31 May 2009

Miscellaneous Musing #14

When I was quite young, sauropods (the largest dinosaurs) were always depicted in the water; now, they never are, but are instead shown trekking miles across dry land. It seems to me that the pendulum has swung much too far; all the sauropods had nostrils high on their skulls, which indicates unmistakably that these animals were amphibious. (This is my third Mesozoic musing; I hope that I haven't devoted too much space to this topic, but, after all, I'm something of a dinosaur myself, being a Christian in a neo-pagan country, having high standards of spoken and written English but living in a time when such standards have fallen so low as to be practically subterranean, etc.)

24 May 2009

Uncommon Commentary #57: Our Method of Trying Is Very Trying

In the phrase "jury of one's peers," "peers" originally meant those of the realm; the jury was an innovation of the English aristocracy, intended to restrain the power of post-Norman-Conquest kings (especially John, whom those aristocrats forced to sign the Magna Charta) by preventing the monarch from juridically punishing intractable nobles without the concurrence of fellow nobles.  This concept evolved—more accurately, "degenerated"—into something that I think ought to be abolished: trial by a jury of average citizens.  Were I on trial for my life, I'd rather that my earthly fate lay in the hands of professionals (the judge who presides over my case, and those who have charge of appellate courts) than in those of a bunch of amateurs, most of whom would rather be doing almost anything other than dispending justice.

22 May 2009

Uncommon Commentary #56: The Too-Stupid Solution

These days, people seem to take for granted that the "two-state solution" is the way to proceed toward peace in the Holy Land.  Conventional wisdom, however, is so often wrong that it ought perhaps to be termed "conventional lack of wisdom"; so it is true here.  I shall explain forthwith why the idea of a Palestinian Arab state is one whose time will never come.
It's not widely considered that a "two-state solution" has already been attempted.  Consequent to Turkey's defeat in World War One, the area then called Palestine (the land now bounded by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and the Mediterranean Sea) was mandated to Great Britain, to be prepared for eventual independence.  By 1948, the British had, understandably, wearied of administering the region, and so turned over the question of Palestine to the United Nations, which voted to partition the area into Jewish and Arab realms.  The Zionists accepted this, but no sooner had the United Kingdom ended its rule than their neighbors (both the established ones, such as Egypt, and the Palestinian Arabs who the UN expected to coexist with incipient Israel) attacked, proclaiming their intention to "drive the Jews into the sea." (The fact that the Mufti of Jerusalem, Said Haj Amin el Husseini, called for "extermination and momentous massacre" suggests that the war cry was more than an empty slogan.  The implication should unsettle people of today who know of only the Holocaust; Jews were evidently threatened with annihilation for the second time in a span of three years.)  Fortunately, divine justice was on the side of Israel, which not only triumphed versus great odds, but emerged larger than it would have been had the violence not taken place.  The Arabs, however, can claim no moral high ground because of this, because of their war aim and because the new borders merely followed the cease-fire lines of 1949.
This First Arab-Israeli War had great significance for the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Holy Land, since the problem was caused not by the Israelis but by the Arabs themselves.  A superb article by Efraim Karsh proves that those who became refugees were not driven from their homes by the Zionists (who actually tried to get them to stay), but ordered out by their own leaders. (Further, at the close of the conflict, the Kingdom of Transjordan successfully claimed the West Bank, henceforward being known simply as "Jordan"; yet, after the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israeli armies occupied the Kingdom's unilaterally annexed territory, it declined to absorb all the outflow of the people to whom it had proclaimed its protection.)  Thus was the first two-state "solution" stillborn, through the Arabs' own hatred and intransigence.
What ought to be done, then, in place of resurrecting this failed idea?  My proposal is to cut off the international aid squandered on the Palestinian Arabs, and re-allocate this copious amount of money for the purpose of resettling them, homesteader and refugee alike, in sparsely-populated Arab countries.  This would not create what (before the USA in particular and the world in general became obsessed with "diversity") was formerly recognized as a "minority problem," because there is no ethnic distinction between the Arabs on the West Bank (as well as Gaza) and those on the opposite side of the River Jordan (hence the fact that I refer to the former as Palestinian Arabs rather than simply as "Palestinians", which would give the false impression that they are a racially and/or culturally distinct people).  It ought to be added in conclusion that if the Palestinian Arabs ever had a right to statehood, they long ago forfeited that prerogative through their bald refusals to make even the most negligible concession for the sake of peace, and through their election of the likes of Yassir Arafat and the Hamas militia to their highest offices.  If world diplomacy wants to make an independent state of a region whose inhabitants consider terrorists to be their leaders, it might as well reëstablish the Third Reich or the USSR.

