March 29, 2007

Where Are the Squeals From the Squeaker?

Hatched by Dafydd

Continuing with the issue we first raised yesterday in Britannia No Longer Rules the Waves, regarding Iran's seizure of fifteen British sailors and marines on Friday and the subsequent treatment of those hostages... well, what about those violations of the Geneva Conventions, Mr. and Ms. Lefty?

On Friday, March 23rd, while British Royal Marines and sailors were inspecting a fishing boat for contraband in Iraqi waters, "a number of Iranian boats" swarmed up and kidnapped the British military personnel. Iranians "interrogated" the uniformed sailors and marines (violating the Geneva Conventions) and are currently holding them hostage. Iran has just released propaganda video of the hostages, in which they are coerced to confess and to praise their kidnappers (more violations of the Geneva Conventions).

Needless to say, the Brits were not "unlawful combatants," and there is no question that the Geneva Conventions cover them.

Today on Hugh Hewitt's show, Mark Steyn asked the same question: Where is all the weeping and geshreying and genashing of teeth from all those who screamed, protested, rallied, and attempted to hijack American war policy over dubious allegations of "violations of the Geneva Conventions" that supposedly occured at our military base at Guant√°namo Bay and at the Abu Ghraib prison?

  • Where are the shrill, denunciatory, hectoring voices of Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%), Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY, 100%) and John McCain (R-AZ, 65%)?
  • How about from Democratic candidates (or coy flirts), including Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbag, 95%) and Barack Obama (D-IL, 95%), John Edwards, and Al Gore?
  • Where is the finger-wagging of Howard Dean, chairman of the DNC? Where are the protesters who turned out to express their bitter hatred of America for "violating the Geneva conventions?" Where are the rallies, embassy sit-ins, and candlelight vigils for the fifteen British sailors and marines?
  • Where are the international demands that Iran release their hostages? Why hasn't the U.N. Human Rights Council demanded release? If they have, they've sure been powerful quiet about it.
  • And what about the further indignities inflicted upon Leading Seaman Faye Turney -- being forced into a burkha and head-covering, forced to "confess" that the British were in Iranian waters (when they clearly and undeniably were in Iraqi waters), and then forced to "write" a letter demanding that the UK withdraw from Iraq? Shouldn't the same folks above have been even more galvanized by this personalized assault upon a woman?
  • Where are the demands that we freeze all Iranian bank accounts? I haven't heard a word from the usual suspects. Has any of you heard anything? How about calls for boycotts, divestiture, expulsions of Iranian diplomatic missions, shunning, and even (close your eyes, quick!) regime change?

You won't see any, and for a very simple reason: While the Geneva Conventions once were important to restrain the great powers during war between each other, in recent years, they have metamorphosed into nothing but a truncheon used by the Left to bash Western, democratic nations -- in defense of the indefensible.

In fact, "violations of the Geneva Conventions" by Western nations are invariably used to sanctify and grant absolution to evil: Sure, maybe al-Qaeda butchers people by the tens of thousands, wants to enslave all non-Wahhabis, wants to institute sharia law across the entire world, throw the Jew down the well, brutalize women, and round up gays and put them into death camps; but hey, look at what America did to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed... they denied him his constitutional right to an attorney!

What can we say about the Geneva Conventions today?

  1. They are rigidly followed by all civilized nations, whom we will never fight... and who would adhere to them even in combat with (2) below;
  2. They are completely ignored by all barbarous nations and transnational groups in the Non-Integrating Gap, who are the enemies with whom we actually have a chance of ending up in open war;
  3. Therefore, the Geneva Conventions are in a state of complete and utter desuetude.

Hence I repeat myself (my favorite source!)... the Geneva Conventions are past their sell-by date; the United States and all civilized nations should withdraw from them and create a new law of war... one that recognizes the distinction between nations in the Functioning Core and those in the Non-Integrating Gap.

A treaty honored in full by both sides brings peace; but a "treaty" that is honored by only one side is a non-sequitur.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 29, 2007, at the time of 4:55 PM

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The following hissed in response by: SDN

Dafydd, Nancy is too busy planning for her visit to Syria "implementing the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group." Can we yank her passport as soon as she takes off?

The above hissed in response by: SDN [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 31, 2007 5:43 AM

The following hissed in response by: Trickish knave

You will never hear, see or read about any outrage for violations against the countries of the United States or its allies from the rest of the world. There are people here in America that are actually rooting for the Iranians. The Left takes a big duke on us when we take action against threats and then takes another one when we do it their way and use more peaceful methods.

