Your hosts in the Hall of Super Justice:

Conservator: The Red-Blooded, Blue-Collared American Hero
Captain Capitalism: Valiant Protector of a Free Market
Libertaria: With her Bureaucratic Shrink Ray
The Dynamic Uno: A Lone Force Against Idiotarian Evil
Senator Stupendous: Mild-Mannered Page by Day

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Captain: Even Old Europe is in danger of collapsing under the gravitas of the Euro, according to Paul Johnson.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Conservator: Captain you couldn't be more correct. The Euro only benefits those affluent nations such as France and Germany. Watch the economies of the weaker European nations as they join the EU. The instillation of the Euro will only slow down the process of becoming 21st century nations that so many poor European nations face. On the EU themselves, its simply a way for "Old Europe" to regain the control they lost back in the two World Wars.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Captain: Just say no to the Euro. Sweden suggests that its citizens may be wiser than the Social Democrat propaganda that surrounds them by voting down adoption of the Euro, according to Andrew Stuttaford.

In this blogger's opinion, the Euro is the most dangerous thing in the world to American interests. Forget terrorism. The Euro does not represent the Pan-European desire for economic unity, it represents the Old European desire for political supremacy. It has become more than clear in the past year or so that nations like France and Germany see the EU as their best chance at world parity, and they may be right. The Euro is the first step in a very long-term plan of creating a unified Europe that can compete with America, politically, militarily, and economically.

The problem is, it's bad economics. I'm no economist, but the problem seems evident to me--when you have a set of countries at different economic stages, it is foolishness to try to unite them under a single currency, as countries need to set their own levels of inflation and deflation if their economies are going to grow. As long as Brussels has an iron grip over the Euro, Athens, Ankara, Vilnius--they'll all suffer because they're trying to exist under the already-established currency of an affluent European Union.

America's solution it to get its foot in the door and bone up on our relations with "New Europe"--which is being done in the current administration, but could be exploited more--both to save them from economic ruin and us from political competition. America's best friends are the Swedens of the world.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Conservator: For all of you who don't realize (Harry Browne) Iraq just got through an attack by the United States. Of coures electricyt etc is going to scarce, thats because it was blown the hell up. It's not like those things aren't going to be put back in place. Heck isn't that the wonderful UN's job? The fact of the matter is that in say a year or two when all these things are around and Hussein isn't, people will be singing a different tune. Without Saddam in power, these items will be allowed to flourish instead of staying at a state controlled max.

Captain: On a similar note, Harry Browne asks whether or not the world (Iraq included) is better with Hussein gone:

But the coup de grace the Republicans fall back on, the #1 intimidation technique to be used on anyone who questions the good intentions of George W. Bush, the absolute-sure-fire-can’t-miss-you’re-toast-Buddy argument to put everything back in "perspective" is this:

You mean you don’t think the world is a better place now that Hussein is no longer in power???

With that thrust, the most dedicated peacenik is guaranteed to melt and stammer, "Well, er, of course no one wants Hussein back but, er . . ."

But rather than duck the question, perhaps we should meet it head on:

Is the world a better place now that Hussein is gone?

Actually, I don’t know. Yes, George Bush claims it is. But he’s the guy who said in 2000 that he was compassionate, believed in limited government, and opposed nation-building. So, frankly, his word doesn’t hold much weight with me these days.

Is Iraq a better place now that it no longer has much electricity, clean water, or food?

Sorry, Harry, it is. Some things are just more important than electricity, clean water, and food. Even the most vicious tyrant can create infrastructure--and why does Harry Browne, a prominent Libertarian, support government monopoly of utilities anyway?

Dynamic Uno: The Washington Post isn't the first to suggest terrorists groups do "social work." Remember Senator Patty Murray's (D-WA) comment to a group of high school kids last December:

"He's [Osama bin Laden] been out in these [poverty-stricken] countries for decades building roads, building schools, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. It made their lives better.

"We [the United States ] have not done that. We haven't been out in many of these countries helping them build infrastructure.

