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The author is an ex-submariner, questioner of authority, cigar smoking fly-fishing fanatic who wants to live to be 103.

Improved Clinch

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Nuff Said

Yep, I agree with Clarie Wolfe.

"I DON'T CARE WHAT YOUR SEXUAL ORIENTATION IS. But I mean, I really don't care. I wish all these people who natter incessantly about their proclivities and the various trials and travails thereof would just shut the heck up and get an actual, well-rounded Life. Unless I'm hoping to sleep with you -- and I'm probably not -- what you do in bed (or wherever else you do it) and whatever (consenting adult) bipedal being you do it with is strictly your own concern (and that of the consenting adult or adults in question) and ought to remain so."

Read her Jefferson quote and comments also. Heck, just read her blog would ya.

John Venlet - 8:14:00 AM | Permalink

Friday, April 11, 2003

Speed is of the Essence

"So if I'm reading this correctly, the same people who bleezed on and on about how the inspections needed time, years in fact, are the people now bitching that it's a failure that civil, democratic order hasn't taken hold in Iraq by this morning."

Juan Gato
Juan Gato's Bucket o' Rants

John Venlet - 7:34:00 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, April 09, 2003


An Arab-American, a U.S. citizen for 14 years, has been arrested in Seattle. His name is Maher "Mike" Hawash. Mike is an employee of the Intel Corporation and is being "detained" as a material witness in the war on terrorism. At least that is what our government is stating, per this article in The Seattle Times. My mind is not troubled by crushing terrorism, but it is troubled by this man's detention. Where is due process? Where is the transparency we as American's should be clammering for in regards to the supposed infidelities of Mr. Hawash that determine or require his detention, in solitary? He has been in federal custody since March 20th after being arrested in the parking lot of Intel. Three weeks have gone by already and this man sits in prison, not even charged with a crime. Here are some words that may jar your conscience at the depravity of this situation,

"And so they are leading you. During a daylight arrest there is always that brief and unique moment when they are leading you, either inconspicuously, on the basis of a cowardly deal you have made, or else quite openly, their pistols unholstered, through a crowd of hundreds of just such doomed innocents as yourself. You aren't gagged. You really can and you really ought to cry out--to cry out that you are being arrested! That villians in disguise are trapping people! That arrests are being made on the strength of false denunciations! That millions are being subjected to silent reprisals! If many such outcries had been heard all over the city in the course of a day, would not our fellow citizens perhaps have begun to bristle? And would arrests perhaps no longer have been so easy?

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
The Gulag Archipelago
pg. 15
bold italics added

Are you bristling? Will you go silently, without a whimper? Will you allow others to go silently and without a whimper, until it's YOUR TURN?

Here's a link to the Free Mike Hawash page.

Thanks to Claire Wolfe for the heads up.

Update: Additional quote. Spoken by Nikolai V. Krylenko, Chief State Prosecuter for the Soviets,

"In this area [i.e., terrorism] it is necessary, at certain moments, to wander about in the shadows."

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
The Gulag Archipelago
pg. 361

John Venlet - 1:36:00 PM | Permalink

Eros, the Root Cause?

Initially, after September 11, there was a hue and cry for determining the root cause of why Islamofascists hated the West, more specifically America. Some said poverty was the root cause, others mentioned American troops stationed in Arab countries, specifically Saudi Arabia. Still others mentioned America's support for Israel. One thing most of us can agree on is that something had definitely pissed off the Islamofascists. Well, here's the latest hypothesis. Published in Foreign Policy magazine under the title "The True Clash of Civilizations," writers Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris posit,

"The cultural fault line that divides the West and the Muslim world is not about democracy but sex.

As I read this article, I first wanted to laugh this hypothesis off, but I was unable to. What came to mind were these words, from The New York Times article titled "The Philospher of Islamic Terror."

"In some accounts of Qutb's life, this trip to America is pictured as a ghastly trauma, mostly because of America's sexual freedoms, which sent him reeling back to Eqypt in a mood of hatred and fear."

The above quoted anecdote is in regards to the life of Sayyid Qutb. Qutb, the philospher detailed in the NYT piece linked above, is recognized, at least by this piece, as the father of the Islamofascist movement. Though the author of the piece discounts this anecdote, it would probably not be mentioned if there were not some validity to the statement.

