Saturday, March 27, 2004

War of Aggression, Not Self Defense
Let’s define what we mean by the violence of aggression and the violence of self defense shall we? It seems to me that “violence of self defense” would mean the particular instance where one was defending himself against an immediate and certain threat. For example, I can imagine the following: an intruder breaks into my home and is intent on harming me or my family. In self defense, I grab my Smith & Wesson .357 and initiate a violent act: I pull the trigger. The intruder is killed – by me – and presumably in the eyes of the law I am innocent of murder by virtue of my right to self defense.

Now here might be an example of the “violence of aggression:” I am now the intruder in the example above. But, I am prepared for the possibility of gunplay. I create a diversion in my victim’s home and I, using my Colt .45 blow away the owner. I steal whatever I can get my hands on and skedaddle.

The distinction in the two examples is that in the first case, there was a clear right of “self defense” while the second was murder pure and simple. The aggressor had no right to the owner’s home or to forfeit his life.

Now let’s imagine the proper role of the state in the second instance. There are laws against murder. Our killer has now been arrested, tried by a jury of his peers and found guilty. He is sentenced to die for his crime and is executed. Again, this is presumably an extension of one’s right to self defense and can be classified accordingly. It also happens to fall under what is known as the “rule of law.” Note that the killer wasn’t executed until after he had been arrested, tried by a jury and sentenced. This is due process, plan and simple, and a hallmark of western civilization.

Let’s throw a twist in the first example shall we? Suppose that instead of killing me, the intruder’s shot was a flesh wound. He escapes my house and flees. Of course, I am very angry at this violation of my rights. Several weeks later, I begin to believe that I know who the intruder was. So, I embark on a campaign to find this person, and I do. Now I take my Smith & Wesson .357 and blow the guy away. I ask you: is this “violence by self defense” or “violence by aggression?” I say that it is the latter, because there neither was “an immediate and certain threat” nor “rule of law.”

So, let’s get back to arguing points of common ground. The “conservative” arguments presented here seem to be in favor of our government dropping bombs on Iraqis or for Israel's use of helicopter gun ships to launch missiles against suspected militants based on the collective “right of self defense.” I would argue that these cases are no different than my example of hunting down my suspected intruder and blowing him away. The point is that the “rule of law” has been usurped. Only had the suspected Hamas militant been properly arrested, tried, sentenced and executed would I agree that Israel was acting under the cover of the rightful act of self defense. Only had the Iraqi government clearly inflicted harm on America by attacking us first would I agree that we – in dropping bombs on Iraqis – would be acting in self defense.

The principles don’t change by abstraction to a government. Just as in my example, our government is committing “violence by aggression.” Thus, I do affirm that there is no moral distinction between the Para-militant terrorist, who kills innocent civilians, and our government that bombs innocent civilians, who never attacked or inflicted harm on us to start with. Acting on our fear of WMD does not make it just. Acting under the cloak of government doesn’t make it just. Saying that we “rescued” the Iraqi people from a tyrant is not enough. Ten thousand innocent Iraqi civilians have been murdered and I will not submit that these lives were forfeited by our “right of self defense.” This war on Iraq is clearly immoral and an act of aggression.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Getting it backward
Wrong! Wrong, I say!:
The House rejected a measure to raise the hurdle for tax cuts despite the concerns of some Republicans who argue that reducing the deficit should take priority.
They're going about it the wrong stinkin' way. They (all Congressmen) don't understand that it's our money they're playing with. What they should do is make it harder to increase spending and to make it harder to increase taxes. Their priorities are upside down, backward and, well, wrong!

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Common ground
So, Rodney, maybe we are thinking the same way on this. Your quote from Hawley is a more PC version of the same thing I quoted (which I'll link to again because I think it's from the original author), namely that violence has its place. When bad guys are trying to kill us, sometimes we have no choice but to kill them first. Their violence beget (begat? begot? begotten? Hansel? Kooba? (sorry, those last two were for Joe)) our violence, not the other way around. There's no moral equivalence between the violence of aggression and the violence of self-defense.
Setting the Record Straight
Thank you for taking the time to think about my post David. For the record, let me state that I don't support or advocate any type of terrorism or murder.

