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Right-Wing Terror Apologism

Via Andrew Northrup I find this nasty little screed about yesterday’s terror attack in Baghdad from Emperor Misha (in his own comments section), who likes to think of himself as an “anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.”

I am not “condoning” the attack, I’m merely stating what should be obvious to most people, in my ever so arrogant opinion:

When you play with hyenas (and the UN has being doing nothing BUT that ever since it hobbled out of the swamps), don’t come fucking whining to me when the mangy, rabid beast turns around and bites you.

Excuse me, Mr. Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler. But you did just make excuses for terrorism.

Let’s rerun this and replace just a single small letter.

I am not “condoning” the attack, I’m merely stating what should be obvious to most people, in my ever so arrogant opinion:

When you play with hyenas (and the US has being doing nothing BUT that ever since it hobbled out of the swamps), don’t come fucking whining to me when the mangy, rabid beast turns around and bites you.

Worse than Noam Chomsky. At least Chomsky’s language is clinical.

Most of Emperor Misha’s audience seems to agree with him, judging by the comments thread. How charming.

Unhinged in Paris

Europeans used to blame Jews when people got sick. That same impulse still thrives on the continent.

Howard Fineman in Newsweek:

The blame-America attitude gets silly at times. For example, you might have wondered what caused the suffocating heat wave that has blanketed Europe recently. I found out the moment we arrived in Rouen. There, on the front page of the newspaper Le Monde, was a cartoon: an oppressive sun, with eyes made of dollar signs, smoking a cigar/factory with dollar signs, sending out thunderbolts of heat that pierced a prostrate Europe. In Paris, I asked a young businessman about the cartoon. “Well, of course,” he said as if I were an idiot. “Your President Bush did not sign the Kyoto Accord.” In other words, America was at fault because it had not signed a treaty that will not go into effect for years.

This is beyond silly. It is contemptible. And it is retarded.

It is not contemptible because Le Monde is wrong about the facts. It is contemptible because Le Monde and the young businessman in Paris even think such nonsense is plausible. What, too hot for ya? Well, it must be because of those filthy greedy Americans. That’s the first thing that pops into their heads when something annoys them.

We’re a cross between Klingons and the Ferringhi to them, apparently.

They really will find a way to blame us for everything. What’s next? Really. What’s next? Because you know as well as I do that something will be next.

As the French blog Merde in France reported recently:

Remember Americans, you are hated here. Hated more than the worst terrorists and murderers.

It’s one thing to have crypto-racist fantasies about Americans. And it’s another thing altogether to ratchet it up at a time when genocidal fanatics promise to turn America into a sea of deadly radiation because they think we’re a bunch of Satanic infidels. It’s even worse to behave this way and then pretend to be our friend and ally who deserves respect and consultation.

Shelly and I visited France a year and a half ago and we had a great time. Everyone was nice to us, despite their reputation for rudeness with tourists. The French as individuals are fine people, honest to gosh they really are. Politically, as a collective, they’re becoming unhinged. Maybe they think the same about us. I’m sure, in fact, that they do. But I have yet to see anti-French American sentiment come even close to the craziness exhibited by our counterparts over in Paris.

It’s been hot as hell here in Portland this summer. And not a single person thinks the cause is anything other than weather. If anyone thought to blame the French or the Jews or the Arabs or anyone else they would be regarded like a deranged person yelling at cars in the streets.

Target: UN

The Baathist “resistance” hit the UN headquarters in Baghdad with a truck bomb.

The top UN envoy to Iraq was killed.

These attacks are not a cry for help. They are committed by Saddam’s goons determined to kill their way back into power. Camouflage helmet, blue helmet, it doesn’t matter. If you get in their way, you’re dead.

Now that the UN has been hit, the fact-resistant might finally understand that these are the bad guys.

UPDATE: Kimmitt in the comments says I am intellectually bankrupt. That’s fine, he’s entitled to his opinion. But I would like to make something clear.

