct contact with or knowledge of an idea in order to practice it. It's something that's been internalized in many people by now.

The other quibble I have I suppose is more of a question. The good Captain perhaps seems to practice this sensitivity when he calls the term "Islamofascist" a newspeak word. is "Islamofascist" really something bordering on bigotry? I'm not asking as a rhetorical question, but I've always thought it (like related terms such as "radical Islam" or "Islamist") are a handy way of differentiating between the bin Ladins of the world and Islam as a whole (thus, perhaps, *less* bigoted, certainly less than saying "moslem terrorism"). Or perhaps the term is crude and clumsy.

Perhaps it's newspeak. I don't know (thus I ask), but its a shorthand way to define the distinction between Islam as a whole and the guys who are blowing people up without having to, each time one writes about such fellows, do a paragraph long on the distinction (the "sensitivity paragraph" to by flippant about it). Perhaps we've just all been sort of cowed into being so overly careful in how we criticize certain groups (leftists, where it's a form of "McCarthyite Witch Hunting" and peoples-of-color or third-world cultures, where it's racist, bigoted, and/or cultural imperialism. Again, though, this sort of careful censorship and self-censorship only applies to certain groups. You don't have to be careful about what you say America is like, for example; any sort of overblown rhetoric is not only allowed, but it's de rigur). It may be the case here that even where people are trying to use a term that is carefully selected to not include all of Islam or all Moslems, they're to be tarred with the brush of bigotry anyhow. But perhaps the word isn't the best chosen, either. If I knew myself there wouldn't be a question and I wouldn't have fixated on this small part of a large and otherwise excellent essay.

I have used "Islamofascist" and "Islamic radicals" and the like, but haven't really found that fully satisfactory, which I suppose is why I would probe deeper into people's opinions since apparently some have found "Islamofascist" to be something akin to Ingsoc-like MiniTru wordplay.
David Horowitz Knows Our Enemy. Yah, exactly. This part is very controvercial but IMO identifies why there is a sort of community feeling (not of action or ideology as such, but of sentiment and shared hostilities) between the radical theology of the Islamofascists and the radical sociology of the fascist left:
"The hope for heaven – or for the global reign of Islam as the path to heaven -- is generically the same fanatical inspiration that caused believers in socialism (a heaven on earth) to kill tens of millions of innocent unbelievers during the 20th Century. It is the same faith that causes progressive fellow travelers like Ted Turner, Barbara Kingsolver and Edward Said to support the agendas of America’s enemies. And of perverse America-haters, like Gore Vidal and Noam Chomsky to support any anti-American war.
Glenn Reynolds also asks
"Is it just me, or is keeping the United States from feeling good about, well, anything, but especially itself the main consistent theme of the Nation crowd? And why is that, exactly?
It's not just you.

As for why that is, well I post on the reasons for that frequently (see just above for another example, and here for a earlier screed), but there was a good sign in a Simpsons episode that pretty much sums it up, carried by a leftist demonstrator, saying "we hate life and ourselves". I donno about all of life (though there is the "voluntary human extinction" movement, but they don't kill themselves), but these people certainly hate the civilization they live in.
Elvish Imperialism Glenn Reynolds points out this post on the Elves of Middle Earth. The blogger even mentions Procopius. Truely someone after my own heart. Virtually the same screed could be written about Faerun's elves. More on that later.