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4/18/2003

 

a little hume-or for your easter weekend



A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature...It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health, should die on a sudden: because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle, that a dead man should come to life; because that has never been observed in any age or country. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. And as a uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle.


this is david hume's way of saying that miracles aren't possible. according to hume, the laws of nature are backed up by universal experience (which with, i think, we would all agree.) his criteria for determining whether or not a miracle occurred is

no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous


or, in other words, is it more "miraculous" that the miracle did or did not occur? more simply still: is a natural or supernatural cause more probable?

but hume's criteria for probability as described above is "universal experience," that is, since the laws of nature are backed by the experience of all people throughout all time, a miracle would need at least equal backing to be considered probable. once an event has been so well-substantiated, it would then cease to be "miraculous," hume argues. it would simply be a mundane, every day occurrence, that is, it would be part of the natural law.

the beauty of hume's definition is hideous speciousness which is so hard to see until we apply his method to something a bit more tangible. imagine for a moment that i go and kill someone in cold blood. in my defense, my attorney brings everyone who has ever known me before the court, and they all testify that at no point had i ever been observed to kill anyone in my entire life. in rebuttal, the prosecution offers one paltry eyewitness, who had a clear view of the whole thing. the judge, a big hume fan, lets me walk. crazy, isn't it?

"not fair," some will say. "no one was a killer before they committed their first murder. furthermore, there's nothing miraculous or supernatural about you deciding to one day shoot someone."

true, but a miraculous event is similarly unprecedented. and as to my example not being miraculous enough, hume's criteria deal simply with the possible causes for a certain event and the comparison between the weight of "experience" substantiating each cause. his method isn't dependant upon the debate between the natural and supernatural. we could apply it to anything.

hume's standard of proof wouldn't hold up in any court in the land, so i fail to see why it should be applied to miracles. what about the legal standard? what would we, as judges, make of a slain religious leader and his empty tomb--a man we know to have been killed by the very professional and very experienced executioners who carried out his sentence and who would have been killed themselves if they failed in their task. even assuming they failed, he would have been in deep shock from massive blood loss and would have surely been finished off by exposure. we know the tomb was empty because the man's worst enemies granted this, but alleged his followers stole the body. his followers, to a man, believed he rose from the dead. were they lying? perhaps, but why then did nearly all of them choose to be tortured, executed, or both rather than recant their fraudulent belief? lots of people will face death for what they believe to be true, but no one will die for what they know to be a lie. what to make of this, your honor?

discuss amongst yourselves.

locdog wishes you a good friday, and hopes you all have a great easter weekend




 

i'm not dead yet!



cnn accidentally posted the obituaries of ronald reagan, dick cheney, fidel castro, nelson mandela, and pope john paul the second on their website. not mentioned in the story was whether or not eason jordan was among the recently deceased.

that's the world's most trusted news source, folks. just ask 'em.

locdog feels happy! i want to go for a walk!




4/17/2003

 

iraq "may have given North Korea second thoughts" according to NYT



well, if bush's diplomatic victory in north korea is too big for you as a liberal to ignore, then you'd better start spinning. raines and the boys over at the new york times are putting on a veritable whirling dervish show:

Brinkmanship has given way to diplomacy in North Korea, and not a moment too soon. Instead of opening a nuclear bomb production line while the United States was preoccupied by Iraq, North Korea unexpectedly agreed to meet next week in Beijing with American and Chinese diplomats to talk about ending the North's nuclear weapons programs...The invasion of Iraq may have given North Korea second thoughts, but pressure from China was probably more significant.


right. it was china. because china was going to come down and invade north korea, right? china was going to string kim up by his boxer shorts if he didn't get his mind right. china was going to slice through his military like a hot knife through tofu, slashing at the heart of his corrupt regime.

yeah, sure.

