Zomblog post read aloud in the Senate

How often do blog posts make it into the Senate record?

I’m not sure, but we now know at least one has made it that far:

Part of a post I wrote back in 2009 was read verbatim today in the United States Senate by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) during a debate about the “global cooling” fad among scientists in the early 1970s.

As detailed succinctly by Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air, the argument started when Senator John Barrasso cited several media reports from the ’70s warning that scientists now think the planet is threatened by a looming “ice age.” Senators Barbara Boxer and Tom Udall then reply by entering into the Senate record a recent USA Today article which claims that the global cooling thesis in the ’70s never quite reached the level of complete scientific consensus.

It was at this point that Senator Inhofe shoots back a zinger, taking a page printed out from my zomblog post of September 16, 2009 entitled John Holdren in 1971: “New ice age” likely, and reading the words written by the man who is now Obama’s top “science czar,” John Holdren, warning of the perils of the coming ice age.

The reason I’m 100% positive that Inhofe was reading a page printed from zomblog is that he read not just the Holdren essay I dug up, but actually a short passage of my own introductory words before he gets to the Holdren part.

As you can see at my original post linked to above, I wrote in 2009,

Below is a direct scan from pages 76-77 in the book Global Ecology…”

…followed by a transcription of Holdren’s essay.

Reading from a printout, here’s what Inhofe said (starting at 3:15 into the video):

“What he had written was, ‘Below is a direct scan from his pages 76-77 of his book, he said…”

…followed by the same transcription.

Now, even without this telltale recitation of my own words, I would have known that the testimony would have been at least based on my post, since I was the first person to dig deep and recover Holdren’s old writing from the memory hole, and that my posts were the first exposés on the topic. But the fact that Inhofe actually read my introductory sentence confirms it conclusively: zomblog is now part of the Senate record!

Here’s the video showing the whole exchange:

Side note, for those following the global warming debate:

As to the content of the back-and-forth dispute between, on one side Senators Barrasso and Inhofe, and on the other, Senators Boxer and Udall, over the extent of the “global cooling” hysteria in the early/mid -1970s: that is beyond the scope of this short post. By this point the argument has devolved into bickering over the details: It’s beyond dispute that the popular press trumpeted the global cooling scare widely at the time. And that a certain percentage of scientists believed the Earth was indeed cooling. The question then becomes: What percentage? The media of the time said that “most” or “many” scientists were predicting it, but the study cited by the USA Today article surveyed the literature in scientific journals at the time and found that the majority of the ones surveyed were not on board with the cooling thesis.

Keep in mind that I myself never pushed the thesis that “most” scientists in the ’70s predicted a new ice age, only that “some” did, John Holdren most notably among them. Even so, the “survey” of the literature of the era cited in the USA Today article was done by a global warming partisan, and we have no evidence that his survey was thorough or even-handed.

My only point was that Obama’s own science czar, now a leading advocate of the “catastrophic global warming” thesis, formerly used to warn of the exact opposite doomsday scenario — a looming ice age.

In an orgy of self-referential self-referencing, I hereby link to my latest post at PajamasMedia, which itself links to an earlier post of mine here at zomblog:

Outside Job: Using the Oscars to legitimize a political theory

The last time I posted on this topic (over two years ago), it elicited a great deal of outrage and finger-pointing on the part of those who disagreed with me. Let the argument continue!

Death Channels

I haven’t blogged in over a month, and my new essay at PajamasMedia explains why:



Death Channels

Advance Health Care Directive

If the extension of my life would result in an existence devoid of cognitive function, with no reasonable hope for normal functioning, then I do not desire any form of life-sustaining procedures, including nutrition and hydration, unless necessary for my comfort or alleviation of pain.

My agent shall consent to and arrange for the administration of any type of pain relief, even though its use may lead to permanent damage, addiction or even hasten the moment of, but not intentionally cause, my death…

That’s the document my Uncle Larry signed fifteen years ago when he first got his HIV diagnosis. He had always seemed like a devil-may-care sort of guy who planned to live fast and die young. Linger for months, attached to tubes and machines? No way! “Just shoot me now” was his signature expression, often used to express sarcastic disapproval of anything unfashionable, but taken literally in the case of his “Advance Health Care Directive.”

I actually knew very little about my uncle (whom I’ll dub “Larry” here to maintain his privacy) until he collapsed in public a little over a month ago. …



Read the rest here….

The Guardian recently published a wicked satire of moral relativism, a Swiftian send-up entitled “End human rights imperialism now” with the classic sub-heading “Groups such as Human Rights Watch have lost their way by imposing western, ‘universal’ standards on developing countries.” Brilliant! Hahahahaha! I didn’t know the Guardian had branched out into humor.

But about five minutes after my laughter subsided, a horrible suspicion dawned on me: Could it be that the author was serious?

A quick re-read confirmed my fears. This was no joke. This was the modern left finally taking its last inevitable step into the abyss of moral oblivion.

A few quick quotes from this astonishing manifesto will introduce you to a disturbing new way of looking at the world:

Founded by idealists who wanted to make the world a better place, [the human rights movement] has in recent years become the vanguard of a new form of imperialism.

Want to depose the government of a poor country with resources? Want to bash Muslims? Want to build support for American military interventions around the world? Want to undermine governments that are raising their people up from poverty because they don’t conform to the tastes of upper west side intellectuals? Use human rights as your excuse!

Human Rights Watch is hardly the only offender. There are a host of others, ranging from Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders to the Carr Centre for Human Rights at Harvard and the pitifully misled “anti-genocide” movement. All promote an absolutist view of human rights permeated by modern western ideas that westerners mistakenly call “universal”.

Just as Human Rights Watch led the human rights community as it arose, it is now the poster child for a movement that has become a spear-carrier for the “exceptionalist” belief that the west has a providential right to intervene wherever in the world it wishes.

Those who have traditionally run Human Rights Watch and other western-based groups that pursue comparable goals come from societies where crucial group rights – the right not to be murdered on the street, the right not to be raped by soldiers, the right to go to school, the right to clean water, the right not to starve – have long since been guaranteed. In their societies, it makes sense to defend secondary rights, like the right to form a radical newspaper or an extremist political party. But in many countries, there is a stark choice between one set of rights and the other. Human rights groups, bathed in the light of self-admiration and cultural superiority, too often make the wrong choice.

Human rights need to be considered in a political context. The question should not be whether a particular leader or regime violates western-conceived standards of human rights. Instead, it should be whether a leader or regime, in totality, is making life better or worse for ordinary people.

It’s not that the the essay’s author, former New York Times Bureau Chief and current anti-imperialist professor-activist Stephen Kinzer, is wrong about his facts: it’s quite true that life under a totalitarian police state is often safer and more secure than living in lawless anarchy. That’s why the war-torn masses throughout history sometimes clamor for peace even at the cost of their own freedom. Yet forgotten in Kinzer’s approval of oppressive societies is that wannabe dictators always use this excuse to justify their crushing of human rights: We need to remove your freedom in order to guarantee your safety. Never mind that the new regime was usually one of combatants endangering the citizenry in the first place.

No, the issue is that Kinzer seems to have just now woken up to a phenomenon that many of us have known about for quite some time — that the human rights movement “has in recent years become the vanguard of a new form of imperialism.”

The only error in that statement is the word “recent.” The notion of “universal human rights” was formulated in the West and is the basis of Western civilization; and the the notion of bringing these “Western values” to oppressed and backward peoples has been the goal not just of the modern human rights movement but of missionaries, do-gooders and yes, even the American military for quite some time.

