about "The Best Comic Strip Ever!"

The characters in my strip, set in Africa's Western Rift Valley, are: the Foolish Pride of lions (Leon, the haughty and lethargic King of Beasts; his queen, Leona; and their cub Lionel, an unpromising heir to the throne); Secretary Bird, a liason between the Royal Court and the rest of the animals; cerebral, man-imitating Ape, a reader of the Substandard; peevish Rhinoceros; harmless but senseless Ostrich; Crocodile, resident of the much-frequented Watering Hole, and his dentist, Crocodile Bird; Honey Badger (alias Ratel), the "Meanest Animal in the World", and his one associate, Honeyguide; Mumbo the elephant, a descendant of Jumbo and a butt of jokes about his weight and the size of his ears and nose; Duncan the dung beetle; ill-favored and unwashed Warthog; the craven, henpecked male and shrewish female hyaenas, both of them foul-smelling and perpetually at war vs. the lions; the mistaken-identity-plagued zebras; slow and superannuated Tortoise; Oxpecker, a companion of large herbivores; Hugh the chamaeleon; and walled-up Mrs. Hornbill.

The Best Comic Strip Ever!

If you "click" the present cartoon, whizbang technology will take you to the "The Best Comic Strip Ever!" Archive.

13 December 2008

Uncommon Commentary #35: The Obama Nation [with an intentional pun on "abomination"]

There's been much comment on Obama's personnel selections; many on the Left have bemoaned the fact that he seems to have made some centrist choices, while some on the "Right" (see my commentary entitled The Other "L" Word) have pointed out that on key issues, such as opposition to the "Surge," Obama's picks don't amount to a "team of rivals" at all. One point that everyone seems to be missing is that those who hold Cabinet positions do not make policy, but merely carry out the orders of the President. (Indeed, the Cabinet was not even provided for in the US Constitution, but has rather been subsequently copied from the system of the mother country, and therefore is not technically even necessary.) An advisor has power only to the degree that the leader is willing to take his advice. Likewise, someone who owes what authority he has to someone else, e.g., the President, has no authority except what is delegated to him. Someone as megalomaniacal as Obama must be (to judge from the fact that he, firstly, announced his candidacy for the country's highest office after just two undistinguished years as a US Senator; secondly, speaks of himself as if he were a sort of secular messiah; and thirdly, now acts as if he were already President) obviously is not the sort of person to delegate authority to, or to take advice from, someone whose views differ substantially from his own.

28 November 2008

Uncommon Commentary #34: We Demand "Inclusivity," but Not Inclusivity of Everyone

Now that Thanksgiving has ended, we've arrived at a time which for some decades now has tended to mark the secular onset of Christmas season. (We Christians know better; what actually comes up next is Advent season, and what secular culture used to call simply "Christmas" is merely the first of the 12 Days of Christmas.) In recent years, though, as you've surely noticed, retailers seem to have done things differently; not only are they beginning the season earlier—I recall some commercials featuring Santa Claus that aired even before Halloween, for crying out loud—but also, a growing number of them, perhaps now the majority, are dropping the name "Christmas" and replacing it with "Holiday," as if it were the only holiday on the calendar. Could that be any more imbecilic?
What makes it especially so is that Christmas has no true major holidays with which to compete during its time of the year. Chanukah (which is not a holiday anyway, but lasts for nine days) was a minor festival until well into the Twentieth Century--indeed, some rabbis thought that it ought not to be celebrated at all, because of what they saw as its nationalist rather than universal character--when, in response to Jewish children's envy of the presents received by their gentile brethren, it was magnified into what we know now. In contrast, "Kwanzaa" isn't even an historic feast, but was simply dreamt up in the 1960's by a Black Nationalist, who (perhaps misinterpreting the lyrics of White Christmas) thought that there ought to be an alternative to what he perceived as a holiday only for persons of European descent. Late December's only other observance in an extant religious tradition is that of the winter solstice; the heathens who celebrate that one can, and deserve to, be ignored.
Anyway, although Hinduism, Islam, &c., are last-minute entrants into the USA's "diversity" derby, Judaism and atheism have long existed alongside Christianity in this country; yet there's no indication that Jews or even the nullifidians, until very recently, found it offensive to call Christmas by its name. (Indeed, I doubt that the majority of at least the former find it so now; I'd be interested in seeing the results of a poll on the subject.)
Pagans often try to counter by arguing that the Christians have usurped their traditions. It's true that the Christmas tree, for instance, is largely a borrowing from the forms of worship in pre-Christian Germany, but trees have importance in Christian symbolism, and tree-decorations such as gold angels and the surmounting star obviously owe nothing to the older religion; at any rate, the tree has come to be associated with Christmas rather than with neo-paganism or Buddhism or whatever, and so to rename it a "holiday tree" is disingenuous as well as paranoid and stupid.
Why, then, have retailers censored Christmas? I don't believe that most of them hate Christianity. (Nor, however, do I believe that they're trying to be "inclusive." How can you be "inclusive" by excluding the majority, namely, the three-fourths of the people of this land who identify themselves as Christians?) Rather I believe that they are pusillanimously seeking to avoid lawsuits and boycotts, and that because of a lack of religious fervor on the part of most ostensible Christians, they think that they can afford to antagonize believers for the sake of appeasing the fringe who deem it "offensive," "unconstitutional," &c., to do anything that acknowledges, however obliquely, the fact that the USA has a nominal Christian majority.
In conclusion, I should add that there's already a designation for Christmas that ought to satisfy everyone: "Xmas." The "X" stands for Christ, but it can also symbolize the unknown (as in "x-ray") or the forbidden (as in "x-rated"); both these alternate significations seem ironically appropriate for use by the Grinches and Scrooges of our time, who have both lost the meaning of the holiday and enjoined everyone else from finding it. It also seems noteworthy that the Third Reich replaced Christmas with the above-mentioned pagan celebration of the winter solstice; the noteworthiness lies in the fact that even the National Socialists ("Nazis") were honest enough to abolish Christmas, rather than just bastardize it into a generic, commercialized, secular "Holiday."

