Monday, June 26, 2006

A News Story or an Editorial?

...And this is what passes for objective journalism these days....Bush ignores laws he inks, vexing Congress - Yahoo! News

At least the AP could try using an objective headline, e.g., Critics Charge President Bush Ignores Certain Laws He Inks.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

How Talking About Talks with Iran is Going to Get Us Killed

Amir Taheri in the New York Post discusses the parallels between the English/German negotiations of the 1930's and the current negotations between the U.N. Security Council and the Iranian regime: IRAN: THE WORLD PUNTS By AMIR TAHERI - New York Post Online Edition: Postopinion.

It is clear that the Iranians are simply trying to buy time to build nuclear weapons so that they can become a regional and worldwide Islamist (i.e., Jihadist) super-power.

In the words of Michael Ledeen (to the Bush Administration), "Now, please."

Philosophy: Who Needs It?

A person at the Yahoo! Answers asks, "Why must we have religion?" I think that my reply is worth posting here:

People don't need religion. However, they do need philosophy; they do need a fundamental view of existence and values in order to live their lives. Unlike other living creatures, human beings are not born with any values to guide their choices and actions. All the values they hold, they must aquire either by conscious decision or by unconscious acceptance.

To quote philosopher, Ayn Rand, "As a human being, you have no choice about the fact that you need a philosophy. Your only choice is whether you define you philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation--or let your subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance, but integrated by your subconscious into a kind of mongrel philosophy and fused into a single, solid weight: self-doubt, like a ball and chain in the place where your mind's wings should have grown." - Philosophy, Who Needs It?

According to Rand, religion is an early form of philosophy which arose before humans could develop a scientific approach to the fundamental questions of life that philosophy must address. Today, religion is still the only form of philosophy most people know about. Furthermore, many people feel devotion to the religion they were taught as children since they associate that religion with the love they feel towards their parents. And while religion can have important values to teach and many worthwhile lessons to learn, it does not fulfill the human need for an objective comprehensive view of life, since it is based upon the pre-scientific and invalid approach of faith and the ancient destructive moral code of self-sacrifice. Moreover, modern academic philosophy has, over the past two hundred years, become a mostly useless psuedo-science that does not deal with the questions and problems human beings actually face in life.

I recommend Ms. Rand's philosophy called Objectivism as a rational alternative to religion, academic philosophy, cynical hopelessness, and unserious self-imposed blindness. There is a tremendous amount of information on the internet about her writings and philosophy that you can investigate. I recommend starting out at the Ayn Rand Institute: And if you become interested, you can look into purchasing her novels and/or non-fiction works. Another accessible introduction to her ethics is called, Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It by Craig Biddle. This book is available at

To give you a quick introduction to her philosophy, I will quote Ayn Rand again, "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

Monday, June 19, 2006

Supreme Court All Wet on Wetlands Ruling

Today’s Supreme Court ruling’s on wetlands (Rapanos v. United States, 04-1034, Carabell v. Army Corps of Engineers, 04-1384) came close to overturning years of arbitrary and unjust property regulation by environmentalists via the Clean Water Act.

According to the Associated Press,
“Justices decided on a 5-4 vote, split along ideological lines, that regulators may have misinterpreted the federal Clean Water Act when they refused to allow two Michigan property owners to build a shopping mall and condos on wetlands they own.

“But on a separate 5-4 vote, they refused to block the government from restricting access on distant wetlands.”

“Instead of ruling in the property owners' favor, as they requested, justices said lower courts must reconsider whether ditches and drains near wetlands are waterways.”
This means that the Court, particularly Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (see below), had neither the courage nor understanding to overturn the clear abuses of the Clean Water Act themselves. Instead, they passed the buck to the lower courts to make decisions without any guidelines, which will result in indeterminant and contradictory rulings on the wetlands issue for years to come.

“The court's four most conservative members wanted a more sweeping ruling, clearing the way for development of land unless it was directly connected to waterways.