Kinzer has freshly arrived at the blinding and quite correct realization that the “human rights movement” and “Western imperialism” are one and the same. And having become aware of this, you’d think that as a human rights activist, he’d have a life-altering epiphany: Perhaps I’ve been wrong about what I call “imperialism” this whole time. Maybe it is a force for good after all.

But no. Standing on the brink of a psychological breakthrough, Kinzer turned the other way and instead had a breakdown. Pinioned by the idée fixe that America and imperialism and Western values are always and irrevocably wrong, when faced with the fact that human rights are a subset of Western values, Kinzer felt he had no choice but to discard his belief in human rights. Which must have been quite difficult for someone who formerly regarded himself as a human rights activist, but hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Moral relativism vs. cultural imperialism

What we see in this essay is moral relativism finally taken to its logical conclusion. No longer will the Left be able to claim credit for the “good” aspects of two fundamentally oppositional viewpoints. Either you are for respecting native cultures and native value systems, or you are for bringing “human rights” (i.e. “Western values”) to Third World peoples. But you can’t do both simultaneously. Yet that is exactly what the Left has been doing for decades — claiming credit as the world’s humanitarians and advocates for universal human rights, while at the same time claiming credit as the defenders of native cultures and opponents of imperialism.

But as Stephen Kinzer just found out: Native cultures often don’t share our notion of “universal human rights,” and regard the involuntary imposition of Western values as the most noxious form of “cultural imperialism.”

And it gets much worse for the Left’s poor battered psyche with the additional realization that the men in these Third World societies are only “backward” as regards to their philosophical development, but not backward at all in their machismo, capacity for violence, and willingness to defend their worldview with force if necessary. So that often, the only way to “bring” human rights to oppressed populations is to “impose” these rights by force, and to defeat (which usually means kill) the intransigent defenders of the native way of life.

The prototypical exemplars of this attitude are of course the Taliban, and Afghanistan is the test-case where the dilemma is played out.

Case study: Afghanistan

The Taliban practice a uniquely noxious mix of ancient Pashtun culture (in which revenge is revered as a basic social precept) and fundamentalist Sunni Islam (with its well-documented array of oppressive and triumphalist doctrines). The Taliban are not nice people — “nice” itself being a Western concept, I concede. They deeply believe in, and are willing to kill and die for, the imposition of an all-encompassing theocratic police state which denies even basic human rights to just about everyone under their rule. When they controlled Afghanistan, they tried to commit genocide against ethnic minorities, they denied women all rights whatsoever, they prohibited all religions and sects except their own, they harbored and supported known terrorist groups, attempted to commit “culturecide” by destroying all traces of other belief systems, and suppressed anything even vaguely resembling freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. And to this day wherever they get a toe-hold in Afghanistan or Pakistan, they continue their ways unabated. The Taliban and the traditional culture they represent are about as antithetical to human rights as you can get.

So, if you were a human rights campaigner, and cared about human rights in Afghanistan, what would you do? Trying to “engage” with the ruling Taliban was utterly futile, as many naive do-gooders discovered. “Enlightening” them to our value system only further infuriates them. So the only way to bring the gift of “human rights” (i.e. Western values) to Afghanistan is to remove the Taliban by force. But as the Soviets, the Northern Alliance, and now the U.S. and its allies have discovered, the Taliban fight tooth and nail against the imposition of Western values. They never surrender, never give up, and employ the most diabolical tactics to achieve bloody victory at any cost. Thus, the only recipe to “defeat” the Taliban’s philosophy is to invade with massive force, physically drive them out, kill as many as possible in the process, and then stay in place for as long as necessary to repel an endless barrage of counterattacks and terroristic strikes.

There’s a word for that process. It’s called war. And another word, too, in the leftist lexicon. It’s called imperialism.

Both war and imperialism are absolute anathema to the Left, at least in theory. War and imperialism are the very things they claim to oppose. And yet at the same time, they also claim to support above all things “human rights” for everyone on earth.

And so we come to the dilemma recently discovered by Stephen Kinzer: What if the only way to bring human rights to an oppressed population is to wage imperialistic war against their oppressors?

It’s very very difficult for modern progressives to wrap their minds around this concept. They have been inculcated since birth in the old peacenik canard that war is always wrong, that it’s inherently evil, that it can never be used for “good” because the process of salvation is invariably worse than the status quo of oppression, as encapsulated by the famous (but probably fabricated) quote, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

(This is why I respect and admire Christopher Hitchens, despite the fact that I disagree with him on many issues. Shortly after 9/11, Hitchens confronted the same moral dilemma that Kinzer is facing now, but unlike Kinzer, Hitchens did have a transformational moral breakthrough in which a one-time far-left Marxist atheist came to understand that the armies of the West were not agents of evil but rather the last remaining champions of liberal values and human rights.)

Liberal missionaries

Cultural imperialism doesn’t always happen in a war zone. It can also happen incrementally, insidiously, as a side-effect of noble intentions.

Yet it had always struck me that the international do-gooderism of contemporary “progressive” groups is essentially indistinguishable from the international do-gooderism of Christian missionaries from centuries past. Both try to “save” third-worlders from their self-imposed poverty and ignorance. But somehow, magically, the modern progressives have so thoroughly rebranded their efforts that they feel no connection to nor feel themselves to be in the same tradition of those horrible old 19th-century Christians with their evil attempts to replace native cultures with Western values.

Several years ago my cousin joined a left-leaning nonprofit (technically an “NGO,” listed on this page) and was sent on an all-expenses-paid volunteer project to a remote area of Papua New Guinea, where she and her fellow volunteers were to build a health clinic for the natives. She was practically delirious with progressive self-righteousness about the whole adventure, and sent home occasional letters detailing her team’s progress. I, despite still being a liberal myself at the time (this being some years prior to 9/11), was overwhelmed with a nagging sense of doubt. Hadn’t my cousin been an anthropology major in college? Wasn’t this project “interfering” with the native culture? I confessed some of my reservations in return letters, to which she took great offense. We’re helping these people, she explained. They’ve got all sorts of preventable diseases. I parried again: Perhaps their delicate culture is dependent on the absence of old people and the disabled? By keeping the sick and elderly alive with your clinic, might you not cause all sorts of unforeseen social upheavals, since their subsistence economy can only support the few and the able? She replied: Health care is a basic human right. Besides, this tribe has never even heard of contraception. We have classes in women’s health. Me: Will the introduction of contraception lead to a lower birth rate and their eventual extinction? Back and forth our argument raged in letters sent over the months.

Around this time I let myself be dragged to a friend-of-a-friend’s wedding in of all places a church (not the kind of establishment I normally visit), and afterward, milling around in the lobby, I picked up a copy of the church newsletter and saw to my amazement an article about a “mission” funded by the church in which Christian teens were sent to (brace yourself) Papua New Guinea where they were to build (you guessed it) a health clinic. (And, ahem, distribute Bible tracts and the Good News about Jesus, naturally, since the souls of the Papuans needed saving.)

I clipped out the article and sent it to my cousin. How, I asked, are you any different than these evangelical Christians, whom you so despise? Your group and the Christians are on opposite sides of the same island doing the exact same thing: You both show up, deem the native culture deficient in some way, build a health clinic in order to “help” them but which will only serve to disrupt native life, and ultimately use the clinic as a beachhead to impose your civilized notions on the heathen? At least the Christians are honest about their intent to Westernize the natives; you, however, hide behind the mask of political correctness and pretend that your altruism is blameless and pure, all the while doling out condoms and lessons undermining tribal patriarchy.

Her response? She packed her bags that night and returned home. From that day to this she has not spoken to me. I only later learned through my uncle that my cousin blames me for spoiling her youthful dreams, introducing her to the harsh world of cynicism and negativity. She quit the NGO and dropped out of political activism altogether.

