Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bloglines - Patience wearing thin

This is so wrong.

The American Thinker
Thoughtful political commentary.

Patience wearing thin

By The American Thinker

Victor Davis Hanson well articulates at Real Clear Politics a theory that I have been mulling ever since 9/11: step-by-step, Western patience with Islamic terror and its supporters on multi-cultural grounds...

Twin Towers Story

From Númenna - Nan Annûn

'Reading Leo Strauss,' by Steven B. Smith - New York Times

Update 07/19/2006

Leo Strauss, Authoritarian (Leiter)

The letter by Strauss translated here is certainly revealing, though the comments section is, alas, quickly overun by zombies from the Strauss Cult reciting their mantras against the real scholars and philosophers. From the latter group, Tad Brennan (Northwestern) gets the prize for the single, best comment, which captures both Strauss and the cult rather well:

No one has any idea what Strauss meant.

But anyone who criticizes him is distorting what he meant.

Got that?

You know, I can see taking Strauss seriously as a cultural phenomenon--the way we might take Madonna seriously as a cultural phenomenon.

But as a thinker? There's just no there there--there's no coherent, comprehensible theory or doctrine that one can identify and assess. And that's what his supporters say in his defense!

(But when I say it, its part of the ubiquitous distortion.)

What there was, apparently, was a certain allure, a certain indefinable aura of intellectual mystery, a combination of disdain and come-hither that played on insecurities and made students want to be accepted.

Cool. And Madonna wore some fab outfits on her last tour, too.

If we're supposed to take this guy seriously as a thinker, his supporters had better try to identify some of his thoughts. Horton [translater of the letter] is at least trying to take him seriously in that way, and, whadyaknow, the thoughts look pretty ugly.

And so we get the retreat into claims of ineffability .

If you pore through all the comments, be aware that, as often happens with Straussians, Nietzsche gets particularly badly misrepresented. But I don't recommend perusing the comments.


'Reading Leo Strauss,' by Steven B. Smith - New York Times

The following text about Strauss is taken from this link

The 'noble lie'
Western Magazine Awards

Strauss believed that allowing citizens to govern themselves will lead, inevitably, to terror and tyranny, as the Weimar Republic succumbed to the Nazis in the 1930s. A ruling elite of political philosophers must make those decisions because it is the only group smart enough. It must resort to deception -- Strauss's "noble lie" -- to protect citizens from themselves. The elite must hide the truth from the public by writing in code. "Using metaphors and cryptic language," philosophers communicated one message for the elite, and another message for "the unsophisticated general population," philosopher Jeet Heer recently wrote in the Globe and Mail. "For Strauss, the art of concealment and secrecy was among the greatest legacies of antiquity."

Here's another link where this is found:

In other words, Dury claims that Strauss believes that Men by their nature are inherently aggressive and can only restrained by a powerful nationalist state. �Because mankind is intrinsically wicked,� Strauss once wrote, � he has to be governed. Such governance can only be established, however, when men are united � and they can only be united against other people.� And Dury adds that this means: � If no external threat exists then one has to be manufactured.� Heroic values are required for the accomplishment of this struggle and for this the egoism and utilitarianism of modern liberalism is both an inadequate and unworthy foundation. Apparently this was shown to Strauss�s satisfaction by the utter failure of Weimar Republic to resist the rise of Hitler. In his view, Weimar�s fate is the doom of all liberal democracies given enough time.

And here's a third take:

Challenging the ideas that Strauss was an inflexible conservative who followed in the footsteps of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Carl Schmitt, the Zuckerts contend that Strauss’s signature idea was the need for a return to the ancients. This idea, they show, stemmed from Strauss’s belief that modern thought, with its relativism and nihilism, undermines healthy politics and even the possibility of real philosophy.

Why does Robert Alter completely ignore this aspect of Strauss?

RadioActive sanDiego (9/11 Persuasion Psychology)

...more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder than soldiers ...

