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, January 31, 2004

Captain: Volokh's Blog links to this interesting (if long and self-involved) story: I am hearing voices and they are saying "thud."

Captain: Chapel-Hill Carrboro schools are slowly and surely eliminating all advanced language arts courses from their middle schools.

Why is Chapel Hill eliminating highly desirable accelerated courses? District officials say advanced courses lead to "tracking," or grouping of students by academic ability, which can lead to high expectations and extra opportunities for gifted students. Conversely, they believe tracking can doom non-gifted pupils to low expectations and exclusion. So instead of teaching high-performing kids in accelerated courses, the board has adopted the one-class size fits all, equality-based theories behind differentiation.

Emphasis mine. What do we call this? The debalkanization of public schools?

Friday, January 30, 2004

Captain: In case you haven't heard, official documents discovered in Iraq suggest that Saddam exchanged oil dividends (I think that's the right word) for foreign support for his regime.

Two of the most shocking contributors to this alleged scandal are George Galloway, Britain's most vocal opposition to the Second Gulf War (or the Iraq war, if you're less pragmatic than I), and the Russian government.

If this is the truth, it is probably the most despicable scandal I can think of in recent years to come out of Western government. If it's a hoax, it's a particularly vile hoax.

Galloway's culpability is little more than personal. If he is convicted, it may only wound the fierce anti-war sentiment in Britain. But if these accusations are true, how much longer can we afford to wait before openly taking Russia to task for its behavior over the past few years? Can we really call this nation an ally to the war on terrorism?

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Dynamic Uno: I posted this on my personal blog, but in case you make the mistake of not reading that, I'm reposting it here, even though it's a bit long (sorry). There's been a lot of talk, especially among Democrats, about how we haven't found WMD and how this somehow means the war was a sham or that "Bush LIED!!". Iraq weapons inspector David Kay told the Senate that intelligence was mistaken, and in fact there are no stockpiles of WMD and no evidence that WMD had been produced very recently. While the news media, the Democratic candidates, and various other liberals love to turn the absence of WMD into an anti-Bush and anti-war statement, there's really no reason for that, as these articles (here, here, and here, the latter two of which I got from Betsy's Page) point out. I'll summarize and steal from these articles to present you lucky readers with "10 Reasons Why the War in Iraq Was Justified, Even in Light of David Kay's Report."

1. It wasn't like Bush misled us into war. There was a consensus that Iraq had WMD. Our intelligence as far back as the Clinton years said so. The U.N. and French, British, and German intelligence agreed. And as Kay himself said, the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to alter its findings. So it's wrong to paint this as "Bush LIED!!!"

2. Saddam gave us no reason to think otherwise; we gave him a chance (U.N. Resolution 1441) to come clean about all his weapons, and if he had destroyed them, it would have been in his interest to say so. But he didn't--far from it.

3. Kay also points out that Saddam did have illegal weapons programs, like a program for long-range missiles.

4. We know now that even Saddam's own generals thought he had WMD. As the Opinion Journal article says, "If they thought so, it's hard to fault the CIA for believing it too." Kay even says that Iraq seems even more dangerous knowing what we know now, since it seems more likely now that they would have been willing to sell weapons or weapons technology to other states.

5. Saddam still had active weapons programs; he had restarted his nuclear program.

6. There's evidence that some weapons were moved to Syria before the war. That's why it's so important that anti-war people don't dismiss the WMD ("Oh well, looks like Bush misled us") or that pro-war don't dismiss them either ("Oh well, we still accomplished a lot in that war"). There might still be WMD, and they might be in Syria's hands.

7. The CIA has also underestimated threats before. Isn't it better that we overestimate the threat than underestimate it, like we did before 9/11?

8. Hans Blix's inspections were not going to help, either. Neither was another U.N. Resolution.

9. The Bush administration, like all administrations, had to make a tough decision based on uncertainties. And instead of waiting around for more information that they would probably never get, they moved. I'll take this over Clinton's dithering anyday. Pushing for regime change in Iraq has been America's official position since Clinton's adminstration, so Bush's position was nothing new. The only difference was that Bush was willing to ACT on it, and that's what I want my president to do, especially after 9/11.