What’s the moral to this story? I myself at that time was not so different from the way Kinzer is now, each of us realizing that intrusions on non-Western cultures are all equally disruptive, regardless of whether that disruptiveness is intentional or not. A military invasion, a do-gooder health clinic, a Christian mission, a lecture about women’s rights, the introduction of new technologies — in the end, they all have the same effect, which is to undermine the pristine nature of the native culture.

Back then, however, I was more inclined to accept the “Noble Savage” worldview, that primitive cultures were inherently superior to the horrors of Western civilization, and thus we should protect and admire non-Western societies, like exhibits in a museum.

Since that time, however, my views have evolved, in a way that Kinzer’s apparently haven’t. I see much more clearly now that primitive societies, with their “non-Western” values, are often oppressive and unnecessarily brutal for the people living in them. Not always, but often. Furthermore, as the globe’s population grows, many formerly “quaint” ethnic cultures are growing in dimension and scope, and they no longer need protecting — they need suppression.

Yes, part of me still would like to see Potemkin Villages, or perhaps “It’s a Small World” living dioramas, of each and every ethnic culture on Earth, so as to preserve our species’ amazing diversity. But I also know that there is cruelty in such a fantasy; because real human beings will be compelled to live in these ethnographic exhibits, and must thereby endure real hardships for our intellectual amusement and to alleviate our Western guilt.

I also know too much about history and anthropology to continue the bankrupt charade that all cultures are equal in value and equally worthy of respect and admiration. And this is where the Kinzers of the world and I have parted ways, I suppose. The accumulated Judeo-Christian/Greco-Roman/Renaissance-Enlightenment/you-name-it wisdom that Western culture has integrated over the millennia is without any question the best bet that the human race has going.

The Left Man’s Burden

We as a society have had this argument before. Rudyard Kipling put it in the bluntest possible terms with his 1899 poem “The White Man’s Burden,” essentially saying that when Western powers seize control of third-world countries, it becomes our moral duty to raise up “Your new-caught, sullen peoples, / Half-devil and half-child,” even if by so doing we only earn their anger: “Take up the White Man’s burden- / And reap his old reward: / The blame of those ye better, / The hate of those ye guard.”

Nowadays, Kipling is dismissed as the worst kind of old-school racist: a condescending racist, one who looks down on “half-devil and half-child” non-Westerners with pity, not hatred. Embedded in our offer to help the third world is the presumptuous assumption of our superiority.

The contemporary Left feels free to criticize Kipling because they assume his spirit lives on in the hearts of neocons and warmongers today. He is conveniently categorized as a “bad guy” whose politics closely align with 21st-century Republicanism.

But I see it from a different angle: It is the modern human rights organizations, with their meddlesome insistence on helping downtrodden foreigners, that continue the “White man’s burden” tradition. It is the progressives who are the Kiplings of today. The only difference between Rudyard Kipling and modern bleeding-heart liberals is that Kipling was at least more honest about his feeling of superiority.

Kinzer has realized this as well. Imagine the sense of horror that welled up in him when he became conscious that the white-dominated human rights activist community was doing the exact same things that the imperialists of old imagined they were doing, with the exact same smugness and self-righteousness? Oh my my God: I’m no different than Kipling!

Can’t have that: no sir. And the only course of action, Kinzer concluded, is to leave those devil-children to their fate. Universal human rights be damned!

Response in the Guardian

Kinzer’s diatribe did not go unrebutted in the pages of the Guardian. Sohrab Ahmari counterpunched with a devastating essay called Beware those who sneer at ‘human rights imperialism’:

Imagine what Kinzer’s proposals would mean in practical terms. Can human rights activists be expected to ignore the plight of a woman being stoned in Iran for adultery or a journalist tortured in Mubarak’s jails? (“Terribly sorry, but we wouldn’t want to judge your oppressors by the meter of our culturally determined, imperialistic standards – tough!”)

And consider, too, the impact of this brand of relativism on the moral imagination of the left, which, at its very best, stood firm on the principle that people divided by geography, culture and language can empathise with and express solidarity with each other.

If the isolationist, provincial left manages to convince us that the blessing of liberty is to be allocated randomly – along geographic lines and according to the accident of birth – will the heart still beat on the left?

“Will the heart still beat on the left?” Ahmari asks. Not with Kinzer leading the charge. I no longer detect a pulse.

Three Cups of Whoop-Ass

Kinzer’s moral collapse is the culmination of an untenable paradox that has been bedeviling the modern left for quite some time. This paradox is epitomized by the career of progressive humanitarian Craig Mortensen, author of the bestselling book Three Cups of Tea, in which he details his efforts to build girls’ schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mortensen’s project has received lavish praise from some mainstream liberals, who after all are in favor of education and women’s rights. Mortensen’s “soft” approach to modernizing the backward areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan is seen as the morally superior nonviolent alternative to the harsh military tactics of the U.S. government and its allies:

“Schools are a much more effective bang for the buck than missiles or chasing some Taliban around the country,” says Mr. Mortensen, who is an Army veteran.

Each Tomahawk missile that the United States fires in Afghanistan costs at least $500,000. That’s enough for local aid groups to build more than 20 schools, and in the long run those schools probably do more to destroy the Taliban.

I applaud Mr. Mortensen’s efforts in that they undermine the oppressive nature of fundamentalist Islam — but he’s fooling himself if he thinks his school-building project could survive on its own without the menace of Western military might looming in the distance. If you walked alone into Taliban country and simply announced to the tribal chieftains, “I want to educate your women so they can break free from your cruel dominance and become more sexually liberated!”, you probably wouldn’t meet with much success, much less live to tell the tale. But if you instead announced, “Look, if you let me build a girls’ school here, the U.S. military will regard you as friendly allies and spare this area; but if you kick me out and embrace the Taliban, expect a rain of bombs and missiles,” then you’d likely encounter more cooperation.

Now, of course, the conversation is never that overt, but the carrot-vs.-stick dilemma is present even if not vocalized. It’s a “good cop/bad cop” routine played out on a grand scale; villagers get a taste of the “bad cop” Western military, and then in come “good cop” do-gooder progressives offering a more appealing alternative, saying, “You don’t want to deal with that bad cop again, do you?”

But the “good cop/bad cop” dynamic doesn’t work if you have only a “good cop.” Without the threat of a more dire outcome, the subject has little motivation to consent to the smiley-face cultural imperialism of the do-gooders.

Yet here’s the part that the progressives don’t like to admit: The good cop and the bad cop always have the same goal. The “routine” is just that — an act. In a police setting the goal is to get a confession using psychological trickery. On the world stage the goal is to bring human rights to oppressed peoples using humanitarian progressivism as the loving alternative to war. But the “good cop” is actually on the same team as the “bad cop,” despite appearances.

I can’t say for sure because I haven’t really followed his evolving attitudes, but it seems to me that Mortensen has himself had a second “A-ha!” moment and softened his opposition to military strength, realizing that the U.S. armed forces are on the same side as he is: his most recent book, Stones into Schools, details “his friendships with U.S. military personnel, including Admiral Mike Mullen, and the warm reception his work has found among the officer corps.” Even Nicholas Kristof, linked above, noted in 2008 that “The Pentagon, which has a much better appreciation for the limits of military power than the Bush administration as a whole, placed large orders for Three Cups of Tea and invited Mr. Mortensen to speak. ‘I am convinced that the long-term solution to terrorism in general, and Afghanistan specifically, is education,’ Lt. Col. Christopher Kolenda, who works on the Afghan front lines, said in an e-mail in which he raved about Mr. Mortensen’s work.”