“The resistance” is a loaded term, and I know very well what it means to people in left-wing circles. It implies justice and right, especially when juxtaposed with “the occupation.” And most in the media use this term to describe Baathist and terrorist hit squads.

It will be interesting to see if thugs who kill UN envoys will be called “the resistance” or if they will get a new name.

The State of Serial Killers

In David Fincher’s nightmarish film Seven, Kevin Spacey plays John Doe, mad Bible man and the creepiest on-screen killer since Hannibal Lector. John hated sinners and he set out to kill seven, one victim for each of the Deadly Sins; Gluttony, Pride, Envy, Lust, Anger, Greed, and Sloth.

johndoe.jpg

Now Iran has its own flesh-and-blood version.

When the drought ended and the rains came, Saeed Hanaei believed that it was a sign from God that his killing spree had divine approval. “I realised God looked favourably on me. That he had taken notice of my work,” Hanaei said. With 12 prostitutes already dead by his hands, Hanaei carried on his “work” and strangled at least four more women after luring them to his house in the Iranian city of Mashhad.

You can imagine if this guy were American what the media would say about him.

But he isn’t American. He is Iranian. And the Iranian media, controlled by the state, aren’t so sure he’s even a bad guy.

The case provoked a debate between reformers who condemned the authorities for failing to catch him earlier and some conservatives who shared the killer’s disgust with a rise in prostitution.

“Who is to be judged?” wrote the conservative newspaper Jomhuri Islami. “Those who look to eradicate the sickness or those who stand at the root of the corruption?”

It’s not surprising that the mullahs can’t quite come out against him. He is not so different from them; self-righteous, psychotic, intolerant, fundamentalist, and murderous. The only difference between him and the state is his freelancing.

One is Enough

Andrew Northrup (aka The Poor Man) has a short succinct post explaining why the US doesn’t need an American Guardian.

There are a lot of complaints one might make about the American media – there are a lot of complaints one might make – but I don’t think you could count “being insufficiently obsessed with Israel” as one of them.

Read it all. The whole thing is good.

What I Did During the Blackout

We didn’t get a blackout here in the Pacific Northwest, but Shelly and I wanted one. So we went “camping” this weekend at a long narrow lake in a canyon in the central Oregon desert.

Proper camping is when you hike at least an hour to a remote place in the sticks, preferably near a lake at the foot of a volcano, humping a pack stuffed with fifty pounds of provisions; camp stove, dehydrated chicken and rice, water filter, MacGyver knife, sleeping bag (no pillow), tent (no frills), waterproof matches, and beef jerky.

“Camping” is when you pitch your tent next to the car in a “campground” where you can listen to the ballgame on the radio of the guy in the parking space next to you.

We pulled into the so-called campground just after dark and took the last tent space. We hardly needed a flashlight to pitch the tent. The place was lit up like a parking lot at a sports stadium. Every campsite had at least one lantern on the picnic table. The people across from us had five.

So the tent thing was easy. Then I lay back to look at the moonless night sky and listen to the crickets. I needed those crickets. Only they could unwind the coil of urban stress in my back. Then I could melt into the shimmering sky and rest.

But it was not to be.

The family to our left had five kids, all of ‘em fighting over who got to play with the dump truck.

Near as I could tell, the oldest person in the five-lantern family across from us was fifteen years old. There were at least eight of them, and every one had a case of the giggles. The girls in the tent swatted each other with pillows, and the boys outside played cards and slapped their hands on the table.

The family to our right had two and a half kids, all of them boys. “Get up and help your mother with the pots and pans.” “But, Dad, I don’t want to do anything right now.” (I could relate.) “You’ve spent all of fourteen years not doing anything. Now move.”

People are not supposed to behave this way in the woods after dark. Especially not in a canyon that amplifies sound.

Our “campsite” was on the path to the bathrooms. The path is a street, mind you, paved with asphalt and slathered with gravel. Every kid under twelve who walked by insisted on scraping his feet. Shloomp shloomp shloomp. Their mothers always seemed to be yelling.

It was just like the city without any walls. It wasn’t nature. It was a tailgate party minus the beer.

