The New Terrapin Gazette
Number 182 3 January, 2011
People who love soft methods and hate iniquity forget this; that reform consists in taking a bone from a dog. Philosophy will not do it.
The use of advertising to influence foreign policy is a topic with many implications and links to fundamental legal and political questions. It’s not new, and it reminds of all manner of past publicity campaigns, some of them quite unsavory.
Consider contemporary US policy toward Israel, and the efforts made to shape it. Begin with this video. Do watch it now and then read on.
Note the video’s origin, a Christian news/propaganda organization, and recall that this newsletter looks with a jaundiced eye at such sources. The Moonies and even The Christian Science Monitor are the objects of cautions posted whenever this newsletter links to their information. You need to know as much as you can about the nature of the folks who are providing you with what they want you to accept as truth.
It is not possible to know whether everything asserted by the alleged Iranian spy in the video is true, but one can state without doubt that his claims about the teachings of the Koran are accurate. The Twelvers are indeed a very dangerous cult, and they do hope for the deaths of hundreds of millions because that will, they believe, bring about the total victory of Islam.
Those “hundreds of millions” of victims include most of the population of Iran. The mullahs running Iran expect those hapless people to be incinerated in a US retaliatory nuclear strike; remember that grim truth when you are told smugly that Iran would not dare explode an atomic weapon in Europe or the New World. Iran would do it. In fact Iran is eager to do it, and will welcome the horror that follows, for in it all unbelievers will be killed. That is the Twelvers’ version of the will of God.
The threat of retaliatory nuclear devastation cannot deter a leader who believes the slaughter of his people to be a great good.
Of course it is always impossible to predict what a madman will do. Recall, however, the statements made by Hitler, and realize that today many people damn the politicians of his time for not reading his book and not taking him at his word. Fact: Iran has been far more forthright about its designs than was Hitler. Ahmadinejad’s words have been studied and re-studied in an attempt to understand his rantings, but that is an empty enterprise; in sum, he tells the world to dispense with Zionism. If that could be accomplished, many of the surviving Jews might well have to live under sharia — which means in dhimmitude. The specific interpretations of this malleable legal code are up to the tyrant who happens to be in power at the time.
For precedents — and in the Islamic world, Mohammed’s deeds are perfect guides to God-pleasing behavior — consider this account of the aftermath of the Battle of the Great Ditch from Paul Kurtz’s The Transcendental Temptation:
…May of 627…. Mohammed’s army laid siege to their (i.e., a Jewish tribe’s) fortified village and demanded that they surrender, which they did, unconditionally. Mohammed offered to spare them if they embraced Islam, which they refused. …. The men were imprisoned in a yard separate from their women and children. They spent their last hours of darkness in prayer, chanting passages from the scriptures. Meanwhile, Mohammed had trenches dug during the night across the marketplace of the town. In the morning, he ordered the male prisoners to be brought forth five or six at a time. Each group was forced to sit down in a row at the edge of the trench. They were then beheaded and their bodies pushed into their grave. The killing that began in the morning continued all day and into the night…. All during these proceedings Mohammed was a spectator. He gave orders to fill in and then cover the trenches….
The women and children of the Jewish tribe were sold into slavery. The most beautiful woman, one Reihana, Mohammed kept for himself.
If Mohammed did it, you can be certain it was in obedience to God’s command or inspiration. So believes every faithful Muslim. The example, the ideal, is divine in origin and may not be disputed or referred to disrespectfully.
Now view the next video.
Unfortunately the TV advertisement to which the lady in the very short skirt refers is not included in the recording of the broadcast. Further, it is only natural to ask who and what “RT” is. It is a TV news service based in Russia, and the video is from a news show directed at the USA; the advertisement that is the topic of this episode was produced by a pro-Israel group that hopes to convince the US voters of the importance of Israel and the need for the USA to defend the Jewish state.
Here’s another video from the Russian network, just to give you an idea of how they set up their “news” reports.
So much for the bare facts. What do they tell us?