10. As the second article I posted points out, the case for war "rested on multiple pillars -- dealing with a problem now before it became an unmanageable problem later, recognizing that Hussein could not be trusted in the long run, recognizing that the war on terrorists involved getting tough on the causes of terrorism (stunted political development in the Middle East), recognizing that the status quo policy on Iraq was responsible for creating the conditions that gave rise to al Qaeda in the first place." Not to mention the links to al-Qaeda, or the horrible human rights violations. Not to mention, as Richard Perle said on the Daily Show the other night, that we needed to make "an example" out of Iraq and that this has already paid off in Libya and will continue to pay off in our diplomacy. The point is, whether we find stockpiles of WMD or not, the world is much safer and better off without Saddam's regime. Even if we find out that Bush and Co. totally lied about the case for war, only the most anti-Bush partisans will not admit that the war brought about several positive changes--for Americans, for Middle Easterners, and most of all, for Iraqis. (But like I said before, we can't pretend the WMD don't matter.)

I agree with McCain that we need an independent inquiry. We need to find out what happened--not so we can bash Bush or bash the Democrats--but so we can improve our intelligence because this war relies on that. And besides, although the inquiry might hurt Bush politically, it might also help him, since it might justify the war and, though his critics wouldn't give him credit for this, if Bush calls for an inquiry it'll show his honesty. I also think that Bush should be offering a better defense of himself. Rather than repeating old WMD claims, he could be making the same points that these articles have talked about. Also, as Stephen Hayes says (link also from Betsy's Page), Bush could also be talking about the links to Al-Qaeda which we've learned more about.

Captain: The Senator's right--I didn't mean to insinuate that Ms. Dole is frittering her time away in the Senate talking about meaningless things.

But to that point, she certainly hasn't been the active legislator we all expected; at least, not to mine eyes. So far I think it's fair to say she's been more of a participator than a leader, and that's okay, but unexpected for the many out there who suspected this to be a stepping stone to the Presidency.

In conclusion: Be thankful you're not a student in Gerogia.

Hi, I'm James: Well, I'm back on two issues, both relating to my days in Pageland. Senator Dole's speech reminds me of the time about ten members from New York spent an hour on the House floor talking about the Syracuse's NCAA Championship. The way these speeches work is, after the business of the day is done, members who have signed up can have an hour to talk about whatever they want, up to two hours per party. Although it royally sucks for people like docs (that was me) who had to stay through this mindless babble long after everyone else has gone home, it really is a great thing for the members. They get a chance to talk about whatever is most important to them for an hour (immigration policy, tax policy, ect), and, more importantly, it gets in the Congressional Record so that their constituents can see how much they are fighting for the issues they care about. And they can see their member on tv boldly defending their issue (to an empty house). In the Senate where there are no rules for how long you can speak, there's probably even more of this kind of thing (sucks to be a Senate page).

All this is to say that just because Sen. Dole talking about the Panthers is totally common place, and, I would say, totally appropriate for her to do since she represents their home state. She's not neglecting other issues by talking about football, and the Senate is getting through its business just as quickly (slowly) as it always does.

Now, on to Georgia's public schools, who are also reportedly thinking of striking the word "evolution" from their curriculum to replace it with the apparently more inncuous "biological change over time".

Their proposed curriculum changes to omit the Civil War and focus, apparently, on 20th century pop culture reminds me a lot of my US History class in Pageland. The class was mostly a liberal review of cultural trends (which certainly has its place), and we talked a lot about jazz history. I was quite thankful that the AP test question was about the New Deal, if not I might have been sunk. If Georgia teaches that kind of curriculum, their students will have huge gaps in their historical understanding that will leave them relativly unprepared to apply it.

Captain: John Hood (love him) says that Edwards is the only reliable Anti-Kerry.

Captain: Finally, another face in the crowd:

Whoever it is than runs Atlantic Blog likes the Social Justice Friends (down toward the bottom of the blogroll). Thank you, Atlantic Blog!

