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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

'Extremism' in American Politics 

Extremism isn't always bad in politics. Especially when the 'extreme' policy is the right one. This piece by Jonah Goldberg is a must read.

While I could quote the whole thing, I will refrain and instead just quote one of the many great nuggets of truth that Mr. Goldberg has mined:
On issue after issue, the Left and Right get into a tug-of-war over their preferred policy solutions. And politicians, extreme people-pleasers that they are, try to split the difference. The journalists who cover politicians are cynics and assume that true believers are by their very nature suspicious. Moreover, because politicians and mainstream journalists alike get the most grief from “partisans” of the Left and the Right, they both assume that the middle is the most enlightened place to be, since they think that’s where they are. But compromise is not always the smartest way to go. Leaping a canyon in one jump may or may not be stupidly extreme, but it’s a hell of lot smarter than the more moderate approach of trying to leap it in two jumps.

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The Simpsons as philosophy? 

Perhaps, but only if you consider nihilism to be serious philosophy.
We now know we're just a bunch of naked apes trying to get on as best we can, usually messing things up, but somehow finding life can be sweet all the same. All delusions of a significance that we do not really have need to be stripped away, and nothing can do this better that the great deflater: comedy.
However, nihilism seems to be more the absence of any real truth, a philosophy of no absolute truths, so really a philosophy of nothing. How can one consider nihilism 'philosophy' when its pronouncement that humans are merely animals and there are no absolute truths makes Hitler just as reasonable as Jesus Christ? Nihilism like this says that humans can't know absolute truths, because either there are none (I think this is the most common type of nihilism) or can't know them because man is merely an ape. If one can't know truths, than philosophy, which has the end of knowing truth, is an exercise in futility. So to a nihilist, like the author demonstrates himself to be by his opinions in the article, of course philosophy and philosophers are ridiculous, working futily at a non-existant end with pretensions of grandeur. Absurd indeed.

Back to that quote above--that naked Darwinism is quite funny. It claims at the same time that humans have no real significance, yet humans have the significant and unique ability to realize that they are just 'damned dirty apes'. The oxymoronic irony is delicious, and just demonstrates that Darwin is not a replacement for Plato, Aristotle, and Augustine. If man is nothing but a 'naked ape' (which we're not--Aristotle shows quite clearly that man is the only animal that has speech and is thus poltical, making man different from all the other animals) that has no higher and different end than other animals, than the selfish killing of children (lions and apes do this), murderous war for no other ends than selfishness (animals do selfish things that hurt the species all the time; often what is war other than a collective, political selfishness of men [interestingly, the political nature of war provides a great counterexample to the thought that men are merely apes]), and no need to create higher culture (show me a Beethoven, Michelangelo, or Dostoevsky of the animal world, please) are all what man can or should be. What a terrible way to view the world, for it is so manifestly wrong. And if you think otherwise, try engaging the first book of Aristotle's Politics, as very small start, for a taste of your own ignorance.

Back to the article: it reveals its nihilism even more clearly later on in the piece:
Any individual or group is shown to be ridiculous when only their pathetic and partial view of the world is taken to be everything. That's why no one escapes satire in the programme, which is vital for its ultimately uplifting message: we're an absurd species but together we make for a wonderful world.

The Simpsons, like Monty Python, is an Anglo-Saxon comedic take on the existentialism which in France takes on a more tragic hue. Albert Camus' absurd is defied not by will, but mocking laughter.
The piece seems to reveale that its worldview is one in which all cultures need to be celebrated, that everyone is special, that different opinions are all okay and part of the greater whole. What rubbish--how can a Hitler and Ghandi coexist side-by-side without one getting snuffed out?

What the Simpson's often does it ridicule many things, and the article takes that to be good because it deflates the false pretensions of philosophers that think their philisophical systems are absolutely correct. It's fair to point out things that are incorrect. However, to ridicule the basis for society without providing a new basis for it is nihilism in its purest form. I don't see any basis for society in the article other than an unthinking assumption that the world as constructed today in the west is good. As soon as someone askes why, the emperor is revealed to have no clothes for this author.