You asked who is General Richard E. Hawley? Well, I was duped by reading several internet articles that claimed he was the author of the quote you referenced. To set the record straight, I would like to present this link. Incidentally, General Hawley did write this:
Violence begets violence: It's true. Violence does beget violence. But sometimes there is no alternative but to confront those who would perpetrate evil acts against us. This is one of those times....
You can read more by navigating to the previous link.
Tradition for tradition's sake
Over in the Corner, Jonah Goldberg is arguing that the "under God" phrase should not be removed from the Pledge, mostly for tradition's sake (start here and scroll up, there are several posts). He says:
The most persuasive argument -- among many -- for why the phrase under God should stay there, in my view, is not because it's an establishment of religion or because we are a "Christian nation" but because removing it would do more damage than leaving it. Indeed, if the phrase under God had never been added, I would be against adding it today.
It's like an argument from momentum, which is silly. Later on (or further up, however you look at it):
Again, my basic objection is pragmatic and small-c conservative. It's not worth changing.
Funny, I thought a small-c conservative would think religion was none of the government's business. He's certainly being pragmatic, because his position lacks principle.

UPDATE: When does "God" not mean, you know, "God"?
Israel's plight
Rodney, if I wasn't challenging myself, I wouldn't bother responding to your posts.

Anyway, I've always thought it was kind of strange that the Jews were given their own state after WWII. You already know I don't think a government should be tied to a religion of any kind, so the whole concept of a Jewish state is suspect to me. Yet this doesn't mean Israel should cease to exist and its citizens should be slaughtered. I do not know what ultimately made the UN decide that the best solution was to give the Jews their own country. Why couldn't they immigrate to the U.S.? Would we not have welcomed them? Regardless, what's done is done. They have their state and since the day of its it is inception it has been constantly under attack.

According to this article, had the Arabs accepted the original UN resolution, we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place: "not a single Palestinian would have become a refugee and an independent Arab state would now exist beside Israel". As for property rights, do only Palestinians have them?:
The number of Jews fleeing Arab countries for Israel in the years following Israel's independence was roughly equal to the number of Arabs leaving Palestine. Many Jews were allowed to take little more than the shirts on their backs. These refugees had no desire to be repatriated. Little is heard about them because they did not remain refugees for long. Of the 820,000 Jewish refugees, 586,000 were resettled in Israel at great expense, and without any offer of compensation from the Arab governments who confiscated their possessions. Israel has consequently maintained that any agreement to compensate the Palestinian refugees must also include Arab compensation for Jewish refugees. To this day, the Arab states have refused to pay any compensation to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were forced to abandon their property before fleeing those countries.
The Palestinians, at least most of them, were welcome to stay in Israel, and those who chose to do so became citizens. Most left, typically because they didn't want to be caught in the crossfire of the war they knew was coming. They abandoned their property, figuring they could return in a few days after all of the Jews had been killed. The Jews, on the other hand, were forced to leave Arab countries. Israel welcomed the Jewish refugees, the Arab countries rejected the Palestinians. The refugee crisis is of their own making.

Now, I have made the claim that Israel has the right to defend itself and I stand by that claim. I've never claimed that the Israelis are always right and that everything they do is justified. On the other hand, they are fighting for their survival, and it is a desperate fight. Innocents will die - that is an unfortunate consequence of war. But there is a moral difference between the violence of self-defense (and the mistakes that are made in this effort) and the violence of terrorism.

Maybe you don't think what Hamas is doing is terrorism. Do you, Rodney, believe it is justifiable for the Palestinians to intentionally kill Israeli civilians to make a political point? If our government took your house for some reason, would you counter by strapping bombs to your kids and sending them downtown looking for targets? If the whole state of Israel really does belong to the Palestinians, does that justify the means they are using to try to get it back? If your answer is yes, well, that's unconscionable.

The core issue is whether or not Israel has the right to exist as a nation. You may argue that it never should have been created in the first place, and had we been around back then, I would agreed with you. But now, over half a century later, the point is moot. To take away Israel's right to exist is to place a death sentence on its citizens, and I cannot do that.