I couldn’t enjoy the crickets, so I figured I’d just go to sleep. It was all I could do to shut off the racket.

In the middle of the night I woke to Shelly squeezing my hand. She sat bolt upright in her sleeping bag and cocked her head sideways.

Something’s happening. Something’s out there.

We heard munching sounds. An animal was eating our food. And it wasn’t a raccoon or a chipmunk. It was too loud, surely a large mammal. A deer? A bear? Then I heard feet scrape past our tent. Shloomp shloomp shloomp. Human. Some dipshit eating our Cheeze-Its in our camp at 2:00 in the morning.

Shelly unzipped the tent. Heavy feet clomped away in the darkness.

She wanted to walk to the bathroom but didn’t want to wander around alone, not with the Cheeze-It Killer on the loose. So we both went. The canyon walls were awash with a spooky gray moonlight. The band of the Milky Way was bright as a celestial grow lamp. Mars shimmered above us, as close to Earth as the planet has ever been. It was quiet for once, and it was finally dark. The lanterns were out, the yammering silenced. Every third tent we passed vibrated with snoring, but at last I could listen to the crickets.

Then the horror show started. First one then at least a dozen coyotes howled at the moon, then at each other.

If you’ve never heard coyotes you have no idea what I’m talking about. It is the sound of a hundred madmen stabbing babies with scissors. High-pitched, piercing, feral, bloodthirsty, and mad.

They are harmless animals, but not everyone knows it. Most people don’t get the chance to hear them, especially not those who treat the great outdoors like a suburban block party on the Fourth of July.

The hysterical shrieking ricocheted off the canyon walls. We were surrounded. The tent-snoring stopped. A hundred pairs of eyelids snapped to attention, and no one dared giggle or make a ruckus.

For the first time that night, everyone understood where they were and what was expected of them.

We’re not in Portland anymore. We’re in the hinterland, in the desert. There are things out there and they don’t like the blazing light and the racket.

I climbed into bed and was lulled back to sleep by the chirping of crickets.

The Lure of Destruction

The Washington Post says Mt. Rainier is far more dangerous than we knew. My first reaction: excellent. Only later did I think yikes.

I can see the mountain from my office in Portland. It’s bigger than you think.

rainier.jpg

Shelly and I drove 1,000 miles along the Andes range in Chile last December. And we didn’t see a single mountain as massive. Nor did we see a place so wracked with violence as the ground around Rainier.

The drive to the mountain is spooky. The land is shot through with gouges cut by eruption flows. Snow-covered ridges, themselves as tall as mountains, thrust straight up from the ravines. Rainier itself is incomprehensibly huge. Three miles tall and many miles wider, it looks to the eye the size of a planet. Red and yellow pools burble along the trails around the lakes. At the foot of the mountain I saw a grove of evergreens sprayed with rust-colored minerals that had exploded out of the ground. The mountain is rotting from within. Unfelt earthquakes roll beneath the ground on a regular basis.

It grumbles. It stirs. And it moves.

I was nine years old on May 18, 1980 when I sat on the roof of my house and watched Mt. St. Helens go mad. The apocalyptic explosion packed thousands of times the force of the Hiroshima bomb. I was 100 miles away in Salem, and the eruption was a gray silhouette painted in ash on the horizon. The sound wave thundered into downtown Portland, arced over my sleepy town, and hit the ground an hour south in Eugene. I heard the cries of birds and the soft roar of traffic, but people in Eugene said it sounded like war.

sthelens.jpg

I was lucky I was a child. If it happened ten years later I would have driven straight toward ground zero. Only the police or the army could have kept me away. I needed to see the mayhem up close; the mudslides, the ash cloud, the terrible black sky that one survivor said looked like Hell.

A few years later my dad put me and my brother in the car and we drove toward the mountain to the end of the road. Halfway between I-5 and the crater the highway was blockaded by a chain-link fence with a stern government warning to stay the hell out. Danger lie ahead. The air was hot and sticky and close. I felt an electrical charge. I imagined myself scaling the fence so I could walk the rest of the way, ducking from government helicopters that surely (or so I imagined) kept a watchful eye on the criminally adventurous and the stupid.