The article says that 'we're an absurd species but together we make for a wonderful world'. A few things: why exactly are we an absurd species? Are all species absurd? Is the absurdity indicative that man should be acting like another species that isn't absurd? Or, are we knowledable in our absurdity, but we can't act any other way because we are by our very nature unchangably absurd? What a tragedy that would be--to be knowledable that man is fundamentally flawed now and forever, with no chance of ascending to greater knowledge and perfection (in this case less absurdity), with our without God's aid.

Also, we live in a wonderful world. Why? Because we think it's wondeful? Okay, why do we think that? A gut feeling: sounds like Aristotle and Aquinas to me. Because people have looked at life in detail and explained through reason why the world is wondeful?--again, philosophy. Hmmm...man can't know truth, yet the article asserst many things are 'true'. As they say, 'does not compute..."

What this article seems to be doing is trying to make people feel that their ignorance is superious to the efforts of men to try to discover truth. The article is saying that man can't know truth, but that's good in itself. And since one doesn't know truth by default, everyone's good! Yay, let's have a hug and a nap. Blink, blink...

[I]t is no coincidence that the most insightful and philosophical cultural product of our time is a comic cartoon, and why its creator, Matt Groening, is the true heir of Plato, Aristotle and Kant.
Nietzsche is an heir too, in a way. And who are Nietzsche's unwanted bastard children? Hitler and Communist Russia. Me thinks it's not saying much to call someone an heir to Plato. Actually, I take that back--in most cases, and in particular this one, to call someone an heir to Plato is to be extremely demeaning to Plato.

One last thing for now: in the comments on the article, this insiteful comment is made:
Curiously, Julian's interpretation of Homer the Heretic is opposite to that the episode itself makes. The point is made (by Marge) that Homer has created these quips as excuses to disengage from faith, and has to be rescued from the fire by those still engaged enough to be willing to take action (Apu and Flanders). Far from being "simple philosophical truths", his quips are "tempting excuses for inaction". So perhaps the Simpsons' main gift is to be vague enough to read whatever you like into it.
William, Cambridge, UK
Perhaps the Simpson's has more merit (at least as being skillfully constructed to appeal to many people--a very small virtue, but still the cleverness deserves some recognition) and it's merely the terrible trite postmodern reading of it by the article's author that is deeply simplisic and flawed. However, if the reading of the Simpsons by the author of the above-linked piece is a valid one, than the Simpsons is in fact nihilistic and not good philosophy at all.

Now, as a substitution to this nihilism, I think this is a good start; to not provide such an alternative would be extreme hypocrisy on my part.

EDIT: So yeah, I went through this and edited it significanlty, and then lost the edits. This has crushed my will, so I now knowingly present a less thorough and well-edited critique than I would like. Maybe now you'll enjoy ridiculing me and my manifest ignorance even more now than you would have with the better version=)

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Secret Wars Re-Enactment Society 

More geeky hilarity courtesy of Johan Goldberg.

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Artery-clogging goodness 

The Spanglish Sandwich (with other good sandwich recipe links as well).

It's only 1200 calories...

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Do you want to laugh so hard you cry? 

Watch Emperor Palpatine react to Darth Vader telling him the Death Star was blown up. Absolute comedy gold.

If you've never seen Robot Chicken, you should check it out sometime. I think it airs on Sunday nights on Cartoon Network. It's normally got at least a bit or two as funny as this one in every episode (premise of the show is little sketches that make fun of TV and pop culture, animated with stop motion action figures).

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My childhood... 

Ahhh, the memories.

And interestingly, GI Joe, at least the first several seasons (I saw several episodes the other day--yeah, for shame...) is actually not bad at all, and even had some foresite--COBRA was a terrorist organization bent on taking over the world...

Oh, and Muppet Babies, my favorite show from about 3-7, TMNT, ChipnDale Rescue Rangers, The Real Ghostbusters, Inspector Gadget, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Gummy Bears, Reboot...

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Vote for the 'best' American Literary Novel 

Even though I think there are better novels, I had to vote for Catch-22. The first half of that book is just so damn funny, and very well-constructed on top of that.

The list that the poll is based on also provides a great many novels to add to my to-read list.

UPDATE: A few 'oversites' have been mentioned as worthy reading as well, although they're not in the poll.

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Beer Rankings 

Always useful. Although, there is clearly a bias towards strong-tasting beers like ales, but what did you expect from a beer snob that actually has a compendium of taste ratings, heh.