I see the last link in your post was to an Iraqi body count site. Let's contrast the Iraqi and Israeli situations. The U.S. did not take the position that Iraq as a country should not exist, that its citizens should live somewhere else or not at all. It was the regime in charge of Iraq that was deemed illegitimate. The U.S. is an enemy of Saddam Hussein and his ilk, not the Iraqis themselves. The U.S., rightly or wrongly, acts out of benevolence, it has the best intentions and has a genuine interest in the success of a free Iraq and its people. Compare that to the Israeli situation. It's enemies could care less what sort of government it has - they believe Israel itself has no right to exist and its Jewish citizens should be driven out or killed. And don't tell me Israel's enemies have the good of the Palestinians in mind. If Arab nations like Syria, Jordan, Egypt and so on had any benevolence for the Palestinians, they would welcome them as Israel has welcomed Jewish refugees. The differences between the situations in Iraq and Israel are fundamental and cannot be reconciled. You may disagree with the Iraq war, but can you not acknowledge that, morally, there is a difference?

I skimmed through the libertarian solution you linked to and at face value it doesn't sound too bad to me, but there's an awful lot of cultural conversion on both sides that will have to take place before such a plan would work. Currently, there's too much distrust on both sides. Fundamental attitudes will have to change - no small task. It sounds nice and happy, but can it really be implemented? The violence will have to end first, and I still say the onus is on the Palestinians to see to that.

And you'll have to let me know who Richard E. Hawley is. Never heard of him.

Holy cow, this is a long post! Sorry about that.
Shake Hands With the Devil
The title of a new book by Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian general who had the thankless task of being the commander on the ground in Rwanda when the carnage began. This article gives a brief recounting of his experience and the world's reaction. Dallaire dryly notes that the world would probably have reached greater uproar about the violence in Rwanda if the countries endangered mountain gorillas were the target of the slaughter, rather than the 800,000 or so humans that were butchered.

What strikes me, though, about this account is that Dallaire places blame squarely on Europe and the United States, but almost none on the UN. From the story:
"A main-force invasion may be essential, Dallaire said, but afterward 'soft skills' must be left to the armies of small nations, with no vested interests, operating under a UN flag."
Now, we can quibble about the lack of U.S. commitment in Rwanda, but this was, afterall, a UN mission. We aren't the only country in the world (as the UN so frequently reminds us), and the UN can draw on peacekeepers from throughout the world. Rwanda was a failing of the UN, more than any other organization (Dallaire, afterall, took orders from them, not us, and his troop strength was regularly cut by the UN -- we had no soldiers in the garrison in Rwanda). Why does he see the UN as any sort of legitimizing force?
"The United States is 'tolerating this illegal practice.'"
So says the Palestinian delegate to the UN, Nasser al-Kidwa, regarding the missile attack that killed Ahmed Yassin. In typical UN fashion, delegates to the Security Council are considering a resolution condemning Israel for its targeted attacks. The United States is expected to veto the resolution, because, as usual, it's heavy on condemnation of Israel, but has nothing really specific to say about Palestinian terrorism. Instead, it condemns "all terrorist attacks against civilians." That's even handed, isn't it?

The story has one really interesting comment:
A veto would be a moral victory for the Palestinians, who note that most members of the United Nations side with them in their dispute with Israel.
Shameful. Of course, the UN is mostly a cadre of the world's worst dictators and thugs. Is it any wonder they'd side with a man like Yassar Arafat?

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The Destruction of Moral Society
Whose property is it anyway? Perhaps this question needs to be answered before we trade barbs on "moral equivalence" or quote Bastiat and his idea of the collective right of self defense. Would you challenge yourself for a moment and at least try and see the conflict from another viewpoint? I read an interesting article by James Bovard that provides at least some indication why the Palestinians feel as they do.

And finally, since we were discussing the other day what might happen when Bastiat's principles were compromised, perhaps you'll recognize this conflict as one possible consequence of the perversion of law. There is another way out of this morass. You can read about the libertarian solution here. Another thoughtful article on the "Jewish State" and what that means can be found here.

I stand firm in my belief that what we are seeing in the world is the logical consequence of the perversion of law. In our time, we have the benefit of seeing first hand, what Bastiat feared: the destruction of moral society. On this point I have to ask, what root ideas in Richard E. Hawley's mind, David, justify genocide? How can that possibly be moral? I think that he and those who advocate his position have turned morality on its head, for what he advocates is certainly immoral. Perhaps you should also read this.
Jaws, thumbs, brains and hair
The reduction of jaw size and strength may have been a key to our differentiation from the apes. Interesting. And all this time I thought it was our thumbs.

