Professor Froward's Slough of Despond

Proud purveyor of flawed generalizations and vacuous tautologies.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Pro Forma Platitude Parade

I have, let's see, how many readers? Somewhere in the low single-digit range, it seems: In fact, it would be dishonorable to count myself, so a reasonable approximation would be "on the close order of zero". In round numbers of course.

Nevertheless, I'll chime in with LGF, Instapundit, and The Corner (among others): A ban on flag burning is a rotten idea. The First Amendment as written suits me just fine. Another Conservative Blogger Supports Legalized Flag-Burning™. Or "me, too!" as they used to say on USENET back in the Upper Devonian (poor in trilobites, but rich in platitudes; isn't that enough?).

You can't go around outlawing expression of moronic ideas, because who defines "moronic"? The government does. Do you trust them? Even if you trust the guy who has the job today, are you willing to commit your grandchildren to trusting his successor in fifty years? Me neither. This principle applies all over: Do we not need guns to defend ourselves against the government this week? Maybe not, but what about next week? A century from now? You are aware that things change in this world, right?

Missing the point

Power Line doesn't get it:

Sweet advises, "For the record, Durbin never accused the military of the mistreatment at Guantanamo. Durbin said he did not know who to blame: the military, CIA or private contractors." For the record, Lynn, the detention operation at Guantanamo is a military operation. The imputation of atrocities or torture to the operation bears rather closely on the discharge of their duty.

Both Dick Durbin and Linda Foley have largely succeeded in changing the subject. They doggedly pretend that the problem is that they gave offense, that the problem with their remarks is that they accused the wrong people, or that they used the wrong words in doing it, or whatever. They keep hammering on that point, but it's perfectly irrelevant.

The problem isn't that they offended anybody; they problem is that they lied. The issue isn't whether it was the CIA or the Marine Corps that killed 10.5 million Jews, communists, homosexuals, and gypsies at Guantanamo Bay. The issue is that nobody killed anybody there.

Of course lefties lie about tiny irrelevancies as compulsively as they lie about the big things that matter, but you can't let them muddy the waters that way. We've just been told that 14% of Americans believe that listening to lousy music is identical to being worked to death at Auschwitz, if the CD player is operated by somebody in an American uniform. Think about that. One out of every seven of Americans polled believe a lie so hilariously insane it'd almost make a lefty blush. People on our side have been saying that's a low number, but in fact it's alarmingly high. One out of seven Americans have taken leave of their senses. The hard left is growing, and that's not good: Imagine if 14% of Americans agreed with the Ku Klux Klan.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

They're still looking for The Real Killers™

LGF informs us that yet another genius has a loony 9/11 WTC theory. The hook is that this particular moron is the "former chief economist for the Department of Labor during President George W. Bush’s first term".

Have the lefties already started calling this a "smoking gun"? After all: He worked for Bush! This is the Inside Scoop! The Department of Labor must have been in the Conspiracy up to the eyeballs! It all fits!

Speaking of fits...

But seriously, folks. Some clown from the Labor Dept. would have no more of an "inside scoop" on this nonsense than your local dogcatcher — and his claims have nothing to do with his old job at the Labor Department, anyway. That's just the narrative hook UPI used as an excuse to treat his breakdown as news. Instead, his claims rely on his expertise as an engineer, which doesn't exist.

But here's the punchline. He says,

Only professional demolition appears to account for the full range of facts associated with the collapse of the three buildings.

Last I checked, the "full range of facts" involved a full range of video, from multiple sources, depicting an airplane flying into one of the towers.

Is that a common side effect of "professional demolition"? When you see an airplane fly into a bulding, is "professional demolition" the simplest and most natural explanation?


And the UPI reports this raw lunacy with a straight face.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Imagine if somebody wanted to repeal the Fourth Amendment on the grounds that 99.9% of Americans will never need it. What kind of sense would that make?

The anti-gun people I've known have taken the view that being attacked is so unlikely that it's silly to prepare for it: If you disarm, say, a thousand people, something like 999 of them will never have needed a gun anyway. Pro-gun people tend to see it differently: Some people, beyond any doubt, are attacked every year, and if you disarm everybody, you are disarming each and every one of the particular individuals who'll need a gun very badly.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I'm too sexy for this rhetoric

Harry's Place notes what looks a bit like a lurch towards the intellectual abyss on the part of some left-leaning folks in the UK.