here's the deal: the new york times and a lot of other media and academic types have a vested interest in making sure that people never learn the lessons of the last century. if you people ever get to thinking that the only effective way of dealing with a tyrant is to hit him hard, fast, and before he hits you, why, what need have we for the united nations security council? what need have we for the academic elite? what need have we for all of these democrats who've hitched their wagons to saddam's falling star? the times will not give bush credit for anything, and must not credit his ideology lest more george w. bush's come to power. and so they credit china for the diplomatic pressure they put on north korea--pressure which didn't begin until it became readily apparent to the chi-coms that bush was more than capable of wiping kim's regime from the face of the earth. that's a war china wanted no part of.

some people call bush's foreign policy "neoconservatism." i don't have a problem with that as long as the term is well defined. but we don't need to invent new words to describe wisdom that's as old as the hills: there's only one way to deal with a school yard bully, whether he's fighting over the see-saw or nuclear weapons. give a bully a bloody nose and he'll never bother you again. get the reputation of a man who bloodies bully's noses, and you'll never have to do so again.

locdog is confident that syria too will straighten up and fly right




4/16/2003

 

they've found the iraqi information minister!



mohammad saeed al-sahhaf, a.k.a. "baghdad bob," has been found.

just wait till you learn who he was really working for all along!

not that locdog was surprised, of course




 

tim robbins: role model for the anti-war left



i generally ignore celebrity pop-offs, but i've sorta got a soft spot for tim robbins. i think it has to do with his work in the coen bros. glorious hudsucker proxy, or maybe i just find his shallow indignation and unabashed pouts charming. probably a little of both. but there's a third great reason to pay attention to the guy. if he says it, chances are the anti-war left believes it.

take, for example, his scathing rebuke of the baseball hall of fame after they told him not to bother showing up for the fifteenth anniversary of bull durham (another great flick):

''I was dismayed that the Baseball Hall of Fame decided to use this event to make a political statement,'' Robbins, 44, said in a statement in which was supported by his pal and Bull Durham co-star Kevin Costner.

''It is using what power it has to infringe upon my rights of free speech with the hope to intimidate millions of others who disagree with our president,'' Robbins said in a stinging riposte.


as bill oreilly pointed out last night, the hypocrisy of robbins' objection is palpable. in a town chalk full of limousine liberal crusaders jockeying for attention, few could turn a faster lap than tim robbins. from the ham-handed political correctness of dead man walking, which robbins directed, to his famed and frequent off-screen rants, who has used his public status--and seemingly every "event" he's ever been affiliated with--to make more "political statements" than tim robbins?

but this isn't a specific critique of dear tim, so let's move on.

more interesting than robbins' extreme hypocrisy (it's so commonplace in tinsel town i treat it as a foregone conclusion) is his view that somehow, he is entitled to make these rants whenever and wherever he chooses. tell him to get lost, and you haven't exercised your rights as a private landowner or the organizer of a particular event, rather, you've deprived him of his (divine?) privilege to turn anything he damn well pleases into a bully pulpit. never mind that the baseball hall of fame was under no obligation whatsoever to invite robbins, or that the overwhelming majority of americans (whose pastime baseball is) finds his views abhorrent--no, what's really going on here is that they are all out to get him. reminds me of that simpsons episode with mark mcgwire--you remember, the one where major league baseball had spy satellites monitoring everyone's life?

well apparently this guy can really hold a grudge. and man, can he ever externalize. now it's not just baseball who's out to get robbins, it's the presidency itself! this conspiracy reaches to the highest levels! robbins launched an even broader offensive in an address yesterday to the national press club. after complaining about the "banishment" of so-called reporter helen thomas to the status of "back of the room and uncalled on," robbins concludes

A chill wind is blowing through this nation...A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio...If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications...Every day, the airwaves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invectives, and hatred directed at any voice of dissent...and the public sits in mute opposition and fear.


part of that quote came from drudge's home page. i saw robbins' comments on fox (where else would one see them?) but i can't find a freely-available transcript yet. i did scrounge up some audio, courtesy of a reliable source, and that's where the rest came from. i highly recommend you give this one a listen, folks. swift himself could not do justice to robbins' comically exaggerated diction. it's almost like he really believes he's the cambridge don he's pretending to be, and as such he's completely lacking in self-consciousness and pours out his ravings with the greater fervency. reminds me of watching one of these sad wannabes embarrass themselves on american idol.