Also, we've reapplied to the North State Blogs. Please visit them.

Captain: It's a good thing that Senator Dole is out there speaking up for issues that North Carolinians care about. (Sarcasm!) Here she is on the Senate Floor talking about the Carolina Panthers:

Mr. President. When Jerry Richardson founded the Carolina Panthers nine years ago, he said his goal was to be in a Super Bowl within 10 years. After upsetting the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday, this dream has become a reality. But the dream is not over of course—there is one more hurdle that the Panthers must clear.

Today, I want to salute Jerry, Coach John Fox and the Panthers players for giving North Carolinians a season with a fairy tale ending. When Coach Fox arrived in 2002, the Carolina Panthers were 1 and 15. This turnaround has been nothing short of miraculous. And it is not just the fact that the Panthers have made it to the Super Bowl, but how they got to Houston. The Panthers are called the "Cardiac Cats" because 10 of their victories have been achieved by six points or less, and they've won four of their five overtime games this season.

All over the state, “Go Panthers” signs adorn buses, mailboxes and cars. And those black and blue jerseys have become the fashion craze of the day. Even coach Fox had to comment on the groundswell of fan support after about 10,000 of them – 10,000 Mr. President -- showed up on a blustery day as the team left for Houston. “It makes you proud,” he said. Charlotte Observer columnist Dannye Romine Powell wrote recently, “A team has transformed a city into Mount Olympus. We’re eating ambrosia with the gods.” How true indeed! Mr. President, I want the Panthers to know that this Senator is coming to Houston—and I can’t wait to watch the “Cardiac Cats” shock the world with a victory! In fact, I’ve challenged my friend and colleague, Senator Ted Kennedy, to a friendly wager. I’m putting up our famous North Carolina barbeque and Brunswick Stew against his New England clam chowder and Lobster rolls!

I love something that coach Fox tells his team each week. He says, “We will define ourselves. No one else is going to do that for us.” It’s a motto that stands true for all of North Carolina.

Earlier this week, late night host David Letterman cracked, “Who knew Carolina had a team?” I dare say that after Sunday Mr. President, the world will know.

I bet Ted Kennedy's jowls could play on the Patriots' secondary.

Captain: For the record:

Silly Moveon.org statement #2:

This is the same Les Moonves [CEO of CBS] who recently refused to air a docudrama mildly critical of President Reagan.

If you believe this, you may believe that medieval Europe was ravaged by a mild outbreak of the Plague. There's no "docu" in the aforementioned "docudrama."

Silly Moveon.org statement #3:

RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie stooped to a new low today when he launched a coordinated media campaign against MoveOn.org Voter Fund. RNC press operatives have been pushing a vicious and false smear campaign against MoveOn.org Voter Fund for two ads which are not Voter Fund ads.

Funny words, for an organization based almost entirely on smear campaigning.

Anyway, folks, if you're a Democrat, a liberal, or anyone who wants to criticize Bush's policies, you can do it with PACs a lot better than Moveon.org. I simply can't get over the irony that this is an organization founded during the Clinton impeachment on the basis that we should let the president get on with his job, but found one of its most popular causes in lengthening the Florida recounts in hopes of getting Gore elected. You could ally yourself with more reputable people.

Captain: Moveon.org (that bastion of sensical thinking) is up in arms that CBS has refused to air its ad during the Superbowl. The ad is the winner of an ad contest, and features scenes of children doing blue-collar labor, like serving as garbagemen and factory workers. The only line is: Who do you think is going to pay for Bush's $1 Billion Trade Deficit? (Not in quotes because it's a paraphrase)

CBS asserts that they don't air "controversial ads" during the Superbowl. Moveon.org is probably right that that's dodging the question a little bit--if CBS didn't really want to cause divisiveness, they probably wouldn't air any political ads. However, if I'm reading Moveon.org's press releases correctly, they are planning on airing a campaign ad for Bush.

But, like all organizations with such goals, Moveon.org takes it too far.

