Are we talking means or ends?

Hi, DQ here. Dagon posted a comment to another entry so interesting I thought I'd post a new entry on it. In response to my question as to what he would do, Dagon said:

[C]omplete independence from middle-east oil; a consistent foreign policy which advocates human rights everywhere and not just where it’s financially or politically expedient; a cessation of the subsizing of american companies which employ slave labor abroad in places like indonesia and malaysia; reppelation of the policy of preemption; and a mandate to secure our infrastructure via port security, border stability and immigration reform.

Let's take these one at a time:

Complete independence from middle-east oil — I doubt there is a reader of this blog, on the left or the right, who would disagree with this as an end goal. Dagon doesn't suggest a single method of accomplishing this (in a later post he does suggest ethanol, though he doesn't say where he thinks we'd get enough of it to power a truly large number of vehicles), but it set me to wondering why we don't set this as a serious goal. Rather than each side picking their favorite energy alternatives, why not do everything? Why not nuclear and solar? Wind and geothermal and shale and off-shore drilling and ethanol and hybrids and hydroelectric and coal and anything else we can think of to increase our energy supply? [Note: we should also work to reduce demand, but increasing supply is more practical and can be done with very little sacrifice.] Let's do it!

[A] consistent foreign policy which advocates human rights everywhere and not just where it’s financially or politically expedient – it's hard to imagine anyone disagreeing with this statement, either. The question is not whether we advocate human rights everywhere (we already do) but what tactics will best assure this outcome. For example, Dagon takes America to task for supporting the current regime in Saudi Arabia. I largely agreee, though I'm open to the suggestion that any conceivable alternative government in that country would be even worse than the current one. But this discussion is about means, not ends. It's not about who supports human right (we all do) but about how we get there from here. Let's remember that the next time we are tempted to start throwing stones at each other.

[A] cessation of the subsi[di]zing of american companies which employ slave labor abroad in places like indonesia and malaysia – Here again, one would be hard pressed to find a single soul who supports the use of slave labor. The problem here is in the definition of slave labor. Also, one needs to be careful not to impose an American view on the laborers. If an American company builds a plant and hires people for 50 cents an hour who would otherwise be starving to death, both the American company and that worker benefit, even if the wage is woefully low by American standards. By the way, this is one my father, one of the most conservative people I know, would agree with Dagon completely on, but as a way of protecting American jobs at high wages by eliminating the cheaper foreign competition.

[R]eppelation of the policy of preemption – Don't know what to make of this one. It looks like Dagon is saying we must be reactive, not pro-active, that we must always let the other guy have the first shot. I disagree, but I'm open to discussion if I've not got Dagon's idea right. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding the point entirely.

[A]nd a mandate to secure our infrastructure via port security, border stability and immigration reform – Again, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would disagree with any of these ends, and Dagon doesn't suggest any means for accomplishing them. Everyone wants secure borders, a secure infrastructure, port security and immigration reform. The question, as usual, is what means we use to accomplish these worthy ends.

Overall, I'm struck by how completely, or nearly so, Dagon's ends are unobjectionable. Yet he presents them as if they are somehow controversial. Let's have a dialogue that begins by recognizing that we agree on the above ends and discusses what means we use to get there. Seems to me that will be far more constructive than questioning each other's commitment to obviously proper ends.

Why is this news?

This is a terrible tragedy:

U.S. forces killed two Iraqi women — one of them about to give birth — when the troops shot at a car that failed to stop at an observation post in a city north of Baghdad, Iraqi officials and relatives said Wednesday. Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, 35, was being raced to the maternity hospital in Samarra by her brother when the shooting occurred Tuesday.

My question, though, is why is this news? Is it appropriate to have war reporting governed by the same "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality that makes the average local newscast virtually unwatchable? My instinct is "no," but my fatigue level and the work load I've got to get through before I hit the sack tonight make it impossible for me to articulate why. Any takers on this question? As always, I'm open to hearing any viewpoints, so long as they are politely expressed. My preference, of course, is for argument, not invective.

UPDATE:  For the stories just from today about Iraq that don't involve blood and malfeasance, you can go here and here.  My thanks to those of you who left comments.  I think you're absolutely right.  I was just too tired last night to follow through on my initial thought.