07 November 2008

Uncommon Commentary #33: Post-Racial Drip

The conceit in the US media right now, namely that the election of Obama is a victory for "postracialism" and thus for the USA as a whole, is 100% pure twaddle. First of all, Obama himself is extremely conscious of his ethnicity. This is made evident by 1) the fact that, although his ancestry is just as much north-west European as African, he seems to think of himself solely as Black; and 2) (among other episodes) the surreal overreaction of his camp to that advertisement by the McCain campaign that featured two well-known celebrity bimbos; he and his brownshirts damned the spot as "racist," even though it made no allusion whatsoever to race. The belief that our country can take pride in itself for having elected someone who's partly Black seems, however, to be held even by some persons who ought to know better, i.e., those who despise Obama but feel that his win proves that the USA is not racist. Many voters evidently cast their ballots for the candidate from Hell because they, similarly, expected such an outcome to exorcise the spectre of racism, and therefore, for instance, to put an end to racial quotas, by demonstrating that a member of a minority can attain our most important office—even though those who defend ethnic preferences in business, education, &c., had already said that these preferences will still be "necessary" should Obama be elected. It won't surprise me if the effect of his looming failure of a presidency is not to allay but to arouse race-hatred, for what better argument will there be for racists to use than the fact that our carefully-instilled feeling of guilt over slavery, Jim Crowism, &c. helped put a thing like Obama into the White House?
The very fact that some commentators hail the beginning of a new "postracial" era refutes their own argument that the Obama presidency will make the United States of America truly united; after all, if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s vision of a color-blind country had come true, the President-elect's bi-racial character would not be newsworthy. Similarly, his Caucasoid mother's side of the family doesn't seem to count, and hardly ever receives mention (even by Obama himself; see the above paragraph). Further refutation is provided by the electoral statistics. Obama won only 43% of the White vote, yet his support among Blacks was almost universal; would such polarization be the case were the USA not obsessed with race?
What seems lost on almost everyone is that the public's "diversity" fixation and "postracial" delusion apparently outweighed other considerations, such as I mentioned in the third paragraph of Viewing the Iceberg from the Deck of the Titanic. How does it speak well of our land that we've elected as president a political nightmare who happens to be half Black, when the mere fact that he is half Black was a major factor in the decision?

Uncommon Commentary #32

I make few predictions, for I've found that it's hard enough just to know what really happened in the past; it's easy to foretell, though, that Obama will be the worst president ever, and that no more than a year from now, we'll be seeing bumper stickers that read "Don't Blame Me; I Voted for McCain." (This second prediction, however, rests upon the assumption that anyone will still have enough money to own a car, or even a bumper sticker.)

03 November 2008

Uncommon Commentary #31: Viewing the Iceberg from the Deck of the Titanic

The upcoming presidential election here in the USA will become a landmark if Obama wins, not because he's partly Black, but because he's all pink. This country has never had a committed leftist as chief executive; that element of the Democratic Party (which no longer is just an element, but now is the Democratic Party), as I pointed out in The Other "L-Word", didn't even exist until four decades ago, and since then we've had only two Democrats as president, both of whom qualified as conservatives by party standards.
An Obama presidency will be a catastrophe for the USA, and, because of this country's importance, for the world as a whole, but not a catastrophe that could have been delayed forever. Our land has already, in consecutive presidential contestations, tottered on the edge of a precipice that drops away to electoral hell; it's easily predictable that, sooner or later, we'll fall in, although I have not expected it to happen on this occasion. It seems that the electorate has changed, with the result that obtuse voters outnumber astute ones.
A prospective Obama Administration also is not an undeserved catastrophe. Those of us who fear, i.e., respect, God know that He brings judgement upon polities that turn from Him (that is, he allows them to suffer the consequences of their own wrongdoing), as the USA surely has. Moreover, it's not as if we were the subjects of an absolute monarchy, having no choice as to who rules us. We have the vote, and the minimum age for voting in this country is 18 years; that should be old enough to know right from wrong and true from false. Thus, if we actually elect Obama to our highest office, despite the revelations about his lies, ideological extremism, association with dangerous radicals, near-total lack of qualification for the job, &c., we ought to know exactly whom to blame for what lies ahead; not God, not the McCain campaign, not even media bias (which is real, but not all-powerful) or the Democratic nominee himself (for bad politicians will exist as long as human beings run the world, and the electors have a moral responsibility to oppose them), but ourselves only.

Uncommon Commentary #30: An Engagement that Hopefully Won't End in Marriage

Westerners, and US citizens in particular, have come to believe in a simplistic formula: capitalism = "democracy" = unaggressiveness. It's not necessary for me to refute the idea that trade contacts will liberalize mainland China; the situation in that country (as well as that in, for instance, Germany on the eve of World War One) is itself refutation. Beginning three decades ago under Deng Xiaoping (who hinted at both the purpose and the effect of his reforms by saying "I don't care whether the cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice"), the regime's economic policy has changed to such a degree that it is now communist in name only; where, therefore, are the political changes that the advocates of "engaging" Beijing have expected? (It was Deng, once viewed as a hero by Western useful idiots, who ordered the crackdown on dissidents in Tiananmen Square; yet, only a decade after the massacre, the USA's Clinton administration, and even sincere politicians, were invoking "engagement" as a means of liberalizing mainland China.) China didn't loosen the restrictions on its people even for the duration of the Olympiad, but instead intensified them.
This doesn't mean that I agree completely with the other side in the debate. Labor unions were right for the wrong reason: they opposed the expansion of commerce with China because of the mistaken belief that it would lead to a loss of jobs for US workers. Integrating mainland China more truly into the world economy has benefitted the USA; the problem is that it has benefitted the Chinese more, which point I shall elaborate upon below. (Organized labor at least was consistent in its opinions on this sort of issue, unlike Clinton and the leftists who sided with him; earlier in the 1990's, these hypocrites were self-righteously demanding that US capitalists end their investment in South Africa, supposedly for the same reason why they were now professing faith in a "policy" of" engagement.") "Human rights" advocates have more of the truth, but most of them seem to have thought that the regime in Beijing would wither under international censure.
In reality, neither infusing the mainland with Western goods and money nor treating it as a pariah will dramatically affect the way the government behaves toward its people. Had the capitalist-"democratic" states denied China the 2008 Olympic Games, entry into the World Trade Organization, and (specific to the USA) permanent "most-favored nation" trade status, however, they would at least have things to use as leverage in such regard, and the morale of those oppressed would benefit from their knowing that others sympathize with them. For the first six years or so of Clinton's administration, one of his favorite annual flim-flams was to pretend to get tough with the Chinese by threatening not to renew their above-mentioned trade status; after the President executed one of his characteristic flip-flops on that issue, the persecuted Christians and others of that land must have known how empty his, and by extension our, bluster about "human rights" was. My assessment is that "engagement" has nothing to do with improving the lot of the ordinary Chinese, but is rather a delusory rationale for infusing capital into, and thus unintentionally strengthening, a hostile power. I am reminded of a quote from Vladimir Lenin, who predicted that the anti-Communist countries "will sell us the rope for their own hanging."

14 October 2008

Uncommon Commentary #29

I already knew that Democratic nominee Obama is a left-wing nut, but now I know precisely which kind: an acorn.

08 October 2008

Uncommon Commentary #28

I know some Democrats who are respectable persons, but they, sadly, are the exception to the rule. The party in general has become a rabblement of liars, libertines, hypocrites, and commissars.

