Wednesday, October 30, 2002
IRAQ "TEACH-IN" REPORT
I just got back from a "teach-in" on the potential war in Iraq at my university. The article in the campus newspaper announcing it billed the event as striving "to bring opposing sides of the debate together for education and discussion," but -- surprise, surprise! -- only the anti-war position was presented. The format was a three member panel discussion, with the participants being Richard Falk, a soon-to-be visiting professor in our Global Studies department, sociology professor Avery Gordon, and David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. I did a little research on these three beforehand, and everything I found bolstered my suspicion that they all would be anti-war. By the time I noticed the guy at the door handing out "pre-election peace rally" flyers, I had no doubt that the so-called "discussion" would be anything but balanced, and I was right.
Let me start by summarizing each of the panel members' positions:
Falk: We should have overthrown Hussein's regime back in 1991 when we had the chance... oops, no, sorry, that's the sensible conclusion to draw from his statements. He stated that the U.S. is not serious about a regime change in Iraq and is actually using the war on terror as a vehicle for global domination. He also chided the U.S. for not approaching this solely through the U.N.. Falk was actually the most objective of the three.
Gordon: The U.S. has been waging an 11-year campaign of "genocide" (her word) against the Iraqi people. America has an imperialist mindset and intends to create a global empire via the war on terror. The American media are propagandizing in favor (!) of the war. Oh yes, and Bush stole the 2000 election.
Krieger: The U.S. is trying to create a global empire. Bush is a moron and is destroying the Constitution.
Here are some of the more, uh, noteworthy thoughts voiced during the presentations and question-and-answer session:
* Krieger smirkingly wondered why we are using diplomacy with North Korea now that they have nuclear weapons instead of attacking them. Gee, could it have something to do with the fact that they can now fry South Korea? If anything, the North Korea situation shows that 1) diplomatic agreements aren't honored by despots, so it's foolish to rely on them; and 2) once a rogue nation gets nuclear weapons, your options in dealing with them become severely limited. But of course Krieger isn't about to use these insights in analyzing the Iraq situation.
* Gordon referred to Israel as committing "genocide" against the Palestinians. Pretty damn funny, considering that the country that has killed the most Palestinians is the Arab nation of Jordan. But then she couldn't let any mention of Black September diminish her slandering of Israel, now could she?
* The U.S. was repeatedly criticized for trying to sustain a military strong enough to defeat any country in the world that might attack us. This is a bad thing??? A nation wanting to live in complete safety? (I'm not distorting what was said at all here -- it was stated that this is a goal of American policy, and that it is a reprehensible thing merely on principle.)
* If we just gave them more foreign aid and built up their economies, the Muslim nations would love us. So then why is there a correlation between greater national wealth and greater support of terrorism in the Middle East?
* Falk claimed that Hussein has only acted "wildly," i.e. lashing out at other nearby nations, when threatened with attack from US/Allied forces. Ignoring the fact that he did a fine job acting "wildly" against Iran and Kuwait all on his own, this "if we just stop bullying him he'll be nice" mentality is terribly naive. (And it worked so well with North Korea, didn't it?)
* Krieger begged the students to take action so that their fellow young people who had to go into the military because they couldn't afford college wouldn't be killed, i.e. have to die because they are underprivileged. What struck me as funny about this is that he seemed to see the military as some sort of social entitlement program -- there to give kids who don't go to college something to do. And does this mean those in the military out of a desire for national service or a respect for martial virtues are less worthy of concern? (I suspect he took this approach because he knew it would tug on the students' liberal guilt/multicultural heartstrings.)