I think they rated Goose Island Honker Ale a bit low, though. I think it might be better than Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, myself, it had a more complex flavor a delicious note on the top of the palate. Of course, I've never tasted both side by side, so I'll have to reserve complete judgement until I have the cash to afford buying both at the same time to do a true taste-test.

However, I do agree that Guiness deserves a near-perfect rating. Of course, you can only drink it draft to truly experience it's glory. But, if consumed from draft, it's a delicious meal in a glass.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Cab Driver becomes talking head celeb 

You have to read (and watch) this.

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On Strategic Bombing in WWII 

A new book is out that argues the strategic bombing campaigns conducted by the Allies against Germany and Japan in WWII were just as morally reprehensible as the terrorist attacks of 9/11, in fact that the efforts in WWII were terrorist attacks themselves.

This piece rebuts those fallacious arguments very well. Here's an excerpt, although I recommend reading the whole thing:
But the difficulty of defending this position does not mean that we should defend its opposite, which is that the claims of civilians are absolute and universal to the point that 1942’s RAF pilots were the moral equivalent of today’s Al Qaeda, or for that matter of the German pilots who terror-bombed Warsaw and Belgrade. Here we must consider the morality of intentions. Defeating the Axis at the lowest practicable human cost was an admirable intention. Seeking a racist world empire was not. A good end cannot justify any means, but a supremely good and urgent end may at least partially justify bad means.
It seems to me that the argument that Allied efforts in WWII were morally reprehensible is founded in a belief that war is never just, or a belief quite close to that. Simply put: war can in fact be just, noble, and good. To think otherwise is to lay the groundwork for tyranny. Just ask Neville Chamberlain.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Ouch 

This cartoon takes a swipe at a lot of people--and it strikes true.

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On asparagus 

When potty humor and science collide...

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The wasted manhours... 

If 1% of all the time spend on MySpace by people was directed to a better end, even something as simple as, I don't know, thinking, the world would be a much better place.

What an absolute waste of time...I'm glad I've stayed away from that sort of thing. I have a facebook acount, but it's only there so other people can keep up with my contact info. Such a thing is useful. Living a 'virtual life' is not; it's not anything close to real life, and only detracts from one's real life.

Yeah, maybe I could post up good pictures of myself to attract women (although I'm doing fine without such nonsense); however, after wasting time managing such digital efforts instead of persuing more productive things like, say, reading, I'd have become more stupid. Stupider. Dumb.... Yet again my faith in the common man is damaged.

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Re: On affirmative action 

Andrew, in the spirit of vigorous debate, I respond to your criticism of my quick post on affirmative action:

If you mean it's not good to speak the truth, perhaps you're right. It's certainly a dangerous proposition for one that points out unpopular truths. However, what I said was not out of line. I have my examples in mind, and they are not the result of racism. I wish that what I saw wasn't the case--I liked many of the people I have in mind, and am friends with them. However, to wish it away and ignore the facts is just as bad as the policies that created said problems.

I challenge you to point out why my comments was wrong--rather 'rude and somewhat unfounded'. I'll concede that what I said was 'rude', if you're using a meaning of that word that means that pointing out harsh truths is 'rude'. If that's rude, than let more people be rude. Socrates, although I am certainly no Socrates, was very rude.

Also, I should point out that your criticism wasn't directed at what I actually said: I wrote that some of these students were having a hard time at their studies, that perhaps they weren't adequately prepared for the rigours of the UofC. That's not mean at all--not everyone can jump into the UofC's academic environment and succeed; it certainly requires a good amount of previous learning and a certain amount of talent (these attributes are not tied to race by any means, just to make that clear). These students clearly weren't ready for the UofC. Also, I never said I'd judge people in the future that were minorities and question their achievements. I won't need to: if I'm hiring someone, I'll look up their GPA and transcript and see for myself how they did. I'll base my opinion on facts, and not innuendo, just as I did in the small case of what I said in my previous post.

While the policy of afffirmative action is by definition racist, and it is certainly unjust for the reasons you stipulated, my criticism was a simpler one: these students were getting bad grades and were struggling to such an extent that they would have been better served going to another institution. There's nothing wrong with that criticism by any means, especially since I made explicit that I was speaking with a few students in mind.