"How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?"

I think that beats the Washington Post for stupidity.

The Washington Post's comment also reminded me of the E.U.'s hesitation to put terrorist groups such as Hamas on their list of terrorists. (Though they recently decided to ban Hamas' "political wing.")

It's only within the last two months that the EU even added the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hamas' official "military wing" to its lists.

And France � the prevailing influence in EU foreign policy � has consistently opposed listing Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad as terrorist organizations. . . .

President Jacques Chirac's diplomatic adviser, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, even went so far as making this astonishing statement to the Israeli ambassador to France: "If we find that Hamas and Is- lamic Jihad are indeed terror groups op- posed to peace, we may have to change the EU's stand."

The Washington Post's comment also reminded me of the refusal of the BBC and Reuters to use the word terrorists to describe several terrorist organizations; or, if they do use the word terrorist, the use scare quotes.

Sounds like a lot of people are unwilling to call terrorists what they are. But the article I linked to in this paragraph had a good point: even when you use "militants" to describe terrorists, "militants" eventually becomes a synonym for "terrorists." Most people are smart enough that when they hear "Hamas" they think "terrorists."

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Captain: Also, hail to the Great White North. Social Justice Friends has been linked by a fellow blogger in Canada. Now we can really be justified when we discuss international politics.

Captain: Back to the definition of Terrorism: I stole this from Ms. N, but only because I think it boggled my mind as much as hers. This is the Washington Post trying to justify its preference of terms such as "militancy" instead of "terrorism" in reference to Hamas. There's only one line I think really needs to be posted:

Critical readers also attempt to equate the U.S. battle against al Qaeda with the Israeli battle against Hamas. There are, however, differences. Hamas conducts terrorism but also has territorial ambitions, is a nationalist movement and conducts some social work. As far as we know, al Qaeda exists only as a terrorist network.

I quote again: "Hamas conducts terrorism but also has territorial ambitions, is a nationalist movement and conducts some social work." Hold on there, Israel! Don't try to destroy Hamas--we should be giving them the Nobel Prize!

All snideness aside, this is an egregious fallacy--because I am a Food Lion cashier who plays guitar also doesn't make me not a Food Lion cashier. In fact, the Post contradicts itself when it says that "Hamas conducts terrorism." In essence, this entire article can be summarized by saying that Hamas engages in terrorism, but they are not terrorists.

Uh, what?

Conservator: We all know that Batman and Superman basically did it all for the Justice Friends. Anyway onto politics.

This is why Democrats are far less prepared for this election than Bush. Weird that such a simple question can do so much. The best part? You know somewhere out there Slayer's "Raining Blood" is a campaign song for a gun nut canidate.

Dynamic Uno: George Will defends D.C. school vouchers. (Link via Newmark's Door.)

School choice for poor children is, Boehner says, today's principal civil rights fight. The lottery of life, not choice, determines a child's parents and family situation. There should be choice about schools for children placed by life's lottery in difficult conditions. Otherwise, Boehner says, "It's like saying you can only buy bread in the grocery store closest to your house -- and the government will run the grocery store."

I agree. It's really tragic and disgraceful that these kids are trapped in terrible schools, and most Democrats just shrug so as not to offend the teachers' unions.

Dynamic Uno: Some superheroes we are! We've been letting Captain Capitalism do all the work!

I basically agree with Captain's last three posts. The recall decision will be heard again en banc--that is, by 11 judges on the 9th Circuit. So it could be overturned.

As to Captain's question on September 11th, I agree that Iraq and Afghanistan are the most changed. Here's a great article about Iraq that proves it (link from Betsy's Page.)

Yet, Yasser admits: "The first fortnight, I was really, really depressed. Everyone in Iraq had been totally conditioned to wait to be told what to do by the state. Anybody with initiative got tortured or killed by Saddam, so people just waited for orders. So even after the liberation, they couldn't understand that they were free; they didn't know what it meant. But then I saw that gradually they were realising, and that day by day they were sort of defrosting." . . .

