5 years ago
The intent of the scientists who want to perform that procedure, a type of cloning, would be to derive healthy replacement cells that are a perfect genetic match for a human patient. But because the procedure would create a microscopic embryo that would be capable, briefly, of turning into a human clone if implanted into a woman's uterus, some groups oppose it, saying destruction of the microscopic embryo would be tantamount to murder.(Emphasis added.) Note how the reporter carefully explains that the "intent" of researchers who kill embryos isn't killing but healing. Why? No one argues that scientists kill human embryos for the jollies, and the therapeutic purpose of embryonic stem cell research is well-known and granted. No, I think the reporter is attempting to make a fine distinction between knowledge and purpose that doesn't wash in these circumstances and misleads readers as to the nature of the moral debate about embryonic stem cell research. Here's the distinction I think the reporter is drawing. A person can do something not intending a consequence but with the knowledge that that consequence will likely, even certainly occur, like the general who orders his soldiers into battle not intending to kill them, but knowing that some will certainly die. But that distinction doesn't wash in this case because the researcher who harvests stem cells from an embryo not only knows this act will certainly kill the embryo, but is doing the very act that will kill the embryo. If there is still a difference between intent and knowledge in these circumstances, it's too fine for me to see. What I see is a researcher who intentionally kills an embryo for the benign purpose of healing other people. The reporter's explanation of researchers' "intent" is misleading because opponents of embryonic stem cell research don't deny the benign purpose of researchers, and supporters don't deny that the researchers are knowingly or intentionally killing embryos to accomplish that purpose. The debate centers on two questions: is an embryo a human being or just a potential human being, and is it OK to kill a human being or a potential human being for this benign purpose.
Once the Court admits (as it does) that mental retardation does not render the offender morally blameless, there is no basis for saying that the death penalty is never appropriate retribution, no matter how heinous the crime. As long as a mentally retarded offender knows the difference between right and wrong, only the sentencer can assess whether his retardation reduces his culpability enough to exempt him from the death penalty for the particular murder in question.
... authorities have painted a picture of al-Muhajir as a former gang member who was born in Brooklyn but raised in Chicago, where he was convicted of various petty crimes as a teen. He apparently grew up a Catholic, but converted to Islam after moving to South Florida in the late 1980s. Despite this conversion, authorities say he developed a penchant for violence. ...Imagine that: al-Muhajir became a violent sociopath despite his conversion to Islam. Rats. There goes my plan for bringing about world peace by forcibly converting everyone to Islam and killing anyone who won't....
"With the release of this report, the administration dropped a dirty bomb and it's going to cost thousands of American lives."Power plant pollution: it's like radioactive fallout from a terrorist "dirty bomb" intended to kill and sicken thousands of people. How clever, and so much more subtle than the usual "pollution is terrorism against the environment" analogy. I haven't formed an opinion as to whether the proposed regulations make sense, but over-the-top environmentalist idiocy like this confirms my gut instinct that they do. What a jerk.
Everyone knows Fox News Channel has a conservative audience, right? Actually, a Pew Research Center poll puts the viewership at 46 percent conservative, 32 percent moderate and 18 percent liberal -- not much different than the 44 percent conservative audience for CNBC or 40 percent conservative for CNN and MSNBC. The difference is more apparent on individual shows: Bill O'Reilly's Fox audience is 56 percent conservative and 5 percent liberal, while Larry King's CNN audience is 38 percent conservative and 19 percent liberal.Judging from the small numbers for "liberal" viewers, one might think lefties didn't watch TV news. (Which means they must be listening to NPR and PBS, right? Wrong, says this Pew Center study (link via Kausfiles), finding that 36% of NPR listeners are self-described conservatives versus 20% self-described liberals.) No, the real reason is that the right has successfully turned "liberal" into a dirty word for most lefties (as this great Bloom County strip explains, along with another involving Opus's appearance before a Senate committee, which I can't find on the web), which explains the popularity of the obnoxiously self-righteous term "moderate" and the still more odious label "progressive."
[A]rmies are built to be used, not admired. McClellan was in love with watching his grand army in its resplendent blue uniforms march up and down big parade squares in camp, and was in love with the attention and respect the commander of the Union army garnered. ... In battle, McClellan was hapless, not because he didn't understand the battle tactics of the day, but because simply lacked the decisiveness and courage a general needs. ... Today's Pentagon seems to be in love with its reputation as the world's greatest military, but if reports of its skiddishness about Iraq are true, it seems to want to be admired as a military force, not used as one where high casualties are possible. ... We'll need our military leadership to carry out the orders of President Bush in destroying the Islamofascist conspiracy and ending its threat of international terror. Let's hope President Bush doesn't have to weed out a few McClellans on his way to discovering a US Grant. Let's also hope that if he does encounter a McClellan or two, he'll have the nerve to sack them and promote competent leaders who will take the fight to the enemy.