Miscellaneous Musing #10

Why is the "c" in the second syllable of "Connecticut" silent? The reason why this same letter goes unsounded in another place-name, that of the ancient city Ctesiphon, is that we've borrowed the Latin spelling but Anglicized the pronunciation. "Connecticut," by contrast, comes from an American Indian language, which would not have been written anyway at the time that the word was adopted into English. If the word is merely spoken in the same way as the Indians would have done, what the heck is that second "c" doing there?

30 September 2008

Uncommon Commentary #27: It's No Accident that Their Symbol Is a Jackass

As the suppression of the insurgency in Iraq nears its end, I'd like to say that it has been a singular episode. This was probably the first time that demonstrations against a war began earlier than the war itself. Likewise, I don't know of any other legislative-majority party ever trying so hard to lose a war as have Democrats during this conflict. Contrast this situation with our intervention in Vietnam: most of the arrogant protestors would come to constitute a voting bloc in the Democratic Party, but said intervention both began and grew deepest while Democrats controlled the Oval Office as well as the Congress.
The nearest parallel from history is the behavior during World War I of Socialists and of Communists, who intentionally undermined morale on the home front in their own countries, expecting the defeat of their national armed forces to spark revolution. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, et cetera, can't even claim the desire for a new world order as a motivation; they seem to have acted as they did for just one purpose, viz., to get more members of their party elected. I would hope that, come Election Day, the voters remember this.

19 September 2008

Uncommon Commentary #26: Palin Comparison

Not very long ago it was being noted that Barack Obama is the first Black to have a realistic chance of being elected to the presidency, unlike Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. So far as I've determined, no one has yet made the similar observation that Sarah Palin is the first woman to have a legitimate opportunity for the vice-presidency. She's not the first ever to be nominated by a major party—that was Democrat Geraldine Ferraro, in 1984—but it was most unlikely that the Democrats' nominee of that year for chief executive, Walter Mondale, would have beaten Ronald Reagan no matter whom he had chosen as his running-mate.
The contrast between Ferraro and Palin is striking. The former is a characteristically disagreeable feminista, for whom "Ferraro" is actually a maiden name (considering, however, the dishonest business practices of her husband John Zaccaro, perhaps it's justifiable that she doesn't want to be associated closely with him); the latter is despised by feministas for providing further proof that one can be a "strong woman" without being one of them.
In addition to the Palin-Ferraro contrast, there is an interesting comparison between Ferraro and Obama. Ferraro was practically unknown before Mondale made his inexplicable selection of her; rose to sudden prominence as a consequence of the novelty of having a woman as a major-party's nominee to be vice-president; and, soon after this novelty wore off and the election ended in defeat, returned to nearly her previous level of obscurity. When she was dropped from the Hillary [sic] campaign for daring to state the obvious about the Obama campaign, it marked the first time in almost 24 years that most of the people had heard anything about her. I expect a like outcome for Obama: once he loses the presidential election—and there has never seemed to be much reason for doubt that this will happen, given the public's preference for moderates (McCain) over extremists (Obama, even by Democratic standards)—the media's love affair with him will end as did that between Napoleon and Josephine, and perhaps only a few years from now, he will (as I've stated previosly) be nothing more than the answer to a trivia question.

13 September 2008

Miscellaneous Musing #9

One of the minor mysteries of life is why people insist upon referring to the country known properly (but misleadingly1) as the "United States of America" as either "America" (which name really applies to the entire New World; this is why the continents in the Western Hemisphere are called North and South America) or the "United States" (of what: Mexico? Brazil?). Why not just call it the "USA," which is quicker to say anyway than either "America" or "United States?" To do so would certainly be more consistent with our practice of devising a stupid abbreviation for any commonly-employed word that comprises more than two syllables, e.g., "carb" for "carbohydrate," e-mail" for "electronic mail."
Another problem with "United States," as well as with the full name, is that no adjective can be derived from it, as "Canadian" has been from "Canada." Of course, we refer to ourselves as "American," but, again, anyone living in the Western Hemisphere qualifies for this designation; I've heard that people in such places as Argentina often call themselves "Americans," and resent our presumption that we have an exclusive claim on the title. A less-commonly used term for this country is "Yankeedom," but even this would be regarded as offensive by Southerners. I know of no current option preferable to the facetious one in my comic strip Wild Life, which is to pronounce "USA" as if it were a normal word rather than to spell out the letters of the acronym, and to derive from it (by analogy with the word "ufology") the adjective or noun "Usan." Another quandary solved by cartoon characters!
1 A "state" is by definition a sovereign political unit, hence such words as "statesmanship"; it's a misnomer when used for such a place as Connecticut, which has so little independence of action these days as to be hardly more than a satrapy of an empire governed from the District of Columbia.

03 September 2008

Uncommon Commentary #25: The Big Uneasy

In The Inflation Hurricane, Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., wrote that mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, and eventual repopulating of the city until the next major hurricane happens along, “serves as an unrealistic and irritating substitute for organizing a city in a way that actually makes sense in light of the predictable hazards it's exposed to.” Forcing people to desert their homes, indeed, seems an unsatisfactory policy, but Mr. Jenkins doesn’t specify what kind of “organizing” he thinks “makes sense in light of the predictable hazards” that the Big Easy faces.
I hereby suggest that what’s needed is not a superior organization of New Orleans, but rather a reason why people who abandon the place shouldn’t even have to return. The truth is that the site of New Orleans is just not a good one for a city, especially one of such size.
Many things can legitimately be blamed on the French these days, but the founding of Nouvelle Orléans is not really to their discredit. This establishment took place in 1718, whereas geologists concluded only in the 1950’s that, for the great volume of water conveyed by the Mississippi, the natural path to the ocean is no longer that mighty river but rather a distributary (a stream that flows out of a larger watercourse, as opposed to a tributary, which flows into the same) called the Atchafalaya. Since the Mississippi is very slow-moving by the time it enters Louisiana, particularly the southern portion of the State, much of the silt that it has carried from higher elevations is deposited there rather than far out at sea; this process is what has formed the Mississippi delta, on which New Orleans rests. (The swift-flowing Congo, by contrast, has no delta.) The gradual buildup of silt as the river “ages” has made the bed more nearly flat, and because water flows down a steep grade more readily than it does down a gentler slope, it now wants to reach the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Atchafalaya, which, being “younger” than the Mississippi, is more rapid. Similar scenarios have played out in other parts of the world; the mouth of China's Yellow River, for instance, is hundreds of miles from where it was in previous centuries.
The Army Corps of Engineers has created a system of levees and other works where the Atchafalaya has its origin, to prevent it from drawing away more than 30% of the Mississippi’s water; at a cost of many millions of dollars yearly, the corps also does constant dredging in the area. The purpose of this building and dredging, however, is not preventing floods but preserving the economic importance of the region from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Instead of resisting nature, a better way for the government to spend (our) money would be to found a new city, in the vicinity of the Atchafalaya’s mouth, to take over the function of Baton Rouge - New Orleans; it ought to be constructed over a high, very large landfill, in order to head off the problems of New Orleans, which sits on what is basically a mud flat six feet below sea level. People wouldn’t be forced to leave the older city, but it would naturally shrink with its decrease in importance. I know that there would be strong resistance to such a plan—indeed, it wouldn’t be carried out at all, because of the current vested interests—but other storied cities, e.g., Babylon, have either dwindled to insignificance or disappeared. Except for God, nothing lasts forever.