18 May 2009

Uncommon Commentary #55

If the University of Notre Dame's commencement speaker believes that "both" sides in the abortion debate "should stop demonizing each other," why doesn't he discharge or at least reprimand Janet Napolitano for categorizing opponents of fœticide as extremists and as potential terrorists?

17 May 2009

Uncommon Commentary #54: Is Rule by Democrats "Torture" Enough?

I have already written briefly, in Uncommon Commentary#18 (which posting, however, resulted from a random philosophical thought rather than from the partisan pseudo-crusade against "enhanced interrogation techniques"), on the subject of "torture" of those whose criminality is undeniable, and there have been various articles covering aspects of this topic, but I haven't seen any that treat them all systematically, and so perhaps it falls to me to fill the void. Here, then, are six points that need to be understood by everyone:
1) Torture is defined as the intentional infliction of severe pain. Would any rational, unbiased person assert that "waterboarding," for instance, comes under this category? (It does exceed what would be permitted in the questioning of common criminals by local police, but someone such as Abu Zubaydah is no common criminal, and his case is not one for local police. The term "enhanced interrogation techniques," however euphemistic it may sound, therefore seems justified.)
2) The terrorists, with a very few exceptions, are not US citizens, and thus not entitled to the privileges of US citizenship.
3) The employment of "enhanced interrogation techniques," or e.i.t.'s, has yielded such valuable information that intelligence professionals (even those who are Democrats) credit it with the prevention of "a second 9/11."
4) The real issue in the bogus furor over alleged torture is not whether waterboarding and the like ought to be used now (which they are not), but whether legal advisers who gave their expert opinions that such methods were permissible, and the government officials who took that advice, ought to be retroactively (and thus unconstitutionally) prosecuted (and persecuted) for having done so.
5) It's been established beyond question that the Congressional Democrats who scream the loudest about "torture" were briefed, on many occasions, on the procedures being employed against captured terrorists, and that not only did none object to those procedures, but the only objections came from those who wanted to know why the CIA wasn't doing more to extract information from the detainees.
6) For this point, see my hypothetical reasoning in Uncommon Commentary #18, and (since it's nice to have my opinion corroborated by someone whom I respect) this column. (It's no wonder that I like Sowell so well.)
I'm not an apologist for the USA; I think that Uncle Sam has does many things to be ashamed of. Alleged torture of prisoners is not among them; the fact that we permit so pathetic a spectacle as the Left's disingenuous campaign versus "torture" to go on, under the auspices of "democracy," is.

04 May 2009

Uncommon Commentary #53: The Hypocritic Oath

You who have not already heard of this may not believe it, but physician Philip Nitschke is going to host a "suicide workshop" for the elderly. You can access the unpleasant details here. Important to note about that article is the reference to Eluana Englaro, who did not commit suicide, but was instead put to death by starvation; for the edification of the young people in my audience, this was considered murder not very long ago in the history of the West. The fact that she is mentioned in the debate over the "right to die" demonstrates the ease with which the acceptance of assisted suicide leads to that of what's called euthanasia. (Perhaps the issue is not a slippery slope but a precipice.)
Nitschke, like Jack Kevorkian, has been nicknamed "Dr. Death"; the many willing inducers of abortion could also legitimately claim such a title. One wonders whether these healers who hail from Hell are even aware that part of the original Hippocratic oath reads as follows:
I will give no deadly drug to any, though it be asked of me, nor will I counsel such, and especially I will not aid a woman to procure abortion.
A decision concerning the fate of such an unfortunate as Englaro or Terry Schiavo is not an easy one for any conscientious person, but, as the above quote shows, that decision is not to be made by a physician, whose duty is not to take life but to preserve it. Hippocrates formulated his oath in the context of ancient Greek civilization, which, superior to that of the contemporary Old Testament in most respects, definitely lagged in moral standards; hence the necessity of the oath for improving the ethics of medical doctors. As our culture relapses into paganism, we again must hear the proverb "Physician, heal thyself!"