(1) suspend all food advertising and marketing campaigns directed at children; (2) remove sugar-sweetened soft drinks and snack foods from vending machines in schools; (3) end sponsorship of scholastic activities and professional nutrition organizations linked to product promotion; and (4) refrain from political contributions that might influence national nutritional policy-- is not based on The Onion. It's based on The Simpsons (Episode 1308: after authorities "determine that Springfield is pound for pound the fattest town on earth, ... Marge ... hires a lawyer and wins a class-action lawsuit against big sugar. The Judge then decrees that sugar be banned from Springfield for life.") (Via Best of the Web) (See also Overlawyered here and here.)
"It is shocking that the [most free] nation on earth could engage in a system of racial and ethnic profiling," he said. "It is as though the equal protection clause had no meaning or context whatsoever to the authors of this Orwellian proposal." [Washington Post]First, note the gratuitous use "Orwellian" to describe an immigration restriction on foreigners from hostile states that lets them into the country, just on the condition that they get fingerprinted and photographed, give contacts in the U.S. and in their own countries, and periodically report in to the INS. So passports and visas were just first steps on the path to 1984? Who knew? Second, and much more amusing, note that Rep. Conyers, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee -- which means he supposedly knows something about our legal system -- is unaware that the equal protection clause has little if any bearing on which countries and under what conditions we grant the privilege of immigration to our country. I'm not advocating arbitrarily discriminatory immigration restrictions (although we arguably have such restrictions already), just that the constitution generally doesn't forbid substantively (as opposed to procedurally) discriminatory immigration rules. And it certainly doesn't forbid restricting immigration from hostile states in a time of war. Indeed, the federal government controls immigration not because the constitution specifically grants it that power, but because the Supreme Court found that power implied by the federal government's express powers to regulate foreign commerce, conduct foreign affairs, and make war. (One of the first things a country does in a war is restrict enemy nationals' access to its territory.) One legitimate criticism of the proposed regulation is that it doesn't discriminate against enough hostile states, because it exempts countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Yemen (although individual immigrants may be subjected to the restrictions on a case-by-case basis). I hate to say it -- I hate to see it -- but Conyers proves, yet again, that many politicians on the left simply will not engage in rationale debate about appropriate security measures in time of war. UPDATE: Volokh has a detailed discussion of the legal issues of discrimination in the immigration context.
The White House maintains that Bush has developed this vision throughout his candidacy and presidency by stressing the end of the armed conflicts among the world's great powers that characterized the past two centuries. "The war on terrorism and the enormity of that and the enormity of American leadership and the kind of earthquake that has produced in international politics puts us in a different place than we were two years ago," a senior administration official said. "But clearly, the elements were always there." (emphasis added)While the terrorist attack that ignited the present conflagration is by any measure an "enormity," only the most repugnant appease-nik would characterize the "war on terrorism" or "American leadership" as an "enormity," i.e. "great wickedness, ... a monstrous or outrageous act; very wicked crime" (Webster's New World Dictionary, 3d College Edition, 1988). Snicker, snicker. But the snicker is on me: my Webster's also defines "enormity" as "enormous size or extent; vastness," albeit with this caveat: "in modern use, considered a loose usage by some." Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary sneers that "some people insist [enormity] is improperly used to denote large size ... may not recognize the subtlety with which enormity is actually used. It regularly denotes a considerable departure from the expected or normal. When used to denote large size, either literal or figurative, it usually suggests something so large as to seem overwhelming and may even be used to suggest both great size and deviation from morality. It can also emphasize the momentousness of what has happened or of its consequences." When the walls fall down and the barbarians enter the citadel, I suppose even a curmudgeonly prescriptivist like me must bow in allegiance to his new masters.