The left have gotten into the habit of playing one-up with each other in their rhetoric about Israel (and about the US as well, naturally). Groups of teenage boys often behave the same way, daring each other to do increasingly stupid things until somebody breaks a window. The more extreme their rhetoric gets, the braver they feel; once they get used to a certain extreme and all their friends are talking that way too, they feel brave enough to go just a little farther. And they get attention by being the first on the block with a new rhetorical trope, as long as it's not too far ahead of the pack. It feeds on itself. It's the same with women's clothing: Remember back in the 1980s when bell-bottoms ("flares" to the UK) were a bizarre, atavistic aberration? Bell-bottoms were unthinkable! Then somebody tried them, just a little bit, and people thought it was a nice novelty. So the next season, the flares flared a little more, and so on, and here we are. They look normal now.

Let's face it, hating "the Other" is natural for the human race. It feels good, at least when we do it in groups. Since the 1950s, most of us in the West have put an ungodly amount of work into teaching ourselves not to feel good about hating gays or black people or women, but still... doesn't it feel good just to let go and wallow in it once in a while?

So at the moment, most of the left blindly hates Israelis, but they don't hate Jews in principle: They only hate those Jews who live in Israel, or those Jews who speak in defense of the Jews who live in Israel, or who critique any particular expression of left-wing hostility to Israel. But if you have to keep ratcheting the rhetoric up a notch every season to stay on the cutting edge of left-wing rhetorical fashion, sooner or later you'll have no place left to go but simple, explicit, old-fashioned anti-Semitism: Hating Jews because they are Jews, full stop. And by the time you get there, it won't seem like a very big step at all.

If you think that the Left (or anybody, including you and me) is magically, supernaturally immune to ethnic hatred, you're kidding yourself. You're also silencing that very important part of your intellect which ought to ask, from time to time, "am I thinking like a bigot here? Am I, in fact, full of shit?" To put it another way: Criticism of Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic; that's obvious. But when you start believing that anybody who dislikes Israel is necessarily not anti-Semitic, then you are, in fact, full of shit.

Friday, June 10, 2005

PowerLine Flirts with Wilsonianism

And about time, too.

You're Very Welcome, Australia

Courtesy of LGF, Paul Edwards at Anti-Subjugator very kindly thanks the US for all the fine things we've done in the brief moments when we weren't, as the lefties so incessently howl at us, being the sole cause of all evil and misfortune in the universe. Quoth Paul:

...most of the rest of the world maintains grudges for centuries... If only people would adopt the American way, the world would be so much better.

No, no, no, you poor literal-minded colonial! They're not maintaining grudges, they're "aware of history", unlike us stupid Yanks! See, all that time they spend hating and killing each other makes them more sophisticated than us. And nuanced. Honestly, when you consider the rich culture of the Balkans, don't you feel sorry for us poor dumb clueless Yanks?

But it's different when we remember stuff like how we helped Europe in the two world wars and so on. Then we're just dwelling on old nonsense, of no contemporary relevance to anybody. Just remember, kids: The bad things we did in the 1870s are vitally important recent history, while the good things we did in the 1940s happened so long ago that no reasonable person could possibly care.

But anyway. Thank you, Paul Edwards, and thank you, Australia.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Norm Geras relates a conversation with Christopher Hitchens, wherein Hitchens describes his outlook on something (religious belief, as it happens, not that it matters) as "Freudian as well as Marxist".

Not merely Freudian, but also Marxist? What's left, phrenology? How about Scientology, Chris? Can you fit that in there too?

I told you Hitchens was a clown. I told you, and I told you.

Geras doesn't seem to get that. It's weird to read Geras. He's such an agreeable, levelheaded, sensible person, until he gets onto that socialism thing and turns into an agreeable levelheaded lunatic. I can't not like him, but sometimes I really have to wonder what he's thinking.

UPDATE 6/15/2005: Maybe Hitchens is joking?

UPDATE 6/15/2005 #2: Who cares?


Paul Mirengoff at the estimable Power Line (you've heard of 'em?) thinks left-wing blame-America-first-ism is "self-hating". He's mistaken. They don't hate themselves; they hate America. They feel no particular connection between the two. Nancy Pelosi speaks of the United States in the third person. When these people sell the country out to curry favor with idiots who despise them, they don't think any more of it than they would of selling, say, their mothers.