Like I said before: the facts can be harsh, especially when they go against what is politically correct. However, Andrew, you should know very well that not all commonly held beliefs are right or just. I was merely pointing that out a specific case: that of affirmative action doing a disservice to the students that it places in environments they're not prepared for, and also to those students whom were denied the environment they were suited for and deserved because they weren't of the right race.

It's a simple opinion, and not racist. Again, tell me why my comments aren't appropriate? I certainly wasn't claiming to be providing 'the answer' to the education gap. I was merely providing a small anecdote. Now, if some racist wanted to take what I said and use it as 'evidence' for their incorrect views, I suppose they could twist what I said. Perhaps that's what you object to, my words being abused by someone else? Let me just say this: if one had to always make sure that what one said was unable to be twisted to support incorrect views, one would never speak.

Remember, one must always maintain perspective and reasonable judgement=) If I was claiming to have a big 'answer' and only delivered that, then I deserve to be castigated. However, I don't have the answer. I merely know what I see. And sometimes what I see is not good (and in this case I relayed some unfortunate things I'd seen). However, I'd rather see the unjust rather than blindly gaze at shadow.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Re: Race, College, etc. 

This remains the true tragedy of affirmative action. Jason, while your comments are both rude and somewhat unfounded, the point they lead toward is an important one. Affirmative action, in its end result, devalues the intellect and contributions of minority students by, to paraphrase slightly, judging them only on the color of their skin, not the content of their character. I can't imagine having to go through life wondering, and often being asked, whether I was the recipient of affirmative action, or whether I was actually "good enough" to make it on my own. But questions like Jason's will follow minority students their whole lives, even those who were clearly qualified. How insulting, but it is the only possible result of a system that is based on a racist premise anyway: Minorities can't make it on their own, we need to lower the standards and help them out. To really seek positive results, we need to demand more accountability from teachers, stricter standards and curriculums in public schools, and an overhaul of the corrupt, Democrat stronghold, inner-city school systems. Affirmative action is not the answer to the education gap, and neither are your comments Jason.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Illegal Immigration, Race, and College 

Read this.

And, I should say that I was friends with several people at the UofC that were part of the 'prefered' minorities groups. And they often didn't have the same abilities or grades as their fellows. Hard truth, because they were great people, but it was completely unfair to let them in over a smarter and more qualified white or asian student.

I'd better delete these dangerous thoughts before someone reads them...

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Winning a war isn't news 

How can I tell that? Because, I don't hear about the US winning in Iraq from the MSM.

The same sort of thing applies for the economy: it must not be good because they're not talking about it (this kills me even more, because the economy is hotter now than at any time during Bubba's presidency--and you saw how it was played up then).

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Immigration Complexities 

[Note: The below article appears, somewhat edited, in today's Chicago Maroon (link). I have provided the article in its entirety for the benefit of the reader, and in order to be slightly clearer on the topic and promote more discussion.]

There's never a shortage of amusement to be found at a rally of the size and scope of the Pro-Immigration festivities that took place downtown. Personally, I enjoyed the irony of the rallying call that had pervaded at similar gatherings out west: “Stop Treating Us Like Criminals!” The answer, of course, being “Then Stop Breaking the Law!”

Putting aside the philosophical implications of a group of people demonstrating, much like their French counterparts, not to challenge the status quo but to preserve their place in it, I am struck by how rapidly ad hominem nonsense has become the body of debate on illegal immigration. The operative phrase, of course, is illegal immigration. I, like most sane people, recognize the importance and validity of legal immigration. The flow of new ideas, and new innovators, into the United States is among the leading reasons we as a country are continually on the leading edge of science, technology and culture. Yet this seemingly obvious recognition only points out the need for stricter curtailing of illegal immigration. Not only is lax immigration law and reform devaluing of the contributions of legal immigrants, and the process they went through to get here, as well as encouraging illegal immigration, but it has startling implications for our national security as well. That we can even pretend to value homeland security without securing our borders against unknown intruders reflects a sad state of affairs indeed. Enforcement, and border security, are only part of the answer however.

