Never mind the gap 1

In the market economies, where the rich are richest the poor are least poor.

Socialists make much of “the gap between rich and poor” in order to promote their egalitarian agenda. But the gap doesn’t matter in the least.

It is the politics of envy to claim that even when you have what you want it is never enough as long as someone else has more.

Socialism is the politics of envy. It’s solution to the “problem” of the gap is to keep everybody (except the elite who make the rules) equally poor.

Walter Williams writes at Townhall about the “poor” in America (quoting statistics from a report by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation):

– Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage and a porch or patio.

— Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

— Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded; two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.

— The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

— Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.

— Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.

— Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

— Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

Material poverty can be measured relatively or absolutely. An absolute measure would consist of some minimum quantity of goods and services deemed adequate for a baseline level of survival. Achieving that level means that poverty has been eliminated. However, if poverty is defined as, say, the lowest one-fifth of the income distribution, it is impossible to eliminate poverty. Everyone’s income could double, triple and quadruple, but there will always be the lowest one-fifth.

Yesterday’s material poverty is all but gone. In all too many cases, it has been replaced by a more debilitating kind of poverty — behavioral poverty or poverty of the spirit. This kind of poverty refers to conduct and values that prevent the development of healthy families, work ethic and self-sufficiency. The absence of these values virtually guarantees pathological lifestyles that include: drug and alcohol addiction, crime, violence, incarceration, illegitimacy, single-parent households, dependency and erosion of work ethic. Poverty of the spirit is a direct result of the perverse incentives created by some of our efforts to address material poverty.

Walter Williams’s article can be profitably read alongside another one written by JB Williams at Canada Free Press on the global economy. An extract:

Facts about the U.S. economy

The U.S. remains by far the largest economy on earth with a $14.5 Trillion GDP

Americans remain the most productive people on earth with a per capita GDP of $46,400

We have one of the highest per capita personal incomes in the world at $37,500 (80.8% of PGDP)

Our federal budget is approximately 25.2% of GDP

The federal tax rate is 28.2% of GDP – and we are still running red ink well into the future

And our federal debt will 97% of GDP by end of 2010, not counting interest or unfunded Obama promises, an increase of 40% since Obama took office less than two years ago

The good news is – Americans are still very productive and prosperous despite the fact that our federal government is suffocating that private sector productivity to death with excessive spending and increasing government intrusion into the free-market.

The bad news is – Obama is not leading anyone towards the principles and values that made America the most powerful nation on earth. Instead, he is leading America toward utter destruction on the pathway of European economics.

He goes on to compare the US economy with those of Britain, Canada, France and Greece . The statistics are well worth looking at. To start with, the difference in the size of the economies is immense: the US $14.5 trillion to Britain’s $2.2 trillion, Canada’s $1.33 trillion,  France’s $2.66 trillion - and Greece’s $342 billion.

He observes:

In every case, the nations that have already been where Obama & Co. are leading the USA are in far worse shape than the USA. That’s why they all rejected Obama’s call for more debt spending at the G20 Summit – and that’s why they are all drawing back from past Democratic Socialist policies and are all headed into major austerity mode.

He goes on to remind Americans that –

The reason for America’s past economic superiority is no secret to most Americans who violently oppose everything Obama and the District of Corruption is doing to the U.S. economy today.

That reason can be summed up in two words – “individual incentive”.

The harder and smarter free people work in a free-market economy, the more productive and prosperous they become. The more saddled they become with government regulations and taxation, the less productive and prosperous they become.

Posted under Britain, Canada, Commentary, Economics, Europe, France, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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No joy please, we’re Muslims 4

Islam fears fun.

To humorless puritan Muslims, laughter and joy are decadent Western vices.

The Ayatollah Khomeini declared:

Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.”

Here’s a story about the Iranian mullahs trying to put a stop to joyful celebration – and not succeeding.