so...who is silencing tim robbins and what, exactly, are the ramifications? if tim robbins can name for me one instance in which his constitutional, as opposed to his imaginary, right to free speech has been denied, i'd love to hear it. and yet the american people (who all agree with robbins, as you can see) are huddling in fear as the bushista gestapo spews threats, invectives, and hatred.

translation: whenever i speak my mind, everyone thinks i'm an ass and tells me so, and pretty soon they stop asking me to come around altogether. but obviously there must be a huge silent majority agreeing with me, because i'm a super-genius--what with my theater degree from ucla and all--so how could anyone in their right mind not agree with me? it must be the bush administration out there shutting people up.

now do you see why he's a hero for the anti-war left? why his views are a microcosm for the "peace protest" in its entirety? these protesters hate dissent. they want everyone to listen to them, and, of course, who doesn't? but when people don't listen, do they accept their irrelevancy and move on? no. they pout and howl and allege and block traffic and throw stones at police officers and make big speeches about the black helicopters circling inside their cavernous skulls. they refuse to accept that they don't matter. they will make you listen whether you want to or not because they're right, they know it, and so will you when they're done. if anyone dares criticize their thuggery, he's branded a fascist, a Tool of the Regime. the protesters fight those who are trying to silence them with threats and invectives by silencing them with threats and invectives--and at the end of the day no one has done anything more than exercise their constitutional rights to voice an opinion, criticize a view and it's proponent, or choose not to invite a particular speaker to a particular hall of fame because of his outrageously out-of-touch views.

i can't blame robbins and his ever-dwindling corps of disciples, really. if given the choice between the high romance of a desperate struggle for freedom amidst cloak-and-dagger conspiracies wrought against you by the might of the military industrial complex, and being an ineffectual liberal dope who's not worth the energy it would take to ignore, well, which would you prefer?

locdog would probably prefer to lay his $0.02 down on the table like any other american and greet whatever pans or praises come my way with equal stoicism




4/15/2003

 

where are the WMDs?



i posted this a couple of times over in the fray in response to those talking about iraqi WMDs or the lack thereof:

saddam came clean years ago, providing the weapons inspectors with full disclosure and unfettered access. based on the iraqi government's exemplary cooperation with the united nations inspection teams and encouraging responses to the oil-for-food program, i feel quite confident in asserting that saddam's stocks of vx and anthrax have been completely neutralized, and even if they hadn't been, he voluntarily divested himself of all of his delivery systems, including, but not limited to, his missiles, shells, and drones. all of this information was handily summarized for the world in iraq's comprehensive and concise report to united nations, which is now number one on the best-sellers list.

locdog thinks this whole bloody war could have been avoided if we'd only listened to saddam


there's something i need you people to explain to me here. those of you talking about our poor justification for war vis-a-vis banned weapons, or the clean bill of health from hans blix, or the fact that our troops still haven't found any WMDs...what the hell are you thinking?

i've frequently said that i find it hard to lampoon liberals because the more outrageous my attempts at satire, the more likely they are to be believed. well who could believe the above?

i mean, i really gotta know--and i'm asking in all sincerity here--do you people really believe that there are no WMDs in iraq? how awe-inspiringly stupid would you have to be to believe that?

but what else am i to believe about you? the only other choice you've left me is that you are smart enough to realize what everyone else realizes--you just don't care. deep down, you know you're playing the fool and someday so will everyone else, but you're willing to mortgage away your future credibility for a few brief, giddy thrills. that's even dumber than sincerely positing saddam has no WMDs.