So: Greg Mortensen, the U.S. military, and I, all agree: We should use our full civilizational “arsenal,” whether it be helping-hand do-gooderism, or Predator drones launching Hellfire missiles, or a combination of the two, to bring Western values to the backward areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But you know who disagrees with us? The Taliban and their fellow Islamists, who have issued fatwas calling for Mortensen’s death, blown up girls’ schools when they could get away with it, and militarily opposed the post-Taliban government.

And you know who else disagrees with us? Stephen Kinzer and his ilk, that’s who. Realizing that we can’t bring human rights to oppressive patriarchal societies without wreaking violence, whether actual or metaphorical, on traditional cultures, Kinzer now proposes that we abandon the attempt altogether.

So, on one side, you have human rights activists and the U.S. military; and on the opposing side you have the Taliban and the morally unhinged Stephen Kinzers of this world.

Which side do you choose?

I shouldn’t have to write this essay. But a judge in Oklahoma forced me into it.

Last month, 70% of the voters in Oklahoma approved State Question 755, which bans Sharia law (and international law) from being used in the state’s legal system. Almost immediately afterward, CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) sued to have the vote overturned, based on the bizarre claim that the measure is “unconstitutional.” U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange then sided with CAIR and issued an injunction preventing the measure from taking effect until all lawsuits against it are resolved. Since the suits will likely take years to play out, the new measure (and the will of the voters) will be stymied for the foreseeable future.

Those who oppose Sharia in the United States often argue their point by highlighting how misogynistic, backward, cruel and discriminatory Islamic law can be under most interpretations. And while all that may be true, it is the wrong argument to make. I get so frustrated watching pundits, politicians and bloggers making the weakest argument in what should be a slam-dunk debate that I’ve decided to write this brief outline of what I think should be the prioritized hierarchy of arguments against the use of Sharia in the United States.

In order, these are the arguments that Sharia’s opponents should be using, not just in Oklahoma but anywhere else in the country where the same issue crops up:

1. U.S. law is the “supreme law of the land,” no exceptions.

The specifics of what’s in Sharia law are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter whether Sharia is the most wonderful, mild and reasonable set of humanitarian recommendations ever devised, or if it’s an oppressive medieval framework for a nightmarish theocracy — or something in between. All of that is off-topic. Why? Because in the United States of America, only U.S. law governs. Period. You can’t violate a U.S. law and then offer up as a legal excuse, “Well, in Mongolia what I did is perfectly legal!” You’d be convicted, while the jury laughed.

To get specific, Article VI of the Constitution, better known as the Supremacy Clause, states:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the Contrary notwithstanding.

“Supreme law of the land” nails it down pretty well. I don’t see anything in there about exceptions made for religious law — do you?

Even the lead plaintiff in the case concedes this point; quoted in the top link above, Muneer Awad, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of CAIR, said “the measure is unnecessary ‘because even first-year law students know’ that another type of law cannot supersede the U.S. Constitution.”

And…? What’s his point here? It may be true that State Question 755 merely reaffirms already-established legal principles, but just because a measure is “unnecessary” doesn’t mean that it’s unconstitutional. In fact, as many legal experts know, there is plenty of duplication and overlap in the Constitution itself, and much more in state law. Hate-crime laws are a clear recent example of “unnecessary” duplicative legislation: It’s already illegal to assault someone, but the courts have allowed additional laws against assault motivated by malice, even though they’re theoretically “unnecessary.” The same allowance for “unnecessary” reaffirmation of Constitutional ideals applies to the new Oklahoma law as well.

2. Sharia, as “divine revelation,” is inherently undemocratic.

One of the fundamental principles of United States law is that it is subject to the will of the governed, and can be updated and revised over time. This can be done at the federal level by Constitutional amendments in which the people of each state (through their elected representatives) vote on whether or not to alter the nationwide legal framework; or by electing (or booting out) representatives who enact laws according to the will of the voters; or by electing presidents and governors who appoint judges of this or that political slant; or by similar mechanisms at state or local levels. This process is so self-evident that it hardly needs to be described.

But Sharia operates in a completely different way. The Qur’an (from which Sharia is ultimately derived) is deemed by Islam to be “revealed,” in that it was supposedly handed down from on high by Allah himself, and as such is perfect, unchangeable, uninterpretable, and thus beyond the reach of man’s attempt to alter it. In other words, Sharia is undemocratic. In practice, various Islamic experts and jurists — imams, ayatollahs, mullahs, and so forth — do indeed “interpret” the medieval Arabic of the Qur’an and apply it to modern settings, since only scholars can even read the Qur’an in the original. (Even direct translations of the Qur’an are regarded by true believers as corruptions; only the original is the true “word of God.”) But these jurists themselves are not elected. So neither the text nor the implementation of the text are subject to the will of the populace.

Needless to say, any such legal system fundamentally contradicts the basis of the American legal system. You can’t have an immutable, eternal set of fixed religious laws (i.e. Sharia) incorporated as a subset of a malleable legal system (such as U.S. law).

(Now, if three-fourths of U.S. states voted to amend the federal Constitution to jettison all existing law and replace it with Sharia, then yes, we could have Sharia in America. But that doesn’t seem likely. And until such an amendment is passed, then Sharia is in fundamental disagreement with the existing Constitution.)

Sharia’s advocates think that by citing Sharia’s “perfection,” divinity and immutability, they are making a good argument for why it should be adopted; but it is for that very reason that it is completely unacceptable in the United States, a land whose government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Note that last word: people. Not God, not Allah. Us.

3. Many aspects of Sharia are flagrantly unconstitutional.

Any number of specific Sharia laws directly contradict or violate basic principles of the U.S. Constitution:

- Under Sharia’s rules of evidence, “Testimony from women is given only half the weight of men.” This violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, guaranteeing for all persons complete equality under the law.

- The punishment for theft under Sharia is “amputation of hands or feet, depending on the number of times it is committed.” This is a gross violation of the Eighth Amendment, which bans “cruel and unusual punishments” under U.S. law.

- In Sharia courts, “testimony from non-Muslims may be excluded altogether (if against a Muslim).” Furthermore, “Muslim women may only enter into marriage with Muslim men.” Such Sharia laws, as well as many others which elevate Muslims over non-Muslims, are in direct violation of the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and possibly Article VI of the Constitution.

- Sharia’s penalty for apostasy (rejecting Islam) is death, according to the vast majority of Islamic scholars and judges. Since apostasy could not, under the First Amendment, even be considered a crime under U.S. law, much less a capital crime, enforcing the death penalty for a “crime of conscience” violates the very spirit of the Constitution, not to mention the First, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth amendments.

The list could go on and on. Sharia has very specific rules and extremely harsh punishments against extra-marital sex, for ignoring various religious rituals, drinking alcohol, engaging in freedom of speech, and so on; all of these rules and punishments violate various aspects of the United States Constitution. Several other components of Sharia also clearly discriminate against non-Muslims in favor of Muslims, which also is unconstitutional.

Because it is not allowed under Islamic law to pick and choose certain parts of Sharia while ignoring or dismissing other parts which you may find inconvenient, and since some aspects of Sharia are self-evidently unconstitutional, then Sharia must be thrown out in toto as a viable legal system in the United States — exactly as the citizens of Oklahoma voted. What’s the problem here?

4. Sharia is fundamentally religious law, and should be inapplicable to U.S. criminal or civil law.

At its core, Sharia is religious law — the guidelines under which Muslims must live in order to follow Islam. As such, it is not comparable to nor could it be a replacement for the completely secular criminal and civil code of the United States.