It is at this point that opinions intrude and tempers flare. Nevertheless consider the following two points:
First, Christians have a lot to fear from militant Islam, and in the last forty years there have been forged some strong ties between Israel and fundamentalist Christianity. Most “born again” Christians agree that Jews are “the chosen people.” What you see on the Christian video is what you would expect to see, and that says nothing about its veracity. Repeating: the statements about the Twelvers and the Koran are true; the rest is open to discussion.
Second, Russia has a long history of Jew-hatred (the old fraud, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, first became a motive for policy in Czarist Russia). By no stretch of the imagination can modern Russia be considered a friend of Israel. Note as well that Russia does not have today and has never had a tradition of freedom of the press and free speech; it should come as no surprise that Russians might say, “You should not allow people to report things like that.”
The Russian RT network seems to be edging toward the conclusion that efforts to influence voters on issues of foreign policy are somehow ethically questionable, and may be highly inappropriate. “Selling fear” and “repeat, repeat, repeat” are seminal slogans/tropes/concepts/foci in the commentary: the Russians assert that the pro-Israel video peddles dread, which is naughty; the viewer is reminded, albeit not explicitly, of the Nazi belief that big lies are easier to sell than little ones, and that an “Orwellian” propaganda campaign will eventually overwhelm even the most stubbornly rational citizenry. RT seems especially impressed and upset by the fact that the pro-Israel TV commercial was repeated.
And now, Pilgrims, come the questions, and parenthetical observations designed to clarify them.
Whence proceeds the danger? Is it from Islam, or Israel and her friends? Or should we take the moronic view that fear itself is to be feared, and must therefore be set aside?
The distinctions between news, commentary, advertising and propaganda are virtually impossible to draw. These categories all constitute speech and the use of the press in one way or another. The real question is how much Liberty can be tolerated in these areas.
Indeed, when is opinion impermissible? To assert that it can be forbidden is to agree with the majority of the USA’s journalistic establishment that a licensing of the press is the best way to proceed. As Plato observed, even the asses go about the streets of Athens, braying democratically. For the definitive response to the authoritarian threat to Liberty, read Karl Popper.
Is selling fear ever rational? Should the world have feared Hitler more, and tolerated him less? How frightened should the USA be of the probability that Iran will become a nuclear-armed state, given the control the Twelvers have over that nation’s government?
You know that selling fear is popular with all who wish to alert the world to the dangers posed by their enemies. Everyone across the political spectrum does it. Recall “Better red than dead,” and the lunatic pronouncements of Bertrand Russell. Recall the dire predictions of those who oppose the “Patriot Act;” are they correct, and should one be concerned?
Consider whether it would have been advisable to take seriously the suggestions and warnings of critics of the US banking and financial system. Who is more frightening, Jamie Gorelick or Sarah Palin? Proverbs 20:11 and Matthew 7:16.
Well, fear can see to it that one lives another day (yet again, this publication recommends Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear). Perhaps everyone should be more afraid of bees, auto accidents, and home invasion robberies. A fool’s paradise is a hell in which no one fears anything.
If there were any reasons to believe that Jews are hated, and would be severely persecuted if they were ruled by a religion that claims it wants to “protect” them and plans to tax them for the privilege of being allowed to remain alive…oh, wait.
All right. Two suggestions close this topic for now. First, be skeptical when those bigoted, quintessential losers the Russians try to tell you something; consider the source.
Finally, the next time you wonder about the propriety of selling fear, spend a few hours researching Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. If that evil bastard does not scare the holy crap out of you, you have the intellect of the average virus.
A Breakthrough That Has Been Little Short Of Traumatic For Anthropology
This is news that will impress only those who have an interest or background in paleoarchaeology and human origins, but it is stunning for those folks. The man who headed the effort to sequence Neanderthal DNA has just done the same for a group of genetically distinct humans (designated Denisovans) whose existence was unknown until very recently. Here’s the background in a few words: some five hundred thousand years ago, the ancestors of Neanderthaler and Denisovans departed Africa, and four hundred thousand years ago split into two branches. What was to become the Neanderthal branch populated Europe and the Middle East, while the Denisovans went east and southeast. Fifty thousand years ago, modern humans left Africa for Europe. Denisovans interbred with Neanderthaler, and modern humans did the same. Today’s Melanesians carry Denisovan genetic material. Sources: here, then this article, and finally this one. You can use “denisovans” as a search term on a search engine and get many more.
