Politics is nasty enough when it’s about real issues, because it
always reduces to somebody holding a gun on somebody else. But
somehow I find it hardest to take when it’s about faux issues, all the
machinery of coercion enlisted to no purpose other than for fools to
posture at each other.
Americans have never really understood ideological warfare. Our gut-level assumption is that everybody in the world really wants the same comfortable material success we have. We use “extremist” as a negative epithet. Even the few fanatics and revolutionary idealists we have, whatever their political flavor, expect everybody else to behave like a bourgeois.
We don’t expect ideas to matter — or, when they do, we expect them to matter only because people have been flipped into a vulnerable mode by repression or poverty. Thus all our divagation about the “root causes” of Islamic terrorism, as if the terrorists’ very clear and very ideological account of their own theory and motivations is somehow not to be believed.
By contrast, ideological and memetic warfare has been a favored tactic for all of America’s three great adversaries of the last hundred years — Nazis, Communists, and Islamists. All three put substantial effort into cultivating American proxies to influence U.S. domestic policy and foreign policy in favorable directions. Yes, the Nazis did this, through organizations like the “German-American Bund” that was outlawed when World War II went hot. Today, the Islamists are having some success at manipulating our politics through fairly transparent front organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
But it was the Soviet Union, in its day, that was the master of this game. They made dezinformatsiya (disinformation) a central weapon of their war against “the main adversary”, the U.S. They conducted memetic subversion against the U.S. on many levels at a scale that is only now becoming clear as historians burrow through their archives and ex-KGB officers sell their memoirs.
Recently, The Nation ran an article,
The End of the
Internet, that viewed with alarm some efforts
by telephone companies to hack their governing regulations so they can
price-discriminate. Their plans include tiered pricing so a consumer’s
monthly rate could be tied to the amount of bandwidth actually used. They
also want to be able to offer preferred fast access to on-line services
that pay for the privilege — and the flip side of that could
be shutting down services like peer-to-peer networking that big media
One of my regular visitors. David McCabe, asked me what a libertarian
would do about this. A fair question, representative of a large class
of problems about what you do to constrain monopolies already in place
without resorting to more regulation.
They laughed at me when that bitch Monica rug-burned
her knees in the Oval Office. They laughed at my universal health
care plan. They laughed when I told them of my conversations with
Eleanor Roosevelt’s ghost — they said I was mad.
Mad, am I? I’ll show them mad…soon, I’ll unleash my
mainstream-media minions and deploy my orbital mind-control lasers on
anyone they don’t successfully brainwash for me. Everyone will learn
to rue the day they ever laughed at me. I’ll seize the very White
House itself and dictate my terms to a trembling world!
Warning: I am about to vent. If splenetic ranting is not your
thing, back outta here now, for I am seriously pissed off.
Here’s another one for the file marked “Bush’s opponents are so
deranged that they are good reasons to support him”. At The Corner,
via InstaPundit, Tim Graham has this
Driving in, I had to sample some “progressive talk” on the SOTU [State of the
Union address]. At the Stephanie Miller Show, they were laughing about (and
playing an audio montage of) how many times Bush used the “F-Bomb” last night.
That’s their strange description of the word “freedom.” They also mocked the
mentions of “liberty.”
This is a symptom of how degraded the soi-disant “progressive” wing of
American political culture has become. I don’t like George Bush much, but
as long as his opponents behave like this they make him look like the least
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe “respectable” liberals and the Democratic
leadership will actually come out against treating the words “freedom” and
“liberty” as obscenities or jokes.
(…the sound of crickets chirping…)
You Are Lightning
Beautiful yet dangerous
People will stop and watch you when you appear
Even though you’re capable of random violence
You are best known for: your power
Your dominant state: performing
This is incorrect in one respect. I do not engage in random violence.
Stephen Harper, the newly-elected Conservative prime minister of Canada,
is huffing and puffing about Canada asserting its sovereignity over the arctic
waters of the Nortwest Passage. “The United States defends its sovereignty;
the Canadian government will defend our sovereignty,” said Harper at the
end of a news conference, promising to deploy naval icebreakers into the
The resulting brouhaha is hilarious on so many different levels
it’s hard to know where to start.
Glenn Reynolds writes:
You know, to me Wal-Mart is a lot like George W. Bush. It’s not that I’m that big a fan in the abstract, really, it’s just that the viciousness and stupidity revealed in its enemies tends to make me view it more favorably than I otherwise would.
Thank you, Glenn, for expressing my feelings about both George Bush and Wal-Mart perfectly.
I haven’t posted for a while because my blogging energy has been going to the debate over at
Cato Unbound. I may write an essay about Gramscian damage
in the near future, however.
Yankee comes the story that an Iraqi journalist named Ali
Fadhil claims U.S. soldiers invaded and shot up his home, then hustled
him off for questioning before inexplicably returning him unharmed.
What’s supposed to make this especially shocking is that he was
working for a British newspaper, the Guardian.
WICCANS DECRY ‘WAR AGAINST SOLSTICE’
Wiccan Coven Association President Ozrius Ravenclaw announced today
that his group would continue a formal economic boycott against
several major US retailers “until they cease their relentless and
cowardly attack on the Solstice.”