I have no beef with religions having internal laws governing the recommended behavior of adherents, or stipulating the rules for excommunication, and so forth. But Sharia goes way beyond that. First of all, the punishments meted out for religious misdeeds under Sharia often overlap with American criminal law. For example, as noted above, the punishment for apostasy is usually the death penalty — a little more serious than just excommunication. And on the flip side, under Sharia there is no punishment for certain actions (such as wife-beating) which under US law are serious crimes. But religious law cannot trump criminal law in the United States — you don’t get carte blanche to do illegal actions (such as killing someone or beating your wife) simply because your religion tells you it’s OK. Once we open that Pandora’s Box, there’s no turning back.

We learned recently in a very vivid example that we cannot trust religious law to replace or undermine U.S. law. When the Catholic Church discovered in decades past that some of its priests had committed statutory rape and child molestation against underage children in the Church, in many cases the internal “punishment” meted out was simply a slap on the wrist, often nothing more than a transfer to a different parish. Under U.S. law, these priests had committed a serious crime; but the Catholic Church decided in most instances to not notify the secular authorities and instead to adjudicate the cases internally, and doled out “sentences” which were in direct violation of U.S. and state criminal codes. Most Americans found this outrageous and unacceptable when they found out about it; but if we were to allow Sharia to obtain in the U.S., then the exact same clash between religious law and secular law is certain to happen all over again. And the clash will almost certainly be much more severe, since the Catholic Church hid the crimes surreptitiously, and did so in violation of its own stated principles; but under Sharia the differences between Islamic and secular moral codes are clearly and openly spelled out, so the clashes between U.S. law and Sharia law will be innumerable and unapologetic.

Of course, as many have pointed out, Sharia is not merely religious law. Under Islam, there is no distinction between religious government and civil government. They are one and the same — or are at least supposed to be one and the same, which is why modern Islamic fundamentalists find the secular governments of Middle Eastern countries so intolerable. So how do we regard Sharia — as a replacement for U.S. civil and criminal law, or simply as internal religious guidelines for Muslims?

Either way, Sharia is unacceptable to be considered part of official U.S. law. If we regard Sharia as a secular legal system, then see point 3 above — it’s unconstitutional. Alternately, if we regard Sharia as purely internal religious law, then once again it is unconstitutional if followed to the exclusion of U.S. law, as shown here in point 4. So once again, it seems that the voters of Oklahoma got it right.

To address one final question which may arise: What if two people voluntarily enter into a contract based on non-US law, or voluntarily agree to have their civil dispute adjudicated by a Sharia court? That would be fine — if we can be assured that the agreement is voluntary. But the discriminatory and oppressive nature of Sharia means that one or more of the parties in any dispute may have been compelled by threats or social pressure to consent to Sharia jurisdiction under duress.

Say, in one example, that several U.S. Muslim businessmen agree to pool funds for an investment portfolio, on the mutual agreement that the investment be Sharia-compliant — i.e. not used to profit from any industry (like alcohol or gambling) which violated Islamic law. And then the manager in charge of the fund invests in various casino and liquor companies. Ooops. Would the other investors then have the right to withdraw from the fund with no penalties? Yes. In this type of case, “Sharia” could indeed play a role in a U.S. lawsuit, if it were to end up in court, because the Sharia-aspect of the agreement was purely internal, did not violate any U.S. laws, and was entered into voluntarily.

But consider our second example. In the CNN article linked above, the CAIR spokesman responsible for getting the Oklahoma law quashed gave this quote:

“What this amendment is going to do is officially disfavor and condemn the Muslim community as being a threat to Oklahoma,” Muneer Awad, executive director of CAIR’s Oklahoma chapter and the lead plaintiff in the suit, said earlier this month. In addition, he said, the amendment would invalidate private documents, such as wills, that are written in compliance with Muslim law.

This is an absurd, obviously untrue claim. In your will, you can leave your assets to anyone, for any reason. You can cite Muslim law, or your personal conscience, or a dream you once had, or baseless paranoia, or no reason whatsoever to leave all your assets to your children, or your cat, or the Flat Earth Society, or even leave instructions to have it all buried with you in your casket. If the will is determined to be a valid will, no ban on Sharia will be able to challenge it.

If, however, you die intestate (without a will), then the ban on Sharia could indeed come into play — as well it should. Sharia openly discriminates against females in inheritance law: “The rules of inheritance under Sharia law are intricate, and a female’s portion is generally half the amount a male would receive under the same circumstances.” So envision an example in which a wealthy Muslim man dies intestate, and the family ends up in an Oklahoma court in a dispute over his inheritance. Now imagine that the new Oklahoma law is not in effect, and lawyers petition the state court to have the case instead heard in a Sharia court. The judge may likely consent, provided all the disputants agree to the venue change. Now imagine that there are three overbearing sons who want Dad’s money, and one cowering daughter who has been threatened by them. When asked by the judge if she consents to Sharia justice in this case, will she have the bravado to stand up in court and say “No!”? Not likely. She’ll meekly assent, as have countless Muslim women for centuries. And she’ll wind up in Sharia court, where the Muslim jurist will naturally and correctly rule against her, not out of personal animosity, but because bias against women is built into Islamic law.

So, to use the CAIR plaintiff’s argument against him: Inheritance cases are exactly the kind of injustices that Oklahoma is trying to prevent by banning Sharia.

5. Subjectively, Sharia is a discriminatory and cruel legal system.

Finally, we get to the argument that most pundits and bloggers make: Sharia should be rejected because it’s just plain awful. While this may resonate with people personally and emotionally, it’s rather weak as a legal argument.

Sharia’s defenders complain that their opponents endlessly focus on the negative aspect of Sharia, and ignore the other parts which are reasonable, mild and non-controversial. I call this “The Trains Run on Time” fallacy. According to the old joke, when Italians during Mussolini’s rule were asked what it’s like to live in a fascist police state, they’d respond, “It’s not so bad: at least the trains run on time!” In other words, one could always find some good aspect to an unpleasant situation. So naturally Sharia’s defenders in the West will focus on the positive and try to sweep the negative under the rug. But such PR tactics in no way alter the fundamental fact that Sharia contains a significant number of laws and rules and punishments that are unacceptable and repellant to the average American.

CAIR and its allies are constantly talking out both sides of their mouths. On one hand, they say that Sharia’s never been used in Oklahoma and there’s no risk of it ever being used, so there’s nothing to worry about and we should toss out this new law as unnecessary; and simultaneously, if you flick the remote control over to the next channel, you’ll see a different CAIR spokesperson arguing for how reasonable and humanitarian Sharia is, and really we shouldn’t fear its introduction, because we’ll all benefit. Hmmmm. Double-talk is a dead giveaway for ill-intent.

CAIR’s main argument against State Question 755 is that it “singles out” Muslims for discrimination. Though this argument is so absurd it barely merits rebuttal, I should briefly address it since it seems to be CAIR’s primary legal claim. First of all, SQ 755 doesn’t ban Sharia in Oklahoma; it merely bans judges from considering Sharia when making decisions. And since we’ve seen above that this recommendation is already in accord with Constitutional principles, then there’s no basis on which to challenge the law. CAIR is sure to reply: Yes, but why us? Why single out Sharia and Muslims? To which I reply: Do you really want to go there? The answer is obvious: No other religion currently seeks to supplant the United States Constitution with is own religious commandments. Why not pass a law banning Buddhist laws from the Oklahoma courts? Because there aren’t a billion Buddhists worldwide calling for the involuntary global implementation of Buddhist law. Sharia is perceived as a threat precisely because it is more than just religious law — it is an overarching form of theocratic government antithetical to the United States of America — and because it is has an extremely large number of adherents and advocates.