Wondering about the whole story

I've been rather conspicuously silent about the whole Haditha thing. Until facts come out, rather than rumor, I don't really have anything to say. During times of war, even in the best regulated military, soldiers have been known to do some pretty awful things. You can't take young men, arm them, and drop them into territory where everyone is trying desperately to kill them, and then assume that nothing bad will ever happen.

The correct approach, in my mind, is what's happening here: the Marines are conducting a full investigation and, if the Marines involved committed atrocities (which I devoutly hope they didn't), they'll be punished to the full extent of military law. End of story, unless you're an anti-War activist and want to flog this to death for the benefit of those who repeatedly voice and act upon their wish to kill us all . . . but that's another story.

I did read one thing today, though, that reminded me, right off the bat, that there could be another way to understand the story of dead women and children:

The father of a U.S. Marine killed by a roadside bomb in western Iraq in November believes his son's comrades did nothing wrong despite a criminal investigation into events that left more than 20 Iraqi civilians dead, including women and children.

"It's very hard for me, I don't even listen to the news," Martin Terrazas said of reports of the mass killings in Haditha, in Iraq's Anbar province. "The insurgents were hiding in there with the kids." [Emphasis mine.]

As has been repeatedly demonstrated in Gaza, the Arab/Jihadist/Muslim/Insurgent (whatever you what to call 'em) fighters like to integrate with the civil population. One can readily imagine a scenario in which Marines, going on the attack following an IED bombing, ended up engaged with Jihadists who had surrounded themselves, for tactical reasons, with a defenseless civilian population of women and children. If this scenario were true, the blame for the deaths of these innocents rests with the Jihadists, and not with the Marines.

I'm not, of course, saying the above scenario is true. As I noted at the beginning, we have no facts. I'm just noting before everyone rushes to convict the Marines involved, that there are more ways than one (certainly more ways than Murtha's) to imagine this story.

UPDATE:  Michelle Malkin also addresses the possibility that the children may have been combatants, which is a terrible thought, or at least used as tools by the fighters, an equally terrible thought.

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What we owe our children

In the West, courtesy of modern birth control, when most of us have children, it's because we want them.  They, after all, didn't ask to be born.  To me, this means that we have obligations to them far beyond the material ones of food, shelter and clothing, and even beyond the less tangible one of "love."  I think we owe our children a certain amount of sacrifice.  That is, if a marginal, or even significant, diminution in our happiness is necessary to the child's well-being, we don't "follow our bliss," we make that sacrifice.  That's what Elizabeth Vargas did.  She's the co-anchor of ABC's World News Tonight who left her job because, with a three year old and an almost wrapped-up pregnancy, she wants to give her attention to her children and not her employer:

‘For now, for this year, I need to be a good mother,’ she said in an interview on Friday, a few hours before anchoring her last newscast….

It sounds like a fine decision to me.  I certainly don't advocate women abandoning their jobs automatically for children.  Often, having a job is the right decision, whether economically or because there's a certain virtue in the mother and child spending a little less time together.  However, Vargas clearly decided that her children, who didn't ask to be born, need her more than ABC does.

This should be obvious, so you're probably asking why I'm making such a big deal of this.  I'm making a big deal because NOW is shocked:

‘It seems unlikely to me, having survived and thrived through her first pregnancy, that she would logically give up the top job in TV a few months out, anticipating she couldn’t handle it,’ said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. ‘It just doesn’t strike me as a logical explanation. I don’t think there are too many men who would be happy to be removed from the anchor chair.’

Gandy added that ABC, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co., ‘doesn’t look like a very woman-friendly or family-friendly workplace.’

The sentiment underlying Gandy's statement, of course, is that women should never, never put their children's interests ahead of their own.  This goes beyond merely saying that children should not be spoiled, nor is it healthy for them to believe they are the center of the universe (a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree).  Instead, it is saying that children have no needs independent of the mother's.  They're sort of like a fashion-statement, nothing more.  NOW's antipathy toward's children becomes ever more aggressive.  No wonder most American women deny being feminists.