“The court's four most liberal members said that such a ruling would reject three decades of practice by the Army Corps of Engineers and threaten the environment."
So here, according to the AP account, the liberal members of the Court acted as legal conservatives, i.e., they ruled to conserve precedent when it conveniently fits their ideological biases. To put it a different way, four liberal justices are content to use precedent to uphold the despotic practices of the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) - on the basis that ACE had been taking the same actions for 30 years – not because the ACE practices are consistant with the Clean Water Act (nor with rationality).
“In the middle was Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

“Kennedy wrote his own opinion to explain why he was not joining the main opinion. "Important public interests are served by the Clean Water Act in general and by the protection of wetlands in particular," he said. Scalia's opinion, Kennedy said, "seems unduly dismissive of the interests asserted by the United States in these cases."
Kennedy’s above-quoted opinion captures exactly what is wrong with evironmentalist’s views on “wetlands”. Specifically, environmentalists regard nature or certain areas of nature (anything untouched, or - as they would say - “uncorrupted” by human productive activity) to be valuable to “public interests.” This, they argue, necessitates that the government infringe upon the rights of individual citizens by blocking them from rightful use of their own property.

The fallacy here is twofold: 1) there are no public interests above and apart from the interests and rights of individual citizens. For that matter, there is no amorphous entity called “the public” which mystically appears whenever you gather togther people in a group. The concept “the public” is just that – a concept – which designates a collection of individuals.
2) There are no values apart from individuals who do the valuing. Thus, the wetlands in contention in these cases have no value to individuals who want to develop condominiums or apartments on their property. Nor do these wetlands have value to the people that want to purchase or rent from these property owners. Neither do these wetlands have value to most rational people. What nowadays goes by the politically correct name of “wetlands” are in fact what people used to call swamps. These areas used to be regarded as a nuissance, which needed to be dried out and reclaimed, e.g., the cities of Washington, D.C. and Seattle. No one has any rational interest in preventing these particular property owners, or property owners in general, from developing their land. Only those with an irrational interest in preventing human beings from rearranging nature to fit their needs want to use the force of government (particularly, that institution hated so much by the Left – the U.S. Army) to infringe upon the basic most fundamental rights of American citizens to use and dispose of their own property in the pusuit of their own rational self-interests. Environmentalists consider individual rights as a nussaince infringing on their goal of "protecting" nature from mankind.

At least Justice Scalia understood part of the unjustice on the part of the environmentalists:

“Scalia had said the Corps of Engineers misinterpreted the term "waters of the United States."

"In applying the definition to `ephemeral streams,' `wet meadows,' storm sewers and culverts, ... man-made drainage ditches, and dry arroyos in the middle of the desert, the Corps has stretched the term `waters of the United States' beyond parody," he wrote.”
Unfortunately, it is not a parody to those individuals whose rights are trampled. Nor is it a parody to every other American whose freedom is jeapordized by the arbitrary power of government bureacracy.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Michael Ledeen on the Zarqawi Letter

Michael Ledeen is featured again here at Facts and Logic. This time, he is confirming my suspicions that the document released by the Iraqi authorities - purportedly written by Zarqawi (may he suffer in hell) - is probably a fake produced by the Iranians to fool Americans into thinking that Iran has nothing to do with the insurgency and sectarian millitias in Iraq: Michael Ledeen on At War on National Review Online

Proof That Campaign-Finance Reform Endangers Freedom of Sppech

During the long debate that eventually led to passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, opponents argued that the bill would lead to limits on free speech - particularly on the class of free speech that matters most: political speech. Proponents of McCain-Feingold pooh-poohed these arguments as red herrings put forward by special interests that wanted to keep their power in Washington.

Well, the following article from NRO shows that the proponents were wrong and the opponents of McCain-Feingold were right: The Editors on Campaign-Finance Reform on National Review Online.

Now, can we repeal McCain-Feingold before the situation gets worse?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Jihad Watch: Hamas Murders Children in Palestine, Blames Israel

Jihad Watch: Hamas Murders Children in Palestine, Blames Israel

So what else is new?

Of course, the left wing MSM has failed to avoid a rush to judgement and are still crying that the Israelis are cold, heartless, SOB's, who don't care where their bombs fall. You'd think they would have learned the modus operandi of the Palestinian propaganda machine by this point. Alas, not.

Michael Ledeen on Iran & Terrorism

I sometimes think I should call my blog "Michael Ledeen Watch" since I blog about this American Enterprise Institute scholar's work so often lately. Dr. Ledeen's writings are critical to understanding the bigger picture of the War on Terror; and his latest column at NRO, Iran Connects the Dots attests to this fact.