Yasser says quietly: "The day after the liberation, my aunt put out a black banner [an Arab mourning ritual] with the names of all her relatives who had been murdered by the regime on it. And she looked down her street, and there were black banners on almost every house. On some houses it looks like a long shopping list. She said to her neighbour, `You too?' Under Saddam it was a crime to mourn people killed by the regime - it made you seem suspicious too. Everyone was suffering terribly, but they were suffering alone. They just didn't know that everyone else was hating it too."

Iraq's liberation was really a miracle. Creating a free and democratic society will be hard, but if we and the Iraqis stick to it it'll really pay off. Especially if this freedom spreads to other Middle Eastern countries.

Even if Iraq and Afghanistan have seen the most dramatic changes since September 11, 2001, I think America has also changed quite a lot. We're not going to turn the other cheek anymore when our security's threatened. In the 90s we saw the bombing of the WTC, the U.S.S. Cole, our African embassies--and we didn't do that much afterwards. Now, we're going to face the threats. We're not going to stand around and hope the threat goes away; we're willing to make the tough decisions. Osama bin Laden and other terrorists used to think of us as a "paper tiger"; after we proved that we are not, terrorist organizations are going to have a much harder time carrying out their evil goals. We haven't had any major terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since our "rude awakening" on September 11, 2001. That's progress, too.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Captain: I for one am already tired of hearing "Retired" or "Former General Wesley Clark." Here's what Clark's website says about him:

From 1997 through May of 2000, General Clark was NATO Supreme Allied Commander and Commander in Chief of the United States European Command. In this position, General Clark commanded Operation Allied Force, NATO’s first major combat action, which saved 1.5 million Albanians from ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

Does no one remember that this man did such a poor job in Kosovo that he was fired? You can't reasonably compare this guy to Eisenhower because Eisenhower was a brilliant general, and Clark boobed the whole Kosovo job up.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Captain: Recall recalled: The Ninth Circuit says that the election must be put off until every county in California does away with punch-card voting. Their reasoning is that different kinds of voting in different counties violates the Equal Protection clause.

Well, the implication of this is serious--does that mean that we should try to install the same voting machine in every county in every state in the country? Isn't that the only way to hold up the Equal Protection clause, if that's how we're going to interpret it?

Oh well. Politically, this means they'll probably back the date up to March 2, which is California's regular primary date, which sucks for everyone who isn't Gray Davis. This means a lot more campaigning for candidates who expected to be in it for a two-month jog.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Captain: A lot of beautiful and deep things are being said about the events of two years ago, and I think that the world will do all right without having the benefit of my beauty and depth on the subject. So, it may be cold, but let's focus on the sheer politics of it.

Where are we? What has changed in the past two years? Well, certainly it has ushered in a new era of American government, one that we still can't be sure where it will lead. It has turned a weak president into a powerful one and two parties struggling for dominance into a party-in-power and a party-out-of-power.

In Iraq and Afghanistan we are facing the vestiges of long wars. On the homefront we are facing a polarization that hasn't been seen since Vietnam. In Europe we are facing the enormous tide of world hatred--our allies in Britain are being subject to dubious investigations about dubious reports. What have we gained? The best article on America in a post-Sept. 11 world belongs to Mark Steyn of the Spectator, tackling all three of these theaters.

What has changed the most? It is not, I maintain, Europe, and it is not America. It is the countries of Iraq and Afghanistan, who after years upon years living in medieval-era cruelty and oppression are finally being given the option of capitalist, republican society. The ends doesn't justify the means, but even when considered without depth or beauty, this cannot be counted as anything but progress, no matter what any naysayer says--America and Europe may fidget, but things in the Middle East have truly started to change.

What about you, Social Justice Friends? What do you say is the most important change since September 11th, 2001?

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Captain: "I'll tell you what is completely insane. Wet-eared high school students pretending to be superheroes giving people their political opinions and expecting any one to care. What makes the Social Justice Friends or any third-rate blogger think they are so intelligent to know how to solve all the worlds problems."

