Sunday, January 28, 2007

Hanoi Jane: The Death’s Head Rises Once Again

In the very week that the U. S. Senate’s unanimously approved commander in Iraq, David Petraeus, and the Secretary of Defense, have pointed out that anti war efforts here in America give aid and comfort to our enemies in Iraq, Jane Fonda and John Kerry rush out to do just that.

John Kerry attacks America in foreign lands.

CBS/AP) Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry slammed the foreign policy of the Bush administration on Saturday, saying it has caused the United States to become "a sort of international pariah."

And in the very same week my friend, the hippie left over, classic liberal came by to visit my Greek and Roman History class. He was spoiling for a fight on the War in Iraq. As he was against the War in Vietnam, even so now – he is against the War in Iraq. He is indeed consistent, and has coined or borrowed all the catch phrases to attack the War and President Bush.

His arguments have pretty much come down to:

1. Bush lied - young men died. The lie was that Saddam had WMD’s when he didn’t.

2. If there is a War on Terror, we should be fighting it in Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden, the guy who attacked us, is still at large, and Bush diverted forces from fighting Al Qaeda in order to “fix” his father’s, Bush one’s, failure.

3. The Iraqis are not willing to fight for themselves, why should we spend any more American blood for their freedom.

4. We are not winning so it’s time to quit before any more Americans die.

5. If we would just set the proper example, if we would become that “City on the Hill”, then “they” would want to be like us, our example would change the world.

To theses specific challenges he inevitably utilized these three fall back arguments of the neo-libs whenever he could throughout the discussion:

1. U.S. is behaving evilly in Iraq

2. Democracy is not for every one; the Iraqi people would rather have, and would be better off if they were ruled by a dictator.

3. The war is creating more terrorists than it is destroying or dissuading.

Because of our ages the discussion inevitably came round to the Vietnam War. For some reason my friend pointed out to my students that Ho Chi Min was a nationalist who had come to the U. S., Britain, even the Pope for help in getting the French out of Vietnam, and only when all else failed did he go to the USSR. One of the outspoken seniors in the class pointed out that what they had always been taught was as my friend had said.
I said that this was not true, that Ho was not a nationalist; all Ho wanted was to rule Vietnam the way Mao ruled China and Stalin ruled the USSR.

The bell came and the class left, with things thus, up in the air.

It was my feeling that my students were confused, that perhaps “the hippie” had won them over, or at least brought them down his path a little further. How could I deal with this danger, this irrationality, when teaching them to think rationally takes so much time?

It would be necessary both to show them the trap into which they had been lead, and to help them see how to get out of it. Before attempting any kind of point by point refutation of the “talking points” with which they had been assailed, it would be necessary to review and reveal the deceptions.

This would necessitate a quick bash of the Seven Logical Fallacies. The next time we met I provided them with a list of the Seven Common Logical Fallacies. I have friends and former students who are “trained” philosophers, who will of course recognize my simplistic approach. I invite any criticism of my “check list”. I garnered these not from philosophy class but from the LSAT study guide I worked through one summer at camp. In spite of their extremely rudimentary level they have proven very helpful in getting students to think critically about the things they hear – including the things they hear from me.


1. Wrong cause or causal link.

Iraq has oil, therefore American attacked Iraq for oil.

2. False Analogy – conclusion drawn from one situation is applied to another, not analogous.

The French sent troops to Vietnam to establish a colonial empire, therefore American troops in Vietnam were imperialist conquerors.

3. Weak Generalization – Basing a conclusion on too little data, a small sample to a very large generalization.

a. Guards at Abu Grab prison humiliated prisoners, therefore the American military tortures prisoners.

b. Cindy Sheehan, a mother whose son was killed in Iraq, thinks the war is unjustified, therefore all mothers whose children have been killed in Iraq thing the war is wrong.

4. Ambiguous Terms – Shift in a term’s meaning, same word used in different ways within the same argument.

It is better to be killed than be corrupted; therefore it is acceptable to kill to prevent corruption.

5. Irrelevant Evidence – Irrelevant consideration – example: appeals to popularity of a position to prove its value.

65% of those polled disapprove of the War in ___________, therefore the war is wrong.

6. Circular Argument (begging the question) – Conclusion to be proved also appears as a premise.

a. Nationalists fight against foreign powers; Ho fought against the U.S., therefore Ho was a nationalist.

b. Mothers pay a particular price when their children go to war; Condoleezza Rice is not a mother, so she is not paying any price in the surge to save Iraq.

7. Ad hominem – A personal attack, perhaps directed against the source of the claim.

So- and- so never served in the military, therefore he cannot question John Murtha’s patriotism.