Hat tip:  Independent Women's Forum 

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A totally unfair fight

Four against one is a totally unfair fight, especially if those on the four side are armed with guns, while the loner is armed only with a pocketknife.  Oh!  Did I mention that the lone fighter is an ex-Marine?  With those facts, the fight's outcome is a foregone conclusion:  Ex-Marine — one bruise and a small cut; Assailants — one dead, one seriously wounded, two in custody.  Gotta love the Marines.

Idle thought

Gotta run, and this is it for the day, but I leave with some thoughts for those in the Left-ward side of the world:  Why is it that, the more the jihadists kill or maim us, the more you get apologetic, not angry?  Aren't we the victims here? 

I thought of that in connection with poor Kimberley Dozier (whom I wish a speedy recovery).  The press should be outraged at what happened to one of their own, especially because two of her crew were killed outright.  But there's just silence on the subject.  It seems like a pretty masochistic — and life-defeating — way to live.

Sliding down the slippery slope

The following is from a Reuters news article. Here's a paragraph from about two-thirds into the article:

The Netherlands, which already has liberal policies on soft drugs, prostitution and gay marriage, was shocked by the plan.

Here's the issue that so shocked the Dutch:

Dutch pedophiles are launching a political party to push for a cut in the legal age for sexual relations to 12 from 16 and the legalization of child pornography and sex with animals, sparking widespread outrage.

I freely admit that the slippery slope argument is a bit silly because just about anything that is appropriate can also be taken to illogical extremes. That is, the threat of a slippery slope is seldom a justification, on its on, to stop a proposed policy. However, some slopes are anticipatable (is that a word?) and I'm not surprised at the latest extreme in Holland.

UPDATE:  Here's an article about the slippery slope from the point of view of polygamy and its damaging effects on a functioning democracy. 

Destroying the anti-Zionist euphemism

People bound and determined to hasten the destruction of Israel will always say "I'm not anti-Semitic; just anti-Zionist." Dennis Prager exposes this lie for what it is. This is just one strand of the argument:

Judaism has always consisted of three components: God, Torah and Israel, roughly translated as faith, practice and peoplehood. And this Jewish people was conceived of as living in the Jewish country called Israel. One can argue that the modern state of Israel was founded at the expense of Arabs living in the geographic area known as Palestine (there was never a country or a nation called Palestine); but that in no way negates the indisputable fact that Zionism is an integral part of Judaism. Nor does the fact that some Jews who have abandoned Judaism are opposed to Zionism, nor that a tiny sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews (Neturei Karta) believe that only the Messiah can found a Jewish state in Israel.

When anti-Israel Muslim students demonstrate on campus chanting, "Yes to Judaism, No to Zionism," they are inventing a new Judaism out of their hatred for Israel. It would be as if anti-Muslims marched around chanting, "Yes to Allah, No to the Quran." Just as Allah, Muhammad and the Quran are inextricable components of Islam, so God, Torah and Israel are of Judaism.

You can read the whole argument here. It puts anend to the dishonest wordplay in the Muslim world and on the Left.

Learning by horrible examples

Laer, of Cheat-Seeking Missiles, took May off to work with his wife to help promote her campaign against illegal drug use.  One of the fruits of this labor is a new website called The Drug Report.  It's a compilation of drug-related news, with a lot of stories about people who serve as horrible examples.  Thus, the most recent story concerns a woman who completely destroyed her life using meth.  It's a good and important website, so I urge you both to check it out and to blogroll it.

Racism . . . or not?

Don Quixote, with his usual politeness, kindness and razor intelligence, disagreed with my saying that Harry Reid was himself being racist when he called racist the "English is the official American language" initiative. For one thing, DQ pointed out, rightly, that there's no mileage in throwing the phrase "racist" around with the same abandon as Reid. But that was just a style thing. What he really challenged me on was whether "racist" is the right phrase at all.