Not that the above statement is true, of course. I just think that we should all remember that we are entitled to an opinion and also to voicing it. But I think that going to Europe to voice your opinion about American politics is cowardly--like talking behind someone's back.

Conservator: Well the Captain beat me to my post. No worries because I'm still as mad as I was 25 seconds ago. "Absolutely insane"? I'll tell you what is completely insane. Washed up country stars giving people their political opinions and expecting any one to care. What makes the Dixie Chicks or any performer think they are so intelligent to know how to solve all the worlds problems.

Captain: Two things.

Firstly, I overheard this line on a local news station: "The governor of Alabama turns politics on its head--and listens to his conscience. We'll tell you how after the break." I don't know what the story's about, and I don't care to know because it might ruin the beauty of that line.

Politicians with consciences: breaking political norms.

Secondly I'd like to return to a familiar topic: The Dixie Chicks. Quoth Ananova:

Emily Robison, currently touring Europe with the rest of the band, has now said: "He is a great film star. But I find his idea to run for governor absolutely insane."

She told German paper Abendzeitung: "America should be governed by people who have a clue. I hope he doesn't win."

When will they say this kind of thing to an American paper?

Conservator: To respond to Fantastic Felder, I don't like it. It certainly is not fair, as shown her by the Friends themselves, that there are teenagers who do care about politics (gasp!). But in regards to Darkwing if you were eligible to vote on the day exactly, then you wouldn't vote. You have to register first. So then it would be fair for you to donate after you register, not before.

Darkwing: Maybe I wasn't clear with my most recent post. My main point wasn't that we should get the right to donate because we are politically active minors, it was because we would be 18 by election day. We should be able to affect the campaign that we are going to vote for. It shouldn't have anything to do with current age, it should have to do with the age as of the election day.

If you will be eligible to vote by the day of the election, then you should be able to contribute to the campaigns beforehand, regardless of age.

Captain: I think of the Fantastic Felder as a Professor X sort of character, who never actually does anything but is there for moral support, and you know, to read our brainwaves and that sort of thing. Here he is again:

"As has been said before on this blog by, I believe, the Fantastic Felder, our society has to draw the line somewhere and pick some kind of arbitrary measurment of adulthood, and we choose 18."

Now, since the moniker "Fantastic Felder" reminds me of the Fantastic Four, I get an opportunity to say...Flame on!

I said the opposite of what you said I said. Quoting myself: "I maintain that birth year is just flat the wrong criterion to use to pick voters. (Or drinkers, smokers, drivers, or anything else.)" I can't begin to understand how all of you guys can be so sanguine about having roughly the same legal status as a household pet.

Flame off!

Captain: Of course, this calls into question all those 17-year olds who can't formulate coherent sentences, either.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Hi, I'm James: Unfortunatly for us politically active minors, we are still minors and that's where the line is drawn. I assume that the reason minors are banned from these donations is to prevent "bundling", where a donor would give the maximum amount allowed to a campaign (under this new law, I believe that's $2,000) and so would his wife, his children, his business partners, ect. Of course, the donor is probably footing the entire bill and thus circumventing the spirit of the law. Politically active minors probably make up a small minority of all minors that are competant enough to vote, and our parents/guardians control all of our finances until we become adults at age 18. It would probably still be possible for donors to circumvent the law by donating through their children, whether they are 3 or 17, under Darkwing's proposed change to McCain-Feingold. Of course, you make exemptions for "politically active" teenagers, but enforcing that standard would be impossible under our current system. As has been said before on this blog by, I believe, the Fantastic Felder, our society has to draw the line somewhere and pick some kind of arbitrary measurment of adulthood, and we choose 18. Now, should we lower that age, or just the voting age, or any of the other minimum age requirements? Perhaps, but beyond that we'll be waiting until we're 18 to donate, assuming that McCain-Feingold is upheld.