Both of these articles provide thoughts that bear consideration, along with many others not linked here. There are definitely a combination of factors that need to be considered. Piecing the puzzle together will take some doing and unfortunately, missing pieces may never allow the puzzle to be complete. The underlying problem in the Muslim world though is rather simple. No liberty for individuals. Without individual liberty, they will never be free.

Thanks to Fred Lapides for the link to the Foreign Policy piece.
Thanks to Greg Swann for the link to the Qutb piece.

John Venlet - 11:05:00 AM | Permalink

Works Great, Lasts a Long Time

Andrew Sullivan links to a British Medical Association (BMA) paper titled "the law & ethics of male circumcision - guidance for doctors."
Great, I don't have a problem with people's differing views on the practice and debate is a good thing. It's Andrew's comments that provoke me to post on this. Andrew titles his post "Male Genital Mutilation." Specifically, it's the use of the word mutilation. The most commonly understood use of this word would be in describing something horrific. As this photo, of a man in Sierra Leone would attest to. The dictionary definition, as linked above, empathizes that mutilation makes something "imperfect" or "permanently destroys a limb or essential part of."

Though I'm not given to releasing personal details of my anatomy or sexual performances, as a circumsised male I can state, unequivocally, that I am not having any problems with the "imperfection" or lack of an "essential part." As for this statement,

"...the harm of denying a person the opportunity to choose not to be circumcised must also be taken into account, together with the damage that can be done to the individual's relationship with his parents and the medical profession if he feels harmed by the procedure. ..."

from the BMA, I can only say that it's a stringing together of words with no apparent value.

Update: Wouldn't a vasectomy be a more appropriate procedure to label as a mutilation? It eliminates something essential.

John Venlet - 8:53:00 AM | Permalink

Concealed Carry - A Public Service

Leonard, over at the blog Unruled, has some thoughts on gun ownership, liberty and tyranny in response to a question posted by Patrick Hayden. He links to Jane Galt, Unqualified Offerings and a few other pertinent sites in support of his post. Here's the portion of his post that really caught my eye.

"A person carrying concealed deters not only attacks against himself; but rather he protects everyone a little bit, by raising uncertainty about getting shot in the minds of all criminals. Concealed carry is a public service."

Leonard's permalinks are not currently working. The post you'll want to read is currently at the top of his page and is titled "Iraqi Guns and Tyranny.

Update: Glenn Reynolds has a post up on this subject also with additional links.

John Venlet - 8:23:00 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Gulag Visualizations

When I read Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago for the first time as a young man, the images he portrayed became inscribed on my mind. It's difficult to believe that an artist could create images that my mind saw as I read, but Nikolai Getman has. Here are links to a few that I found particularly striking. Magadan Hills (Golgotha) In the NKVD's Dungeon GULAG Prisoner's Morgue Waiting to be shot

Each painting is a clickable thumbnail and is accompanied by a short descriptive narrative. Here is the link to the entire catalog. This collection of paintings should not be missed.

Much thanks to Wendy McElroy for the link.

John Venlet - 8:28:00 PM | Permalink

A Back Hand Rather Than the Invisible Hand

Jeff A. Taylor titles a post at the blog Hit & Run "Bumpkin Support Act" which provides a link to this story from the Star Tribune titled "Congress considers plan to lure people to rural areas." The story itself is filled with fatuous quotes from senators, think tank brains and other socialist leaning mouthpieces, most spewing nanny talk for the good of "the people." The government, if it must exist, should not be dabbling in private enterprise or subsidizing movements of populations, contrary to this appalling statement,

""Rural America -- our history, our founding lifestyle -- is suffering, and the Congress must not turn our backs," said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., a cosponsor of the bill."

John Venlet - 10:06:00 AM | Permalink

Monday, April 07, 2003

The New Cold War?