If you read my original post, you'll see that I thought Reid was demeaning Hispanics by implying that they were incapable of mastering another language — something I considered racist. DQ thought that a different impulse motivated Reid's statement — the fact that we (that is, English speaking Americans) are imposing ourselves on Hispanics, something that is inherently wrong. DQ says that Reid isn't saying Hispanics are incapable of mastering English; he's saying that, in his world view, we in America have no business imposing our values on anyone else.
Feeling myself trapped in an argument with a master of logic, I turned my attention to the way the liberals view African-Americans which, again, I consider a form of racism. To explain this, let me explain what I mean by racism. To me, racism means the belief that another race is inferior to your own. You can have the malevolent racism of the Nazi, which says this race is inferior and must be destroyed, or what I view as the benevolent racism of the liberals, which says this race is inferior and must be protected.

My example to DQ was how Damian Williams, one of the young black men who savaged Reginald Denny during the Rodney King riots, explained that he was "caught up in the rapture." The jury acquitted him of most charges (although I don't recall whether he testified about his rapture, or whether that was an ex post facto statement). I believe that, had the speaker been a white man who killed gays or blacks, that statement would have been held up by the liberal establishment as the most disgusting, horrific, vile statement ever. As it was, my memory (and I'm open to correction here) was that the media piled on with a bunch of stories about young men, and black rage, and mob identity, etc. In other words, being caught up in the rapture was a pretty acceptable excuse for trying to beat a man's head in because he was the wrong color, in the wrong place.

DQ argued that his theory still covers the Damian Williams scenario. He felt that, in viewing the liberal position about blacks, I was forgetting the race-warfare theory that underpins so much of the view from the Left. This view, which John McWhorter discusses in his wonderful Winning the Race : Beyond the Crisis in Black America,is that blacks have been at the receiving end of systemic white racism for so long that their only response can be anger. (It's sort of a Sister Souljah thing.) Because rage is an entirely legitimate response, then acting on that rage is entirely legitimate. That is, we're not simply excusing African-Americans for engaging in behavior that is not consistent with what we'd expect from whites — which would be racist. Instead, we're saying that anyone under those same conditions would act the same way and, in this case, it's blacks laboring under those conditions.

DQ's same theory fits in perfectly with the MSM's approach to Representative William Jefferson, the African-American Congressman from New Orleans who was caught on tape collecting $100,000 in bribes — $90,000 of which later turned up in his freezer. Within less than a week, the New York Times came out with a glowing, sympathetic portrayal of his poverty-stricken youth. I don't remember equally sympathetic portrayals of Ward Connerly, who also arose from poverty. The thing is, he didn't use that background as an excuse for criminal conduct. Instead, he argued that affirmative action is destroying African-Americans. Indeed, if I remember correctly, the MSM kept trying to portray him as essentially middle-class, his poverty-stricken youth notwithstanding. (And, interestingly, a group that describes itself as passionately committed to opposing him is working vigorously to show that he's a crook.)

Presumably, in the NY Times view, black poverty equals anger which equals entirely justifiable corruption. It's not racism to think this, it's logic. And, to carry the logic further, there's no doubt that the more vile the criminal in the dock, the more sympathy he gets from whites (as long as a white is the victim of his crime). There are no bad people, just bad environments.

Though it pains me to admit it, I think that DQ may well be right. Going back to Reid, it wasn't racism motivating his statement; it was a profound belief that we as Americans have no business expecting immigrants to conform to our cultural norms, including our language. Likewise, white Americans have no business expecting people carrying justifiable rage to control that rage. In other words, it's all about us having ruined the world, and not about "them" (whoever "them "is in any given context) being held to a lower standard. I'll therefore be careful with that "racist" word in future.

Having said that, I still think there's something profoundly wrong with the liberal view, and that it is damaging for a community (the African-American community) to be perpetually cast as the victim, rather than a group capable of controlling its own destiny. I also think that some of the more extreme liberal groups have managed to engage in classic racist conduct, not just this kind of race-warfare thing, when their target is a black Republican. (See here, here and here for examples.) I'm also very interested in what any of you have to say on this subject (provided, as always, that you're as polite as DQ was to me).

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Gardening in wartime

I wrote here about my Dad's Italian POWs in North Africa, and how charming they were.  One of the things he found especially memorably was how they coaxed gardens out of the desert.  Since it's Memorial Day, it's probably no coincidence that I found this NPR story, complete with amazing pictures, about people (soliders, civilians, prisoners) during times of war, growing gardens as an act of normalcy and strength.