* Falk stated that we should learn from the example of the Versailles Treaty and stop enforcing a "punitive peace" on Iraq. When an audience member suggested that the closer parallel would be Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler, Falk said the situation was totally different from that of Iraq because Germany had a more threatening army and was committing systematic genocide. Falk was, of course, sidestepping the main point of the comment, namely the folly of negotiating kindly with despots. Regardless, his reply is misleading because, although the comment about the military threat may be valid, the Final Solution had not started yet when Chamberlain negotiated with the Nazis! In contrast, Hussein has already demonstrated his genocidal intentions against the Kurds and Iraqi Shi'ites. So Falk's reply in fact supports taking military action.
All in all, there was very little insight or wisdom to be found in this nonsense. "Propagandize-in" would have been a more honest title.
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
EUROPE'S SOCIAL DECAY
Sobering news on current social conditions in Europe:
The latest City Journal has an article on The Barbarians At the Gates of Paris, discussing the increasing phenomenon in France of clusters of unassimilated and hostile immigrants coalescing in government housing projects on the outskirts of major French cities. The situation is both a tragedy for those sucked into these degenerate cesspools and a threat to the French nation through the crime and potential terrorism these places spawn.
Meanwhile, across the Channel, Britain's crime rates are skyrocketing at the same time as the government has severely limited its citizens' access to guns and gutted their legal rights to self-defense. Rather than reversing these destructive policies, the UK is looking to harsher sentencing and technological quick fixes such as closed-circuit television cameras for salvation, and truly Orwellian bargains may be in store...
WHICH FLAME WARRIOR ARE YOU?
Check out this site to discover what Internet debater you are. I think I'm either Profundus Maximus or Rottweiler Puppy, though the less charitable might call me Ideologue or even Troglodyte!
Friday, October 25, 2002
NEW BLOG NAME
The results for the Rename the Blog Contest are in, and the winner is... Anti-Socialist Tendencies, suggested by Atheist to a Theist! Congratulations Jeff! Your prize is... uhh... hmmm... let me see... [rummages through junk on desk] Oh yes! A toenail clipper with a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe on it! Direct from a tacky little shop in Mexico City, and forged in the finest steel mills of Korea. Enjoy it in good health, you lucky dog you!
And now, I officially rename this blog... Anti-Socialist Tendencies!
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
MUSSOLINI: FATHER OF MODERN LEFTISM
The term "fascist" has been so abused for so long in political rhetoric that few seem to understand that behind it stands a very specific ideology, let alone what that ideology entails. Almost 60 years ago, George Orwell noted, "The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desirable.'" In today's America, it serves simply as a slur against anyone with right-wing political leanings, implying they are equal to Adolf Hitler. It should come as no surprise, then, that many are absolutely dumbfounded to hear the claim that fascism is actually a left-wing ideology. But the simple fact is that an objective look at fascism reveals it is a variant of socialism. The classic analysis of this is Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, which I can't recommend strongly enough. 
Taking this fact as a starting point, John Ray points out the close parallels between modern-day leftism and fascism, specifically the fascism of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Ray has written previously about how much of the political currents of the 20th century were expressed in and foreshadowed by Il Duce, but here narrows his focus to the leftism of our current day. In fairness, his argument is most fully appropriate only for the Nation-reading, Nader-admiring Democratic Socialism types, but echoes of Italian Fascism are indeed found in the rest of leftism as well. Read it in preparation for your next encounter with a rude and ignorant leftist!
The widespread perception that fascism is a right-wing ideology is no doubt due to its historical association with militaristic nationalism, which correctly or not is considered the province of rightist politics. As Ray shows, however, Communist states have frequently included militaristic nationalism as well, so this alone does not disqualify fascism as a leftist ideology.
So if both fascism and communism are simply variants of socialism, what are the characteristics that distinguish them from each other? Ray does not state this with complete clarity himself. My own summary is this: Communism is more internationalist in outlook and explicitly Marxist, whereas fascism is more nationalist in outlook and broadly socialistic.
 It's hilariously obvious in the comments section on the Amazon page for The Road to Serfdom that the people who attack the book have never actually read it!