Chahārshanbe-Sūri (“Wednesday feast”) is an ancient Persian festival whose origins lie in the Achaemenid era of Persia’s civilisation (549-330 bce) and its successors, when Zoroastrian beliefs were strong. [See our post, Thus, more or less, spake Zarathustra, May 26, 2009.] By tradition it is celebrated on the last Wednesday night before nowrooz (Iran’s new year) in mid-March. It is a jubilant collective moment for Iranians in the country and among diaspora communities across the world. In Iran itself, people gather in streets and back-alleys to make bonfires and (in the case of the younger and more adventurous) jump over them; set off firecrackers; play music, dance and sing; and enjoy special foods and the joys of conviviality. In the life-affirming Chahārshanbe-Sūri, modern Iranians each year take the fire that was at the heart of the Zoroastrians’ sense of their world and their collective self-definition, and make it the centrepiece of their own modern ritual.

This year, the approach to the Chahārshanbe-Sūri – which fell on 16 March 2010 – was of a different character to any in the country’s history. Iran’s doctrinal regime politicised the ritual and made it an object of official fear. A campaign to discourage people from joining the celebrations began when the head of the national police warned parents to prevent their children from going out, and continued with plans by the state-run television to show popular movies to keep youngsters indoors. Then, the authorities deployed security forces (including basij militias armed with guns and batons) in the streets and around the strategic locations of Iran’s major cities. The campaign culminated in the issuing by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of an unprecedented fatwa that castigated the ritual as both “irrational” and in Islamic terms “illegitimate” (gheir shar‘i).

It didn’t work. As ever, millions of Iranians poured into their neighbourhoods to observe the national “calendar custom”. Many of them responded to the state’s politicisation of Chahārshanbe-Sūri by using the occasion to express their own defiance of the clerical regime, chanting slogans and songs of resistance. In Tehran, fifty people were arrested after clashing with the police and basij vigilantes. …

The suspicion of puritan Islamists towards many public expressions of human pleasure has been evident since the foundation of the regime in 1979. Any occasion of festivity and spontaneous life – informal gatherings at street-corners, concerts and sporting contests, student parties and even bustling shopping-malls – is regarded by Islamist zealots with profound disdain. In this context, Khamenei’s fatwa seeks to give a new doctrinal form to this larger paradigm of disparagement.

The zealots’ opposition even reaches into private and individual expressions of festivity. The many videos posted by Iranians of their Chahārshanbe-Sūri celebrations (and protests) onto the web includes a shocking attack by the police and basij on a late-night indoor private party in a Tehran neighbourhood on 16 March 2010. It shows the security agents dragging a screaming woman into custody – spreading terror among everyday citizens doing what people in normal countries do and take for granted across the world: having fun.

In its attitude to everyday enjoyment, the Iranian regime has …  much in common with fellow-Islamist states or movements such as Saudi Arabia and the Taliban in Afghanistan. There may be variations in what is regarded as “un-Islamic” (television, dance and even kite-flying in the latter case), but the mindset is the same.

The fear of enjoyment is a singular feature of these Islamist states and movements, whose doctrinal models are unable to accommodate expressive behaviours that are at the heart of human life: even including playfulness, laughter, and displays of fashion. These power-driven forces seek to reinforce their case by depicting such behaviours as part of a “western cultural invasion”

Posted under Iran, Islam, Muslims, Totalitarianism, tyranny by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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The spread of atheism 8

We simply cannot understand how any intelligent and educated person can believe in God or gods.

We are pleased to learn that as more people world-wide become literate, many more are critically examining religious teaching (of any sort) and realizing its absurdity, and are willing to say so.

But as many still won’t “confess” to being atheists for fear of abuse and discrimination, it’s not really possible to set even a ball-park figure to the number of atheists in any particular country or, therefore, in the world generally.

Some attempt at numbering them has, however, been made.

From the Skeptic’s Dictionary, by Dr Robert T. Carroll:

How widespread is atheism? It is difficult to say with precision, since many people are afraid of admitting they are atheists. …

There are indications, however, that atheism is growing and is more widespread than the media and religious leaders would have us believe. A worldwide survey in 2000 by the Gallup polling agency found that 8% do not think there is any spirit, personal God, or life force. Another 17% were not sure. The American Religious Identification Survey of 2001 found growth in that segment of the adult population “identifying with no religion.” In 1990, 14.3 million or roughly 8% identified with this category. Ten years later the non-religious population had grown to 29.4 million, roughly 14.1% of the American community. This may be due in large part to the fact that in the 1990 survey the question asked was loaded: What religion do you identify with? In 2001, if any was added to the question. In 2008, the Pew Foundation published the largest, most comprehensive survey on religious affiliation ever done. About 16% say they are not affiliated with any religion. That translates to about 49 million Americans who don’t identify with any religion. Atheists make up only 1.6% of the adult population; that’s fewer than 5 million atheists in the U.S. and are outnumbered by Christians by about 50 to 1. In 2008, the American Religious Identification Survey found that since the last survey of its kind in 2001, the number of atheists has doubled from 900,000 to 1.6 million. The number of Americans claiming no religious affiliation is now at 15%.