Some authorities are now claiming that four distinct types of humans are known: modern man, Neanderthaler, Denisovans, and homo floresiensis. Two points: claims that floresiensis is distinct are possibly premature, and second, it could be that anthropologists are being forced to accept the validity of racial concepts. “Race” is a deprecated term, assumed to be prejudicial; yet scientists are referring to genetic differences between populations that can and did interbreed (and are all the same species, therefore) and whose cultures do indeed appear to be genetically determined to a surprising extent. Archaeologists recognize Neanderthal artifacts as distinct from those of modern man. The relative intellectual and aesthetic endowments of the two groups are open to debate, however. That said, science is following the facts into politically incorrect territory. This publication would not be at all surprised to see recent findings in paleoarchaeology cited by racists to promote their claims that there are, within the human species, genetically superior and inferior groups that are recognizable by their anatomical features.
The old joke goes something like this: if a modern man from Paleolithic times stepped out of a time machine and boarded a bus in downtown Manhattan, nobody would want to sit next to him. If a Neanderthal were to get on board, the bus would empty out — rapidly.
Some people claim the US federal government is not attempting a takeover of the health care system. Are they lying, as “progressives” claim? Take a careful look at the facts.
Here’s a shock: Muslims in the USA are exporting jihad, and are not cooperating with the police.
If you look at the coming ice age (a predicted catastrophe that captured the popular imagination a few decades ago) and then consider global warming (which has been renamed climate change), you find they are at their cores just different manifestations of the same illogic: “Whether the world is cooling or warming, or whether burning down every living tree and wooden house on the planet actually cools or heats the earth appears to depend on one political constant. It will always be America’s fault.” (Source.) What, science is not involved? Of course it isn’t. If it were, the IPCC would be headed by a scientist, specifically a climatologist. This is quasi-religious faith at work, and more’s the pity. Sometimes it seems as if the Enlightenment never happened….
A senator draws praise for his hard work — which saved the taxpayers some money.
As this publication has insisted, Obamacare is not about health and/or how to pay for medical/surgical services — it’s about governmental power used to control the individual. The point will be ignored by “progressives” because they do not trust the individual to follow them into Utopia. If, however, you like to think for yourself, read this editorial.
Says a weblogger: “If this weren’t the government, it would be prosecuted as a criminal enterprise.” That’s extremism, and over the top, and…and…oops. The full story puts the statement into context…
…and as we know, it’s not the facts that matter; it’s all in the the way you put them. Yes, that’s exactly how scoundrels and incompetents view things.
Ah, the mesmerizing fascination evoked by das Ewig-Weibliche…there is nothing more charming than…than…two ideologues babbling illiterately…note the cheerful “I could live there” as the politically correct naif extols the joys of a life bereft of Liberty. Indeed, the quest for Utopian security is dehumanizing, as this unintentional self-parody demonstrates. Note as well that when this lexically-challenged pair joke about rape, it’s not gallows humor, but depraved collectivist cant. To them, Assange is a latter-day Saint Genet.
Here is a ninety minute film that is well worth your time. It is an attempt to convince you that the US government has shredded the constitution and is preparing an effort to strip the citizenry of Liberty. A few of the claims made in the film are (in this publication’s view) false, quite a few are questionable at best, and some — not half of the total, but still too many — are solid facts. Too, you may be irritated by the foreground music and the unfair juxtaposition of images and narrative audio. This is true propaganda. If you can filter all the histrionics out and deal with the individual assertions of the director/writer, you may conclude that some alarming things have happened and are happening. In any event you will be better informed for having viewed the film.
Next up, an out-of-sync video of (former Obama appointee) Van Jones talking about the need to pretend that there are various types of failures that must be addressed if environmental issues are to be cleaned up. Is this bloviation just green baloney in the service of socialism? Well, here’s an explanation of what he’s up to, but it may be wide of the target.