This article goes into greater depth about possible legal objections to the new measure, quoting left-leaning Harvard law professor Noah Feldman as saying, “It’s a violation of the free exercise of Muslims in Oklahoma and it’s a violation of the separation between church and state.” But this is a false claim: nothing about SQ 755 prevents Muslims from following Sharia themselves in their own personal or religious lives (provided by so doing they don’t break U.S. law); it merely prevents the courts from incorporating Sharia law into its decision-making. Here’s the text of State Question 755, which “makes courts rely on federal and state law when deciding cases. It forbids courts from considering or using international law. It forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law.” Tell me: In what way does this interfere with Muslims freely exercising their religion in Oklahoma? It doesn’t — unless the free exercise of your religion involves violating or undermining the U.S. Constitution. In which case, yeah, the courts should discriminate against your religious practice.

America only frowns on baseless discrimination; but official discrimination against any individuals, groups or religious ideology seeking to undermine or destroy the United States itself is not just acceptable, it is mandatory.

While this fifth and final argument is not as legally or logically weighty, it can be much more emotionally compelling because it allows one to present anecdotes about Sharia in contemporary real-world contexts. What does U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange have to say about the following martyrs to Sharia?

Palestinian atheist jailed for insulting Islam, forced to apologize

A Palestinian atheist jailed for more than a month for sharing his anti-Islam views on the Internet has apologized for offending Muslims, and a Palestinian military spokesman said he expected “positive” developments in the case.

Rights groups have criticized his arrest as a demonstration of the limits on free speech under the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, which has trawled Internet sites like Facebook as part of a crackdown on dissent and unpopular views.

The 26-year-old blogger, Walid Husayin — who had called the Muslim God a “primitive Bedouin” and Islam a religion of “irrationality and ignorance” — apologized in a letter to his family and to all Palestinians and sought forgiveness for what he called his “stupidity.”

“I apologize for the offense I have caused against the monotheistic faiths, particularly Islam,” the letter read.
Palestinian military police arrested Husayin on Oct. 31 after he posted comments deemed offensive to Islam on his Facebook page and blog. Defaming Islam is a crime in the West Bank.

A friend said Husayin posted the apology on his blog on Nov. 29, most likely with the hope that it would lead to his release. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

He posted the apology from a Palestinian military lockup in the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya, his hometown.

Husayin’s writing appeared aimed at provoking Muslims. He made Facebook profiles claiming he was God, called the Prophet Muhammad a philanderer and penned spoof verses of the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

Days after his arrest, shocked residents called for him to be killed as a warning to others.

Amazingly, Husayin’s English-language atheist blog is still online, and for the curious has several rather amusing atheist proclamations. Especially worth reading is his essay on Why I Left Islam. It should be noted that there are literally millions of similarly aggressive atheist blogs in the U.S., and those American atheist bloggers suffer no legal ramifications whatsoever for their writings, as guaranteed by the Constitution. But under Sharia, American atheists (not to mention Jews, pagans, Christians, etc.) could be treated the same way as Walid Husayin. Judge Miles-LaGrange, are you listening?

Pakistan doctor arrested on suspicion of blasphemy

Pakistani authorities have arrested a doctor on suspicion of violating the country’s contentious blasphemy law by throwing away a business card of a man who shared the name of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, police said Sunday.

The blasphemy law has been widely criticized by human rights groups following the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death last month for insulting Islam. Critics say the law should be amended or repealed because it is often used to settle grudges, persecute minorities and fan religious extremism.

Naushad Valiyani, a Muslim doctor in the southern city of Hyderabad, was arrested Friday after a complaint was lodged with police alleging his actions had insulted the Prophet Muhammad, said regional police chief Mushtaq Shah.

The case began Friday when Muhammad Faizan, a pharmaceutical company representative, visited Valiyani’s clinic and handed out his business card. He said when the doctor threw the card away, Faizan went to police and filed a complaint that noted his name was the same as the prophet’s.

Shah said police were investigating whether Valiyani should be charged with blasphemy.

Kafka-esque enough for you?

Woman Stoned to Death for Going on a Date

Turbaned men in Pakistan gather around a woman with a black hood over her head, pick up large rocks and repeatedly throw them at her until she lies motionless, stretched along the ground, a video purports.

A Dubai-based television station which released the footage said the stoning was carried out in northwest Pakistan, apparently by Taliban militants, incensed because she was seen out with a man.

The footage is a stark reminder that despite a series of military offensives the army said had weakened insurgents, militants still control areas of the northwest and impose their harsh version of Islam at will.

Dubai’s Al Aan television, which focuses on women’s issues in the Arab world, said it got the tape from its sources and that it took place in Orakzai agency in northwest Pakistan. It said it had other footage of a man who was executed by shooting, possibly the one the woman was seen with.

It was not possible to verify its authenticity or when it was filmed.

Such videos aren’t unique. Last year Pakistanis were outraged after footage widely aired on television showed militants in the northwest Swat Valley publicly flogging a teenage girl accused of having an affair.

Is this the kind of legal system we want influencing our courts in the United States of America?

Long ago, in an earlier epoch of human existence (Fall 2008), I created some anti-Obama slogans with a mind to manufacturing political ephemera for the purpose of influencing the presidential campaign, however slightly. Alas, in the frenzy of the election season, I never got around to actually making any use of these slogans. Then, shortly after the election, I came up with additional designs, this time catering to the new market of Obama voters with “buyers’ remorse.” But those too fell by the wayside, unused. More recently, in the aftermath of the 2010 midterms, I created yet more anti-Obama slogans, reflecting current attitudes, and was on the verge of once more allowing them to rot on the vine — until now. Rather than let them all go to waste, I have gathered up a selection of my more memorable propaganda slogans from the last 2+ years and finally made them available for purchase by the public, just in time for Christmas Kwanzaa Boxing Day the late-December gift-buying season.

And so I hereby present the Obama Disappointment Syndrome gift shop at CafePress where you can buy bumper stickers, shirts, hats, mugs and more emblazoned with your favorite anti-Obama mantras.

Thanks are due to Buzzsawmonkey and Chicken Kiev for help in thinking up some of the slogans, and to a couple of unnamed online pals willing to actually set up and host the CafePress shop.

Below you will find samples from our vast selection of designs and products, which you can order (for real!) and have delivered just in time for 2011 — or the next Tea Party rally. Click on any image below to go to a shop page devoted exclusively to that particular slogan — many more products are available than just the samples presented here. And for those of you short on cash and long on printer ink, I have included on this page fairly hi-res jpegs so you can download the images and print your own ersatz bumper stickers, if you so desire.

Politics + shopping — what better way to get this country back on track?


“Frowny Obama” bumper sticker


Frowny Obama sums up the national zeitgeist midway through his presidency. Direct, simple, and to the point — like a diagrammatic road sign. At this stage, words are extraneous anyway; all you need is the name Obama, a big frown, and your message is clear. Suitable for conservatives, liberals, anarchists, peaceniks and Tea Partiers.

“Hope-a-Dope” women’s shirt


Remember Muhammad Ali and his “rope-a-dope” strategy against George Foreman? Ever get the feeling that Obama is trying something similar with the American public, allowing us to exhaust ourselves opposing an endless stream of outrageous proposals, and when we’re all tuckered out — blam! — he slips in a lame-duck-session combination when we least expect it. I call this the Hope-a-Dope technique, and now you can too.

“Obama for Caliph” yard sign.