...and yet i think that must be it. and now that i've had this revelation, i think it's just about the saddest thought i've ever had. i mean, you libs would actually need a cerebral upgrade just to join the paint-chip eaters who truly believe saddam has no banned weapons. are you that consumed by your petty spitefulness? geez, it's like watching someone mutilate themselves. ick.

until today, locdog never really got liberal self-loathing




 

something new to feel rotten about



in their never-ending quest to make americans feel guilty for freeing the people of iraq, the media has passed through various distinct phases. back during the u.n. debacle, we were told that our proposed war was tearing the world apart. when the u.n.'s irrelevancy became apparent, we were told that iraq would be another vietnam. when the war began, we were told that things were much harder than we had thought, that we were caught in a quagmire, that the people weren't supporting us, etc. when all of those things were proven to be false by the breathtakingly fast collapse of the hussein regime, we were told that we've created anarchy. now that the chaos has been mostly reigned in, the press has moved on to phase 5: democracy will never work.

this morning i visited the times new york and los angeles, the washington post, usa today, etc., and found that nearly all were leading off with lt. gen. jay garner's town hall meeting in ur, where, according to the new york times, the "fractious" "often-quarrelsome factions" would try to hammer out their differences despite the "Thousands of Shiite Muslims" marching in protest along with their boycotting leaders, and the protests of "Many other Iraqis."

the los angeles times tells us that general garner faces a "rare and daunting opportunity" where he must "race against the clock...against the forces of anarchy that are sapping Iraq and the growing resentment toward Americans who rid the nation of Saddam Hussein but left nothing, so far, in his place."

even more pollyannaish is usa today, whose giddy, rose-colored coverage leaves one convinced that democracy cannot help but triumph in the end. says usa today "the meeting looked to be contentious" with "bitter feelings" and unanimous resentment over an american leading the interim government--or so one should infer given that they didn't bother to present any other viewpoint. including harsh quotes from shiite leaders ("Iraq needs an Iraqi interim government. Anything other than this tramples the rights of the Iraqi people and will be a return to the era of colonization.") and generous helpings of observations like "[garner] symbolizes for some Iraqis an unacceptable push by the United States to run Iraq, even if only temporarily," usa today even manages to mix in the old Even-Those-Who-Should-Agree-With-So-And-So-Hate-His-Guts: "Even some of those attending the meeting said they did not want Garner leading the interim administration."

to paraphrase general garner, philadelphia 1787 wasn't exactly a love-in, either. not surprisingly, those in the media who are vicariously decrying his appointment were the same ones who were shouting "don't you dare go over there and blow up iraq and then just walk away like nothing happened!" before the war started, and would be the first to decry the genuine anarchy that would surely ensue if the united states did not shepherd iraq through this transitional period. the press can make all the snarky, white-man's-burden implications it wants, but the fact is iraq can and most certainly will tear itself apart if the united states doesn't hold it together.

as to the "bitter" and "fractious" iraqis themselves, it's hard to say how representative they are of the iraqi population in general. the american media would have you believe that iraqi dissent is a veritable monolith. i have my doubts. anyway, for those who are protesting, my hunch is that the shiites won't be satisfied with anything less than an iranian-style ayatollah (which ain't gonna happen), and the rest want too much too fast. the symbol of an iraqi interim government is what they're after--a government with no real power and no ability to maintain order in iraq, but hey, at least it wouldn't be american. even the europeans waited a couple of decades before pretending we had nothing to do with their liberation. no, we will maintain an interim government until we decide the iraqis are capable of maintaining a permanent one, and this is how it must be. better for the protesters (especially the shiites) who are now deriding the u.s.-led interim government to learn a slightly-modified version of a lesson the french and germans never quite seemed to grasp:

you did not free yourselves, we freed you. you did not give yourselves a voice, we gave it to you. it was our tanks, our dollars, our blood that gave you the right to march against us. it will be our largesse that sustains it until you can sustain it for yourselves. so please, humor us while we try to keep you from killing yourselves--at least until we are able to give you hundreds of billions of our dollars for your oil and make you very rich.

the logic is irrefutable. money talks, and iraq, if it plays ball, will be perhaps the richest nation in the arab world. that is to say, relax: we can't lose.

locdog does think it might take a while to work out all the kinks, though




4/14/2003

 

...and the best offense is the united states marines



check out william safire's latest op-ed for the nytimes, in which he examines our sudden burst of diplomatic heft, particularly in north korea, in light of our lopsided win in iraq.