Monday, October 21, 2002
VEGARD & MILLER DO IT AGAIN
Norwegian Blogger and Atheist to a Theist prove their comedic genius yet again. Norwegian Blogger offers a biting MiSTing of Idiotarian spam, and A to T comments on the biblical prophecy of Saddam and Gamera.
Sunday, October 20, 2002
SADDAM' S CAMPAIGN SONGS
Continuing the musical theme, Atheist to a Theist has a hilarious collection of campaign theme songs for Saddam Hussein that beat the Iraqi Stalin's own choice of "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston. Hey Jeff, give the poor guy a break -- that's still better than the Clinton campaign's choice of "The Macarena" for the Democratic national convention!
OBJECTIVISM, RUSH, & FREE WILL
Included on Radley Balko's list of libertarian-themed rock songs that I mentioned previously is "Freewill" by Rush. For those who don't know, Rush is a Canadian rock band that had its heyday in the '80s and is notable for being inspired by Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. Knowing that last bit, I always get a chuckle out of hearing "Freewill". I do agree with the basic sentiment of the song, but I find it very funny that people who are metaphysically materialist are upholding the concept of free will. After all, if we are nothing more than biochemical machines, free will in any meaningful sense cannot exist. And don't get me started on the absurdity of Objectivism professing objective moral values under a materialist metaphysics! But then Objectivism has always struck me as an attempt to have one's philosophical cake (selfishly, of course) and eat it (selfishly, of course) too...
Friday, October 18, 2002
MUSICAL "ROCK 'N ROLL CONSERVATISM"
Perhaps inspired a little too literally by Eve Tushnet's Rock 'n Roll Conservatism, two authors have posted their lists of conservative-themed rock-and-roll songs. Bruce Bartlett has his broad-ranging list of Conservative Pop Music Top 40, and Radley Balko narrows his focus to libertarian-themed rock songs. Check them out!
One of my favorites on the lists is "20th Century Man" by The Kinks:
I was born in a welfare state
Ruled by bureaucracy
Controlled by civil servants
And people dressed in gray
Got no privacy, got no liberty
Cos the twentieth century people
Took it all away from me
But topping my own list (probably because it resonates with Edmund Burke, of course!) would be The Beatle's "Revolution":
You say you want a revolution
Well you know we all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know we all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be alright
You say you got a real solution
Well you know we'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well you know we're doing what we can
But when you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be alright
You say you'll change the constitution
Well you know we all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well you know you better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know it's gonna be alright
RENAME THE BLOG CONTEST
I've been thinking lately that the name "Varenius" for the blog is not a very revealing one. It may be time to give the blog a new name that better reflects the actual contents here. Here's the list of alternatives thus far:
All Anti-Socialist, All the Time
In Praise of Norwegian Blogger
Burke, Burke, and More Burke
Varenius' Vacation Notices
Suggestions are welcome, but I think I've pretty much exhausted the possibilities here :-)
YOUNG SOCIALIST RETURNS
At long last, The Young Socialist has returned to the Blogosphere. Maybe now I'll finally get a reply to this post!
VALBERG VS BARAKA: NO CONTEST!
Norwegian Blogger is now vying against Amiri Baraka for the position of New Jersey Poet Laureate. Bad news, Mr. Valberg: You are far too talented a poet for the airheads in charge to ever pick you.
NOBEL PRIZE AS IDEOLOGICAL WEAPON
I generally dislike Lowell Ponte due to his often being uncharitable at best and an ideologue at worst, but his columns do often have interesting tidbits. His current FrontPage piece, Carter's Appease Prize, has this noteworthy revelation about the motive behind the recent awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to former President Jimmy Carter:
And apparently the five members of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize Committee scarcely thought Carter deserved it this year. Honoring Carter, said Committee chairman Gunnar Berge, “should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current [Bush] administration has taken. It’s a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the United States.”