26 August 2008

Uncommon Commentary #24

The agonizing wait has ended: Obama has finished bidin' his time, and selected his running-mate. It’s being said that the Delaware senator was chosen because of his “foreign-policy experience,” which both seems odd and speaks of the distinction being experience and expertise. One month after the suicide missions against the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, Biden, as reported by the New Republic, demonstrated his sagacity in this field by proposing to placate the Arab world with a $200,000,000 gift to Iran (which is not an Arab country). Anyway, Biden is campaigning not for the office of president but for that of vice-president, which confers no authority over foreign affairs.
Whatever the reason for the choice, it came as a surprise to me. I expected the Future-Answer-to-a-Trivia-Question's pick to be someone like the "Mini-Me" in those Austin Powers films: a small replica of himself, who would distract no attention from him and thus not threaten his evidently colossal ego.

22 August 2008

Uncommon Commentary #23: Why Is There So Much Negativity About Negativity?

Voters are airing their familiar gripe about the conducting of "negative" political campaigns. I, too, would prefer that those who stand for public office emphasize their own merits rather than denigrate the competition; it seems to me, though, that the "negativity" phenomenon has resulted naturally from the fact that so many political candidacies nowadays are negative, that is, the politician in question has more negative than positive traits, and so his opponent tries to capitalize these drawbacks. (If the shortcomings of him who is doing this capitalizing outweigh his good qualities, he has even more reason to focus the public's attention on the other person.) When we see or hear a paid political announcement that "attacks" the other major nominee, therefore, we shouldn't complain about or dismiss its claim cynically, but instead endeavor to determine whether it's justified.
Above all else, this applies to McCain-versus-Obama. People won't learn anything that they need to know about the Democratic nominee from the mainstream of our left-wing news media, whose "coverage" of this man's quest for the presidency has been perhaps the most blatantly and outrageously biased in the history of countries whose elections can generally be considered free; they can learn it only from the Republican foe and his allies. How can anyone who's pitted against so problematic a candidate as Barack Obama not run a "negative campaign?"

20 August 2008

Miscellaneous Musing #8

King Edward I of England (1272-1307) was preceded on the Throne by Edward the Elder (899-925), Edward the Martyr (975-978), and Edward the Confessor (1042-1066). Why, therefore, was he called "Edward the First?" It's true that he was the first King of that name since the Norman Conquest, but why should that matter?

Miscellaneous Musing #7

To me, one of the mysteries of World War II is precisely why the Yanks, Canadians, and Britons proper carried out Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy.  The customary answer is that they needed to relieve the USSR by opening a "second front"; the "D-Day" landings, however, actually established a third front, since British, Commonwealth, and de-facto Commonwealth (that is, US) forces were already fighting in Italy. (Indeed, since the Italian campaign was just a continuance of that in North Africa, whence it was transferred upon defeat of the Axis forces in Tunisia, the Eastern Front (USSR v. Axis) was not even the first front from June 1941 to the same month in 1944; British, imperial, and Commonwealth forces were already battling the Germans and Italians in Africa in 1940, at which time the Soviet Union was still allied with Germany.  It should be borne in mind also that from December 1941, the USSR's allies were busy fighting Japan as well.)  Why didn't the Western armies forego Operation Overlord and just do then what they would do over two months later, in the obscure Operation Dragoon: invade southeast France, from Italy and North Africa?  (The advantages of doing so would have included the fact that Provence, unlike Normandy, was under the Vichy regime and thus within that section of France not occupied by the Germans; it was reasonable to expect the Vichy French to either welcome the Allies as liberators or, at the very worst, to merely put up half-hearted resistance to their landings.)

19 August 2008

Miscellaneous Musing #6

I can easily tolerate stupidity, but not inanity. The former is a demonstration of low intelligence on the part of someone or something that actually has such a level of intelligence; the latter (by my definition), a demonstration of low intelligence on the part of someone who simply doesn't use what brains he has.