A long essay posted by The Wild Monk. The essay is titled "The Cold War is Not Over: Europe and the Post-Modern Left." From the introduction to the essay,

"In this article, I argue that George Bush and Tony Blair's appeal to common ideals in their attempt to recruit Europe to the task of reshaping the Middle East is fundamentally mistaken: such common ideals do not exist. Indeed, I will argue that the Cold War is not over, that the U.S. has not won the "war" and that the battles that lie ahead will be far more difficult to pin down than even the asymmetric warfare of the Islamic terrorists. These battles will not be fought with guns and missiles but will take place in the sphere of ideology. The core issue around which these battles will be joined is the very definition of what it means to be a free society. Among the European masses and across the spectrum of academic intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic, the position of classical liberalism - the founding ideology of the United States - has already lost. Thus, while the U.S. has won a protracted battle against one manifestation of a larger philosophical challenge to American political ideals, it is losing the broader battle taking place in the hearts and minds of people the world over."

Found via Saturn in Retrograde.

John Venlet - 12:03:00 PM | Permalink

France of Arabia

David Bornstein provides a link to a Frontpage magazine article, written by Guy Milliere, titled "France is Not a Western Country Anymore," which he also has posted here at the Israpundit site. Milliere's most damning statement from the article,

"France is not a Western country anymore, it is now the leader of the Arab/Muslim world."

After reading the Milliere piece, read this compilation of numbers, also posted by Bornstein. It's a whose who list of countries who have profited the most in dealing with Iraq.

John Venlet - 10:50:00 AM | Permalink

Sunday, April 06, 2003

"Worship or Else" an Exaggeration

Karen DeCoster links to an article in the Dayton Daily News that informs us an Air Force colonel is upset because civilians, contracted to work on base, are ignoring the military traditions of reveille and retreat. Karen opines,

"Observe Reveille and Retreat on military bases, or else you'll be disciplined. This appears to be some strange, neo-fascist worship of government symbolism, but then again, if you don't worship the symbols of the State - especially post-9/11 - you are "anti-American."

I think Karen is, no pun intended, off base, even though the quotes from the offended colonel are rather strident. Here's why I think Karen is using hypebole. Let's say I'm visiting Japan. Traditionally, in Japan, when you enter someone's home, you remove your shoes. You're not necessarily removing your shoes because you're afraid you'll track mud into your host's home, you're removing your shoes because removing your shoes is traditionally practiced in Japan and removal of your shoes shows a sign of respect for your host and the traditions of your host's country. For an example closer to home, let's say Karen invites me to her home to discuss an issue. While in her home, I have a need to use the lavatory. I ask leave to use the lavatory, am given permission, and while making water, I decline to put the seat up. Am I pissing on the worship of proper bathroom etiquette, disrepecting common courtesy and tradition, or simply dribbling on her toilet seat?

Not observing the traditional customs of reveille and retreat, while on a military base, has nothing to do with anti-Americanism or swearing fealty to the State. In all probability the offending parties are simply ignorant of the custom/tradition, or, oblivious to the fact that when in another's home, some respect is due to the traditions observed.

John Venlet - 10:30:00 AM | Permalink

Friday, April 04, 2003

North Dakota Puritans

On the domestic front, North Dakota has decided that cohabitation between a man and a woman will remain a punishable offense. Here's how the North Dakota legislature looks at cohabitation,

"The offense is listed among other sex crimes, including rape and incest. Violations carry a maximum 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine."

The anti-cohabitation law has been on North Dakota's books for the past 113 years.

This quote, from the linked article,

"Census data show that North Dakota has more than 11,000 unmarried couples living together, although the figure includes gay and lesbian couples."

makes me wonder if they'll raise a sex posse for a quick $11,000,000.00 dollars in revenue.

I guess the law sort of agrees with their state motto, "Liberty and Union Now and Forever, One and Inseparable." Well, all except the liberty part that is.

John Venlet - 5:33:00 PM | Permalink

Surely You Jest

"Let's pay tribute to the bravery of some of Iraq's fighting men. Whether out of fear, fanaticism, or the impulse to defend their homeland, some of them have gone to their deaths fighting - futilely - against American and British forces. They have charged M-1 Abrams tanks with machineguns bolted to motorcycles and pickup trucks and they have paid with their lives."

The above paragraph comes from this Tech Central Station article written by Ralph Kinney Bennett. Although I am not an expert on methods of warfare, I would consider the deaths Mr. Bennett wishes to pay tribute to are simply foolhardy. Dying foolishly does not assist one's country, it only is a catalyst for more foolish deaths.