Stewart on Lebanon Coverage

Media Targeted by Israel?

Al-Jazeera technician 'shot in West Bank'Ben DowellWednesday July 19, al-Jazeera technican was shot by the Israeli military today during the filming of a live report, the Arabic satellite broadcaster has claimed.Al-Jaz...

Media targetted by Israeli military in Gaza | Newfoundnews

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Bloglines - Robert Greenwald Hates America

Jim Gilliam

Robert Greenwald Hates America

In Movies

Whoever created this is either completely out of their mind, or the next Stephen Colbert. Possibly both.

I don't think I have ever laughed so hard in my life.


WorldNetDaily: Where are the Christians?

WorldNetDaily: Where are the Christians?


Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington under nine presidents and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review is an online journal and archive of alternative news. It has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents



YITZHAK LAOR, LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS, 2004 - The real struggle in Israeli society today is not between doves and hawks, but between the majority who take for granted the IDF's image as the defender of our nation, with or without biblical quotes, and the minority who no longer buy it. If the army does something bad it is always an exception (harig, in Hebrew). Those who believe that we are fighting for our lives also believe that we do our best to be humane, and more or less succeed. This fragile complex of axioms depends either on foolish optimism ("soon everything will be resolved") or on images. Arguments don't work anymore. . .

Atrocities are always perpetrated against us, and the more brutal Israel becomes, the more it depends on our image as the eternal victim. Hence the importance of the Holocaust since the end of the 1980s (the first intifada), and its return into Hebrew literature. The Holocaust is part of the victim imagery, hence the madness of state-subsidized school trips to Auschwitz. This has less to do with understanding the past than with reproducing an environment in which we exist in the present tense as victims. Together with that comes the imagery of the healthy, beautiful, and sensitive soldiers. . .

Every once in a while opposition arises from within the monster. Hence the Courage to Refuse movement, the letter last September signed by 27 pilots who refused to attack civilian populations in the Occupied Territories, the letter in December from an elite commando unit that refused to fight, and so on. A society living in the past as if it were the present is vulnerable: the past/present becomes a double-edged sword. You may be sued if you call anybody here a "Nazi," but one hears it a lot. It would be more appropriate to compare Israeli brutality with the French in Algeria, or the British in Sudan or Malaysia, but we are taken up with the notion of "our past turning into our present." . . .


Bloglines - Vetoing Science…

BTC News
BTC News: News, politics, opinion and satire

Vetoing Science…

By demosthenes on Republicans

Hypocrisy is a fashionable vice, and all fashionable vices pass for virtue

It should come as little surprise that this administration’s first veto is used to stymie science. The administration has had a bone to pick with any science that brushes up against its own notions of morality and sense of manifest destiny from climate change to evolution to biology in the classroom.

What is most disturbing to me about this is the opportunist nature of his posing with the ‘snowflake children.’ This hits pretty close to home for me, being the father of one of those adopted embryos he prattles on about with no understanding. I spoke about this first and at length a year ago here.

What really bugs me here is the conflation—in fact, it is likely that this administration will go down in history as the ‘conflation administration.’ It conflates Al Qaeda with Iraq, conflates Islamic fundamentalists with secular Arab states, conflates science with religion, and today he conflated embryonic adoption with stem cell research.

Today, Bush said: Each of these children was still adopted while still an embryo and has been blessed with a chance to grow, to grow up in a loving family. These boys and girls are not spare parts.”

Indeed they are not as I and every other parent who has gone through the embryonic adoption process can attest. One might think given Bush’s posing—and I use that word very deliberately—that this administration would be a friend to those who wish to adopt to prevent, in his words, the taking of innocent life. The problem is, that’s not the case.

This administration has overseen the passing of new federal state and local regulations that governs the testing of embryos such that those left are virtually stranded. Those participating today at Columbia University and elsewhere are unable to adopt leftover embryos because the new regulations push a tangle upon the system requiring new testing from the donors in ways that doom those embryos—they will be thrown out. They have to be.