14 August 2008

Uncommon Commentary #22: A Word to the Dinosaurbrains—I Mean, Birdbrains

This commentary begins with three questions, but don't panic, because these are easy ones; in fact, I answer them for you.
Question #1: Are birds descended from dinosaurs? Answer: It's not yet known.
Question #2: If they are, does it mean that they are dinosaurs? Answer: Of course not. A bird is a bird, and a dinosaur is a dinosaur.
Question #3: Were there feathered dinosaurs? Answer: No. There may have been feathered animals that otherwise resembled reptiles, but if they had feathers (a classic hallmark of birds), how could they have been "dinosaurs?"
In Asteroid Asininity, I alluded to the unpleasant penchant that many scientists have for speaking on purely conjectural matters as if their views had won universal acceptance; this practice is also apparent in regard to the issue of how birds relate to the extinct therapods, viz., carnivorous dinosaurs. According to the online University of California Museum of Paleontology:
"The oldest known fossil unambiguously identified as a bird is still the dinosaur-like [the italics are mine] Archaeopteryx, from the Solnhofen Limestone of the Upper Jurassic of Germany. However, it was not the only bird of the time. Very recently, another bird of almost the same age was discovered in northeastern China, and named Confuciusornis; Confuciusornis resembles Archaeopteryx in having wing claws, but unlike Archaeopteryx and like modern birds, Confuciusornis lacked teeth…."
A second u.r.l. from Berkeley reads thus:
"Archaeopteryx is considered by many to be the first bird, being of about 150 million years of age. It is actually intermediate between the birds that we see flying around in our backyards and the predatory dinosaurs like Deinonychus…. [i.e., dromæosaurs]"
A third u.r.l., from the same site, tells the visitor:
"According to current thinking, birds are hypothesized to have shared a common ancestor with the dromaeosaurs sometime in the Jurassic period; Dromaeosauridae is thus termed the sister group of the clade Aves (which includes all birds). It may even be that the ancestry of birds lies within this group, which would make them dromaeosaurs too…."
A different site posits that "Protoavis [which means "first bird"] predates Archaeopteryx by 75 million years pushing the origin of birds to the Late Triassic and is considered the oldest known bird (Chatterjee 1999)." The site also depicts a "Life restoration of Protoavis," and informs us that "the presence of feathers is inferred from quill knobs. (Chatterjee 1999)" The ubiquitous "Wikipedia" relates that dromæosaurs appeared in the second epoch of the Jurassic period, 176-161 million years ago, and disappeared some 100 million later. One source, which I consulted no more than a few years ago—I don't remember now what it was—says matter-of-factly that palæontologists now believe that birds hail from the dromæosaurs and that archæopteryx was an evolutionary dead end! Another forgotten font of knowledge concurs that birds sprang from dromæosaurs, but asserts that archæopteryx is considered to be neither a transition fossil nor a dead end, but merely a juvenile cœlophysis mistaken for a separate species.
What, then, have we learned of avian lineage from these sources that set the record straight so authoritatively, three of which actually are from the same museum but presumably of various authorship? We have learned that the earliest bird was archæopteryx; that the earliest bird was protoavis; that palæontologists deem archæopteryx a dead end; that palæontologists deem archæopteryx not even a valid species; that birds descend from, yet have a common ancestry with, dromæosaurs, which originated at least 11 million years before the younger candidate for the title of "first bird" and at least 50 after the older; that dromæosaurs yet existed at a time when, as fossils show, their descendants the birds were well-established; that a bird of "almost the same age as" archæopteryx differed significantly from its near-contemporary; and that birds may qualify as dromæosaurs, and thus as reptiles.
Naturally, none of what I've said here proves that birds are not the progeny of dinosaurs; I, also, even as a child, noticed that the latter bear in some ways (e.g., the bipedal posture of the therapods) greater (though perhaps superficial) similarity to the former than to modern reptiles. It only shows that this debate, like that over whether human action causes "global warming," is far from over. What I read while growing up merely stated that archæopteryx was a link between birds and reptiles, not necessarily dinosaurs; this seems a much safer position to take. What's the point of speculating as to whether a sparrow can call a deinonychus "Grampa," when we don't even know how long ago the earliest true birds lived?

07 August 2008

Uncommon Commentary #21

When the USSR disintegrated, there was talk of disbanding the league that had opposed it, i.e., the NATO. (This is, by the way, the correct designation: "the NATO," not simply "NATO." The reason is the same as why I began this uncommon commentary with "When the USSR….") At the time I disagreed, but only because I knew that there are other threats for a collective-security body like (the) NATO to resist; indeed, in that year, 1991, the People's Republic of China announced that a new "cold war" had begun, between herself and the West. If the NATO were actually functioning in this rôle, I would favor its continuance; instead, however, it has become a sort of EU police force, and if that's the one purpose that it serves, it might as well be done away with.

Uncommon Commentary #20: Error of Olympian Magnitude

The Olympics have deviated far from their original purpose. It was natural that the athletes of ancient Greece would desire to test themselves, first, versus their own standards of physical attainment; second, versus the best athletes from their own city-states; and third, versus the best from the other polities of that civilization. Every four years, therefore, they gathered on the plain of Olympia to determine where they ranked in the Greek world. The reason for the modern revival of this institution, in 1896, was to add a fourth level of competition: versus the top athletes even from other nations. My point is that the rivalry in ancient olympiads, and perhaps in the earliest modern ones, was between athletes, not between the states from which they happened to come; the games were never intended as fierce nationalistic struggles, with teams representing the USA battling teams representing Uruguay or wherever else, and the press keeping track of which "country" leads the "medal count." That, however, is precisely what they've become.
(It could be argued that the politicization of the Olympics has value, since, it is often said, the fact that Black athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin "destroyed Hitler's theories of racial supremacy".  It could not, however, be argued correctly. Undoubtedly Hitler was displeased at Owens' physical feats, but the Führer had always allowed that peoples whom he deemed inferior could produce extraordinary individuals, and the fact that Germany “won” that olympiad—see above—must have, in the opinion of many, validated the Third Reich’s racist ideology.)

06 August 2008

Uncommon Commentary #19: Discovering Inanity

It's wearisome to read of, or hear, people referring to Speke, Champlain, da Gama, and so forth as the "European discoverers" of some locale or another. Both words within quotes indeed apply to them, but to use the two in conjunction implies that the high status of these men has resulted only from some sort of bias versus non-Whites. Pay attention now, because I'll explain this just once: Merely knowing that something exists does not make you its "discoverer." To discover something, geographically speaking, means to bring to it the attention of the learned. Neither American Indians nor Vikings qualify as discoverers of America, for instance, since neither added the fact of its existence to the body of geographical knowledge. The term "New World" presupposes cognizance of an old world, but the only geographical familiarity that the Indians had was with their own surroundings. As for the Northmen, they did know of lands on both the western and the eastern shores of the Atlantic Ocean; having merely a Barbarian level of civilization, however, and thus lacking true intelligentsia, they had no one to record the information but skalds, who did so not in scientific form but in that of the sagas. They never communicated this knowledge to the one estate of Western civilization among which literacy was the rule rather than the exception, namely, the clergy.
This sense of "discover" applies as well to sciences other than geography; for instance, Antoine Lavoisier obviously was not the one person ever to experience the presence of oxygen, without which mankind could not survive, but it was he who described this substance as an element. The word even applies to the entertainment industry; we might speak of someone as having discovered the Beatles, not because the quartet from Liverpool didn't know of their own existence, but because it was that person whose efforts made their name widely-recognized. By extension, I can say that when someone on television makes an asinine statement such as "This place is named for Verrazano, but I think the Native [sic] Americans may have known about it first," that person is not discovering, but merely displaying, the fact of his smug ignorance.

05 August 2008

Uncommon Commentary #18

I naturally oppose the use of torture in order to extract confessions from those who are merely suspected of illegal activity, but would it be so wrong to employ the method on those who unquestionably are guilty of monstrous crimes, especially if doing so could help to prevent another such crime? (For the sake of the interrogators' own spiritual welfare, this would have to be done dispassionately rather than out of cruelty.)

Miscellaneous Musing #5: "The Russians Aren't Coming! The Russians Aren't Coming!"

Why did most of the world react to the USSR's boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympiad as if it were a catastrophe, while South Africa hadn't even been permitted to compete in the Olympics for two decades?