The fact is that more than half the world’s population, and more than 90% of the world’s scientists, do not believe in a personal God … Worldwide, there are about 1.1 billion nonreligious people; only two religions have more numbers: Christianity has about 2.1 billion adherents and Islam has about 1.3 billion.

Dr Carroll writes of his own atheism:

If I had to sum up my own atheism, I think I would have to say that it amounts to this: I have no interest in the supernatural. I also have no interest in what others believe about the supernatural as long as their belief does not involve intolerance of those who disagree with them. Such people are a menace to society, a hindrance to social progress, and are unworthy of our respect. If we care about humanity, we have a duty to stand up to the intolerant of the world, no matter what god they claim commands them to behave inhumanely. We also have a duty to oppose those who claim immunity from the prohibition of abusing children because of their belief in some god. To claim that children should not be educated in science or in the religious beliefs of others — or that they should not receive proper medical care — because their parents believe God forbids it, is unacceptable.

We heartily agree.

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Commentary, Islam, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, June 29, 2010

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Smile 1

Islam takes an ID photo

Picture of the week at Islam: The Religion of Peace

Posted under Islam, Muslims by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, June 29, 2010

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“Payback time” at the DOJ 2

Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, does not apparently approve of the rule of law. In fact, he is actively working against it.

An exaggeration?

J. Christian Adams, who was a voting rights attorney at the  so-called Department of Justice tells a story that bears out the accusation. He has resigned because the DOJ will not prosecute the Black Panther thugs who tried to intimidate voters on election day 2009.

Here’s part of an article he has written about it:

On the day President Obama was elected, armed men wearing the black berets and jackboots of the New Black Panther Party were stationed at the entrance to a polling place in Philadelphia. They brandished a weapon and intimidated voters and poll watchers. After the election, the Justice Department brought a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and those armed thugs. I and other Justice attorneys diligently pursued the case and obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the charges. Before a final judgment could be entered in May 2009, our superiors ordered us to dismiss the case.

The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career. Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, this month I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.

The federal voter-intimidation statutes we used against the New Black Panthers were enacted because America never realized genuine racial equality in elections. Threats of violence characterized elections from the end of the Civil War until the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Before the Voting Rights Act, blacks seeking the right to vote, and those aiding them, were victims of violence and intimidation.

Based on my firsthand experiences, I believe the dismissal of the Black Panther case was motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law. Others still within the department share my assessment. The department abetted wrongdoers and abandoned law-abiding citizens victimized by the New Black Panthers. The dismissal raises serious questions about the department’s enforcement neutrality in upcoming midterm elections and the subsequent 2012 presidential election.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has opened an investigation into the dismissal and the DOJ’s skewed enforcement priorities. Attorneys who brought the case are under subpoena to testify, but the department ordered us to ignore the subpoena, lawlessly placing us in an unacceptable legal limbo.

The assistant attorney general for civil rights, Tom Perez, has testified repeatedly that the “facts and law” did not support this case. That claim is false. If the actions in Philadelphia do not constitute voter intimidation, it is hard to imagine what would, short of an actual outbreak of violence at the polls. Let’s all hope this administration has not invited that outcome through the corrupt dismissal.

Most corrupt of all, the lawyers who ordered the dismissal – Loretta King, the Obama-appointed acting head of the Civil Rights Division, and Steve Rosenbaum – did not even read the internal Justice Department memorandums supporting the case and investigation.

Most disturbing, the dismissal is part of a creeping lawlessness infusing our government institutions. Citizens would be shocked to learn about the open and pervasive hostility within the Justice Department to bringing civil rights cases against nonwhite defendants on behalf of white victims. Equal enforcement of justice is not a priority of this administration. Open contempt is voiced for these types of cases.