Think about that—this tissue won’t be used to save lives, it won’t be used to create families or beautiful children like my son—they will be consigned to oblivion. All because Bush believes that the same unattached four cell blastocysts that routinely flush out during menses on a daily basis without so much as a peep from religious fundamentalists or anyone else are so precious they must be destroyed.

It’s not as if this veto will stop more embryos from being created or save those already in cryogenic stasis—it won’t; the disposition of leftover embryos is decided by the donors who check a box on their forms and opt to save them for another pregnancy, donation for stem cell research (which contrary to popular belief is legal and continuing) or for embryo adoption. Those frozen blastocysts already in fertility clinics are suffering from a terminal condition—lack of womb. Today, Bush in a continuing effort to enforce his own vision of morality condemned childless couples and the ill in one swipe of the pen, vetoing those who would act to save others to throw a bone to his base.

That he uses embryo adoption as a tool to underscore his point is as shameful as it is scientifically wrong. Today, I was speaking at the staff at Columbia about this because as it happens my wife and I would like to have another child. Due to the increased restrictions, embryo adoption is not an option anymore—it must be a donor egg procedure or standard adoption, both of which we will try. The problem is that adoptions are disallowed in many states if one member of the couple is over a specific age (in their 40s) and costs about seven times what an embryo adoption does while a donor procedure costs about four times the amount of an embryo adoption and both carry less chance of success. This means that for a couple that can afford to spend $50,000 with embryo adoption they would almost certainly be able to have a child and attempt it seven times, with standard adoption would have much less chance and would get maybe two chances (we’ve been on the list of adoptive parents for years and had two nibbles, but ultimately the biological mother selects and can always change her mind) or you can try a donor procedure twice (with again less chance of success).

In speaking to the staff today they told me how hard it is to watch people leave, crushed and sobbing, after a failed attempt or miscarriage and how it weighs upon them that there is so little they can now do to address it, and how they are simply watching the embryos that can no longer be donated simply expire until they are discarded, without even at least the consolation of life giving stem cell research as a benefit. It’s appalling.

I realize that reasonable people may disagree about abortion, but nobody ought to pretend that an un-implanted blastocyst is a person—it isn’t, and if we really believed that were the case than we would mourn every fertilized egg that failed to implant in a uterus and washed out during menses or every fertilized egg that attached and never took nourishment or developed a heartbeat and washed out unnoticed, but we don’t–it’s why we don’t baptize tampons and why we don’t have funerals or send mass cards when that occurs, and to pretend that embryos that aren’t in utero (and won’t be) are other than what they are is a lie. The conflation that claims those left over blastocysts are people is both disingenuous and shameful—that’s not the case until (minimally) it can be implanted, a vein is sunk and it can develop.

No destruction of life to save life—just so, but how about letting us save some life that’s in the process of dying? I (for one) and I suspect a great many people who really live these decisions every day would appreciate it if the administration would stop using pat and trite lines that if he really believed would oblige him to mourn the every day common place and natural process of sexual reproduction and to pretend that every failure to implant is akin to murder when it is not—it is merely biology.

As the doctor said today at Columbia: “It’s tissue—if you’re an organ donor, you should consider donating a left over embryo as well. These same objections and fears have always followed biology, from transplants to transfusions.”

But then, when has this administration ever been a friend to science?

It vexes me when they would constrain science by the authority of the Scriptures, and yet do not consider themselves bound to answer reason and experiment.
–Galileo Galilei

Bloglines - Irony Alert Part Deux

"Weren't you a blonde when I came in?" -James Bond (Diamonds Are Forever 1971)

Irony Alert Part Deux

By BlondeSense Liz

"It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect, so I vetoed it," Bush said. Today the president vetoed his first bill. There was no ceremony, no ball, just idiocy. I agree that there are moral boundaries our decent society needs to respect, however this is not one of the boundaries I was thinking about. I was thinking about already living human beings. Silly me.