Uncommon Commentary #17: Asteroid Asininity

The reason for the dinosaurs' extinction is not known and probably never will be; the explanation most in vogue nowadays, however, is the one that I consider the least plausible of all, viz., that our prehistoric friends died out because an asteroid or meteoroid (not "meteor" or "meteorite") or comet or something struck Earth. Many scientists have a disagreeable penchant for speaking on matters of conjecture as if all the facts were known (at least to them), and this habit is never more irritating than when they and others behave as if the cosmic-collision conceit had won universal acceptance. Proponents never address what I consider to be the obvious objection (to this and to most other alleged causes of "mass extinction"): Why would this putative cataclysm have caused the extinction of all archosaurs (dinosaurs and their reptilian relatives) except for the crocodilian lineage, along with toothed birds and the nautilus-like ammonoids, but not of the many species that survived into our time, the Cainozoic Era?
Some concrete evidence has actually been put forth in favor of the supposition that I'm doubting, although, notably, the supposition came first. This evidence is that "The PT Boundry [sic] contains large amounts of iridium--unnatural to the usual earth composition…" (http://periodic.lanl.gov/elements/77.html) This inadequate statement refers to 1) the Permian-Triassic Boundary, which marks the onset of the archosaur-dominated Mesozoic Era, and 2) an element often found in asteroids. Since the demise of the dinosaurs took place at the end of the Mesozoic, it had nothing to do with the event suggested by that unusual abundance of iridium, but perhaps it resulted from the same sort of occurrence (even though no similar discovery has been made concerning the strata laid down when the dinosaurs went extinct, which happened 65 million years ago, give or take a few weeks). Such speculation does not, however, answer the question that I've raised as to how this catastrophe could have been selective. A disaster that poisoned the atmosphere, for instance, would have effected the disappearance of air-breathing animals, but not of fish and other creatures that extract oxygen from the water; it's inconceivable that any kind of condition would leave the crocodylians unscathed but lead to the perishing of their closest relations. There may be key information that I am missing, but, if so, defenders of the theory are at fault for not providing it. Really the whole issue is a bogus one, since, after all, extinction is normal, and survival for many millions of years is not; that's why the term "living fossil" applies to an exception to this rule. Too many scientists, unfortunately, suffer from an intellectual hubris that won't permit them to concede that there's anything they don't know. Tempting as it might be to declare that iridium has solved the mystery, it's hard to avoid concluding that the asteroid-impact is a palæontological deus ex machina, serving not to quash ignorance but to disguise it.

01 August 2008

Uncommon Commentary #16

I certainly have no opposition to voluntary consumption of nothing but vegetables, but it's different when vegetarians portray themselves as morally superior to those of us who also eat meat. In addition to being egoistic, their position is hypocritical; after all, plants may not move around like animals, but they are fellow living things nonetheless.

Uncommon Commentary #15: I Slam Islam?

Well, do I? The question is too complex to be answered with either "Yes" or "No." Despite the flippant wordplay in the title, this article is a serious examination of one of the critical issues of today.
I believe that Christ is (as He told us) the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and so I take issue with the Moslem tenet that He is not the Savior but merely one in a line of prophets ending with Mohammed. Although Islam doesn't have the whole truth, however, it also certainly is not completely wrong. Muslims, after all, worship the same god as do Christians and Jews; they just have some curious beliefs about Him, such as the notion that we please Him by murdering instead of converting unbelievers. Practitioners of Islam are required to pray to Allah (which is not the personal name of the Deity, but simply means "God"; it's related to the Hebrew "Elohim") several times each day and to give alms to the poor, among other good works. In accepting this monotheistic faith, the people of the Arabian Peninsula took a considerable stride forward, for they had previously been idolaters. Moslems join true (i.e., pro-life) Christians in opposing (induced) abortion, which is the worst evil that the world has ever seen. In the first half of the Seventh Century AD, the East Roman or "Byzantine" Empire inflicted a decisive defeat upon the Sassanid Empire, ending centuries of conflicts between the Christian Greeks and the Zoroastrian Persians; Mohammedan historians deemed it a victory for Truth versus falsehood.
Why, then, is militant Islam a threat to the entire world? How can Moslems say that theirs is a religion of peace, while raising their children to become suicide-bombers? In their avoidance of answering these questions boldly, whether this stems from an innately ineffectual temperament or from a desire not to antagonize any large number of their constituents, politicians like John Kerry accuse Islamist religious leaders (as he did a few months ago) of "misrepresenting a legitimate religion." The Senator's statement, alas, is itself a misrepresentation. The Qur'an (Koran), indeed, ostensibly prohibits violence, but it also, in five suras (chapters), enjoins that Moslems "wage war upon all those who do not accept the doctrines of Islam." (Jihad, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition) I don't begrudge Moslems their willingness to fight for their faith—I wish that most Christians took their nominal religion as seriously as do most Mohammedans—but the importance of the "jihad" concept goes beyond the mere fact that it's a doctrine of holy war. When some of Mohammed's earliest adherents carried out something that was much like a modern terrorist attack, namely, the massacre of a caravan of infidels, they had to deal with the paradox presented in the second sentence of this paragraph; fortunately for the assuaging of their consciences, this atrocity occurred during the lifetime of the man whom they considered a prophet, who reassured them that "It was not you who slew them, but Allah who slew them." (Rand McNally Historical Atlas of the World, p. 41) Along with this exculpation for what the faithful of other major religions would simply deem a war crime, there is a provision for automatic moral exoneration: "In the belief of Moslems every one of their number slain in a jihad is taken straight to paradise." (Jihad, ibid.) The implication is an extremely dangerous one, i.e., anyone who dies during a holy war, regardless of which or how many sins he's committed, is immediately absolved of them. One can therefore do evil throughout one's life, and then, while shouting something like "Allah akbar!" (God is great), close out that life with another act of evil, such as crashing an airplane into a building full of civilians, without ever feeling the slightest pang of guilt.
To me, what's worst about the current excesses of Islam is the prospect that they will bring discredit upon all religion. Finally, the answer to my question in the title of this commentary is that, regarding how to treat with the Moslems, nothing has really changed since the days of the Crusades and of the Caliphate; we must simply side with them when they do right, and oppose them when they do wrong.

25 July 2008

Uncommon Commentary #14

Why should attempted murder be punished less severely than murder, thus effectively rewarding someone for having failed in his attempt to kill?

Uncommon Commentary #13

If "feminists" oppose sexual exploitation, why have they always done things to promote it, such as helping to launch the "sexual revolution?"

Uncommon Commentary #12: Atmos-Pheremongering

I think that simply because Al Gore has recast himself as a (false) prophet of ecological apocalypse—Yes, “recast”; who ever heard a word from Gore about ecology until it became the trendy cause of the 1990's?—people assume that he has expertise in the subject of alleged climate change; he has none, though. He's just a demagogue who realizes that the dispensing of alarmist propaganda reaps great rewards (for instance, the multiplication of his net monetary worth, since leaving office, from $2 million to $100 million) from those whose ignorance makes them susceptible to hysteria, and who thus listen to him rather than to the real experts, i.e., professional meteorologists and climatologists, among whom his view not only has not ended the debate over "global warming" (contrary to Al G.'s arrogant pronouncement to the US Congress), but is actually losing said debate.