The comedian Gallagher - who's running for President - in an effort to explain his own baldness, had a theory that God offered both apes and men a choice: brains or hair.
Under God?
The Supreme Court has heard arguments on whether the Pledge of Allegiance, in its current form, is unconstitutional. I think it is. The government should represent all of its citizens, but phrases like "under God" and "in God we trust" are exclusionary. They certainly don't represent me.

This statement is silly:
Some defenders of the pledge argue that even with those beginnings, the passage of time has laundered the words of their religious meaning.
Either it has meaning or it doesn't. If it does, it's exclusionary. If it doesn't, then why have it in there in the first place? Either way, it should be removed.

UPDATE: While we're on the topic, Bill O'Reilly had a representative from the Godless Americans PAC on last night and hardly let the guy say anything significant. Here's the transcript. Typical O'Reilly. Really, if you know going on that he's not going to agree with your position, why bother going on his show at all?

UPDATE: An opposing view. I think opinions such as this go too far, just as those who believe gay marriage will kill heterosexual marriage go too far. I'm not against religion per se, I just don't think the government should have anything to do with it. It's a personal issue. I choose not be religious, but you can be religious if that's what works for you. What do I care? But that's your business, not the government's. And I don't care if people want to discuss religion in (gasp!) public or sing Christmas carols (I (double gasp!) enjoy singing them myself) or wear crosses around their necks or hand out free Bibles on the corner or whatever. None of that hurts me or bothers me or even mildly irks me. It works for most people, it doesn't for others, and the government shouldn't give a rip one way or the other.

Frankly, if religion needs acknowledgement from the state in order to exist - in order for it to be a part of the "American conscience" - then religion is weak. I don't think this is the case. I think religion, in all its forms, will sustain itself just fine without "in God we trust" stamped on our nickels.
Marquette's just giving it away
Reason Magazine has taken notice of a plan to attract settlers to Marquette, Kansas. Marquette is only 10 or so miles from the town where I grew up, but I never had much of a reason to go there. Apparently no one has had much of a reason to go there, so they've started giving land away. The article gives the impression that the plan is working, at least in the short-term:
The land giveaway began last May, after the town bought 50 acres of farmland and divided it into 80 building lots, valued around $8,000 each. So far, 21 lots have been handed out, all but one of them to newcomers.

The town built the streets in the new neighborhood - which is situated near the town's rodeo arena - and provided the water, electric, sewer and gas hookups. The only requirement is landholders must build a house within a year and live in it for a year.

So far, four $100,000 three-bedroom homes have been built, and construction is about to start on six more.

Will it make a difference in the long-run? Who can say? But if it keeps up, maybe they'll get their high school back.
When killing is just
A wise man once said:
Ineffective, unfocused violence leads to more violence. Limp, panicky, half-measures lead to more violence. However, complete, fully-thought-through, professional, well-executed violence never leads to more violence because, you see, afterwards, the other guys are all dead.
In Israel's case, they are simply trying to exist in a hostile region. Hamas and other groups have made it their mission to destroy Israel:
'Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.'
What would you have Israel do? Turn the other cheek? Let its citizens be slaughtered?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Israel is defending itself, which every nation, as The Law says, has the right to do. This so-called cycle of violence will not stop until the Palestinians decide to allow Israel to exist. Until then, the Israelis will do what they have to do.

One way to further that end, and to ultimately bring peace to the region, is for Israel to utterly destroy its enemies. This has been shown by Victor Davis Hanson to be a successful tactic throughout history. If I recall the book correctly, the Romans had constant battles with Carthage until they wiped Carthage out, which brought a hundred years of peace. The U.S. totally destroyed Germany and Japan in WWII, and now they are our allies. If Israel completely and utterly destroys Hamas and other terrorist groups at all of their levels, from the leaders down to the grunts, this will bring peace, a just peace. The only other alternative for peace is to let Israel be destroyed, which would be unjust.