We can't win with them so we should continue to do what is best for our country. Iran wants someone to start something with. It will generate support from the Muslim world as Iran plays the poor victim, only kidnap- err arresting the Brits who clearly came into Iranian waters.

"See, the infidels attacked us for trying to protect ourselves!"; you can almost hear that annoying 'lalalalalalalala' noise now.

Iran is being a bully and all we can do it take it because there is no other option for now. I heard O'reilly mention that we should do some sort of airstrike, like the Tehran airport, to show Iran that we are sick of their ****. I don't know if any more miitary action will make a difference over there or not. We should probably do something to hurt Iran economically; hitting these places in the pocket book always seems to work- for a little while. Kim Jong Il can attest to that.

[Watch the language, Trickish knave. Thanks; the Mgt.]

The above hissed in response by: Trickish knave [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 2, 2007 3:53 PM

The following hissed in response by: MikeR

Daffyd, forgive me for posting on this article: I have nothing whatever to say about it, though I agreed with you. I did want to email you a question about something totally different, but you haven't written an article about it, yet. And I can't find any email link anywhere on your site. Is there any way to do that, or do you prefer to restrict comments to your articles?

Michoel Reach

The above hissed in response by: MikeR [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 12, 2007 11:38 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Is there any way to do that, or do you prefer to restrict comments to your articles?

We're pretty loose on what people talk about in the comments section, so long as it follows the Reptilian Comment Policy. So ask away!


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 12, 2007 3:52 PM

The following hissed in response by: MikeR

Okay, here goes my entirely non-sequitur comment.

I was listening to the Dennis Prager show a couple of weeks ago. Dennis suggested that many people will not live as well financially as their parents. He felt that didn't matter, some of his callers disagreed. None of them objected to the basic premise.

But I remember reading something you wrote; I don't remember if it predates your blog. You commented that anyone who doesn't recognize that we live better than those from a few years ago must be out of his mind. We have (I don't remember your examples) hip replacement surgery that works, incredibly powerful computers real cheap that can connect to all the info in the world in a few seconds, cell phones, etc. etc. We have so many things available to us that weren't available at any price to people from just a few years ago.

Given the self-evident truth of what you wrote, I was wondering why no one on the show seemed to be at all aware of it. Just a few thoughts on the subject; I'd be interested to hear what you have to say.

One depressing possibility is that it may just be in the nature of the human condition. People will always want more than they have, and will start to look upon the luxuries that they can almost afford as now being "necessities". They can never be satisfied. Sigh.

Still, maybe we can identify a more direct cause of people's feelings. One thing that occurred to me was that people still see themselves as struggling with the basic necessities of life. No matter how easy it is to surf the internet, a person doesn't see himself as rich if he worries about how he will pay his medical premium. I would imagine that there are people (I'm defining them as rich) for whom their incomes easily cover what they consider to be necessities, and who see themselves as having a lot of free choice on how to spend the rest of their money. Perhaps most of us, though, feel we are stretching to cover the cost of necessities. I'm calling these people poor, though of course we're actually extremely well off by most rational standards. We don't feel like we have "enough".

Now I wonder why that is. After all, the price of a calculator fell from $900 when I was in high school (four functions) to essentially free today. So too for a computer, or a printer. Yet it seems that there are other expenses which remain major headaches, which maybe take up as big a chunk of our incomes now as then.

Sometimes, this is quite understandable. There may be a significant cost for the raw materials, or the labor. Or take medical care, where there's an enormous cost paid for the R&D and the regulatory systems. [A friend of mine who works on them told me that developing a single cancer drug takes 15 to 20 years and costs on the order of $800 million dollars, just to get through all the required clinical studies. Unbelievable. I won't suggest we're better off without these drugs. I do imagine there might be some critically ill patients who would be willing to dispense with their rights to sue, if they could only get the drug they need a decade earlier.]

Others, I don't quite understand. For instance, the price of a new car has gone up pretty high, with all the fancy technology that goes into them. But why doesn't Wal-Mart sell a $5000 new car, perfectly standardized (choice of four colors), pretty good quality? I'd buy one, in place of my '94 Chevy; I imagine lots of us would.