"The best defense is a good offense." ...[is] the essence of our new policy of pre-emption as a last resort. If threatened by a regime harboring terrorists or likely to provide them with mass-murder weaponry, the U.S. will not wait to gain world sympathy as the victim, but will defend itself by striking first.

That power to protect ourselves — and our will to use that power — was established in Afghanistan and driven home in Iraq. Dangerous dictators elsewhere as well as fair-weather friends no longer doubt America's seriousness of purpose.


locdog believes that every once in a while people need to be reminded that the u.s. can still really kick some butt




 

so in otherwords, it wasn't about ratings



cnn denies that it lied to the world for twelve years just to maintain access.

CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson noted that CNN reporters have frequently been kicked out of Baghdad by angry authorities, most recently a few days after the start of the war.

"The decision not to report these particular events had nothing to do with access, and everything to do with keeping people from being killed as a result of our reporting," she said.


i agree with ms. robinson. clearly, cnn was not motivated by their desire for access. no one wants access to iraqi propaganda. they were motivated by their desire for ratings. by the chance to pretend that they were the only american cable news station with a bureau in baghdad, rather than a shill of the hussein regime.

if cnn was so concerned with the lives of their people, why didn't they get the heck outta dodge the very first time one of their staffers was nabbed by the iraqi authorities? seems to me that by deciding to stay in baghdad, jordan put his people's lives at far more risk than if he would have simply pulled cnn out. what ms. robinson fails to mention about her people getting angrily tossed from baghdad all those times is that it was eason jordan who crawled down to iraq and begged for their readmittance--torture, murder, state-censorship and all.

this half-hearted confession gets more dubious every day. why come clean if you are only doing so as a means of defending the indefensible? may as well admit what you did was wrong and face the music, or try to perpetuate the lie as long as you can and hope you don't get caught.

locdog finds the spin almost as sickening as the act itself




 

it's over



pentagon now saying that "major combat operations are over," and that they'll settle in to a pattern of "small, sharp fights" which will eventually fizzle out. saddam's forces have not offered "a coherent defense," and it doesn't look like they are ever going to again. not with a bang...

for all intents and purposes, the war is over.

now, the hard part.

locdog thinks we're up to it





 

france is getting desperate



hopefully bush will keep ignoring them cause now is when they get really funny. in another week, chirac will be willing to jog around paris wearing nothing but an american flag and singing "God bless america" in exchange for an oil deal.

...i wonder if bush could get chirac to bark like a dog. or maybe baaaa like a sheep. that's it. bush should make chirac climb up in front of the whole united nations dressed like lamb chop and, in his best sheep voice, ask "please, mr. bush, maaaaaay we haaaaaave some oil? we've been baaaaaaad."

get the gory details here.

locdog finds this all so very gratifying




 

is franklin graham more dangerous than fundamentalist islam?



writing for slate webzine, beliefnet.com bigwig steven waldman hysterically hand-wrings over franklin graham's missions trip to baghdad. most of it is too silly to take issue with. more of the same "this will make the arab world think we're crusading against them and they'll all come after us and then we'll all be doomed and the sky is falling and my dog has worms and i can't find my keys and..." i've heard these cries of wolf so many times now (axis of evil, afghanistan, iraq) that i've just learned to block them out. you can get indignant for me, if you want. anyway, mixed into the normal chicken-little-isms is a litanny against franklin graham, anti-islamic bigot.

...Graham also happens to be stridently anti-Islam. His list of anti-Islam comments is long; his most succinct was that Islam is a "very evil and wicked religion."