Silly Moveon statement #1:

Censoring this ad is an affront to free speech and an obstruction of the public's right to hear a diversity of voices over the public airwaves.

Brzzzt. Wrong. This is another fine example of the backwards way organizations like Moveon.org view free speech. CBS, being a private organization, has the right to host whichever ads it feels are worthy of its time. In fact, to intervene legally would be an affront to CBS's free speech. On the other side of the fence, Moveon.org does not have a right to have CBS host its ad.

These illusions of what free speech does and doesn't mean scare me some time. The same thing happened with the Dixie Chicks--remember how when their cd's were being burned and trampled upon, people clamored that their free speech was being violated? And now, I'm sure some of the people are taking up arms against CBS for violating Moveon.org's free speech.

That's kind of a weak assertion, but my real point's stronger: What the cd-burners and -tramplers did to the Dixie Chicks is the same thing that Moveon.org wants done to CBS: Consumer pressure. Boycotts, mass mailings, protests--these things, when done decently, are not only effective, they're desirable in a healthy political atmosphere, whatever their target may be. If a government institution does or says something that you think is an affront to free speech, go on, clamor. But with private organizations, the only way to enact such change (at least, it should be the only way) is to use your power as the consumer to influence the organization's views and actions.

Consumer pressure's all right. Just leave the free speech rhetoric out of it.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Captain: What the hell is this? Georgia has decided that their world history program will start in 1500 and that their US history program will start in 1876.


Though teachers supposedly have no time to discuss topics essential to understanding our heritage, the curriculum suggests they have their students write a 1920s radio drama. Teachers are also encouraged to assign essays about dating in the Jazz Age and to show segments from "All in the Family," "Good Times" and "Chico and the Man."

If anything, this will be quite a boon to our Quiz Bowl Team when we go to the Brookwood Invitational near Atlanta next year.

Captain: Zell Miller is a dying breed and John Kerry is stupid enough not to learn from Dean's mistakes.

Are any of these candidates not descending toward the South?

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Dynamic Uno: I have to disagree that Clark would make a good candidate. Though I think he'd be harder to beat than Dean, Clark is just plain kooky, probably kookier than Dean. I don't think any candidate has been as inconsistent on the waras Clark; he had pretty tough words, which could have come straight from Bush's mouth, about Iraq in September 2002, but now all he can do is criticize the war. He thinks his statement that there's a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda is consistent with his statement that there's no connection between Iraq and 9/11.

He claims that "we don't know what the motivation was" for invading Iraq. He refused to distance himself from loony Michael Moore in this week's debate. He said Osama bin Laden, if alive and apprehended, should be tried by the Hague, not the U.S.--Dutch prisons are "really miserable," he explains. He's got wacky conspiracy theories that he admits he has no proof of. He claims he "would have had Osama bin Laden by this time." He was friendly with war-criminal Ratko Mladic, and as the Weekly Standard points out, these photos would make great Republican attack ads. More gaffes by Clark are here and here (scroll to the 4th bullet point). Actually, almost everything he says could be used in Republican attack ads. It would be just so easy to criticize all his loony statements. So, I don't think he'd be a strong candidate.

UPDATE: Oops. I was working on this post, but Captain beat me to it. But . . . now it's doubly true! Sorry this was repetitive, but great minds think alike.

Captain: Reasons not to vote for Clark:

1.) Clark's military record is less than stellar. This is a man who spearheaded a war that didn't even have the benefit of being preemptive, and screwed it up so royally that he was effectively fired from his position.

2.) Clark enjoys the support of exactly zero of his former military colleagues. This comment from his former boss Hugh Shelton is embarrassingly typical: "I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues." Shelton's gotten a lot of flak for accusing Clark and then not backing up, but the truth is we all know what he's talking about--Clark's ego and hot-headedness got us into a lot of trouble in Kosovo. We have British General Sir Michael Jackson to thank for disobeying Clark's orders to engage the Russian army in combat toward the end of the way. Stella Jatras has an even more biased report on the affair.

3.) Clark doesn't deserve his party identity. Who can forget that this is the man who "would have been a Republican if Karl Rove" had returned his phone calls?"