Mandated Health Funding from Walmart Measure Overruled

Bloglines - Reality Begs To Differ

Bloglines user has sent this item to you.

Past Peak
Cause for Alarm

Reality Begs To Differ

By Jonathan on 9/11, "War On Terror"

Regarding Condi's recent comment that "the notion that policies that finally confront extremism are actually causing extremism, I find grotesque", you might want to revisit these two posts.

She can have her opinion, but the facts refute her completely. Stubborn thing, reality.

Please tell me the public doesn't fall for Bush's rhetoric.

Bush Stem Cell Remarks
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U.S. News
Updated: 2:28 p.m. EDT (18:28 GMT), July 19, 2006
Bush vetoes stem-cell bill

President Bush Wednesday made good on his threat to veto the embryonic stem cell research bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday. The veto is the first of his presidency. "It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect, so I vetoed it," he said.


My, Bush says: "These boys and girls are not spare parts"...

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Bainbridge Surprises with Finding Israel's Actions Unjust

Bloglines - Feinstein hammers Gonzales on FISA, NSA, and the declaration of war

Crooks and Liars
John Amato's Virtual Online Magazine

Feinstein hammers Gonzales on FISA, NSA, and the declaration of war

By John Amato on NSA wiretapping

Dianne-Feinstein-NSA.jpg Dianne came prepared Tuesday and Alberto seemed confused in this clip. She left him speechless and in stunned silence…

Video-WMP Video-QT

very rough transcript:

FEINSTEIN: Now, Congress did not leave the question opened. FISA explicitly says that warrantless surveillance can continue for only fifteen days after a declaration of war. Now that you’ve had an opportunity to examine Hamdan, is it still DOJ’s opinion that it does not affect the legality of the TSP?

GONZALES: Of course, there’s been no declaration of war here, so we can’t take advantage of that particular provision. Uh, our judgment is…is that, um, it does not affect the legality, uh, of…of the, uh TSP program. But let me explain why…

FEINSTEIN: Whoa. But if I might, just a (unintelligible). Then you’re saying, clearly, that the AUMF does not carry the full constitutional weight of a declaration of war.

GONZALES: Yes. That…that is correct. When you…when you declare war…well, when you declare war…

FEINSTEIN: I understand that.

GONZALES: …that triggers diplomatic relations. That trig…that…that maybe nullify treaties of…there’s a big differ…there’s a reason why Congress has not declared war in sixty years. But they’ve…they’ve…they’ve…they&rs quo;ve authorized the use of force several times. Clearly, there’s a difference, yes.

FEINSTEIN: But you’re creating a caveat now, and saying that the fifteen days does not extend to the AUMF.

GONZALES: No, what I said was we…we can’t take advantage of that provision under FISA because there’s been no declaration of war. Maybe I misunderstood your question. I’m sorry, Senator.

FEINSTEIN: Yeah, well, see I…I think that Congress did, um, prepare for that eventuality by providing the fifteen days. And, you’re saying, well, it really doesn’t apply. Well, in a…in essence you’re restricting the AUMF, which I think should be restricted. So you are, in essence, agreeing with my point.

GONZALES: Well, I agree with your point that the Authorization of Military Force is not a declaration of war. That…that is certainly true.

FEINSTEIN: All right. So, we’re in open session, but I really don’t accept that, because of past actions with respect to the FISA court.

GONZALES: Senator, I beg your pardon. I’m…I’m gonna go back and look at the transcript of your question. And I’m…I’m…I…I…I probably want…want to modify it. I want to make sure that I’m being as accurate as I can about…about what we’re doing, because there may be some things here that may affect my…my response.

FEINSTEIN: I…I would appreciate that because, the way I view it, a very conscious…(unintelligible) effort has been made not to submit…certainly content collection to the FISA court.

GONZALES: Senator, this is something that you and I should have a…a conversation about.

(h/t Legra) (h/t Mike for transcript)