When we treat Israel's actions of self-defense as being on the same moral plane as Hamas' terrorists activities, that only helps Hamas and encourages more terrorism. Violence in and of itself is not evil. Self-defense requires violence. Stop talking about violence in general and look at who's actually committing acts of terrorism. Stop using the language of moral equivalence.
"7 Numbers Every American Should Know"
Continuing on with my previous post, the title above is the header on a leaflet enclosed with the solicitation letter I received. I think a point by point commentary is in order (all emphasis is in the original).
"$236 billion: The budget SURPLUS when President Clinton left office."
"$521 billion: The estimated budget DEFICIT -- the amount the U.S. will be in the red this year -- 2004."
Let's take these two together. The U.S. was coming out of one the greatest bull markets ever when Clinton left office, the key phrase being "coming out of." Economists agree that leading economic indicators were pointing to a recession during the last months of Clinton's presidency. Bush walked into a recession. Does it surprise anyone, then, that the budget numbers would look a lot different? Does 9/11 and the war in Iraq mean anything?
"3.3 Million: The number of private sector jobs lost during the three years of the Bush presidency."
Brilliant analysis. Yes, once Bush took office, he engaged in a rampant conspiracy to stamp out jobs in America because, as everyone knows, that's the key to political longevity. Come on. He inherited a recession. Is the Democratic Party that surprised that unemployment would rise during a recession?
"8.3 million: The number of Americans unemployed in January 2004."
That means the unemployment rate is still only 5.6%, which is pretty damned amazing, if you ask me, given that we just came out of a recession.
"58 million: The number of acres of public lands that President Bush has opened to road-building, logging and oil drilling."
"88: The percentage of American's [sic] who will save less than $100 on their 2006 federal taxes as a result of the 2003 Bush tax breaks for capital gains and dividends.
Again, so? Most Americans save their retirement dollars in tax advantaged vehicles, like IRA's and 401(k)'s, which do not incur taxable events on a year to year basis. The people who will save money on this are people with non-qualified holdings. Are the very wealthy included in this? Certainly, but that's not the only demographic. Many senior citizens use preferred stock portfolios to generate dividend income, and often have to liquidate equity holdings, thus generating capital gains events, to sustain their lifestyle. The Dems better watch out, or the AARP is going to get hot over attempts to raise taxes on retirees.
"2: The number of seats that Democrats need to gain to have a majority in the U.S. Senate and stop the right-wing onslaught that's destroying our economy, taking away our rights, and alienating us from the international community."
Destroying the economy? I don't know, last year's economic numbers looked pretty damned good. 8.3% in the third quarter; that's destruction?

Taking away our rights? Where?

Alienating us from the international community? I don't know, but I think the international community played a pretty good hand in that. I have little patience for the notion that Europe is all about highfalutin principles of equality, peace and fairness, when it turns out that their resistance to our operations in Iraq was most likely based on pure economic factors (rich oil and defense contracts) and a desire to avoid embarrassment.

Anyway, this leaflet's a waste. Can't the Dems do better than this?
Slippery Slope
Regular readers of this site (David, Rodney, how are you doing?) will know that I was a Libertarian, and then switched to the Republican Party a little while ago. My brother blames the solicitations I received from the GOP asking me to contribute to President Bush's campaign. The two are unrelated, certainly, but the timing of the two events does make it look suspicious.

Anyway, yesterday, I received a letter from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, straight from the desk and signature machine of everybody's favorite Senator, Edward M. Kennedy. Now, David and I decided that the reason we were receiving GOP letters, even though neither of us, at that time, belonged to the GOP, was that we each subscribe to National Review. I haven't the foggiest idea what I do that would make the Democratic Party notice me (maybe the gentleman from Massachusetts reads this blog).

So, given the conspiracies that floated regarding my conversion to evil GOP mastermind, does my receiving Democratic Party mail portend some coming corruption?

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Fear Begets Fear
I am saddened by the rising violence in the Middle East and the world in general. The world is mad. Hate fosters hate and violence begets violence. Shall we dare to look into the future? What shall we see? I predict even more instances of terror from both sides of this "war". These acts committed by the leaders of Israel and Hamas will not lessen the conflict. I think that indeed, "The gates of hell" have been opened. There is only one bit of advice that I can offer here, perhaps to deaf ears. It comes from the Book of Mark:

Mark 12:28-31 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
This is getting ridiculous
Apparently the recently-blown-to-bits Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin - who was probably upset at being passed over to play Saruman - offered Israel all sorts of truces back in 1997. Ah, gee, what a nice guy. Why'd those nasty Israelis reject it? Oh, no good reason:
In an interview with The Associated Press shortly after he was released in 1997, Yassin offered Israel a 10-year truce if Israel would withdraw its troops and settlers from all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, Yassin made it clear that even then, Hamas would continue to pursue its goal of replacing Israel with an Islamic state.
So not so much a truce as a break. "Hey, why don't you guys lay off a while so we can regroup and slaughter even more of you later and ultimately drive your whole so-called country into the sea? Deal?"