4.) Clark has a serious problem with the truth. In the above instance, as Michael Continetti points out, Clark's jest was at the expense of honesty--White House phone records have no record of Clark ever calling Rove's office ever. He also announced that he received a call on 9/11 from "people around the White House" asking him to link the attacks to Saddam Hussein, when in fact the origin of the phone call was Canada. How close to the White House is that, Wes? Then he asserted that the White House was trying to pressure CNN into taking him off the air--like CNN has ever altered its program due to pressure from the White House.

5.) Clark is easily the most gaffe-prone of the Democratic candidates. Here's a list of quotes from John Hawkins, and another from Chris Suellentrop. However, they've forgotten his classic assertion from last year that America is a nation founded on progressive taxation. Add that to his incomprehension of litmus tests, and I don't think he has a real fine grasp of policy.

6.) These two pictures are enough for me: Clark exchanging caps with war criminal Ratko Mladic, and his sweaterfest with public nuisance Michael Moore.

Clark is a guy who really screwed up. If he had kept his profile a little lower and stayed out of the race, he would have made an excellent running mate for either Dean or Kerry, the only two who have enjoyed frontrunner status so far. But as it is he looks completely and totally unelectable.

Captain: Ms. N links to this Jeff Jacoby article about the popularity of racism suits in the US. Particularly, she talks about the woman who sued Southwestern Airlines over a stewardess who said, "eenie, meenie, minie, moe."

The part that interest me, however, is this:

Consider a story out of Omaha last week. According to the Omaha World-Herald, several students at Westside High School were punished after they "plastered the school on Monday" -- Martin Luther King Day -- "with posters advocating that a white student from South Africa receive the `Distinguished African American Student Award' next year." The posters featured a picture of junior Trevor Richards, whose family moved to Omaha from Johannesburg in 1998, smiling and giving a thumbs-up.

School officials tore the posters down, apparently in response to complaints from a few black students, and denounced them as "inappropriate and insensitive." Trevor was suspended for two days, according to his mother, and two of his friends were also penalized for helping to put the posters up. A fourth student, the World-Herald reported, "was punished for circulating a petition Tuesday morning in support of the boys. The petition criticized the practice of recognizing only black student achievement with the award."


Helen Rittelmeyer: I have chosen my preferred ticket: Clark/Edwards or Edwards/Clark.

Here's why:

Most people agree that people who support Dean aren't the types to say, "I'll vote Dean or I won't vote at all." They're liberal enough to vote for whichever Democrat gets the nomination.

The impression I get from the Clark supporters I've seen, is different. They seem to see Clark as a one-of-a-kind candidate, and they might not vote for anyone else. Four years ago, they probably voted for Nader, if they were old enough to vote at all.

But, unlike Nader, Clark is a likeable military man who has appeal beyond the college-aged and the far-left. So Clark on the ticket picks up a lot of the grass-roots rekindled-passion types (like Dean would), but doesn't alienate anyone (like Dean would). Plus, he attracts a lot of young and/or idealistic voters that the Democratic party isn't going to get any other way.

As for Edwards, I agree with the prevailing wisdom that he's the best "politician" out there, a kind of "new Clinton" (or, dare I say, "new Kennedy?") (John or Bobby, of course, not Teddy) without those complicating scandals. If you doubt that he's a moving speaker, just check out any of the many Edwards speeches the good people at CSPAN have got up (esp. his 1/19 post-caucus speech at the 8:00 minute mark, where he honors Dick Gephardt.)

And a look at the states that Clinton won in '96 and Gore lost in 2000 shows that the South is going to be the difference in 2004. Where do you think all those "Nascar dads" live? Seattle?

I never thought Dean was a hot-head, or an ass-hole, but that image is widely accepted, and all the Diane Sawyer interviews in the world won't help him overcome it. Lieberman, despite his recent climb in NH polls, isn't worth mentioning.