Bush's new description of his foreign policy ... sharply revised the positions he took as a candidate, when he emphasized the need to limit U.S. intervention to regions with immediate bearing on the nation's strategic interests. ... [T]he speech wove together a number of additional themes ... into what a senior administration official described as an "overall security framework" .... The framework places Bush in a far different position than the campaigner of two years ago who criticized President Bill Clinton for trying to be "the world's policeman," depending too much on the views of others to set American priorities and spending too much on foreign assistance with no direct U.S. benefit.First, the Post piece misses the point of the speech, which isn't to update candidate Bush's foreign policy for the post-September 11 world, but to continue laying the rhetorical groundwork for what will be -- unless George W. Bush is a political suicide -- a revolution in American foreign policy and the international law of war, to wit, the right of preemptive war against terrorist-harboring or -sponsoring states. Second, it's absurd to imply, as the article does, that the intervention resulting from this policy revolution wouldn't have an "immediate bearing on the nation's strategic interests" or would allow the "views of others to set American priorities." The danger is that hostile states like Iraq will acquire weapons of mass destruction and either directly use them against the United States or give them to terrorists who will. The proposed solution is a mixture of diplomatic and military intervention to destroy such regimes. If that kind of intervention doesn't have an "immediate bearing" on our strategic interests, I don't know what does.
Some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right and wrong. I disagree. Different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities. Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in every place. Targeting innocent civilians for murder is always and everywhere wrong. Brutality against women is always and everywhere wrong. There can be no neutrality between justice and cruelty, between the innocent and the guilty. We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name. By confronting evil and lawless regimes, we do not create a problem, we reveal a problem. And we will lead the world in opposing it."Words like these give me hope that, despite the ducking and weaving of the last few months, the President knows he must and intends to wage war against terrorist states, beginning with Iraq. It's not just that he's saying the rights words and making the right arguments. It's that by speaking so clearly, he continues to box himself in politically, so that if he does not instigate war against Iraq, and if he does not effect the revolution in international law that such a preemptive war entails, he will have committed political suicide. I can't believe this adept and pragmatic politician would unwittingly drive himself into such a corner. Which is kind of funny: I usually don't trust George W. Bush because he's a pragmatist; now I hope he'll do the right thing precisely because he is.
You are right that Grant was willing to engage the enemy, which is why he rose through the ranks of politicians who infested the Army of the Republic. I don't think there is great evidence that he was an especially skilled general, however; he ultimately required massive numerical superiority to finish off Lee's army. It seems that all of his great victories as a commanding general, in fact, required a combination of overwhelming firepower, a willingness to trade 2 of his own for every enemy's life, and the patience to sit out a siege. A better example, if you must stick with the Yankees, might be Sherman (don't tell my Southern friends I said so), who had all the qualities you mention of Grant, but who also evidenced, to this untrained historical observer, at least, a cunning and daring that Grant lacked.I can't really disagree: as a strategist and tactician, Sherman beats Grant any day, just as Patton beats Marshall any day, too. (See Victor Hanson's The Soul of Battle, which argues that the Boetian general Epaminondus -- who humiliated Sparta -- Sherman, and Patton epitomize how generals of great democratic armies should fight, namely by driving massive armies deep into the enemy's territory, using constant, rapid movement to outflank his forces, and by freely romping in his heartland, humiliating his military and demoralizing his civilian population.) But I contrasted McClellan with Grant because they held analogous positions of authority -- both were generals in chief -- and were such polar opposites in temperment. McClellan wouldn't fight, because he was afraid to risk damage to his army; Grant would, even at a horrendous cost in lives. Grant shouldn't be celebrated for needlessly getting thousands of Union soldiers killed. Sherman's rapid movement and flanking maneuvers, which won battles at a much lower cost in lives than Grant's meat-grinder, victory-by-attrition approach, was much more humane and consistent with the value a democractic society places on individual lives. But Grant gets credit for putting the Union armies on the offensive, for giving generals like Sherman free rein, and for using his armies as weapons, not shields. (Would it be accurate to say, using modern terminology, that Grant was a good theater commander?) But it's too bad Grant didn't turn over the Virginia campaign to someone like Sherman. Another reader argues that the armies on both sides of World War I had McClellans too:
A recent book about World War I (The Myth of the Great War, by John Mosier) makes the same point. France and Britain were losing to Germany in 1917, which is why America decided it had to enter the war. Why were they losing? Both sides began the war with a load of McClellans, good desk generals who turned out to be totally unfit for wartime duty. But Britain and France couldn't find the will to replace these old boys, because they were politically well connected. Germany acted quickly to retire (or at least re-desk) any officers who couldn't handle the reality of war, and then moved younger leaders out into the field. The result was that Germany was well on the way to winning despite numerical disadvantages.It figures that McClellan and Grant are characters that show up in every army. What's unnerving is that success depends on (a) someone finding a Grant and (b) putting him in charge. That's not inevitable.
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