Darkwing: Maybe its not so simple Conservator. I, while currently am a minor, will however be able to vote in the upcoming elections, seeing as I turn 18 before the big day comes. Shouldn't I be able to financially support the candidate I'm going to vote for as any person over 18 can? As far as possible solutions go, heres a good one:

Instead of prohibiting all minors from making contributions to a particular candidate's campaign, perhaps all those that that are eligible to vote, by election day can make contributions. A politically active 17 year old who will be 18 by election day, should not be grouped with a 3 year old still unable to formulate coherent sentences.

Conservator: No because we can't vote. It's as simply as that.

Captain: Missed me? Thought so.

Let's talk about McCain-Feingold. This topic is particularly interesting because of the odd way it splits parties--Unlike most issues, there is no "Republican" or "Democratic" viewpoint--well, that may not be true. I'd have to check the party platforms--but if there is, then a lot of Republicans and a lot of Democrats aren't towing party line. This is the only instance I can think of where the NRA and the Sierra Club are united in opinion (They don't like the bill, naturally).

This is, contrary to popular belief, a dream come true for Republicans. Republicans, on average, get more of their campaign contributions from small donors, while the Democrats are more dependent on the "soft money" banned by the bill. Surprising, isn't it? This means the Republicans have a very significant head start on raising funds for the 2004 elections.

Anyway, for my part, I fail to see a.) why it's necessary, and b.) what gives Congress the power to do it. If it isn't necessary, it isn't proper, and as John Lott describes, it isn't necessary.

Here's an interesting point for the Social Justice Friends to ponder: The bill bans minors from donating to political campaigns. Does this violate our free speech?

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Captain: Uno: Here's my take on the definition of "terrorism":

You're on the right track that Hiroshima was an act of war, not terrorism. But I venture that it was an act of war not because it occurred during a war--it would be an act of war anywhere, anytime. Why? Because it was state-funded and state-committed.

Terrorism is a "new enemy" because it is committed not by armies and heads of state but rogue factions like al-Qaeda, like Hamas, like the New IRA. "State-sponsored" terrorism is Hussein giving money to al-Qaeda or what-have-you--like a contractor--state-funded, but not state-committed.

These semantics are important because they necessitate different approaches. Japan attacked us, so we severed Japan from those in power and neutered its military. If you believe that Hussein sponsored terrorism, you must however admit that removing Hussein from power may stop terrorists' cash flow, but it doesn't necessarily remove the terrorists' infrastructure.

This division is important for the Israelis because the Israelis are embroiled in a war foreign to most nations, including America--they are fighting an enemy with only an umbrage of a power structure, who fight insanely dirty, and on their own soil, too. Hiroshima this is not.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Captain: Personally, I don't get the brouhaha over the "sixteen words" concerning Iraq buying uranium from Africa. Imagine if you will, a situation in which Tony Blair says to Parliament, "The CIA has recently learned that Iraq has purchased uranium from Africa," and then it is found to be untrue (which has not been found to be untrue--just dubious), shouts would rise from overseas, "America lied to us!"

And where are the cries, "Britian lied to us!" Nowhere. Because it's seen as Bush's fault, not poor British intelligence.

Also, I'd like very much to see cold hard proof of where Bush said, "We have found the WMD's."

Helen Rittelmeyer: Did Bush lie to America, Dauntless? About "end of combat," about tax cuts, about WMD's, anything?

Apprently he did, but only enough to get a 3.6/5 on the Mendacity Index. (Clinton got a 3.1, Reagan a 3.3.)

Or so says the Washington Monthly, who within the next few days will continue in the theme of Lies + Fun = Good with an article by Joshua Marshall called "'The Post-Modern President: Deception, Denial, and Relativism: What the Bush administration learned from the French."

Helen Rittelmeyer: Conservator, I'd hesitate to say that boys are being taught in "a girl way." Rote memorization and quiet note-taking are the methods of choice in public schools not because of feminist lobbying but because they're the most efficient methods. Twenty years ago, one could have just as easily argued that girls were being taught in "a boy way," since cold dates and facts (and the historical focus on war/politics as opposed to culture) don't appeal to girls' warm, emotional thinking.