Linked from Arts & Letters Daily.

John Venlet - 1:04:00 PM | Permalink

A Letter From an American-Israeli

A letter urging perserverance posted at Israpundit. A short excerpt for your consideration.

"I do not wish to delude myself into thinking that a few paltry words of an American-Israeli Jew will persuade you to reconsider the consequences of your elegantly argued philosophy of restraint. Who in his or her right mind does not crave peace? But I beg you to open your eyes to the world in which we are all living. It is a world in which all you take for granted and hold so dear is considered anathema by millions who would not hesitate for a second to send you and your families to hellish oblivion if given the opportunity, as they have tried and are trying daily to do in our small country. Your leaders in Washington have understood this and are trying to hold the line. A wake-up call was sent to you on September 11.

Please, for God's sake, do not ignore it."

John Venlet - 12:48:00 PM | Permalink

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Snow, Balls

Will Congress, not to mention the airline industry, have the balls to stand up for these words from Treasury Secretary John Snow?

In other comments, Snow said the airline industry "can't depend on government for a solution" to their current woes. "Reducing the cost base is the only real solution."

The above statement is quickly followed by this sentence,

Congress is mulling a $3 billion bailout for the industry.

Linked via Quicken.

John Venlet - 5:22:00 PM | Permalink

Regime of Fools

So John Kerry thinks the US needs a "regime change." At least we know where Kerry stands. He's standing with the impotent nations of the UN, fools and jesters all of them. When I read articles such as the one linked, where politicians profess their current platform, prior to it crumbling around them and raising up a newer, more palatable platform from which to bloviate, I think of a Rimbaud poem, "The Men Who Sit." Although the poem refers to old men in a library, the lines quoted below seem a good fit for US politicians and UN members.

Black with wens, pockmarked, their eyes circled with green
Rings, their swollen fingers clenched on their thighbones,
Their skulls caked with vague roughness
Like leprous flowerings of old walls;

They have grafted in epileptic loves
Their ludicrous bone structure to the large black skeletons
Of their chairs; their feet on the rickety rails
Are entwined mornings and evenings!

These old men have always made one tress with their seats,
Feeling bright suns turn their skin to calico,
Or with their eyes on the windowpane where the snow fades,
Trembling with the painful tremble of the toad.

And the seats are good to them: worn
Brown, the straw yields to the angles of their buttocks;
The soul of old suns lights up, bound
In those braids of ears where corn fermented.

And the Seated Men, their knees reaching to their teeth, green pianists,
Their ten fingers tapping of sad barcarolles,
And their heads move to the rhythm of love.

-Oh! don't make them get up! It is a shipwreck...
They rise up, growling like cats struck,
Slowly spreading their shoulder blades, O rage!
Their trousers puff out at their swollen backsides.

And you listen to them, knocking their bald heads
Against the dark walls, stamping and stamping their twisted feet,
And the buttons of their coats are the eyes of beasts
Which catch your eyes from the end of the corridors!

They have an invisible hand which kills:
Coming back, their eyes filter the black poison
Which floods the suffering eye of the beaten bitch,
And you sweat, caught in a horrible funnel.

Seated again, their fists sunken in soiled cuffs,
They think about those who made them get up,
And, from dawn to night, bunches of tonsils
Under their meagre chins tremble and almost burst.

When austere sleep has lowered their lids,
They dream, head in arms, of seats made fertile,
Of real little loves of chairs just learning to stand
With which proud desks will be surrounded.

Flowers of ink spitting out pollen like commas
Cradle them, in rows of squatting calyxes
Like the flight of dragon flies along the gladiolas-
And their penises are roused by barbed ears of corn.

Link to article about Kerry via Matt Drudge.

John Venlet - 10:22:00 AM | Permalink

Treason, Give Me a Break

It appears that a few voices are calling for Peter Arnett to be tried for treason. Wouldn't a more appropriate punishment be for him to be made to sit in a corner wearing a dunce hat?