This may be wishful thinking on my part, but I don't think that a party that has been shown passionate candidates like Dean, Clark and Edwards will resign themselves to a cold fish like Kerry for long. He got a boost when people saw that Dean was self-destructive and wouldn't work, but remember, these are Democrats we're talking about. If they were that easily disillusioned, they'd be Republicans already.

Therefore . . .

Clark / Edwards in '04!

Dynamic Uno: This isn't that relevant, but I thought it would make us all feel superior, and that's good.

I watched Brain Games (a quiz show for high schoolers that comes on Saturday at 11:30 AM on WRAL, for those of you who don't know) yesterday morning. A question was, "Who is the current prime minister of Israel?" The Lee County team answered, "Sharon." The host tells them that the correct answer is . . . Yitzhak Rabin. D'oh!

Wow, they couldn't even pick a prime minister that's alive. I'm sure that we Social Justice Friends are better informed than the question-writers at Brain Games and would never make such a ridiculous mistake.

Dynamic Uno: Earlier in the school year we had a discussion about the Patriot Act, and if memory serves, most of the club thought the Patriot Act was a bad idea and gave the federal government too much power. This article points out that if you're upset about the Patriot Act's measures for catching terrorists, then you must be REALLY upset to find out that the government has been able to use these same measures for several years in catching ordinary criminals.

Maybe this is because most Patriot Act provisions are just plain common sense and in many cases have long been available in drug and Mafia cases. Take the roving wiretap, which follows a suspect rather than a specific phone that could be jettisoned after one call. If investigators can use roving wiretaps to track down drug peddlers--as has been permitted since 1986--they ought to be able to use them to catch terrorists.

Or consider the provision that permits access to library and other business records. Civil libertarians have been having a field day with this one, scaring librarians into thinking that Big Brother is invading the reading rooms of America. What they fail to mention is, first, that the law requires a court order. And second, that investigators in ordinary criminal cases can already gain access to library records--as happened in the 1997 Gianni Versace murder in Miami Beach and the 1990 Zodiac gunman case in Manhattan.

I don't see why we should use tougher tactics for catching criminals than we use for catching terrorists. The backlash against the Patriot Act seems, at best, a flimsy argument rooted in willful ignorance; at worst, an obstacle in fighting the War on Terrorism.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Conservator: Remeber that comment about Dean not being mean or tempermental. It seems that he is.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Captain: National Review has a good symposium on the SOTU.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Captain: Okay. How about two-faced?

Here's Dean flip-flopping on religion and foreign policy.

The only thing consistent about him is his anger.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Helen Rittelmeyer: Howard Dean is not a dick.

Ungerer, a registered Republican, plainly showed up with the intention of making Dean angry. The worst Dean got was when Ungerer tried to interrupt him: "You sit down. You had your say. Now I'm going to have my say." I mean, Ungerer called him "pompous," for God's sake. I'd say his response was reasonable. Besides, Dean had a sense of humor about it, referring later to how he had "differed with the gentleman over here so vociferously."

And if "being a good neighbor" is your top criterion, then why didn't this man ever run?

Monday, January 12, 2004

Conservator: It's gonna be a long post folks.

A dick indeed.

It didnt look to me like Dean was being such a "nice neighbor" to Ungerer, who I suspect is middle class himself. Bush however is a nice guy. He even shook my middle class hand way back when he was only a govenor. I think if Dean met me, he wrestle me to the ground.

PETA is up to their old tricks. Those tricks are the same as always, dumb. Do you remember when they called eating meat a "Holocaust." See the connection between the murder of millions of innocent humans because of religion and the consumption of animals for food? Neither does anyone else. PETA needs to realize that animal life is simply not as valuable as human life. And that near naked women in a cages dont really help the cause, they're just easy on the eyes.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Captain: Howard Dean is a dick.

If I were to run a Dean quote of the campaign contest, this one might finish second after his exhortation to put pressure on the Soviet Union:

"It's not the time to put up any of this 'love thy neighbor' stuff ... I love my neighbor, but I'll tell you I want THAT neighbor back in Crawford, Texas where he belongs."

I sincerely hope this helps to lay waste to Howard Dean's sprint for religious validation among voters. Here's a slogan for you, Howard: Love thy bikepath as thyself.