Later they opened it up. The mountain was supposed to be safe, which also meant it was boring. But at least we could see what had happened.

We drove through a vast dead fireplace. The flame was out, the ashes cold. The ancient forest was blown down. Hundreds of thousands of stately firs were reduced to entombed gray logs. The earth was a moonscape of ash. And we were still far from the mountain.

I would have driven this far, I thought, if I were old enough to drive on the day that it happened.

I’m glad to be alive, of course, but part of me feels cheated as though I had slept through it.

Our horizon is a skyline of mountains. Mt. Hood watches over Portland like a sentinel. It looks grumpy and tired in summer, and is a shimmering white jewel in the winter. Every couple of years it throws tantrums and fits. The geologists say to watch out, and the local papers blow it all out of proportion. I think the journalists want the mountain to blow.

hood.jpg

I don’t want it to blow. Towns would be annihilated. Portland’s easternmost suburbs are in danger. I can’t wish death and destruction on my community. But it sure would be interesting, at least in the sense of the Chinese curse. Payback time for my nose-bleeder seats back in ‘80. Mt. Hood is right at my door. I could watch the pyroclastic flow down the side of the mountain. I could hear the primordial roar and feel the blast in my bones.

My wife and I will visit Guatemala this winter. The old colonial capital of Antigua nests in a valley between three volcanoes. One of them, Volcan Pacaya, is constantly active. A wisp of smoke is a nearly permanent feature, and lava sometimes streams down the sides. From the city at night you can see it glow red from the fire. I’ll rent a car, or I’ll take the chicken bus, and I will get as close to that mountain as the roads will allow. Brave tourists can pay a guide to take them up top. Sometimes they flee in terror, and sometimes they die. I’ll need my wife to keep me from scaling its walls.

guatamalavolcano.jpg

(Photo copyright Quetzal Adventures.)

Blog Bias

The liberal blogger Kevin Drum has a list of who he thinks are interesting conservatives. And the conservative writer Daniel Drezner posts his pick of interesting liberals.

Matt Yglesias points out that the people on Kevin’s list aren’t really conservatives. They’re libertarians. They’re centrists, moderates, social liberals. And Matt notes that left-wing bloggers don’t represent the left very well; they are more likely to be white and male.

I’ll add that bloggers are more likely to be well-educated on both sides of the political spectrum. At least we’re all news junkies, which is part of the reason we write about current events in the first place.

I find the right side of the blogosphere a lot more agreeable than conservatives generally. The Religious Right appears to be absent. If it has a blog presence, I haven’t found it. Who in blogdom supports Pat Robertson? Are there any Jerry Falwell fans with Web sites that don’t have yellow backgrounds and screaming exclamation points at the end of every sentence? A big chunk of right-wing America just hasn’t discovered this yet. Maybe they’re all still stuck in talk-radio land.

But left-wing America is all over the blogs. Maybe not demographically, as Matt Yglesias notes, but ideologically. The ultra-left is bogged down in the Indymedia quagmire, but it’s a miniscule fraction of America, much smaller than the Christian Right. Maybe they do have blogs but no one links to them because they can’t find Shift on the keyboard.

Libertarians are over-represented on the Internet. That’s not a new observation. But we can make the same point in a different way: the blogosphere is more left-wing than America by an order of magnitude.

Email of the Week

George Jong emails:

I have to admit, I get a little freaked out by the fact that you keep appearing in the comments of all the blogs I read – Kevin Drum, Jeff Jarvis, Roger Simon, etc. It’s like pulling over to three different rest stops and finding the same biker standing at the urinal next to you each time.

Then I read Welch’s post about DSL, and I find not only you, but also Boomshock and Lileks. What the heck is going on here?

A biker? Me?

You make me laugh, George. But I hit Welch’s comments first. Maybe I should ask you what’s up…

Which Country Are You?