I explained to my students that, like any game, argumentation, logic, and reasoning are better “played” when one understands the rules well enough to realize when cheating is going on. I also pointed out that the debate over the War in Iraq is indeed a deadly game, our very existence may well be at hazard.

Having reviewed the basics of logic, we pressed on to consider the claims of my hippie friend. We heard them all again out of the mouths of Hanoi Jane and her friends in Washington Saturday morning. (Her conscience, dipped in the blood of millions, Fonda seems set on killing millions more.)

Here in the Agora I can only present the edges of the discussion, but it is my hope that it will stir even more thought and help us get a record of the discussion for careful examination and consideration.

Here, in part, is how I answered the claims my friend put forward.

1. Bush lied – young men died. The lie was that Saddam had WMD.

Point first: there is much evidence, however discounted in the liberal media, that Saddam did have weapons of mass destruction. His own general, the one who would have been responsible for moving such weapons out of Iraq, said Saddam did and that he, the general, moved them to Syria. His claim has never been disproved.

Point second: Saddam did indeed have and use WMD against his own people, against Iran, and had a lot of it at the end of Gulf War I which he never accounted for.

Point three: The UN inspectors and the intelligence agencies of the World had evidence and believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

Pont four: It was not only President Bush but his advisors, ( for example - Collin Powell) and the leaders of the “loyal” opposition party, Kerry, Gore, Clinton, and on and on, that believed Saddam had weapons and called for their, and his destruction.

Pont five: Saddam had in place the know how, the money, and the will to develop nuclear weapons once he was able to end the U.N. inspections, and he was actively bribing the French, and Russians to gain their help in securing the chance to develop these weapons, if not actively developing them at the time of the liberation.

2. If there is a War on Terror, we should be fighting it in Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden, the guy who attacked us is still at large, and Bush diverted forces from fighting Al Qaeda in order to “fix” his father’s, Bush one’s failure.

Point first: Saddam was involved in supporting terrorists. There is ample evidence that his people were meeting with Al Queda, he was supporting terrorist training in Iraq, and he was financing terrorist acts in Israel and against America.

Point second: The people we are now fighting in Iraq are terrorists.

Point three: We, with our NATO allies are fighting terrorists in Iraq.

Point four: Every reasonable indication is that Osama is already dead.

Point five: Terrorism was never confined to Afghanistan, and the liberation of Iraq has provided an opportunity to concentrate and destroy our enemies.

3. The Iraqis are not willing to fight for themselves, why should we spend any more American blood for their freedom.

Point first: The constitutional and freely elected government of Iraq is our ally in the war on terror. The people of Iraq braved almost unimaginable dangers and hardships just to set up their country, and now die by the thousands defending it.

Pont second: This claim, of lack of Iraqi commitment, is perhaps the biggest lie foisted by the left and their Media masters. I have even heard it from Bill O’Reilly. It is demonstrably not true. Far more Iraqi soldiers than American soldiers are dieing in this war, 14,000 Iraqi policemen have been killed in the last two years, yet brave and patriotic Iraqis continue to signup for these jobs in and effort to save their country.

Point three: The Iraqi army is growing every day, and taking on more and more responsibility, they are still lightly armed, and green, but they fight and die by the hundreds each week.

4. We are not winning, so it is time to quit.

Point first: When my hippie friend brought up this argument one of my students asked what if the folks who fought WWII had felt the same. The point she was making is that wars are often difficult, and those who give up first get beaten. Had we given up because the casualty levels were too high at Normandy, or at the Battle of the Bulge – the very thing Hitler wanted us to do, we would no doubt all be dead by now.

Point second: This is exactly what our enemies want; this was Osama’s plan from the beginning. Bill Clinton’s failure at Mogadishu and the Clinton administration’s weak and cowardly responses to Al Qaeda attacks throughout the world convinced Bin Laden that he could beat us in the first place. Wouldn’t it be painfully ironic if he was right?

Point three: It is impossible for the terrorists to defeat the U. S. military. The only way we can loose is if we give up and retreat.

To the fall back arguments:

1. U.S. is behaving evilly in Iraq.

Point first: The misbehavior of criminal individuals at Abu Grab and else where is not the behavior of the U. S. military. The criminals who humiliated men in prison or have murdered them in other places have been arrested, and punished by the United States for violation of the rules of war.

Point second: Have the terrorists been punished by their “leaders” for their crimes? Of course not, their conduct is all illegal, immoral, and evil; but how little they are condemned in the liberal press. Their murders and atrocities are almost counted as victories by the press in the West.

2. Democracy is not for every one; the Iraqi people would rather have, and would be better off, ruled by a dictator.

Point first: Democracy is more than majority rule, It is the rule of Law for the protection of all peoples. It is the Constitution and Bill of Rights, all the freedoms and privileges of free people.