Dynamic Uno: This is a positive development:

The media have barely noticed, but the Bush Administration has embarked on a burst of "multilateral" cooperation. It's called the Proliferation Security Initiative, and in only a few months of existence it has already had more success than the United Nations in controlling weapons of mass destruction.

I support any move to make a multilateral organization that, unlike the UN, takes effective actions in the face of threats. Another advantage the PSI has over the UN is that the PSI (so far) only has democracies that respect human rights as its members. Thus it has more moral authority than the UN, which once let Libya chair its Human Rights Commission.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Captain: For the past two weeks, the Social Justice Club at RCHS has been discussing the sad state of affairs of things in Russia. Mostly the consensus around the room was that even though Putin is making some scary cutbacks on things like free speech and political opposition, no one thought it was important enough for the US to "lay down the law."

If you haven't been following, some of Putin's greatest crimes to date are buying out the majority of the popular tv stations in Russia, using federal funds to squash opposition parties, and arrest Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the richest man in Russia for accusedly political reasons.

Other problems with Russia are that, as the LA Times reports, Russian companies sold military equipment to Iraq that was used to fight Coalition forces (free reg. required):

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials have found evidence corroborating the Bush administration's allegations that Russian companies sold Saddam Hussein high-tech military equipment that threatened U.S. forces during the invasion of Iraq last March, a senior State Department official said Friday.

The United States has found proof that Russian firms exported night-vision goggles and radar-jamming equipment to Iraq, the official said. The evidence includes the equipment itself and proof that it was used during the war, said the official.

Such exports would violate the terms of United Nations sanctions against Baghdad.

One of the popular arguments in the SJC is that we might have to turn a blind eye to Putin's digressions in order to catch the bigger fish of international terrorism. But with evidence like this, it's apparent to me that Russia is certainly not an ally to America in the war on terror. This is a nation that voted against America on the security council. Not only that, but their own record with terror is poor--remember the Moscow theater disaster? Is it any shock that Russia sold military equipment to our enemies?

If Russia has something we need, they're not offering it. Treating Russia like a pinnacle of Western civilization is neither right nor practical.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Conservator: On the topic of cruel nations, I have an interesting story that pertains to the discussion. I overhead someone who I will hereafter refer to as the "Law" saying that the US is one of the cruelest nations on Earth. My curiosity being what it is, I kindly asked him what the hell he was talking about. He continued by saying that since the US takes military action it is cruel to people around the world and thereby somehow cruel to its people. I told him that the two don't really have much in common and ended the conversation. But the Law has a point, if a "cruel" nation is one that follows his criteria, then every nation on Earth with the exception of possibly Switzerland is a cruel nation. But I would counter this by saying that the difference lies not in actions but how a nation goes about trying to fix those problems. A country like France or the US is more willing to listen and fix potential problems than say Cuba or Zaire. Thats why I don't consider most nations cruel. Thats just one Social Justice Friend's view anyway.

Captain: Andrew Sullivan links to this article by Arthur Miller about his visit with Castro. What Sullivan has to say:

When you read a piece like this one by Arthur Miller, you realize that for a certain generation, there's no chance that they will ever get their heads around the horrors of communism. Here's Miller, dining with a murderer, thug and dictator, and finding some elegant way to remain committed to liberal principles. He can relay Castro's obvious megalomania; he can see his monstrous narcissism; but he still hangs in there, blaming the embargo for almost everything, mainly concerned that he's being kept up past his bedtime. He still longs for a world in which Castro might have succeeded, a world which cannot exist, and which never existed - except in the minds of aging Nation-readers. There is, I think, no chance of persuading this generation. They are lost. But eventually they will die off, and a new realism can take hold. Tick-tock.

This, in a weird way, relates to my post a few days ago about the changing face of American foreign policy. More and more it's becoming apparent that world powers are no longer willing to divide the globe into communist and non-communist powers, but instead into those that treat their citizens well and those that don't. Hopefully this will lead to serious decay in support for regimes like Castro's in liberal America.