There are several illuminating nuggets of wisdom contained in this piece. Among them, the following stand out:

1. The terrorist leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed by coalition forces on Wenesday, was more important than most media reports have indicated:
"Zarqawi played on a global scale. Reports from Canada recount contacts between the ‘home-grown’ terrorists arrested by the Mounties and Zarqawi himself (See the ‘Mississauga News,’ June 7: ‘The arrest of 17 said to be the latest stage in dismantling a terrorist network that’s linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi...’). Those arrests seem linked to those carried out in Atlanta, Georgia, by the FBI, and to other arrests in Sarajevo, England, and Denmark. It will be surprising if we don’t find Zarqawi’s claw prints in several of those venues, as the Canadians have said."
2. The coalition operation that resulted in Zarqawi's death was more significant than much of the media reported:

"We have probably just lived through the greatest global counterterrorist operation in history. In Iraq alone, some 16 or 17 terror cells were attacked at the same time as Zarqawi was killed. And the wave of arrests — just yesterday the Swiss reported they had broken up a cell planning to attack an El Al passenger plane — is like nothing I have seen before, bespeaking an encouraging degree of international cooperation. It goes hand in hand with the devastating campaign in Iraq against the terrorist leadership. Zarqawi is just the latest to fall; most of his top associates had been eliminated over the course of the past several months.

"The global operation seems to have been prompted by the discovery that the terror masters had ordered a worldwide assault, and so far the West has proven equal to the challenge."
3. Most importantly, Dr. Ledeen points out Zarqawi's connection to Iran, the terrorist regime that is the ideological, tactical, and financial center of Islamic terrorism in today's world:

"I first noticed him some years ago, reading the German and Italian press. Several terrorist cells in those countries had been rounded up, and court documents showed that in both countries the network had been created from Tehran, by Zarqawi."

"Despite his intonations against the Shiites, and his manifest efforts to promote civil war in Iraq, Zarqawi was happy to work with the radical Shiite regime in Tehran, and they were happy to work with him. It is quite wrong to view him as a leader of one faction in a religious war; his promotion of religious conflict was simply a tactic designed to destabilize Iraq and drive out the Coalition. He and his Iranian backers/masters were desperate to promote all manner of internal Iraqi conflict: Kurds against Arabs, Turkamen against Kurds, anything that worked."

"Shortly after the liberation of Afghanistan, I wrote that al Qaeda had been effectively destroyed, and that we should stop talking about al Qaeda as if it were the most important component in the terror network. I argued that we should conceive of terrorism as a kind of galaxy, with numerous components — ranging from Hamas and Islamic Jihad to the rump of al Qaeda and, most importantly, Hezbollah — who worked together, organized a division of labor, and were held in their orbits and epicycles by the Iranian intelligence apparatus, from the official ministry to the specialized units in the Revolutionary Guards."
In summarizing, Dr. Ledeen, writes:

"A week ago Director of National Intelligence Negroponte gave a very interesting interview to the BBC in which he reiterated what everybody knows: ‘(the Iranians) are the principal state sponsor of terrorism in the world.’
"So how come we're not going after them?"

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Reality: No Way Out of a Conflict with Iran

Terrorism expert Dr. Michael Ledeen's column this week contrasts starkly with the mainstream media's view of the U.S. pre-negotiations with Iran's government. To the world diplomatic community, a conflict between the U.S. and Iran can be avoided if the U.S. stops aggressive posturing and instead offers enough "carrots" to convince the Iranians to suspend uranium enrichment. To Ledeen, a conflict is inevitable given the Iranian leadership's belief system:

"But these are fanatics, millenarian fanatics who believe that the world is headed for a final and decisive confrontation between the forces of Islam and the infidels and crusaders. They believe that the final days are at hand, and that they are the instruments of Divine power and glory. They have no doubt about their ultimate triumph, and everything they see in the West only reinforces their confidence, and leads them to redouble their murderous efforts."
Ledeen unequivocably compares the Bush Administration's new diplomatic tactics to those of Chamberlain when, in 1936, he appeased Hitler in exchange for a false promise of peace.

For the record, I agree with Ledeen 100%. And I would be willing to bet money that his prediction that we will have to fight a war with Iran will come to pass within the next 1-2 years. His characterization of both Iran's leadership and the Bush administration's capitulation to European's appeasement of the Iranian mullahs couldn't be more on target. The history of the Iran's theocrat's since they came to power in 1979 proves beyond a reasonable doubt that they are murderous religious fanatics bent on destroying Western civilization. Their publically espoused ideology and their financing and training of international terrorists is a matter of public record. You would think that people - especially the Bush administration - would have learned by now that you don't negotiate with terrorists.