Here's an article from the Atlantic Monthly called "The War Against Boys."

I'm still not convinced that boys are now the second sex in education. Girls may be achieving more than ever in the classroom, but the very top spots are still predominantly male. Take my own experience: in elementary school, my academic performance warranted placement in the Academically Gifted program, but the principal said that I was simply "an overachiever," and would "grow out of it." To her, my achievement was the result of hard work and plodding dedication, not any innate intelligence. Boys with similar grades and scores were admitted into the program without any trouble.

This story reveals a bias that has not gone away, despite feminists' relentless efforts: women are allowed to get good grades and do well on standardized tests, but only boys can be truly intellectually exceptional.

As for race: if McWhorter is right (and he is), then maybe magnet schools aren't such a good idea. A magnet school is obviously separated between the base population, which is urban and black, and the gifted kids who, because they are bused in from the suburbs, are almost all white or Asian. This reinforces the idea that white-gifted and black-average-or-below are natural connections to make, and that is just about the worst idea a child can have.

Dynamic Uno: I'd like to return to our discussion on Wednesday in Social Justice Club. (For those of you who didn't or couldn't come to that meeting, the discussion was about an article Conservator brought in about Israel's war on terrorism.)

The Fantastic Felder told me (outside of the meeting) that I should be more careful about condemning Palestinian terrorism because my definition of terrorism--violence against civilians for a political cause--could also be applied to America's bombing of Hiroshima during WWII. Even if I say bombing Hiroshima was necessary, Fantastic Felder told me (and I hope I'm not misrepresenting his remarks), couldn't it still classify as terrorism? And how is Palestinian terrorism different, since they don't have much of a choice as to how to advance their cause? Is terrorism always wrong? After gathering my thoughts, I have a few things to say about it.

1. Hiroshima happened during a declared war. Japan attacked us first, we fought a war, we gave them a chance to surrender, they didn't, and we bombed Hiroshima. We gave them another chance to surrender, and they STILL didn't surrender, so we bombed them again, and they got the point. I'm failing to see how attacking an enemy during a war that we didn't start can be classified as terrorism.

2. Does anyone seriously think that if the Palestinians had better weapons, an army, etc., that they'd suddenly stop their terrorism and be peaceful neighbors to Israel? I think that if Palestinian terrorists (or other anti-Israel terrorist groups) had the capability to do what we did to Hiroshima, they'd probably bomb Israel without hesitation. So I think saying that Palestinian terrorists attack Israel because that's all they have (again, I hope I'm not misrepresenting anyone's remarks during or after the discussion) is silly, because if they had a stronger force, they wouldn't be using it to promote peace. A lot of Palestinians--enough to make peace nearly impossible for the time being--would like to see Israel destroyed. Granted, the poll's a year old, but even so, I wish more people would remember this when discussing Israel and the Palestinians. These are the same Palestinians who have been offered all they could want and have rejected it again and again.

Dynamic Uno: I agree with Conservator and Senator Stupendous. Boys and girls have different learning styles, and a lot of teachers think that being a boy is a problem to be fixed. At the same time, women's groups complain that girls are being overlooked in the classroom, which I find not only annoying and patronizing, but also false. Here's a great article about how schools are shortchanging boys, and here's an interesting article saying that traditional teaching styles are what boys need more of.

That's a really great point that there's a social stigma for blacks in school. John McWhorter says:

The “acting white” charge—which implies that you think yourself different from, and better than, your peers—is the prime reason that blacks do poorly in school. The gifted black student quickly faces a choice between peer group acceptance and intellectual achievement. Most, out of an utterly human impulse, choose the former. Even if they open themselves to schooling in college or later, their performance all too often permanently suffers from the message they long ago internalized that “the school thing” is an add-on, not a mix-in.

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