Captain: Vote Republican. You'll be happier.

Link stolen shamelessly from Ms. N.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Dynamic Uno: In relation to Captain's post on U.S. foreign aid to nations that respect human rights, Bush should also stand by Taiwan. Bush recently said he didn't support Taiwan's referendum on China's build-up of short-range ballistic missiles ready to be launched at Taiwan. This isn't a referendum on independence (Taiwan's President Chen has spoken against declaring independence); the referendum is merely, as the article says, "to demand that China remove these missiles and commit to a peaceful resolution of the cross-straits issue." But China doesn't like referendums, and China especially doesn't like Taiwanese referendums that seem to challenge it's authority.

So there is a way out of this mess. President Chen will officially announce that the subject of the March referendum will indeed be China's missiles and not independence. The Bush administration should then make it clear, publicly, that it has no objection to the Taiwanese people's exercising their democratic right to hold a referendum on such a question. It should at the same time make clear the American view that China has no right
to undertake or threaten military action in response to the referendum, and the American commitment to respond appropriately if China engages in any such threats--that we would "do whatever it took" to defend the Taiwanese democracy, to quote the president from a couple of years ago.

This is the right course for two reasons: First, it honors rather than betrays President Bush's commitment to support democracy and democratic practices around the world. Second, it deters the Chinese from believing they can get away with military intimidation this coming spring or in the future. For that is the great risk that Moriarty's policy has created. If China believes the United States opposes Taiwan's referendum, then Beijing's leaders may also believe that Bush will stand by and do nothing if they threaten or take military action. Other nations in Asia--and around the world--are also watching. Does it increase confidence in U.S. strength and leadership if they see China succeeding in pushing the United States around because Beijing doesn't like a democratic referendum nearby?

Dynamic Uno: Cheers to Captain for reviving the Social Justice Friends Blog!

Captain's post about gay Palestinians reminded me of this horrifying story from over a year ago about the abuses gay Palestinians suffer. (New Republic articles require subscription, so this is a link to OpinionJournal's "Best of the Web," where I saw the story. Scroll down to "Freedom, Palestinian Style.") As James Taranto of "Best of the Web" said, "Would someone please remind us again why the creation of a Palestinian state is a 'liberal' cause?" I suppose it's not so "liberal" anymore now that Bush is advocating the creation of a Palestinian state.

Captain: Long gone are the liberal complaints of yesteryear that American foreign policy benefits cruel regimes. I think this is a good sign that we've shed the anti-Communist paranoia that characterized Cold War foreign policy and finally decided to focus on supporting the governments in this world that have good human rights records.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Captain: Free Palestine: an oxymoron? Instapundit links to this article in The American Thinker about how homosexual Palestinians are finding refuge in Israel:

One persecuted group unlikely to find support from United Nations “human rights” advocates consists of Palestinian homosexual males. Subject to torture and death at the hands of the Palestinian police authorities, not to mention their own families, gay males frequently flee to Israel, which signed a 1951 UN human rights declaration that it would offer refuge to those persecuted for their sexual orientation.

Add that to Iran's refusal to offer Israeli rescue aid for the earthquake that happened recently in Bam, and it seems to me that there's no question who the real good guys are in the Middle East.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Captain: CUE FANFARE: Ladies and gentlemen, the Social Justice Friends are back in action. It's been a busy winter--we've all been applying to college and whatnot, and so we took a tiny little unannounced vacation--but we're back. Well, at least me and Conservator.

What better way to start off the New Year than with our New Year's predictions? Here are my prognostications for the big twenty-oh-four:

Democratic Nomination: Howard Dean
Dem. VP Candidate: Mary Landrieau (for the record, I still consider this category a crapshoot. I like Will's pick of Mark Warner and Ms. N's pick of Evan Bayh, I just wanted to be different.)
President in 2005: George W. Bush
Margin of Victory: 54%-45%
NC Governor: Mike Easley
NC Senator: Richard Burr
Best Picture: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Superbowl: Carolina Panthers (Okay, okay... Tennessee Titans.)

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