The sad thing is, someone will use this to vilify the Israelis. Not only was he a wheelchair-bound old man, but a peaceful soul to boot. Bah.
Playing politics with taxes
There's an excellent string of posts on InstaPundit about the appeal of lower taxes. See, it's all just a ploy for Bush to get votes. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Israel to Target Other Terrorist Leaders
Good for them. It's about time Israel threw down the gauntlet and took out the leaders of the terrorist organizations that oppose them. Ariel Sharon, in a recent speech, emphasizing Israel's right to exist, defended targeted attacks as a valid means of self-defense. Though he faced criticism from the left wing of the legislature, overall, he received much praise for the attack. The Yeshua Council of settlements hailed the attack and said that the death of terrorist leaders was the road to peace, not repeated attempts at conciliation.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu, currently serving as Israel's finance minister:
Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in radio interviews that the assassination of Hamas would restrain Hamas and other terror groups in the long run, as they would realize that their leaders are not immune to such strikes.

"There could be harsh responses by Hamas to the assassination in the short term," Netanyahu noted. "But in the long term Hamas's activity will be constrained because its leaders will know that they face the threat of assassination."
Netanyahu is the author of an amazing book on fighting terrorism. I recommend that anyone interested in how states deal with this threat should pick it up.
Patten is a Useless Idiot
For those of you are unfamiliar with the term "useful idiot," it was how Lenin used to view those Westerners who would report all kinds of half-truths and lies back to the West about the "success" of Soviet communism. Walter Duranty, the Pulitzer-winning New York Times columnist from the 1930's, was one such individual, especially given his "coverage" of the Soviet famine (his dishonesty, finally aired out for the world to see, lead to a movement to have his Pulizter revoked; this was unsuccessful).

Well, I hearby dub EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten a useless idiot. Does the man have anything important or world-significant to say, other than the usual blather? From a recent interview on the BBC:
"We have to make it clear, like (UN Secretary General) Kofi Annan, that what has happened was illegal and make it clear, as Shimon Peres has said, that what's happened was extremely unwise, some may say stupid," Patten said.

"It does risk pouring petrol on flames which were already all too high," he said on BBC radio's flagship current affairs programme "Today".

"What we have to do is, first of all, to go on encouraging and pressing for restraint on both sides, secondly go on providing such humanitarian assistance as we can and try to keep the Palestinian Authority, such as it is, in being."

The European Union is the principal source of funding for the Palestinian Authority.
A few things. First, they want to keep the Palestinian Authority in existance? This group is bunch of terrorists and thugs, more corrupt than the UN's Oil-for-Food program, and just as nasty as a group of Baathists. Does anyone really believe that Arafat is wisened sage who wants peaceful co-existance with Israel?

Second, as to the stupidity of the assassination of Yassin, it's easy to sit back and scoff and chortle at Israel's "backward" notions of recrimination and justice, but, then again, he's sitting in the comfort of Belgium (and all the oh-so-many terrorist bus bombings they have), working for the EU, which, as we know, is so adept at dealing with real problems.

Last, the final sentence in the section I quote is fantastic. Does this mean that the United States can put the EU on some list of organizations that support terrorist activity? I mean, that's really what the PA is, is it not?
"Israel has opened the gates of hell."
So says Hamas in response to Israel's killing of their founder and "spiritual leader." Of course, Hamas brought this on themselves by killing hundreds of Israelis civilians.

Kofi Annan, being his usually helpful self, had this to say:
"Such actions are not only contrary to international law, but they do not do anything to help the search for a peaceful solution," he said. "I appeal to all in the region to remain calm and avoid any further escalation in tensions."
Yes, we're still waiting for your condmenation of Palestinian terror. And I find it a little odd that restraint is always the watch-word in these articles. Everybody's urging the Israelis and Palestinians to show restraint. Maybe it's just me, but I think that Israel has shown more than enough restraint. If the United States lived under the same constant threat of terrorist action, you'd better believe that we would have annihalated the likes of Yassar Arafat and his ilk long ago. The fact that Israel has allowed this man to live for so long speaks volumes about their restraint. (As an aside, it does my heart good to know that Arafat is concerned that he might be the next target. Good. He should be afraid.)

I enjoyed Ariel Sharon's response to international criticism:
"I presume you are all aware of the blood-soaked past and hatred of this arch-murderer, who was among the worst of Israel's enemies," Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said after a Cabinet meeting.