Point second:: This claim of the neo-libs is in direct contradiction to the premise of the Declaration of Independence. The rights of Life, Liberty, and Property are wanted by all.

Point three: The Iraqi people wrote and voted on their own constitution. They courageously braved the terrorists and insurgents to bring about the foundation of a free government.

Point four: The Iraqi people are fighting for this freedom now – they are willing to pay the ultimate price for it.

One of the students commented that American’s revolution only took four years. I disagreed, the American Revolution did not end until 1865 at the earliest, and thousands and thousands of Americans killed each other to bring freedom to all Americans. 600,000 American soldiers killed each other in the Civil war and thousands of black Americans have been murdered in the century since as Americans have continued to fight among themselves to establish freedom and equality for all.

3. The war is creating more terrorists than it is destroying or dissuading.
Point first: There have been many terrorist attacks against America thwarted since 9/11, these attacks are only part of the great Jihad that Osama and his minions promised to wage against America. They declared this war, and fought all their victories before 9//11.

Point second: There is no way of knowing now many terrorists retreats would have bred. But that they would have killed many more Americans had we not fought, than they have since we decided to do so is certain. Their own threats and attempts prove this.

As to the Ho Chi Min was nationalist tripe. Ho’s goal was to become the Mao of
Vietnam. Like Mao he cared nothing for his people or their lives. He treated his own people far worse then the French ever did. He and the Communist murderers that rule Vietnam to this day, murdered their way into power and maintain their tyranny through the worst kind of terrorism.

As for Ho’s supposed overtures to the U. S. and other free nations, bunk – the same is often said of Castro. Even if either Castro or Ho actually did ask for U. S. help and were refused, that does not excuse their behavior toward the peoples of their countries. They mass murdered all their opposition, took away all civil and human rights, and forced the farce of communist economics on their impoverished and deprived peoples while they lived like kings in wealth and power. The excuse, that because the U. S. did not help them to villainy, what they did was the U. S’s fault, is illogical.

It would be so easy to be against “The War”. Who isn’t against war? But the peace of slavery or of the grave, the peace of Islamic “law and order” is not worth the price no matter how high. I am eager to be convinced otherwise, how easy it would be to join my hippie friend and the mobs that march in Washington D. C.
As the voices of the unreasoning threaten the cause of liberty, the voices of reason must be raised to counter them. The time has come for all good men to come to the aid of their country. If those whose lack of reason would destroy America are determined to speak out, then those who can reason must not remain silent.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"It" Does Not Come Easy

In Robert Beverly Hale’s lectures on Artistic Anatomy and Figure Drawing, that great master proves that there is art in teaching. His presentations are full of information and wit; he is the personification of wisdom as the knowledge of truth.

In his first lecture he explains the importance of understanding the underlying bone and muscle structure before an artist can successfully draw the human figure. He tells of an interesting conversation between James McNeill Whistler and a young would-be artist. Oozing the Postmodern Relativism of the time, the novice intoned, “I paint what I see.”

“Well,” replied Whistler, “you see what you paint.”

It is tragic indeed for an aspirant to art to be unable to recognize the forms before his eyes and thus incapable of portraying them. What is even more disheartening is knowing that adequate effort would allow the would-be to be. That effort is the rub, the sticking point, past which most are unwilling to go.

In Irving Stone’s, *The Agony and the Ecstasy*, we learn of the winter when Michelangelo learned the secrets of human anatomy. One passage is particularly beautiful and terrible.

“The following night he found a boy of about fifteen who showed no external evidence of disease. The pale skin, almost completely white, was soft to the touch. The eyes were blue when he raised the lids, deep in color, contrasting with the pale white of the eyelids. Even in death he was attractive.

”Surely he will wake up,” he murmured.

He saw that the boy was still without hair on his chest, and felt a pity deeper than he had known since he had viewed his first corpse.

He turned away; he’d wait until another night. Then, facing the corner of the whitewashed walls, he stopped. By the next morning this lad would be buried under four feet of earth in the Santo Spirito cemetery. He touched the boy, found him as cold as winter; beautiful, but as dead as all the others.

He made his incisions expertly now . . .”

Some years ago our school put on the musical *Working*. One line troubled me. A young man sings on the assembly line, “If Michelangelo had had to paint the Sistine Ceiling a thousand times; even his mind would have been destroyed.”

Do you see the flaw in that logic?

Michelangelo had of course done the figures on the Sistine ceiling thousands of times. Gathering the terrible knowledge that made his art possible in the frigid death house at Santo Spirito and drawing and redrawing, painting and repainting the forms that would make art, everyday of his life.

In spite of the Postmodern rush to force it otherwise, the twentieth century produced some real artists; non greater than Norman Rockwell. Rockwell was called, even called himself, “just an illustrator”, but Rockwell knew better. One panting, The Connoisseur* says it all.