To begin with, we need to reform the process of legal immigration to bring it back in line with the goals of our country and the economic realities we face. The United States places a limit of 65,000 on the H-1B visas for skilled worker. I fail to see why we would want to limit the number of new doctors, engineers and scientists who legally immigrate to the United States. I can recall, for example, a nursing shortage that could easily use an influx of skilled, experience workers. Furthermore, increasing the quota for unskilled workers would not only infuse the economy with new labor, but it would cause illegal immigration to plummet as the jobs illegals sought were snatched up by their legal counterparts.

However, such an increase in visas needs to be accompanied by a stricter mode of filtering who is, and isn't, allowed into the United States. Increasing the chances of being allowed to immigrate legally will only solve part of the problem. If it remains easier to simply sneak in, then why would someone bother to even apply? That means we must prevent immigrants from entering illegally, and endeavor to know who we are allowing in legally. As for those illegals already here, following through with strict penalties on employers of illegal immigrants is the only way to curtail the problem of illegal hiring. Further, detaining, and potentially deporting, illegal immigrants will send a powerful message to would-be illegal immigrants, a message that needs to be sent. The endless string of amnesties that are proposed, while heart felt and charitable in their intentions, they will only make things worse. The simple outcome of such amnesties is to validate the illegal immigration process, devalue the time and effort many put into immigrating legally, and encourage a new wave of illegal immigration.

Ironically, it is actually in the best interest of many of the attendees upon the recent rallies to endorse stricter immigration reform. Illegal immigration's effects are far reaching, from changing job markets and labor prices to added strain on our social security and public education programs and growing security concerns. Moreover, the common misconception that illegal immigrants are necessary because they perform jobs Americans “refuse to do” is simply untrue. True, illegal immigrants disproportionately occupy service and maintenance jobs. But Americans don't occupy these jobs because of their given wage rate. If illegal immigrants weren't present in such number, Americans would force employers to raise wage rates and find innovative cost cutting measures. And, yes, the trash would still get picked up.

American citizenship, even simply residing in America, entitles its bearer to so many freedoms sorely lacking throughout the world. We should welcome with open arms all those who wish to contribute to the continued prosperity of our country, and benefit from it, so long as they are willing to immigrate in the manner we prescribe. It is our right, and we should exercise it.

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Kierkegaard on Islam 

A very interesting little article.

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The Emperor is not worried... 

Darth Hewitt says everything is proceeding as he has forseen.

That's comforting. However, THE Emperor was beaten by a bunch of ewoks and betrayed by his loyal servant Vader. So, take it with a grain of salt... (Hat tip: Instapundit)

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The hard times of pimps and whores 

A hollywood insider's perspective on the writing side of movies.

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Because of my near aneurism... 

...a few moments ago, let me provide a nice distraction (mainly for those of you who aren't acquainted with that bedrock site of the interweeb) to help lesten the shock to all seven of my loyal readers.

I'll just go stare at that glorious t-shirt I mentioned earlier; that'll easily put me on the mend...

See, it's really the manliness that's the problem. If I didn't have my manly convictions, I wouldn't get all worked up by things. However, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Add this to the stack... 

...of evidence that may be cited in my defense when I say most people are stupid. And by stupid I mean ignorant, undeducated, and often lacking the ability to soundly reason. But mostly debilitatingly ignorant.

I mean, if you don't know basic facts like in China they speak Chinese, not English(!!), what else are you? And if you can't point to Iraq on a map after three years of occupation there... And I bet a lot of the people in the group that can't point to Iraq are against our involvement there too. Because that's clearly a position they've put a lot of time and effort into reasoning through. I want a drink...

I feel a moment of despare the likes of which only John Derbyshire knows coming on... I mean, we let these kind of people vote? It makes me want to go re-read The Politics and start harping on the glories and benefits of Aristocracy (which is, by definition, rule by 'the best'; wouldn't 'best' be the opposite of the impared people that took the survey I linked above--if you don't get who I mean by this, let me make it clear: 'the worst'.)

"We are doomed, doomed" indeed.