I originally designed this double-take-inducing Obama for Caliph campaign sign back in 2008. Dripping with cynical double-edged sarcasm, it warned of a looming totalitarian theocracy while simultaneously poking fun at the then-nascent “birther” movement. I saw three emerging social waves: A new religion forming around Obama-worship among American leftists; fear among Christians that Obama was secretly still a Muslim; and Obama’s wild popularity (at the time) in the Middle East. What one slogan ties all three together? Obama for Caliph. Suitable for starry-eyed Obama die-hards, snarky conservatives, and jihadists.

“F O” girl’s shirt


Brevity is the soul of wit, and ultra-brevity is the soul of political effectiveness. Want to dominate your neighborhood with the most concise political opinion ever devised? Go F O ! (In case it needs explaining: it’s an update of the old blog/texting insult “F U”.)

“Obama Ipecac” all-American shirt.


Obama Ipecac? What the hell does that mean?

It doesn’t “mean” anything, in the literal sense. It’s what psychologists call “word association.” In this case we’re juxtaposing Obama’s name with the name of the once-common medicine “ipecac,” the extract of a South American plant which causes immediate and uncontrollable vomiting when ingested. If you’ve ever tasted ipecac, just seeing the word can induce nausea. Which is exactly the goal.

“I Cling…and I Vote” trucker’s hat.


Calling all rednecks!

Do you cling to guns and religion out of fear and ignorance, as our president so derisively theorized? And do you vote anyway, despite your stupidity and superstition? Time for some payback! An I Cling…and I Vote bumper sticker on your pickup truck will put the fear into the neighborhood liberals at your local supermarket parking lot.

“Hope and Change…suckers!” bumper sticker.


I designed this one in the first few weeks of Obama’s White House tenure, when it was already becoming obvious that liberals were starting to get a little suspicious of Obama’s sincerity about some of his campaign promises. While Hope and Change…suckers! was originally conceived with a strictly left-leaning audience in mind, smart-ass conservatives can also buy it as a way to taunt any liberals in the vicinity.

“NObama ’08″ mug.


NObama ’08 was the very first of my designs, way back when Obama tied up the Democratic nomination in the summer of 2008. Alas, shortly afterwards, the exact same slogan occurred to several other more retail-savvy entrepreneurs, so I shrugged and set my slogan aside as not particularly original. But now in retrospect I see that my actual finalized design was better than most of the others on the market, so if you’re nostalgic for the “good old days” when Obama had not yet been elected, then this is the slogan for you!

“Barack, you have disappointed me” women’s tank top.


Guilt is the primary liberal weapon, both politically and interpersonally. I’ve distilled down the essence of this emotional blackmail and turned it into a personalized guilt-trip aimed at Obama from the left: “Barack, you have disappointed me.” The child-like handwriting gives it that extra-potent whiney passive-aggressiveness. Suitable for liberals and leftists only.

“Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss/Bush” cap.


When Obama won the election in 2008, I knew he couldn’t possibly keep all his campaign promises, so I suspected a huge wave of disillusionment would eventually sweep across the country. With that in mind, I adapted The Who’s teen slogan Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss and superimposed “Bush” on the second “Boss,” to show that, no matter how hard he would try to be the anti-President, Obama would surely follow in his predecessor’s footsteps on many issues. Sure enough, my prediction came true (Afghanistan, bailouts, Guantanamo, gay marriage, surveillance, etc.), so this old slogan’s time has finally come.

“I voted for HOPE and CHANGE but got MORE of the SAME” bumper sticker.


I voted for HOPE and CHANGE but got MORE of the SAME was yet another variation on the “Obama Disillusionment” theme from late 2008.






Have ideas for other slogans/designs you think would be good to include in the Obama Disappointment Syndrome gift shop? Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments section below!

The Berkeley City Council plays a handy role in contemporary American politics: If you want to know what your opinion should be regarding any particular event, note carefully what the Berkeley City Council has voted on that week, and whatever they’re for, that’s what you should be against. In this instance, Berkeley is voting to give Bradley Manning — the traitorous ex-soldier who was the original source of all the “Wikileaks” documents — an award for heroism.

Berkeley’s sickening municipal resolution has received a smattering of media coverage here and there, but it hasn’t aroused the national outrage it deserves, for the simple reason that most Americans still don’t know who Bradley Manning even is. Bradley who? Shouldn’t Berkeley be giving an award to Julian Assange, just as so many other leftists have lavished praise on Wikileaks’ Australian-born head honcho?

Well, no. Say what you want about Berkeley, but they got it right this time, in their own sick way: If you’re going to praise the America-hating traitor responsible for this incident, your award should go to Manning, who actually leaked the secret government files, rather than Assange, who merely put them on his Web site.

The very fact that this incident is usually dubbed “the Wikileaks case” by the media is absurd; it’s not about Wikileaks. It should be called “The Manning Incident” or “The Manning Files.”

Julian Assange is a bit player in this case. His crime, if any, is minor. I can’t fathom why there has been so much media attention focused on him as opposed to Manning, who after all is the one who stole the secret documents.

The focus should be on the leaker, not the leakee. When the Rosenbergs “leaked” nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union, did we put Stalin on trial for treason? Of course not. He was simply the recipient of the leak. Even though Stalin benefited from the treachery, it was neither his fault, nor was he under US jurisdiction, so he could not be (nor should he have been) prosecuted. Instead, the law and the nation’s attention were correctly directed at the people who actually did commit treason and who were under United States jurisdiction: the Rosenbergs.

Antiquated Espionage Laws Inadequate to Handle Stateless Anti-American Sentiment

Just as our honor-based rules of war are not equipped to handle our interactions with stateless amoral opponents in an age of terrorism, so too are our laws against treason and espionage not equipped to deal with stateless opposition in the Internet era.

Despite the much-mocked phrase “war on terror,” we’ve never officially declared war on anyone since 9/11, because you can’t declare war on an individual, an ideology or a tactic. And now it’s becoming clear that it may be difficult to prosecute someone like Bradley Manning as a traitor or a spy because there is no foreign government to which he has betrayed his nation.

In an age of non-state players, “leaking” government secrets to the Web plays the same role that traditional espionage played in the Cold War.

If Julius and Ethel Rosenberg had lived in the 21st century, they would have given atom-bomb secrets to Julian Assange, not the Soviet Union.

Fury is now being directed at Assange due to the lack of a tangible nation-state opponent in this case. Someone has to fill the role of “bad guy.” But the public’s anger is misdirected. Julian Assange is not the source of the leaks; he is simply the mechanism through which they have been publicized. Bradley Manning is the real villain here, since he is the one who violated his oath to protect and serve his country, and to guard national secrets. Assange has never sworn to protect the United States; not only is he not in the U.S. military, but he was never given access to classified documents, and he’s not even an American citizen. Consequently, he has no allegiance to the United States, nor should we expect him to respect our laws or defend our national interest.

Nihilism Is Not a Crime

It’s not that I like Julian Assange or have sympathy for him; in my opinion, he’s an anti-American political nihilist who takes adolescent pleasure in tearing everything down just for the fun of it. But that doesn’t mean I think he’s committed a crime. Is he malicious? Certainly. Unethical? Probably. But criminal? Not so much.

As much as I hate his politics, I can’t bring myself to zero in on Assange as the supervillain here. He is simply a name we have affixed to a tactic — the tactic of disseminating information on the Internet. As you may know, by now there are innumerable “mirrors” of the Wikileaks files — identical duplicates put online and hosted by sympathetic anarchists and hackers all over the world. Even if Julian Assange and Wikileaks had never existed, the same information would have been available on the Internet; all Assange provided was a brand name and publicity. If it had not been Assange putting the leaked documents online, it would have been someone else. Once the information is leaked, it has been leaked — the horse is out of the barn. There’s no point in chasing it around the field, because you’ll never be able to catch it; nor will you be able to build a new enclosure fast enough and big enough to capture it. Nor do you curse the field for playing host to the horse. Just assume that once the horse is out, it’s gone. Instead, try to find out who left the barn door open in the first place, to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And (if the news reports are true), that person is Bradley Manning.