"The essence of this man's ideology was one: The murder and killing of any Jews and the destruction of the state of Israel."
Does anyone deny the truth of Sharon's statement? If they don't, then there can be little argument against the attack on Yassin.

Monday, March 22, 2004

When will Bill Gates shrug?
The EU is planning on fining Microsoft $613 million, a record fine (though they could have placed the fine at over $3 billion but didn't out of their infinite benevolence). Why put up with it?
I'm full of despair tonight
I read Bastiat's The Law for the first time this weekend. Awesome. I was amazed at how timely the book is, considering it was written over 150 years ago (and by a Frenchman at that). I wonder how much Bastiat influenced Ayn Rand, as their political visions align so nicely. I don't recall Rand mentioning Bastiat, but then it's been a long time since I have read any of her nonfiction.

Alas, the book has made me sad for the U.S. We have strayed so far down the path of using the law for unjust ends - "the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder", as Bastiat says - that I don't know how we can possibly work our way back. To get people to recognize that the government should not be looked upon only as a defender and not a provider would require a massive campaign to change our very culture. Plenty of organizations have been fighting this battle for years, trying to get people to understand the proper role of government, and yet things get progressively worse.

What are we to do?

Well, I certainly cannot wallow in misery. I need an action plan. So, I resolve to do the following:
  1. Read more classics on liberty and history in general (I need more education).
  2. Write letters to my representatives.
  3. Make more posts on these issues on this site.
Hamas Leader Killed in Palestine
The founder of Hamas was killed in Palestine this morning. That's good news for Israel. Short term, it'll mean more suicide bombings (but these are, unfortunately, nothing new); long term, it should work out for Israel's advantage -- Sheik Ahmed Yassin was considered the spiritual leader of Hamas, and his death will likely mean Hamas will wither.

What's fun is reading the reaction of militant leaders in Palestine, referring to the strike as a "cheap and dirty crime," and so on -- like they have the moral standing to condemn anything.

What's disturbing, though not unexpected, is the reaction from Europe.
"This is very, very bad news for the peace process," said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, adding: "This type of action does not contribute at all to create the conditions of peace."

The 67-year-old wheelchair-bound cleric was killed early Monday in an Israeli helicopter strike in Gaza City, prompting the radical Islamist movement he founded to declare all-out war on the Jewish state.
I love how they include the fact that Yassin was wheel-chair bound, as if his infirmity indemnifies him from recrimination for his terrorist activities.

This comment is even better for its stupidity:
In Paris, foreign ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous said Israel's assassination of prominent militants was illegal in international law.

"France condemns the action taken against Sheikh Yassin, just as it has always condemned the principle of any extra-judicial execution as contrary to international law," he said.
Yeah, like the streams of suicide bombers blowing up buses and discos doesn't hurt the peace process. By implciation, though, does this mean that suicide bombings are in line with international law? I've never heard a European leader comdemn the "extra-judicial executions" of Isreali civilians. I expect this kind of sentiment from the French. But from the British? From British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw:
"A measurable restraint is required and I don't believe Israel will benefit from the fact that this morning an (elderly man) in a wheelchair has been the target of assassination."
Europe: Get a clue. If someone's orchestrating the murder of civilians, he's going to be taken out. He's a target. Did you expect a process server to show up at his door and serve a summons? If there's one thing terrorists are known for, it's their concern with the rule of law and due process.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

The benefits of gridlock
I recall, before the Clinton-Dole election, the Intellectual Activist calling on its readers to vote for Clinton. It wasn't an endorsement, but a way to keep the government in check. They feared the combination of a Republican White House and a Republican Congress as much as they feared a Democrat combination. Either way, with one party in control we'd get bigger government - the Republicans are just as willing to spend our money as Democrats, just in different ways. The hope was that if Clinton were President, we'd have gridlock and no sweeping tax increases or entitlements would be enacted.

Well, according to this article, this largely turned out to be true, as federal spending as a percent of GDP dropped during the Clinton years and has increased since Bush took office.

If it is true that we must count on partisanship to keep spending under control, I don't think the solution is to elect John Kerry. The highest priority must still be national security and I believe Kerry would screw that up faster than he can say "appeasement". But would it make sense to vote in a Democrat Senate? Perhaps then we could slow things down.