John Venlet - 8:06:00 AM | Permalink

Free to Walk Away in Action

The San Francisco Chronicle has a story up about a Marine who doesn't want to serve in combat, he wants to walk away. In my post yesterday, related to this topic, I agreed that he should be free to walk away and how it could be done with honor and integrity. I believe, from reading the story, that the said Marine is following a path of honor and integrity in his walking away. I have one problem though with the Marine's change of heart, and it has to do with this statement,

"They don't really advertise that they kill people," Funk said. "I didn't really realize the full implications of what I was doing and what it really meant to be in the service as a reservist."

I'm tired of the argument of people supposedly not realizing the full implications of what they are doing. Utilizing this argument is tacitly admitting your own stupidity and inability to rationally make decisions.

Thanks to Juan Gato for the links. He has a few comments of his own to add to this subject which are worth reviewing.

John Venlet - 8:02:00 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Meaningless Statement

Spoken by King Abdullah of Jordan and posted in the Arab News,

“We have used all our contacts with influential countries across the world in order to avert this day in which we see brethren Iraq facing an invasion and all the pain it carries for the innocents...”

I think the king needs some new contacts or more influential countries as he mouths these types of platitudes to his subjects.

Thanks to The Command Post for the link.

John Venlet - 9:55:00 PM | Permalink

Free to Walk Away

On Monday, I took issue with an opinion written by Jeffrey Tucker wherein he likend military volunteers to slaves. In fact I referred to him in not so pleasant, or shoud I say polite, terms. Over at No Treason, John T. Kennedy makes reference to this in a post titled "Market Law Versus Inalienable Rights." John's post delves into the issue of military volunteers, or more appropriately, the contracts that bind individuals to another individual or entity with a emphasis on military duty.

Lysander Spooner, whom John agrees with, argues that a contract is morally void and because of this, one should be free to walk away from, in this instance, a military contract. Although I also agree with them, I would not walk away from a contract I freely agreed to. Here's why.

The man I would contract with, like myself, would be a man of honor and integrity. Men who deal with each other, having these attributes, deal with each other at all times in no other way than with honor and integrity. There is no bullshit that needs to be waded through. Period. There is not a piece of paper in the world, with any manner of prose written on it, that can replace this type of dealing between men.

Let's look at this for a moment as it relates to a military contract today. You can see by the excerpt I posted in my entry on Monday that the contract I signed, when I enlisted in the USN, explicity stated that duties in combat may have been required of me. Now, if I thought I would have any apprehension or dissension to combat duty, I would not have signed the contract. Now, if I did sign the contract and wanted to walk away, because I changed my mind, I still could, but because of MY honor and integrity, I would willingly pay the restitution required of me for choosing to walk away. Isn't that what men do? I don't consider this a violation of my inalienable rights or a contract. I consider it as plain dealing with men of honor and integrity. There are such men in the world.

John Venlet - 8:33:00 PM | Permalink

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

In The Backyard Today

It's amazing what one can see in their backyard with a few feeders around.

Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker - heard calling could not spot with eye
Blue Jay
Black-capped chickadee
White-breasted nuthatch
American Robin
European Starling
Dark-eyed Junco
American Cardinal
House Finch
American Goldfinch - not quite that close to full color yet
House Sparrow
Grey Fox Squirrel
Red Squirrel

Not bad for city living.

John Venlet - 9:45:00 PM | Permalink

Kill Your Television

The band Ned's Atomic Dustbin may have been right when they penned the lyrics to their song "Kill Your Television," though I doubt they had the USA Patriot Act in mind when they wrote the song. I mention this because Television Week has an article up by Phillip Swann that states, if you are a satellite TV subscriber or TiVo owner, industry officials and legal eagles believe the aforementioned Act would allow the State to know what you've been watching even if you are not under criminal investigation.

I guess this information is just another good reason why I have an antenna on top of my house, and only get five channels, much to the consternation of my kids.

Thanks to Wolfesblog for the link.

John Venlet - 7:36:00 PM | Permalink

Submariners, Special Forces and Keeping Your Mouth Shut

Steven Den Beste has posted an interesting analogy between submariners, special forces, reporters and the importance of reticence. Remember the term loose lips sink ships?

Thanks to Glenn for the link.

John Venlet - 8:08:00 AM | Permalink

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