01 July 2008

Uncommon Commentary #11

During his "major speech on race," Barack Obama said: "I can no more disown him (his "spiritual mentor," Jeremiah Wright) than I can disown the Black community." Now that he has disowned Rev. Wrong, has he also disowned the "Black community?"

29 June 2008

Uncommon Commentary #10

Homosexuality is a mental disease; this is not "my opinion," but rather psychological fact. If society is to allow same-sex marriage, it might just as well indulge those afflicted by a different aberration, bestiality, and allow matrimony between people and animals; or likewise regard fetishism, and thus permit a person to wed an inanimate object.

20 June 2008

Uncommon Commentary #9

If a man in a dress is a transvestite, why is a woman in trousers normal?

17 June 2008

Uncommon Commentary #8: Super Delegates and a Subpar Candidate

In contrast to the opinions of many generally astute commentators, I don't think it's much to this country's credit that a major party has made a (partly) Black man its presumptive nominee for the presidency. It would be less to our discredit if that party had nominated someone, of any race, other than Barack Obama, whom the non-partisan National Journal magazine named as having the farthest-Left voting record of any senator, who associates with false prophets and other radicals, and who owes his recent success to just two factors: 1) the very fact that he does belong to an ethnic minority, and 2) the fact of his almost total anonymity outside Illinois prior to late 2007. The first factor has already received comment from others, such as Missouri Congressman Clay (a Black Democrat), and so I'll reserve my remarks for the second one.
Some editorialists have observed that Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to nominate surprise candidates; indeed, according to John Yoo in an opinion column called The Democrats’ Super Disaster, the concept of the "superdelegate" originated in the Democrats' desire to avoid repeats of just this sort of nomination, the sort that occurred in 1972 (McGovern) and 1976 (Carter). These editorialists, however, in attempting to explain the sudden prominence of B.O. despite his lack of distinction, always attribute it to either his supposed eloquence or a knack for political success. His public-speaking ability is adequate for a public-office seeker, but he doesn't qualify as any great orator. As for the depiction of him as an electoral juggernaut, it must be considered that, like Clinton in 1992, he won office in 2004 largely by default, for the campaigns of the Democratic front-runner and the Republican nominee both were sunk by personal scandals; in fact, when he had previously sought a seat in the US Senate he had lost the Democratic nomination (to a former Black Panther!), and even his initial election to the State Senate was effected by the disqualification of all his rivals.
Democratic politicians of the past several decades have, as a rule, had pronounced flaws, more of which become evident as time passes; logically, therefore, one who became a public figure recently will be viewed less negatively than one who has been well-known long enough for his poor judgement and low ethical standards to acquire infamy. I therefore posit that Obama, like the previous dark horses from his party, has benefitted from his hitherto obscurity. It may be only hypothesis, but until someone puts forth a better explanation, I'll go with this one.

Miscellaneous Musing #4

Since "Ted" is a dimin. of a name such as Theodore, why does Sen. Edward Kennedy go by it?

Uncommon Commentary #7

I once worked in a library; during my breaks I would peruse any periodicals that had caught my attention, even if they were left-wing rags—I mean, mags—like Mother Jones. It was actually instructive to read these (although I don't recommend this practice to either the naïve or the faint of heart), not, of course, because the content had any value of its own, but because the leftists who wrote it expected no one but other leftists to read it; under such circumstances, they vent their contempt for the common people in whose interests they otherwise pretend to act.

12 June 2008

Miscellaneous Musing #3

If the Universe really began with an explosion, doesn't this event deserve a more dignified name than "the Big Bang?"  Why don't we just revert to calling the beginning of the cosmos "the Creation?"

09 June 2008

Miscellaneous Musing #2

Be wary of someone who levels the accusation of "not being a team player" at someone else. The criticism might be justified; on the other hand, it might be a way for him to coerce others into doing his will, without acknowledging his despotic nature to either them or himself.

Uncommon Commentary #6: We Have Met the Enemy, and They Are Ourselves

In the USA nowadays, it's almost inevitable that anyone who deviates from the "politically correct" heterodoxy will be likened to Hitler or to Nazis in general. I wonder whether most of the leftists who practice this slander as a matter of routine know that "Nazi" is an abbreviation for Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (also known by the acronym NSDAP, as on those banners seen in pictures of rallies in Nuremberg), and that the full name translates as National Socialist German Workers' Party; does that sound rightist to you? The National Socialists favored state control of industry, and had such hostility toward Christianity that they abolished Christmas, substituting for it a pagan festival of the winter solstice. (I'm glad that no one here in the USA would try to replace the Feast of the Nativity with a generic holiday.) Although this has been forgotten, the fact that the Third Reich flourished fiscally while most other countries suffered through the Great Depression impressed other Western countries, which, after World War II, imitated much of the regime's anti-capitalist policy. The popular image of the Führer as the consummate right-wing extremist has resulted largely from honest misconception, since, after all, when people think of him, they don't think of economics; they think about the bloodshed caused by his racial pseudo-science and by his war of aggression. This image, however, is to a degree also the product of intentional distortion by left-wingers who want the public to believe (or who have convinced themselves) that all those who don't think as they do are "racist," "sexist," "homophobic," etc. (Hitler, by the way, at least once defended the homosexuality of his future murder victim Ernst Röhm, in what would now be considered enlightened language). How ironic that it is the views of these name-callers, not those of their opponents, that bear the more similarity to those of Hitler!

03 June 2008

Uncommon Commentary #5: The Other "L-Word"