Some of my co-workers argued that the law should not be used against black wrongdoers because of the long history of slavery and segregation. Less charitable individuals called it “payback time.” Incredibly, after the case was dismissed, instructions were given that no more cases against racial minorities like the Black Panther case would be brought by the Voting Section.

More to the story 0

A new theory about the death of the Hamas terrorist  Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last January emerges: the intention was to drug and kidnap him, not kill him.

The story is derived from statements of supposition made by unnamed ‘US intelligence sources’, and does not solve the mystery of who killed al-Mabhouh and why.

Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh … was not targeted for death but for capture as a live hostage against the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier whom Hamas kidnapped four years ago in a cross-border raid from Gaza and holds without contact with the outside world. …

Mabhouh was to have been one of half a dozen high-value Hamas operatives Israel planned to grab in January in different parts of the Middle East as bargaining chips for the Israeli soldier.

As the man in charge of Iran’s weapons supplies to Hamas, Mabhouh was judged a key lever for obtaining the Israeli soldier’s freedom.

US [intelligence] sources believe the plan to snatch him from a Dubai hotel went smoothly enough up until the last step. But then, the drugs administered to knock him out appeared to have killed him on the spot. He was meant to be doped enough to let himself be bundled out of the hotel on his two feet in the middle of the team of abductors without drawing attention. According to this theory, the team was to have driven him to Dubai port and put him aboard a waiting yacht, which was to sail off and rendezvous with an Israeli naval missile boat in the Red Sea.

After delivering him, the same team was to have proceeded to its next target.

But whether they gave Mabhouh an overdose or whether his health was frailer than believed, he did not survive. The abduction team leader, lacking instructions for this exigency, decided to abort the mission and leave the dead man in place. He told the would-be abductors to get out of Dubai fast and scatter. The rest of the high-risk, ambitious plan was scrapped.

Had it succeeded, say the US sources, it would have been Israel’s biggest abduction operation ever, attesting to the extremely high importance Israel attaches to recovering its soldier from captivity.

Maybe.

Posted under Arab States, Islam, Israel, jihad, Muslims, News, Terrorism by Jillian Becker on Monday, June 28, 2010

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Pursuing a mirage 0

Afghanistan has never been a nation-state as the West understands such a thing.

This report shows plainly enough that any plan to meld the Afghan tribes into one democratically governed nation is doomed to failure; but it also shows how hard it is for those who imagined it could succeed to see its naivity.

Even an Afghan member of the so-called parliament, trying to fit into the Western illusion, speaks of Afghanistan being “split” as if it were a nation that might be divided into two sides, whereas in fact the region is inhabited by a plurality of feuding fiefdoms, and “splintered” would be a better word to describe the humanscape (to coin a term). An even better word might be “crazed”, in the sense of a network of cracks.

It describes how President Karzai’s attempt to bring the Taliban into a central government is the very thing that will shatter such West-compliant unity as has been tentatively achieved. And it calls this a “paradox” rather than what it is – the proof of the impossibility of a hopeless, foolish, Western fantasy, the pursuit of a mirage.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, it tells us, still think they can prevent Afghanistan being “torn apart” – as if it had even been whole, or as if they really can make their fantasy come true.

The drive by President Hamid Karzai to strike a deal with Taliban leaders and their Pakistani backers is causing deep unease in Afghanistan’s minority communities, who fought the Taliban the longest and suffered the most during their rule.

The leaders of the country’s Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara communities, which make up close to half of Afghanistan’s population, are vowing to resist — and if necessary, fight – any deal that involves bringing members of the Taliban insurgency into a power-sharing arrangement with the government.

Alienated by discussions between President Karzai and the Pakistani military and intelligence officials, minority leaders are taking their first steps toward organizing against what they fear is Mr. Karzai’s long-held desire to restore the dominance of ethnic Pashtuns, who ruled the country for generations. …

“Karzai is giving Afghanistan back to the Taliban, and he is opening up the old schisms,” said Rehman Oghly, an Uzbek member of Parliament and once a member of an anti-Taliban militia. “If he wants to bring in the Taliban, and they begin to use force, then we will go back to civil war and Afghanistan will be split.”

The deepening estrangement of Afghanistan’s non-Pashtun communities presents a paradox for the Americans and their NATO partners. American commanders have concluded that only a political settlement can end the war. But in helping Mr. Karzai to make a deal, they risk reigniting Afghanistan’s ethnic strife.