The price of a home, too, is still well beyond the salary of most wage-earners. Just as my father took out a 20 or 30-year mortgage to buy his home, so too did I when I bought one this year. A house is a complicated thing, but is it more complicated than a Dell computer? Once you get a nice flat foundation in, and tell me where to connect the water, gas, electric, and phones, why can't the rest be standardized and put together efficiently? Is there no better way to do it than have a crowd of human beings bumping into each other and puzzling over drafting diagrams?

No question that I don't know what I'm talking about, in either of my examples, but maybe you'll agree with the general idea. It seems to me that there are a number of "bottlenecks" in our finances, things that soak up the majority of a wage-earner's income and make him feel poor. I'm just wondering whether some of these could be replaced by something simpler and cheaper. Are each of these bottlenecks held in place by some major issue that hasn't been solved yet? Perhaps that's true, given our free-market economy and the fact that no one has done anything about them yet. Or are these issues somehow stymied by government regulation? I guess each one has to be examined independently.

Attacking these issues would be a real "war on poverty": If we (i.e., Wal-Mart and Target) could win it, and change enough necessities from major expenses to trivial ones, the result would be that the whole mind-set of American society would change. Perhaps most everyone would start feeling rich and satisfied with his lot. (Unless human beings can't, as I mentioned above.)

The above hissed in response by: MikeR [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2007 11:52 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


First, you don't have to insert paragraph tags yourself; if you simply separate paragraphs by double-linefeeds, the magic of Movable Type will create the tags for you.

I bring this up because I read all comments in e-mail form (they're sent to me by the system)... and it's a lot easier for me to read stuff separated by double-linefeeds than all pushed together and punctuated by HTML code. Thanks!

All right, to the substance. There are a couple of interlinking points:

  • No matter how rich any society gets, there will still be "necessities" that are very expensive or out of reach -- because our conception of necessity evolves.

For example, housing is readily available for a lot less money; that's exactly what condominiums are. A lot of Americans own their own condos; but they long for a stand-alone house (we're going to be buying one soon), so they bemoan their "poverty" that all they can afford is a two or three bedroom condo.

My wife, who grew up in Japan, lived in a one-room apartment for her first three years of life... not "one bedroom," I literally mean one room, period. Then her family moved to a public housing project (which is very different in Japan... it's very selective, so it's actually nicer than a normal apartment building).

To her parents, having more than one room was unparalled luxury; remember, Japan was still recovering from the devastation of the war, even many years later. Sachi's father was a very successful patent attorney; they don't make the kind of money in Japan they do here!

When she was 12, her parents bought a condo (with a mortgage) -- and that was the first time she ever lived in a place that her parents owned.

Same with me: Until I was 11, I never lived in a place we owned; we always rented. My father and stepmother bought a house then, and I lived there until I moved away for college.

But today, a lot more people live in condos, which are a cross between an apartment and a house; a lot of apartments are converting to condos -- and I think this is a good thing, as people take better care, obvously, of something they own than something they merely rent.

Also, homeowners, for obvious reasons, tend to be more conservative; I think this plays a large role in the decades long drift towards a more conservative nation: more home ownership.

When the boomers became young adults in the 60s, we had a huge influx of population that could not own their own home... so we had a massive wave of liberalism. When they started being successful enough to buy homes -- houses or condos -- in the 80s, the country began to shift back towards the conservatism of the 1950s.

Demography goes a long way to explain national politics.

  • Back when I was a boy, I walked five miles to school through the snow, uphill -- both ways!

Dennis Prager and much of his audience are old fogeys: They discount innovations like computers and cell phones because, like Grandpa Simpson, they didn't have them when they were kids -- so they dub them worthless and don't count them as part of a better life. (This is called floccinaucinihilipilification, in case you're interested.)

But try taking your kid's cell phone away for a week, or having two days every week when no internet is allowed. You'll find out right quick that those have become "necessities," just as your grandparents discovered the same about the telephone and a teenager's own automobile. Your grandparents railed that kids were worse off in the 1950s, completely discounting TVs and hot-rod Lincolns.

And their parents similarly discounted the telephone, the family Model T, radio, and electricity.

I hate cell phones, for example (though I have a very good one); I don't want people calling me when I'm outside the house. But my younger brother (17 years younger) got rid of his landline and uses his cell exclusively.

So it goes.

Thus the younger generation evolves new "necessities," but the older generation can't understand what's so good about them, and thinks the youngsters are less well off because they're not as self-reliant as Dennis Prager was.

But Prager forgets that he, himself, had brand-new "necessities" when he was young, and his father said the same thing about the whippersnappers that Dennis says today.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2007 3:19 PM

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