August 27, 2007

Watcher On the Rind

Hatched by Dafydd

Last Council vote gave us a winning week; this time, it's a weak win: We didn't do so well with our own nomination in the Council vote... but our nominee and first choice for the Nouncil vote won hands down.


Yes, yes, it's an honor just to be nominated. Or it would be, except that we nominate ourselves... so it's an honor that I found myself worthy of being nominated. Wanna make something out of it?

The winner instead was --

Pretty much just what the title says. Rick Moran asks whether we're an imperialist power, what an imperialist power is, and does such an appellation really matter? I would say that the only people I have ever heard raise the question are either (1) utterly convinced that we are imperialists just like the Nazis (90%), or (2) trying in exasperation to show that we are not an empire under any rational definition of the word (10%). No room for Mr. In-Between.

In fact, I will go farther. The only way to call the United States an "empire" is to twist the plain meaning of that word like a pretzel, what I call "argument by convenient redefinition": proponent redefines a horrific word to include perfectly ordinary behavior; but he then relies upon the frisson caused by the original meaning to induce an ugly, emotional response to the ordinary.

That is, to change the meaning but rely upon the old meaning to cling to the new circumstances, like a bathtub ring.

Other examples abound:

  • If we redefine the word "rape" to include despoiling Mother Earth by cutting down trees to build houses, then everyone who lives in a house is a rapist; can't we all agree that rapists should be behind bars?
  • "Racism," henceforth, shall mean any policy that has a disparate effect on different races, intentionally or accidentally. Since tax cuts primarily benefit those who pay more taxes, they help white people (on average) more than blacks. Republicans support tax cuts. Therefore, Republicans are racists -- so how can any decent human being vote to put a Ku Klux Klansman in the White House?
  • "Amnesty" means forgiveness of a crime without punishment; but let's redefine it to include any plea bargain. In the comprehensive immigration-reform bill, illegal immigrants serve reduced punishment as part of a plea bargain. Are we going to let criminal lawbreakers off scott free with an out-and-out amnesty?

Moran's argument about imperialism essentially boils down to the same point: If you define imperialism to include any foreign engagement, occupation, or enforced sanction, then sure, we're "imperialists"; but the word at that point has lost all meaning and sense.

However, this question has been explored a lot in recent years; I think it now constitutes beating a dead horse into a different color. Thus, we voted for a different pair of nominees:

  1. St. Nietzsche, by Done With Mirrors
  2. The Economic War On Terror, by Soccer Dad

In the first, Callimachus notes the debriding effect of religious rituals:

Religions are structures which draw destructive internal poisons and cure them, mostly, into constructive and calming rituals. Only a fool would think we can dispense with any such structure when Cambodia still reeks of corpses and we are only a few geological ticks out of the Ice Age....

[Quoting René Girard] Thinkers like Dawkins and Hitchens conclude that religion is the cause of this violence and sexual obsession, and that the crimes committed in the name of religion can be seen as the definitive disproof of it. Not so, argues Girard. Religion is not the cause of violence but the solution to it. The violence comes from another source, and there is no society without it since it comes from the very attempt of human beings to live together. The same can be said of the religious obsession with sexuality: religion is not its cause, but an attempt to resolve it.

In the second post above, Soccer Dad considers the propriety and efficacy of declaring the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to be a terrorist organization, and comes to a clearthinking conclusion (with emphasis added by moi):

I would guess that most of those opposed to fighting the Revolutionary Guards economically are certainly opposed to fighting them militarily. And yet failing to rein in the guards economically will almost certainly make a military confrontation with them -- however ill advised it is -- more likely.

Hard to argue.


Here is where we shone. Our nominee, our first choice, and the winner was:

Miniter's is the best and most straightforward account to date (in the absence of any self-reflective word from the editors at the New Republic itself). Evidently, members of the Council agree.

Our second-place vote was about a subject dear to our hearts; it even has its own category: Globaloney. (I think we voted for a Logosphilia post last week, too; I like this blog a lot.)

Matt also comments on Big Lizards fairly frequently under the name K2Aggie07... which I can only suppose means that he attends Texas A&M, graduated this year -- and must have climbed the second highest (and most difficult) mountain in the world, in the Karakoram segment of the Himalayan chain separating Pakistan and China. Perhaps during Spring Break, while the other kids were gawking at wet t-shirted co-eds.

Lookee here

As usual, full list here, if you can get the site to come up. As I write this, the domain name cannot be found.

I can only conclude the Watcher of Weasels site has been shut down, the Watcher himself arrested and subjected to stress positions, loud music, water boarding, and the dreaded chest grab, which has induced him to spill the beans out of the cat. What else could it be?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 27, 2007, at the time of 3:55 AM

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The following hissed in response by: soccerdad

Thank you very much.

The above hissed in response by: soccerdad [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 27, 2007 6:04 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

You forgot to include the redefinition of torture on your list as anything that makes a prisoner fell uncomfortable.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 27, 2007 11:36 AM

The following hissed in response by: Watcher

It was awful! I don't know what was worse, the jumper cables attached to my testicles or being forced to listen to William Hung's cover of "Rocket Man" over and over for 24 hours straight. AIEEE!

The above hissed in response by: Watcher [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 27, 2007 12:49 PM

The following hissed in response by: k2aggie07

Thanks Dafydd. That's high praise coming from you.

You're 2/3 on the name deciphering -- I was in the Corps of Cadets (ROTC at A&M), Company K-2.

Although mountain climbing would be quite interesting.

The above hissed in response by: k2aggie07 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 27, 2007 12:52 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Aw, heck. I thought you were one of the select few to have climbed K2! (Although K2 is slightly smaller than Everest -- 28,251 ft, compared to 29,029 ft for Everest -- K2 is monumentally harder to climb and has killed a higher percentage of those who've tried.)


It was awful! I don't know what was worse, the jumper cables attached to my testicles...

Oh, jumper cables; at first, I misunderstood you to mean bungee cords.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 27, 2007 12:59 PM

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