Talks between Mr. Karzai and the Pakistani leaders have been unfolding here and in Islamabad for several weeks, with some discussions involving bestowing legitimacy on Taliban insurgents.

The leaders of these minority communities say that President Karzai appears determined to hand Taliban leaders a share of power — and Pakistan a large degree of influence inside the country. The Americans, desperate to end their involvement here, are helping Mr. Karzai along and shunning the Afghan opposition, they say. …

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was worried about “the Tajik-Pashtun divide that has been so strong.” American and NATO leaders, he said, are trying to stifle any return to ethnic violence.

“It has the potential to really tear this country apart,” Admiral Mullen said in an interview. “That’s not what we are going to permit.” …

There are growing indications of ethnic fissures inside the army. …

Prominent Afghans have begun to organize along mostly ethnic lines. ….

Recently [President Karzai] he has told senior Afghan officials that he no longer believes that the Americans and NATO can prevail in Afghanistan and that they will probably leave soon. That fact may make Mr. Karzai more inclined to make a deal with both Pakistan and the Taliban.

As for the Pakistanis, their motives are even more opaque. For years, Pakistani leaders have denied supporting the Taliban, but evidence suggests that they continue to do so. In recent talks, the Pakistanis have offered Mr. Karzai a sort of strategic partnership — and one that involves giving at least one [of the] the most brutal Taliban groups, the Haqqani network, a measure of legitimacy in Afghanistan.

“Karzai has begun the ethnic war,” said Mohammed Mohaqeq, a Hazara leader and a former ally of the president. “The future is very dark.”

Freedom is fecund, socialism is sterile 1

The Dictator, and the Left in power now in America, are not satisfied with the adulatory support most of the mainstream media have been giving them. The existence of any channels of communication that criticize them is more than they can tolerate. Their plan is to control the media, as is done in Communist countries. But there’s the Internet;  to them, a terrifyingly open means by which people all over the world communicate freely with each other. Until they can put a stop to that they’ll not rest easy. [See our post below, The Internet must be free, and the comments by Ralph and Frank.]

Sure a lot of ugly stuff is on the Internet, and profanity, and sado-masochism, and perversion, and misinformation. And anyone can express their wrath at it, and correct the lies. It is fertile as a dung-heap.

Control, regulation, the tidying of human life is deadening – as we demonstrated in our post Athens and Sparta [June 17,2010].

Freedom is fecund, socialism is sterile.

Right now, the would-be controllers are trying to do their worst. They’re already preparing to ward off any comparison between what they’re doing and what happens under Communist dictatorship.

From the Heritage Foundation:

Michael Copps, a Federal Communications Commissioner, warns that if you propose government funding for newspapers, then “[s]ome guy is probably going to be on cable screaming up and down saying you’re Mao Zedong.” He seems to be scoffing at the notion that such funding is akin to a totalitarian effort at thought control. But should he be so sure?

Copps himself cites the ideas of Robert McChesney, a professor at the University of Illinois and founder of the group Free Press. … The quotes reveal that McChesney sees government funding of news as essential to the socialist project to overthrow capitalism. For example, he has written:

“Instead of waiting for the revolution to happen, we learned that unless you make significant changes in the media, it will be vastly more difficult to have a revolution.”

Chesney’s notion of what kind of journalism deserves taxpayer support is tied to his political preferences. How could government funding of news not end up being used by those in power for political purposes?

The Internet must be free 2

The young today are immersed in a virtual world in which coarseness, nastiness, decadence, perversion, superficiality, egoism and nihilism are the norm.  They are instilled with moral relativism’s only guide, “If it feels good, do it,” and then their feelings are twisted in the worst possible way, through vile entertainment, so that what feels good is cultural poison.  The result is that we are breeding barbarians wholly incapable of sustaining a healthy constitutional republic.

According to Selwyn Duke in his latest editorial, this is the future the Internet is creating. It appears as if Duke misses the point of a free uncensored Internet completely, as well as falling into the very generation gap he cites in his own piece.