Retailers affected by the boycott include Target, WalMart, Dollar
General, Mills Fleet Farm, Victoria’s Secret, AutoZone, and Hy Vee.
“This is ‘Political Correctness’ gone crazy. Where ever you shop these
days, it seems like it’s ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings,’”
said Ravenclaw, who was formerly known as Chuck Sundergard. “Whatever
happened to a good old fashioned ‘All Glory to Gaia’ or ‘Jhakkaa
Tractor Supply Company spokesman Kevin Neves denied accusations that
his company instructed sales clerks not to use traditional Wiccan
“We welcome everybody to TSC, regardless of how they celebrate the
season,” said Neves. “We even stock a nice assortment of seasonal
animal sacrifice altars, back in Lawn & Garden.”
I’m a Wiccan. Been one for thirty years. (Yeah, yeah, “I was a
Wiccan before it was cool…”). Now, if I were the kind of humorless
gink at which Iowahawk is aiming, I’d be spluttering with indignation at
this insensitive and hurtful fling at my personal religion thing.
But you know what? I think it’s pretty funny.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden, a blogger and much-respected figure in the
science-fiction community, is staring at the ruin of her life, and
about it. And rightly so. As her husband Patrick explains, she’s a
narcoleptic, and the FDA has just banned the only drug that keeps her
Since writing the essay C.S. Lewis is morally
incoherent I have finished rereading the entire Narnia series. I
could go on at length about how the writing deteriorates as Lewis’s
imaginative impulse is more and more smothered by the clanking and
wheezing of his allegory machine, but Adam Gopnik makes the point
better than I could in Prisoner
Leon H. at RedState writes in Intelligent Design (The Debate Isn’t Helping):
In other words, my feeling about Krauthammer, Derbyshire, et al is
basically this: if you wish to denigrate ID and insult its proponents,
go find an ID discussion board (they are legion) and do so there -
don’t use the pages of NR or your token space in the WaPo to do it
in. What possible benefit to the cause of conservatism could come
about by you propounding your opinion on a topic which is neither your
calling nor your area of expertise, and which will insult a
significant portion of the Republican coalition?
What a load of disingenuous crap this is!
I’m not a conservative, myself, and dislike conservatism for many reasons that I have written about elsewhere. But I can sympathize with conservatives who desire to put distance between themselves and the ID movement, which combines purblind stupidity with dishonesty about its actual aims in a way I’ve previously only seen in gun-control proponents.
The ID movement’s claim that it’s not about end-running the First Amendment and turning schools into instruments for the propagation of Christian dogma is just as transparently specious as most gun-grabbers’ claims that they don’t aim to render the Second Amendment a dead letter. Both gangs are enemies of liberty and the U.S. Constitution, and for precisely the same reasons. It’s hardly startling for anyone, conservative or otherwise, to want to avoid being associated with any movement that lies wholesale about its objectives.
And that’s before addressing the numerous gaping logical holes in the “intelligent design” argument. U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones, deciding Kitzmiller vs. Dover on December 20th, nailed many of these in his opinion. To actually buy the ID argument requires either a complete inability to do critical thinking or a zealot’s refusal to exercise it.
“What possible benefit to the cause of conservatism” he asks. Maybe…just maybe…Krauthammer and Derbyshire would like to demonstrate that there are some conservatives who are neither liars, religious zealots, nor plain-and-simple idiots.
Aha. The Sunnis
say they want to work with US. This comes hard in the heels of
reports that the Baathist dead-enders protected al-Qaeda polling
places from jihadis during the just-concluded elections, in which
turnout pushed 70% even in the heart of the Sunni triangle.
My wife Catherine has written an excellent review of Peter Jackson’s King Kong, which we saw just last night. I concur with it; the movie is a meandering, flabby, over-long, self-indulgent mess that will be deeply disappointing to many of the fans Jackson attracted with the Rings movies. I hope it bombs, and he learns a lesson about artistic discipline. His next movie would be better for that.
The last two days have seen a triple whammy for the Islamofascists
and their Western quislings. The Iraqi elections were a thumping
success; congressional Democrats voted in a resolution supporting
prosecution of the Iraq war; and the Patriot Act failed to be renewed.
Long-time readers of this blog will be aware than I’m fascinated by the semiotics of pornography. Not by pornography itself; as I wrote in Why does porn got to hurt so bad? I find most pornography ugly and unappealing. No; I’m interested in the meaning of pornography, the code it’s written in and what it says about its producers and consumers.
Since I wrote my original meditation on this topic, an interesting shift in the received meaning of the word “porn” has been visible. Consider Domai. This is a site which traffics in pictures of naked women. Yet the front page claims “No porn on this site”.
I like SF. I like wargames. I like naval adventure fiction.
These tastes put me square in the middle of the target audience for
David Weber’s Honor Harrington novels. And yes, I do
enjoy them; Weber may be a hack, but he’s a very competent hack who
delivers good entertainment value for my money. So I was pleasantly
surprised to learn, this weekend at the annual Philadelphia Science
Fiction Convention (Philcon), that there is now an Honor Harrington
wargame — Saganami Island Tactical Simulator (SITS).