Long-time readers of this publication know how Kelo is regarded by the NTG staff. Eminent domain is an easily-abused principle. Related commentary is available here.
“Feminism has pretended that when women become equal and independent partners, when they have comparable career success, then men will love them more truly. Unfortunately, feminists failed to recognize that most people, to say nothing of men, do not want to marry themselves.” That and more in the same vein, for those who revel in such peripheral issues.
Here’s a sweeping commentary that deserves a few minutes of your day: Victor Hanson on Obama and a few other interesting topics.
This newsletter is puzzled by the vague, unclear reasoning behind the FCC’s push to regulate the internet. It seems as if there might be a good idea behind it, but on closer inspection, nothing of moment is seen. Too, the complaints of opponents of the FCC’s “net neutrality” are unable to articulate trenchant criticism of the proposed regulation. Is there a helpful guide for the perplexed? Here’s commentary that looked good, but ultimately fell short as too imprecise and weakly supported by evidence. The hysteria from the “wingnut” quadrant seems unwarranted, and much that the FCC says makes sense; after all, who wants greedy capitalists monopolizing the internet? It’s hard to locate a specific, clear and cogent account of what the FCC is up to and why it is good or bad. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s not impossible. Read this column, please, because it may well provide the most genuinely informative and rational coverage (with commentary) to be found.
A jury panel balks at proceeding, and the system throws up its hands in dismay. This would not have happened if the prosecution had been competent and principled. You don’t try someone on a trivial charge so you can damn him in the trial’s testimony as a rotter who can’t be prosecuted for being a rotter. The people involved should be disbarred. Hooray for those sturdy citizens who aborted the unethical prosecution.
Nanotechnology and batteries.
First Wikileaks says it wants to get at the truth by rending the veil of secrecy the government throws over its mistakes and sins; then a classified-but-now-exposed cable reveals that Sicko, Mikey Moore’s deceitful propaganda film about health care, was banned in Cuba in order to prevent Cubans from seeing the luxurious clinics Cuba reserves for paying non-Cubans. Then Moore and others insist the film was in Cuban theatres and on Cuban TV. Collectivists and Castro apologists make a big deal of this, because “wingnuts” and anti-Castro Cubans made a big deal of it. So what’s the truth? This publication has no idea, because it’s very hard to get at the facts when two liars are arguing a point. Certainly the “wingnuts” appear to have egg on their faces, though, because almost all of them shut up as soon as the rebuttals were issued (this one is an exception). And this all proves — what, exactly? That Cuba is a free country? That Mikey Moore is not a lying rascal? Ha! The most it proves is that people can lie and can make mistakes. (sarcasm on)What a huge shock….(sarcasm off)
Where was Obama when Kennedy and the Russkies had a Cuban Crisis? Where are the major media?
From a short article on climate and weather: “In March, Al Gore deemed it disgraceful that ‘deniers’ dared to suggest that North America’s East Coast Snowmageddon in any way undermined the Inconvenient Truth of man-made global warming. More snow was obviously due to man. The very next day, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell declared that the lack of snow at the Vancouver Olympics was due to ‘man-made global warming.'” Yes, after all the work this publication has done to portray them as the liars and rascals they are, they are still preaching their nonsense. Any evidence, no matter how contrary, proves their point. That’s a perfect example of what Popper was talking about when he described the need for falsifiable hypotheses.
Related: if you are conversant with the technical side of statistical analysis, you can use this interview to learn a bit about what makes the famous Hockey Stick graph fraudulent (the full story is in the book written by the fellow being interviewed). At the heart of the matter, however, is something everyone can understand: the ethics of “scientists” who refuse to release their raw data so their analyses can be replicated. By the time the IPCC was handed that absurd graph, the skulduggery was a mile deep and firmly compacted. The rest is a matter of faith, not science.
Polar bears. That is all.
The masthead includes a quote from the works of John Jay Chapman.
The staff of The New Terrapin Gazette expresses its sincere gratitude to the many people who have gifted the world with Arch Linux, Emacs, Screen, and Firefox Namoroka.
Publisher: The Eagle Wing Palace of The Queen Chinee