Randy Paul took the Country Quiz and it told him he is India. Apparently, I’m Canada.

You’re Canada!

People make fun of you a lot, but they’re stupid because you’ve got a much better life than they do. In fact, they’re probably just jealous. You believe in crazy things like human rights and health care and not dying in the streets, and you end up securing these rights for yourself and others. If it weren’t for your weird affection for ice hockey, you’d be the perfect person.

Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

What’s Up with Arnold

Gerard Van der Leun calls me the “Swiss Army Knife of commentators.” Hey. I think I like that. And it seems I inadvertantly helped Gerard figure out what’s up with Arnold.

Arnold, Gerard says, is a bi-liberal.

(Notice how we all know who I’m talking about. I didn’t write his last name. Like Monica and Hillary, there can only be one.)

Socialism Without the Socialism

James Becker emails and points me to an article by Ronald Bailey in Reason about a universal health insurance plan from the New America Foundation.

It looks good to me. In fact, I think it’s the best one I’ve seen.

Every American would be required to buy their own insurance. Those who can’t afford it would get assistance from state-funded vouchers.

According to their theory, premiums would be less expensive if everyone had insurance. The risk pool would be larger, and no one would have to make up the costs of treating the uninsured. Since every single American would choose their own company, increased competition would drive down the price. It’s hard to say if they’re right about this, but the price wouldn’t likely go up.

Those with health insurance benefits from their employer could select their own company and policy. Employers would still make the payment, but they would no longer dictate the terms.

New regulation would protect people with pre-existing conditions.

New America Foundation CEO Ted Halstead says the idea is politically independent and centrist.

A policy of mandatory health insurance defies the usual political spectrum. Its universalist dimension should appeal to the left, while its market-based orientation should appeal to the right. The interesting question is who will be first to lay claim to this idea: President Bush or one of the Democratic presidential candidates.

It seems to me that Democrats should like this more than Republicans. Ronald Bailey in Reason calls the foundation a liberal policy shop. And universal health insurance is clearly a job for the left, especially if government assistance is part of the bargain.

But if Reason likes it there must be some centrist appeal. Maybe some in the GOP might go for it, too. It isn’t “welfare,” and it certainly isn’t socialist.

UPDATE: Adam Sullivan has more.

Democracy Should Be Fun

George Will:

Truly conservative Californians — you few know who you are — will vote against the recall to protest its plebiscitary cynicism.

Oh, lighten up, Will.

Look. I changed my mind about the goofball celebrity thing. If I lived in California right now I would have no choice but to vote for either Arnold or Gary Coleman. Why? Because it’s California. Because it would be fun. And because complaining about it is boring.

Come on, California. Throw the bums out. Throw out the whole bum class while you’re at it.

Final Poll Results

John Hawkins at Right-Wing News polled a list of left-wing bloggers, including myself, and asked us who we thought were the 20 worst figures in American history.

I posted my list over the weekend.

Now John has posted the tallied results on his page.

13 from my list of 19 are there. I guess I’m not as out of step with the rest of the left as I thought. (Though I don’t want to think we’re only united by who and what we don’t like.)

I’m sorry to see that Reagan and Bush made the list. I didn’t include them, though of course I knew others would. Even so, less than half of us picked either one of them.

Taylor is Out

Sometimes the threat of force works wonders all by itself, so long as the threat is credible.

Charles Taylor has feld Liberia into exile in Nigeria. He wasn’t driven out by years of civil war but by a cocked American gun.

Taylor arrived in Nigeria hours after surrendering power to his vice president in the capital, Monrovia. Relatives, friends and some government soldiers at the airport cried and wailed as Taylor and his relatives left.

Rebel leader Sekou Conneh, speaking in nearby Ghana, welcomed Taylor’s departure from Liberia and declared: “The war is over.”

As Taylor left, U.S. warships appeared on the horizon off the coast — a thrilling sight for Monrovians desperate for an end to 14 years of war. Yet no forces disembarked and the ships soon withdrew from view.

He will not be missed.

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