Let’s break Duke’s piece down point by point. He opens by discussing modern media’s remarkable ability to disseminate information and cause change, which he says is making ‘civilization very unstable.’ He says that in the past, the only way to rapidly change the human condition was through war. It may have been the fastest way, but it certainly wasn’t the only one or the most effective. He says that now the Internet has overtaken war as the fastest way to change society; in his eyes for the worse. He now reaches the crux of his argument with this point: the Internet is a channel for the instantaneous broadcast of lies and disinformation. Vapid hyperbole aside, this argument is false. Duke forgets that we have been improving our ability to spread ideas for hundreds of years. He forgets the printing press, an invention which enabled people to spread ideas and facilitated the Reformation, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. He forgets the entire history of the media.

But most of all, he forgets that the Internet can also broadcast truth at the same rate it can broadcast lies. What about the people Tweeting from Iran during the student uprising, a time in which the only way to describe the situation on the bloody streets of Tehran was through the very medium Duke claims is corrupting our youth? What about online news? And the role the Internet now plays in bringing down Obama while the mainstream ‘old media’ are trying to protect him? Duke is a blogger; it’s ironic how much he benefits from the very medium he accuses of ‘breeding barbarians.’

This flawed idea of civilizational destabilization continues with his next point that modern media-induced rapid change is widening the generation gap. And he’s right, it is. The spirit of the age is indeed changing, from one based on oppressive Christian values to free secular ones. Twenty years ago the idea of an atheist conservative would have been absurd. Just look at us now. And does new media affect consumers? Yes, it does, but I sincerely hope we as a race are mature enough to choose our entertainment for ourselves. That’s part of the beauty of the Internet: if I want porn, I can get porn. If I want news, I can get news. New media, and especially the Internet, have something for everyone. If you don’t like some of it, don’t view it. Nobody is forcing you to.

When someone from the far side of the generation gap writes an article against the freedom of the Internet, they almost invariably cite the anonymity-induced vitriol and profanity that appears in chat rooms, message boards, and comments sections. Duke follows this trend, in the article’s style of extreme exaggeration and worst-case scenario extrapolation: an uncensored Internet message board ‘destroys every wall of propriety that should exist among the family of man.’ He claims that our youth are becoming corrupted by these chat conversations and comments threads because they ‘normalize vice.’ Find me an example of someone truly ‘corrupted’ by the Internet. Some blame the Internet for their transgressions simply to shirk personal responsibility. I find the idea that a kid reading an angry blog comment or chat in an anonymous chat room – or even the word fuck – is going to be forever perverted quite comical.

The claim that the Internet will make perversions appear far more commonly is false as well. Duke is wrong, sexuality is determined at birth. A pervert will become a pervert regardless of whether or not he has access to the Internet (I use the word ‘pervert’ loosely here, as I’m sure that Duke considers anything other than sex between a married man and woman for the purpose of procreation perverted).

Duke has a fundamental misunderstanding of a free Internet. He only sees the smut, which to him must be removed. He overlooks the power of such an instantaneous and open medium of communication. One can find truth just as easily as one can find lies on the Internet. It is with freedom of speech and the spread of ideas that civilization progresses; the Internet provides both as no medium ever has before. It is imperative that it remain free.

– Matthew Slipper  June 25, 2010

Posted under Commentary, media by on Friday, June 25, 2010

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McChrystal clear 1

Nobody imagined that victory over the Taliban was possible: not Obama, not McChrystal, not the soldiers in the field, not President Karzai, not the diplomats …

Search the Rolling Stone article (this is a link to the whole thing) on General Stanley McChrystal as carefully as you may, you’ll not find a trace or a hint of a belief in anyone that the war in Afghanistan could have been won by the US – aka the “coalition”  – forces. Or that victory could now be snatched from the jaws of defeat. It’s a disheartening and enfuriating story.

McChrystal is lucky to be out of it. He has egg on his face, but there’s a lot more egg to come.

Here’s how the article ends:

So far, counter-insurgency has succeeded only in creating a never-ending demand for the primary product supplied by the military: perpetual war. There is a reason President Obama studiously avoids using the word “victory” when he talks about Afghanistan. Winning, it would seem, is not really possible. Not even with Stanley McChrystal in charge.

Now we wait to see how General Petraeus will manage to make defeat look like “mission accomplished” – probably by retrospectively re-defining the mission – as full withdrawal is begun.

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