To borrow a phrase from Bob Dylan: Julian Assange is the Wicked Messenger, the man who takes glee in bringing bad news. Yet despite his ill-intent, his sanctimonious attitude, and his undeserved attention, he is in the final analysis just a messenger. We may hate him and hate his message and hate the pleasure he derives from delivering it, but he did not create the message. He should be dismissed from the stage and quickly forgotten.

Sarah, She Wolf of the GOP

William A. Jacobson over at the Legal Insurrection blog speculated earlier this week about “The Obsession With Liberals’ Obsession With Sarah Palin”:

Charles Krauthammer has lambasted the mainstream (i.e. liberal) media for its obsession with Sarah Palin.

That goes double for liberal entertainers and academics, and triple for the left-blogosphere, which is nuts-in-the-head (that’s a precise medical term in Austrian) when it comes to Palin.

But this obsession is not a one-way street.

Admit it, many of us in the right-blogosphere are obsessed with liberals’ obsession with Palin.

It didn’t start out this way. But it has developed not because of who Palin is, but who the Palin haters are.

And yes, it is liberals, much more than even conservatives, who can’t stop thinking about her; consider the numerous polls over the last year which show Palin unable to muster a majority even among Republican voters, much less the general electorate, and yet the liberal-leaning media gives Palin more ink than any other figure in America except possibly the president himself.

All sorts of theories are proffered to explain this preoccupation. Just this morning the Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin spelled out the standard theory — that the “obsession” must be a ruse to elevate an unelectable candidate:

Much of the punditocracy is obsessed with Sarah Palin. It’s understandable on several levels. First, she makes for good copy and has a knack for coining catchy phrases (“death panels”) and new words (“refudiate” — it’s now in the dictionary). She is controversial and opinionated, so given the choice between, say, a story on John Thune and one on Palin, it’s a no-brainer to choose the best-selling author, TV reality show star and Tea Party darling. But conservatives suspect there’s also some mischief-making afoot — the desire by liberal-leaning members of the media and the White House to make Palin the symbol of the Republican Party, which they are convinced will translate into her presidential run, her nomination and a shellacking for the GOP at the polls in 2012.

While that theory might describe the goal of a few elite members of the Sarcastic Class, it’s fairly evident that most leftists truly do fear a Palin nomination, since they feel that none of the other current GOP hopefuls has much of a chance in 2012.

But what else could explain the liberal obsession with Palin? Everybody’s got their own ideas: Palin’s a Jungian archetype; she’s a Riot Grrrl; she evokes “status-anxiety”; every day produces another theory. How long before “Palin Studies” becomes a college major?

Sarah Palin at the Belmont Stakes in June

But really, everyone knows the real answer: it’s all about sex. I had once planned to make a post about this too-obvious thesis, but then I saw that Harper’s Magazine had a cover story called “Is Sarah Palin porn?” back in June, and so I shelved my idea, since someone had beaten me to it.

But then yesterday I finally got around to actually reading the Harper’s story and discovered to my shock that it’s not about porn or sex at all — that was just a catchy headline for an otherwise standard-issue leftist essay about how awful Sarah Palin is.

I guess it’s up to me, then, since no one else is willing to come out and say it.

Why are liberals obsessed with Sarah Palin?

Because she is their dominatrix.

I posit that American liberal men are, as a group, masochists in search of a sadist. Sarah Palin at first walked into the dominant role completely unwittingly, but once she grasped the erotic control she wielded over her opponents, she became not quite as unwitting about it as some may think.

Sexual kinks are a peculiar thing: they often make no logical sense to an outsider who does not share the fetish. How can liberals denounce Sarah Palin as a Nazi and a bitch and an idiot yet simultaneously harbor a masturbatory fascination with her?

There is a one-word answer: Ilsa. Actually, make that six words: Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. If that doesn’t ring a bell, it’s the title of a pornographic exploitation film from the mid-’70s about a sadistic female Nazi officer who tortures and rapes concentration camp victims. If you’re familiar with the sexual subculture, you already know that this cult film is a favorite with masochists who require a cruel dominatrix (or at least the fantasy of a cruel dominatrix) for them to achieve sexual release. If you’re not familiar with the subculture of fetishes and sadomasochistic sex games, then you likely will find the whole Ilsa/Nazi/dominatrix thing completely mystifying and more than a little “sick.”

But it doesn’t matter that “normal” people don’t understand: this psycho-sexual pathology plays out right before their eyes every day, whether they’re aware of it or not.

To make it all clear for everybody, I have taken the original lobby poster for Ilsa and updated it to explain contemporary American politics:

(Click on the image or here to view it full-size.)

Do the liberals fear Sarah Palin? Yes. And that fear is the basis of their sexual attraction to her. They want — nay, need — to be dominated, not only because they are masochists, but also because it helps them adopt the morally superior underdog role in the battle of ideas.

Sarah Palin was dragged from obscurity into someone else’s sexual fantasy. She didn’t intend to become the liberals’ dominatrix: she was elevated to that position by submissives who finally found their perfect mistress. She was caught off-guard at first, angry and offended, but by now I think she understands, maybe even subconsciously, that she can use this role to her advantage. Liberals need someone to crack that whip? Crack! Do as Sarah says!

Retro Propaganda for a Retro Ideology

Sarah Palin represents “old-fashioned” values. You may see that as a good thing (if you’re conservative) or a bad thing (if you’re liberal). But whatever side you’re on, we pretty much all agree that she’s peddling a return to a hazy golden era of American history before the big-government welfare state arrived on the scene and ruined (conservative) or fixed (liberal) everything.

What’s confusing is that she’s using ultra-modern media techniques to promulgate her retro message. She’s the queen of Twitter, Facebook, reality TV, soundbites and blogbursts.

It may feel appropriate when progressive groups use outrageous postmodern propaganda to promote a postmodern ideology — but the disconnect of Palin (and the movement she represents) using 21st-century technology to summon a bygone America has always left me a little unsettled.

Shouldn’t we be using retro propaganda techniques to promote a retro ideology?

My answer: Yes!

The medium is the message, people, and if you want to bring back the values of the past, you necessarily must do so by utilizing the media techniques of that same past.

In order to rectify this glaring omission in the conservative messaging arsenal, I have taken it upon myself to create the kind of propaganda that the Palin campaign (and she is running for president, no doubt about it) ought to be making:

(Click on the illustration [or here] to view a full-size version of the poster, suitable for framing or detailed admiration.)

This drawing is based on those classic “stairway to a better life” illustrations often found in early/mid-20th-century self-help books and magazine articles.

Print, link, distribute — backward to a better future!

Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco

My latest:

Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco

We here at TLC realize that our fabulous new hit series Sarah Palin’s Alaska may not appeal to all our viewers. We understand that a substantial segment of the population has no interest in watching Sarah Palin or taking a tour of Alaska.

And so it is with great pleasure that we’d like to announce a new show carefully designed to appeal to those of you who don’t like Sarah Palin, her state, or her values:

Come join Nancy Pelosi as she shows you around the wild places of her home district. All the sights and sounds of San Francisco, as you’ve never seen them before…with Nancy as your guide!

(Programming note: All the photos and videos in this show were taken in Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco congressional district, and originally posted on zombietime. For real.)

Settle into your couch, and brace yourself for an adventure with Nancy…

…etc. Read the rest HERE!