According to Senator Jim Webb, there are only about 100 Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan, the so-called central front in the war on terror. He also compares the country to Lebanon. The trouble I have thinking about that Afghanistan is that we officially consider it a country, and I think that clouds our thinking and our overall vision for its future. That thinking and the attempt and central planning and cohesion is what has doomed its peoples to misery in recent history. Meanwhile, Matthew Hoh, a former Marine captain, has resigned his commission with a letter posted at the link above because he's convinced that the war is fueling the very insurgency it seeks to defeat. A Russian soldier who spent time in Afghanistan in the 80s shares similar thoughts.
John Hobbins has a short introduction with some resources on the Ethiopian Orthodox church. They have 81 books in their Bible. I have a hard enough time getting through 66 books in one year.
Steve Wynn, a guest on the Rush Limbaugh show, states the following: "Government never increased the standard of living of one single human being in civilization's history." Rush wholeheartedly agreed of course as does his faithful flock that attends his services each weekday via radio. But Mark Shea, who bothers to do a bit more critical thinking than Rush could ever dream about, fleshes out the implications of that comment. As he points out, Rush still believes in the innate goodness of mankind left to his own devices. Shea, a Catholic, knows better:
"Then let us 'immediately' get out of Afghanistan and Iraq, since these immense and costly government interventions cannot possibly help raise the standard of living for these nations. We must also re-write our history books in order to testify to the faith propositions that the anti-trust acts, labor laws and child labor laws of government never raised the standard of living for a single human being in a sweat shop. Likewise, the wise and good practices of business from 1929 to 1933 were 'wholly' responsible for ending the Depression and the state did not help a single solitary person. Nor did the vast government undertaking of the Allies from 1939 to 1945 help a single solitary person.
Of course, what this ideological parrot 'really' means is that the state has no business interfering with laissez faire capitalism, but has every right to impose the End to Evil crowd's vision of Redemption Through Democratic Capitalism on sundry countries that need to be bombed into salvation. He has 'immense' faith that our government adventures in nation-building in Iraq, Afghanistan and (who knows?) Iran will improve the lives of those who survive the next Shock and Awe campaign. He just doesn't want the state to bother with the common good when it gets in the way of his worship of capitalism as an article of Sacred Tradition."
While Shea's at it, he also calls out Glenn Beck: "anybody who accepts, as an adult, the truth claims of Mormonism concerning, oh, the notion that the Book of Mormon is something besides a transparent forgery, that Jews lived in the New World in the time of Christ, that there was a Great Apostasy, and the multiple other fraudulent and bogus claims which constitute the founding narrative of Mormonism--that person is not demonstrating much in the way of critical thinking skills and it is inadvisable to trust that person as a mentor and guide."
A large part of the housing crises was the frenzy, 5-6 years ago, saying "Buy now! Interest rates have never been lower! Home prices only go up! Housing is a great investment!" All of those statements have been shown the be a myth. Now of course, we are bailing the fools out along with the citizens who are ready to purchase a home before April. The rest of us are screwed... yet another redistribution of wealth that both Republicans and Democrats are happy to take part in. CATO does a good job of debunking that crap.
Twelve years after The Lancet published an article linking Autism to the MMR vaccine, they retract it. Dr. Andrew Wakefield who wrote the article is responsible for more harm to children over the past 12 years than perhaps anyone else in the country, and the effects of the psychological scare he put into ignorant parents won't go away soon. That's been reported ad nauseum. But what about the culpability of The Lancet, the British medical journal that published his article? My understanding was that articles that made their way to publication were, by definition, peer reviewed, meaning that they were subject to rigorous review standards by experts in the field. Fool that I was, I thought the methods were reviewed, the evidence analyzed, and the study repeated where possible, before publishing. I believe... let me rephrase... I believed that scholarly journals REQUIRED this sort of filtering before releasing new info, ESPECIALLY info this actionable. My response to the Jenny McCarthy's of the world was always, "Show me a peer reviewed article from a medical journal that proves your claims?" Before, they could always point to Wakefield's article. So I felt vindication when it was debunked. But then I felt like I was on shaky ground all over again when I realized it wasn't just Wakefield's article. It was also The Lancet's.
America's cowardly reaction to September 11th in a picture worth a thousand words from an unsurprising source. Hint: it's no longer about freedom, it's about national security at all costs.
Michael Bird defends J.I. Packer against his, wait for it... Reformed critics. According to Iain Murray, "Unity is overrated." Thankfully, as I tried to show in my last post, Rowan Williams and Joseph Ratzinger disagree, and have made significant strides to maintain (Williams) and create (Ratzinger) unity.
News from our humane facility at Guantanamo Bay: "The 25 lines edited out of the court papers contained details of how Mr Mohamed’s genitals were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, 'is very far down the list of things they did,' the official said." Score one point for displaying American values, and showing that we don't have to stoop to their level to beat them! After all, we didn't behead anyone. Or as Jason Kuznicki says,
"Hooray! We’re still better than the other guys! There comes a point when the shelter of moral relativism just doesn’t keep the rain out anymore. For me, that point arrived when we turned our back on the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment and its presumption of innocence even for war criminals, turned our back on our treaty obligations, turned our back on due process, and when we embraced the very Soviet torture techniques that we not so long ago risked civilization itself to end. That was enough for me. But if others reach that point at wiener-slicing, hey, welcome to the party."
As Andrew Sullivan repeatedly quotes from Orwell's Animal Farm, "To see what is in front of ones nose needs a constant struggle." Indeed. But the American electorate is averse to struggle.
F.A. Hayek argues for government sponsored health insurance for the poor? Count me as surprised. An excerpt from The Road to Serfdom: "Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance... the case for the state's helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong." Read that sentence one more time if you didn't quite get it. It took me two reads. Never thought you'd hear that out of Hayek, did you? But I have seen similar statements by Adam Smith that would make modern day capitalists cringe. "Shut up Adam! You too Friedrich! You are ruining our narrative!"