"Liberal," for many here in the USA, has become a contemptuous term. I, however, no longer use it to refer to the likes of Harry Reid or Hillary [sic] Clinton, not because they don't deserve the pejorative connotation, but because they don't deserve the positive, obsolescent one. Only a few decades ago, calling someone "liberal" meant that you considered him generous and tolerant; can either of these qualities justly be ascribed to most Democrats in the USA? Generous they are, but not with their own money. What they call "tolerance," especially as regards religion, is actually indifference toward issues of right vs. wrong; the intolerance with which they treat anyone who disagrees with them equals or surpasses that, real or otherwise, which made them indignant in the first place.
There was also a time in the history of Western Civilization when the noun "liberal," if the first letter were capitalized, applied to someone who belonged to a political movement or party of the same name. The United Kingdom's Liberal Party, of which William Ewart Gladstone and other worthies were members, had significant accomplishments to its credit, and so it's not surprising that many moderns would want to evoke its memory. The misnamed liberals, however, have little to do with the Liberals, who favored free trade and a laissez-faire approach to regulation of capitalism, and who made no attempts to revolutionize the social order by endorsing crackpot causes. The Labour Party formed in order to represent the interests of the working class, as had the Liberal Party for the middle class and the Tories for the aristocracy. Indeed, it was the first gaining of a parliamentary plurality by Labour, in the 1920's, that brought about the demise of the Liberal Party; the more conservative of Liberals, such as Winston Churchill, joined the Conservatives, while those of a more left-wing bent became Labourites. As for the USA, Republicans, especially modern "conservatives," generally are the true heirs of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Liberalism, as Democrats have been, from the latter 1960's onward, heirs of the left-wing movements of days gone by. (There are, of course, shades of opinion within all ideologies, and exceptions to the rules.)
Hence, the fact that I refer to leftists not as liberals but as—you'll never guess how I came up with this—leftists. The true Right, as distinguished from racism and other beliefs typically but wrongly classed as characteristically right-wing, survives in some forms and in some places, for instance, factions of the Carlists in Spain. So far as I know, it does not in the USA, except for myself and probably others who don't know that they qualify, but that will have to be the subject of another uncommon commentary.

02 June 2008

Uncommon Commentary #4

As the time for presidential primaries in the USA approaches its end, I should say something about why I don't like them. The problem is that it so prolongs the duration of election season; not only can this become wearisome to the voter as well as the candidate, it's also incredibly expensive to campaign in 50 States (or "57," in Obama's case) just to win the nomination of one's party, whereupon one has to start over. This situation obviously is not conducive to reducing the influence of money upon politics.

Miscellaneous Musing #1

Why is it that when the Kuwait War (which is my name for the 1991 conflict between Iraq and coalition forces) broke out, people instantly dubbed it the "Persian Gulf War" or simply the "Gulf War," although they had used the same designation for the struggle between Iran and Iraq, which had ended not three full years earlier? Perhaps the most interesting feature of "the War" in Iraq (see my latest uncommon commentary) is that we've deviated from our odd custom, not calling it the "Gulf War" or "Persian Gulf War III" as one would expect.

28 May 2008

Uncommon Commentary #3: Surge and Insurgency

One question that anyone is likely to be asked nowadays is "What do you think of the war?" My answer begins in turn with a question: "Which war?" The 2003 action to depose Sodom—I mean, Saddam "Hussein" (not his real name) was a different conflict from that going on in Iraq now, which has been incited not by partisans of the late strongman but by terrorists and militants from various countries who have flocked to the region for the opportunity to kill Westerners and anyone else who opposes them. With that distinction made, I say that the first war was a necessary evil and that the second ought not to have become necessary. Let me address the 2003 invasion first.
The decision to go to war versus Iraq five years ago was the only one that a statesman could have made. During the dozen years that had elapsed since Operation Desert Storm, Sodom, though a rather inept tyrant of a minor military power, had made a laughing-stock of world diplomacy's efforts to enforce the resultant peace settlement (to which, remember, he had consented, in order to spare his armed forces utter annihilation). Some of the UN weapons-inspectors changed their story after the 2003 invasion, but prior to it, they repeatedly stated their consensus that the Iraqi regime was not cooperating with them. This alone ought to refute the leftist conspiracy-theory that President Bush knew all along that Iraq had none of those "weapons of mass destruction," but lied as a pretext for war: if Sodom had nothing to hide, why did he try so hard to hide it?
Besides, the question of whether what lay behind the dictator's defiance was actual harboring of illegal ordnance, or merely the ambition to harbor it—that he had at least the latter is indisputable—is moot. The sole responsible position for a member-country of the 1991 coalition to take was to tell Sodom: We defeated you before, and we can do so again. End your noncompliance, or prepare for another invasion.
Further, imagine for a minute that weapons of mass destruction were never an issue. Wouldn't there have been ample justification for ousting Sodom anyway? Where were the self-righteous "peace activists" in 1994, when Mr. Bush's predecessor brought the USA to within a hair's-breadth of war in Haiti? The ostensible purpose of that misadventure was to topple a different ruler: Manuel Cedras, a distasteful person to be sure, but not one whom anybody ever suspected of stockpiling nuclear, chemical, or biological weaponry.
As for the second war, which has proceeded from the effort to give the Iraqis a new government and to suppress the jihadists: the USA and her allies showed a pronounced lack of imagination in rebuilding Iraq as a "democracy," based on the sharing of power between mutually antagonistic groups. Why not carve off the northeast section of the state to become an independent Kurdistan, as was provided anyway in the unratified Treaty of Sèvres, intended to bring Turkish participation in World War I to a formal close?  The remainder could simply be annexed to Jordan, the royal dynasty of which also reigned in Iraq prior to the 1958 coup (which, unsurprisingly, was followed by more coups, culminating in the rise of Sodom).
Finally, I do not deny the undeniable success of the new policy that the Bush Administration adopted in 2007. (It must be noted, though, that the reason why it has borne fruit is not really the addition of 30,000 troops—this is why the name "Surge" is misleading—but the fact that the military now has a counterinsurgency strategy, whereas, previously, the presence of US and other forces in Iraq served no evident function other than that of a crutch for the chronically, and, I still believe, terminally-ill elected government.) Our soldiers and others are defeating thousands of terrorists, and this fact does deserve recognition.

26 May 2008

Uncommon Commentary #2

Use of "Common Era" (CE) and "Before Common Era" (BCE) in place of "Anno Domini" (AD) and "Before Christ" (BC) is:

  1. Paranoid.  One doesn't hear theists griping over the fact that every day of the week is called either directly or indirectly after a pagan deity (e.g., Thursday after Thor, Sunday after the sun god).  Christians understand that the days received their names in heathen times, but that this system has become conventionalized, and that there is therefore no need to change it; the neo-pagans ought to show similar equanimity over the conventionalized naming of the Christian Era.
  2. Dishonest.  What's common about the "Common Era?"  I could have a little respect (though only a little) for the CE-&-BCE crowd if they had found a date that marked a watershed in the history of every civilization, at which a true "common era" could be said to have commenced; but, of course, they didn't do this.  Instead they merely appropriated the Christian Era and renamed it, as if by playing word games they could deny what they evidently consider to be the traumatic (see above) reality that this chronology begins with the birth of the Savior.

19 May 2008

Uncommon Commentary #1

Why is "human" used as a noun nowadays?  My question isn't just rhetorical: the answer is, of course, political correctness (or, to use my own coinage, "totalitarianism light"), but those who are PC could also call us "people," "persons," &c.  Using "humans" to refer to ourselves, in addition to perhaps being ungrammatical, definitely sounds stultified: it's as if a scholar from another planet were writing a treatise about the inhabitants of Earth.