Graham is also, he says, "poised and ready" to send representatives of the charity he runs to Iraq as soon as possible. His primary purpose is humanitarian aid—providing food and shelter—but he also admits, "I believe as we work, God will always give us opportunities to tell others about his Son. … We are there to reach out to love them and to save them, and as a Christian, I do this in the name of Jesus Christ."


with this i'll take issue. graham's remarks were poorly-worded and he's suffered from a remarkable lack of timing in recent years, but let's face it: islamic society has more than it's share of problems. (not to mention that, when it comes to members of the Other Faith, graham at his most scathing is better than your typical saudi arabian cleric at his most charitable.)

it is certainly true, for instance, that not all muslims are violent, but if you look at the most dangerous global terrorist organizations they are almost invariably muslim, the greatest threat we face from domestic terrorism comes from crackpot sympathizers (see john "i am God" mohammed), and nearly every war currently being fought has muslims fighting on at least one side.

islamic-controlled states are among the most brutal, repressive, war-like, and totalitarian on the planet. their people are spoon-fed just enough information by hand-picked, state-sponsored clerics to keep them burning effigies of george w. bush. their horses usually get better treatment than their women and gays, and their criminals are treated worse still. one struggles to name a major contribution to humanity from a muslim nation in the last ten, hundred, or even thousand years--other than global terrorism.

over that same period, predominantly Christian societies have brought us a revival of democracy (we didn't invent, we perfected it), the greatest of cultural works, and more or less every significant technological innovation since the industrial revolution. yet somehow the greatest threat to the world is not fundamentalist islam, but a fundamentalist Christian who wants to help arguably the most needy people on the face of the earth right now with acts of kindness and the message of the Good News--basically fulfilling the entire purpose of the Gospel at one fell swoop.

the horror.

some of you will no doubt respond with bitter, anti-Christian ravings full of "Crusades!" and "Inquisition!" and "Witch Hunts!" Christianity has blundered badly in the past--i'll be the first to admit--but who hasn't? the important thing is that you learn from your mistakes. well the islamic world has persisted in a state of perpetual crusading and inquiring and witch hunting for nigh onto a millennium. time to join the twenty-first century, abdul.

will franklin graham convert the muslim world to Christianity? we should be so lucky.

locdog hopes that, at the very least, he feeds some starving kids




 

why hasn't eason jordan been fired?



whatcha waitin' for, ted? i hear cnn is the only american television news agency with a fulltime bureau in havana. maybe more juicy revelations are forthcoming? guess ted wants to do a little spring cleaning. air out all the dirty laundry at once. and with castro's tender mercies rivaling saddam's, who could blame him?

funny thing about this jodan story is that ted's buddies don't seem all that eager to explore it. hell, geraldo "voluntarily leaving" iraq got more attention than this. perhaps the other news organizations are tied down by their own hypocrisy? maybe, maybe not. never really trusted them anyway. one thing i do know, there hasn't been nearly the outcry over this that there should be--particularly from you liberals who'll bash rupert "faux news" murdoch at the drop of a hat. jordan is responsible for influencing the minds of millions of americans with baathist-speak passed off as objective journalism, but far worse than that, he's an accessory to the torture of his own staffers and to that of the iraqi people whose sufferings jordan helped sweep under the rug for a decade while pretending like there was no price for doing business with the devil. and for what?

bragging rights. television ratings. money.

eric fettmann of the rupert-owned new york post said it best:

In return for its silence, CNN was allowed to maintain a permanent Baghdad bureau - long the only one by a U.S. network in the Iraqi capital.

But to what point - if the only way to keep the bureau working was to soft-pedal Saddam's horrors? If you can't report the truth, why have journalists there in the first place?

It's like saying that the best interests of journalism would have justified suppressing stories on the Holocaust during World War II in order to keep a U.S. news bureau in Berlin so as to be able to tell Nazi Germany's side of the story.


this guy lied to the american people and the world

Until yesterday, CNN long insisted that its arrangement with Saddam Hussein and his henchmen did not impair its ability to report freely.

"CNN has demonstrated again and again that it has a spine," Jordan told NPR's Bob Garfield last October. "It's prepared to be forthright, is forthright in its reporting. We wouldn't have a team in northern Iraq right now if we didn't want to upset the Saddam Hussein regime."


allowed his own people to be brutalized, and has zero credibility in my book. our first amendment is a freedom, yes, but it's also a responsibility, and in the case of mass media outlets like "the most trusted name in news" it's an especially awesome one. eason jordan has shirked that responsibility in the worst conceivable way.

locdog won’t watch cnn again until this guy gets sacked, and thinks all self-respecting americans should do the same