“A ‘kick in the leg,’” reported Reuters journalist Alister Doyle, “is a Norwegian phrase meaning ‘a slap in the face.’” So the prize was intended not to honor Jimmy Carter so much as to insult and slap in the face the current American President George W. Bush for not following Carter’s policies of weakness, vacillation, and appeasement towards Leftist and other anti- American forces in the world. It should not be called a peace prize, opined the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto, but “The Nobel Appeasement Prize.”
The article is also worth reading as a reminder of the frequent foreign policy failures of the Carter administration.
COLUMBUS VILIFICATION DAY
Monday was Columbus Day, and like every year in our politically correct era, vitriolic attacks portraying the poor explorer as Satan Incarnate responsible for every ill and misdeed that has afflicted the Americas since 1492 were predictably trotted out. Personally, I have no patience for this hateful nonsense, but regardless, two of this year's rebuttals to the Columbus-haters really annoyed me: Did Christopher Columbus "Discover" America? by Michael Berliner, and Cornell Leftists Trash Columbus/America by Joseph Sabia.
Both of these articles are prime examples of being so determined to trash an opposing view that one ends up just as extreme as the extremists being targeted. Despite some objective and fair statements, their basic approach is to denigrate and mock aboriginal Americans  while stating that they should be grateful that "civilization" was forced on them. (In typical Objectivist fashion, Berliner even sees the natural resources of the Americas as having been "wasted" by the Indians through underuse!) True, naively romanticizing Indians as "noble savages" has reached epidemic proportions, but denigrating them as subhuman primitives is no improvement. And although Western civilization is indeed the greatest in the world, and European imperialism did bring benefits to conquered peoples (especially in East Africa), these facts do not erase the evils that were committed against the indigenous Americans. Pretending that they do is no credit to these writers.
 I prefer to use the terms "aboriginal Americans" or "indigenous Americans" because they avoid the ambiguities and complications of traditional terms such as Indians or Native Americans.
Monday, October 14, 2002
SOMEBODY MiSTed MINDLESS POETRY
Norwegian Blogger shows his ascerbic wit yet again, this time with a hilarious Mystery Science Theater 3000 spoof of the laughably juvenile "Somebody Blew Up America" by Amiri Baraka. The poem is so painfully bad that I couldn't finish reading it the first time, but skimmed ahead enough to at least be treated to the dumbfoundingly bizarre "exploding owl" imagery. (Was there an aviary in the World Trade Center, perhaps?) But I will forgive (almost!) this travesty of art for the simple fact that it inspired Norwegian Blogger to write something that made me laugh uproariously on one of the worst days I've ever had.
John Derbyshire has a less funny but still good take on the poem, and Ward Connerly responds to his being "honored" in it  as well.
 "Who do Tom Ass Clarence Work for/ Who doo doo come out the Colon's mouth/ Who know what kind of Skeeza is a Condoleeza [sic]/ Who pay Connelly [sic] to be a wooden Negro" (I think I'm... gonna... b-be... s-s-sick...)
Saturday, October 12, 2002
CANTICLE OF THE SUN
In thanks for a wonderful week of travel...
The Canticle of the Sun
by Francis of Assisi
Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother
Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have
made them, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and
all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and
precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those
who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.
Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no
living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.
(Thanks to Mark Shea for reminding me of this prayer.)
Saturday, October 05, 2002
VARENIUS THE JET-SETTER
I'm off to a conference and so will be away from the blog for another week. See you then...
Wednesday, October 02, 2002
POST-VACATION ARTICLE DRAG-NET HAUL
Some interesting articles during my absence...
Madeleine Not-so-bright: A paean to the incompetence of Madeleine Albright, architect of the Kosovo fiasco.
The Iraqi-Oil-for-U.N.-Jobs Program: The U.N.-(mis)managed scheme for giving Iraq oil money.
Tales of the Tyrant: How Saddam Hussein is proving to be a first-rate student of Koba the Dread's playbook.
More to be added shortly.