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Manliness 

So my copy of Harvey Mansfield's new book arrived yesterday. After reading the intro and first chapter rather closely, I have to say that so far it makes a worthy companion to Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind. It also seems to be a good primer to deeper thinking than most people engage in, sort of a combination of a Philospophy for Dummies and Straussianism for Dummies. He does seems to be pulling his punches a bit (although not without sacrificing hidden meaning entirely--see below for more on that)

It's also a great book because a Machiavelli-like idiom pervades the book (since Mansfield is a great scholar of Machiavelli, following in Strauss's footsteps [Mansfield's words paraphrased], this makes a lot of sense); there is a lot of delicious irony that won't be noticible if you're not familiar with Mansfield's other opinions in philosophy, or the works of famous authors like Plato, Nietzsche, or Adam Smith, to name only a very few; he even has double-meaning in his endnotes, which means one could really bumble along if one doesn't read (by that I mean really read; I think the double-meaning in the endnotes is kind of funny in a way). Since the book is getting a moderate amount of attention from a non-scholarly audience (a local talk radio host interviewed Mansfield a few weeks back about the book), it'd be amusing to talk about the book with people of that type to see what they took away from the book (I'm guessing the critique of modern feminism and the call for men to be manly again will be what sticks the most).

Also, I just love the title. The word Manliness is a great word that just doesn't get used enough any more. At the very least, it just rolls of the tongue in such a pleasing way. Manliness, heh. Hopefully a lot of men will read the book and be gentlemen, leaders, and philosophers: ie, real men.

Consider this the first Maroonblog book endorsement. Oprah, watch out.

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Oh happy day 

An unedited DVD version of Star Wars will be released for Christmas this year. Han will be shooting first. This fact and the resentment of much of the Star Wars fandom towards the Special Edition cut is not lost on Lucasfilms, or at least their swag department.

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P.T. Barnum can answer this one... 

So why isn't socialism dead?

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Moussaoui's Fitting End? 

Moussaoui, the crackpot terrorist wanna-be who somehow failed at killing himself, once again failed to secure his own demise, being sentenced to 6 life sentences without chance of parole. The trial proceedings had devolved, a la Saddam's kangaroo court, into a serious of ranting Moussaoui diatribes, as he tried desperately to secure a delayed rendezvous with his forty anxious virgins. It was Judge Leonie Binkema who had the last word, and the last laugh, when she triumphantly and forcefully delivered his sentence:
"Mr. Moussaoui, when this proceeding is over, everyone else in this room will leave to see the sun ... hear the birds ... and they can associate with whomever they want," she said. "You will spend the rest of your life in a supermax prison. It's absolutely clear who won."

She said it was only fitting that he will be kept away from outsiders.

"Mr. Moussaoui, you came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory," she said, "but to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, instead you will die with a whimper."

At that point, Moussaoui tried again to interrupt her, but she spoke even louder over him.

"You will never get a chance to speak again and that's an appropriate ending," she added.

Despite the fitting rebuke, I still have to wonder if Justice has been served. Now, of course, my tax dollars will continue to keep this man alive for as long as he can survive maximum security prison (I'm sure even solitary has its share of misguided patriots with hidden shanks). The sad truth, however, is that even if he were sentenced to death, my tax dollars would still be paying to keep him alive for the next decade and a half, as we waited out an absurd number of mandatory appeals, technicalities, delays and possible reprieves. Someone so clearly guilty, if not as clear an embodiment of pure malice and hatred for our very way of life as has come before our system of justice since the DC Sniper, will be forever shut off from society, true, but will he be removed from it? He himself, in the last of his witness stand homilies, declared "America, you lost. I won."

The real injustice is a system of punishment that has lost touch with its purpose as a both penal and reparative system, rather than a social experiment and breeding ground for legal technicality and liberal pet causes. The death penalty, in the end, is no different from a life sentence, when it takes two decades and 2 million dollars to carry out. At some point, the deterrent is lost, the victim forgotten and the criminal faded, and a quiet protest is all that marks the passing of a man who once threatened a whole country. So in some sense, this sentence is perhaps more just, since it dispenses with the gentle process of fading from the limelight, and thrusts the isolation, although not the end, upon Moussaoui without the delay a death sentence would mercifully afford him. Moussaoui is wrong: America won today. But until we reform our criminal justice system, it remains the latest in a series of hollow victories.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

The Solution in Sudan: Mercs 

Yep, you read that right; the best way to stop the killing in Darfur is probably 'private security firms', or, more accurately, mercenaries.

Something in me finds mercenaries to be very appealing because they seemed to be, until recently, very anachronous.

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