Jackson Pollock was a fraud – incapable of art, he pushed his hoax. Rockwell knew it and in his painting proves that while Rockwell, and any “thing” that can slop paint, could paint like Pollock. Pollock had not paid the price and could not paint like Rockwell.

However, in the Relativist, postmodern world there are plenty who extol Pollock and deprecate Rockwell; many who insist that art is not the product of mastery, but simply the consensus of critics.

I watch with increasing dismay as postmodern relativists mislead the American people into defeat in the battle for their very survival. We can contrast President Bush's plan for Iraq with the book recently released by Jimmy Carter.

The President’s plan calls for hard work and for paying the real price for victory. It would seem easy to turn our back and walk away, save the struggle for another day, but like Michelangelo, the President knows that he must take up the tools and do what is difficult now to achieve real peace in the end.

Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, simply presents the easy way, and calls it truth. It would be so easy if only the whole mess was America and Israel’s fault. Then America could just dump Israel and all the evil would go away.

In his book, *A River Runs Through It*, Norman Maclean has his narrator explain, that to his father fly fishing is an art, "and art like eternal salvation, does not come easy.”

So it is with peace, peace comes only by victory, and victory – like art, does not come easy.

I add this picture as a statement of Rockwell’s opinion of himself. Note that he has pictures of Rembrandt, Durer, Van Gogh and Picasso in his own self-portrait. Some say Rockwell is claiming parity – I believe he is demonstrating something more profound. See the posts below.

Picasso’s father was an art teacher. He knew the rules of art and taught them to many, he tried to teach them to his son, but Pablo was much more interested in prostitutes than in the elements, principals, and skills of art. This first drawing is by Picasso while in school. It is of the Torso Belvedere, and is copied from a high school drawing program by Jean-Leon Gerome. The practice pieces in this program were reproduced as lithographs by Charles Bargue. Bargue’s drawing is below. I have copied this picture, and did as well as Picasso; if I must say so myself. You can come and see my work on my classroom wall.

The next three pictures are other class assignments by Picasso. No doubt his teacher stood over him, directing his hand, and correcting his mistakes. These student works are often sighted as proof that Picasso could do “real art” if he wanted. But to anyone who has studied art, they say just the opposite.

The work was too much for Picasso. His portrait of Gertrude Stine shows how well he could do without a trained artiest directing his hand. BUT HERE IS THE WONDER for Picasso. Relativists, desperate to validate their “what ever I say is, is” philosophy, saw in Picasso a chance to define art and manipulate the masses. Soon Picasso realizes that his paintings, pushed by the agenda of relativism, could sell no matter what they looked like. In fact they would sell even better if they looked worse. He proceeded to produce ridiculous farces like this next piece. Here you see his pretended application of “African” art. The Africans had every right to feel insulted.

The next piece shows how far Picasso went to see if he could go too far, for the Relativists he could not.

But then suddenly, after twenty years of hoaxing, Picasso tried to become a real artist. He literally went back to school and for over a year he tried desperately to master the principles he had shunned before.

The next three pieces are evidence of his best efforts. Overworked and clumsy, they attest to how miserably he failed. His discouragement and failure are represented in the atrocities that were produced throughout the rest of his life.

This last picture is an example, and this is not the worst of the best he could do.

Now an interesting thing about Picasso; the man basked in fame and the accolades of the relativists, but was miserable all his life. He hated the women he bought to serve him, and they all came to hate him. He abandoned one wife to the asylum, and drove his children from him. He died famous, praised, and rich; he died a fraud, a millionaire who claimed to be a communist, (only a relativist could reason like that) a hoaxer that pretended to be an artist. What ruined his joy, what tainted his success into misery? The answer, he knew he was not what the relativists claimed, he know that for all the accolades he was not an artist.

It would be instructive to examine the life of Norman Rockwell, to compare a master who, although the critics shouted otherwise, knew he was what they said he was not, a great artist.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

English, the First Language

It seemed like it should work, I’d go off to Hawaii for two months and then I’d know how to speak Japanese, and read it too, I figured. One just sits in class, the teacher talks, and then it’s over – that’s the way it had always worked.

Two months of sixteen hours a day studying, “Speak Out”, special blessings, endless prayers, memorize, memorize, memorize - nothing seemed to work. I took some cold comfort from the story going round the LTM, that Heber J. Grant, who had been President of the Mormon Church and the first Missionary to go to Japan, had, after three years in the Empire, given up having never learned the language. He returned to the valleys of the Mountains declaring that, “the only way to save the Japanese is to bomb um all and baptize um for the dead!”

Come December I was looking out the window of a jet plane on to the lights of Tokyo. Sure enough the neon signs that lit the sky really were in Kanji (Chinese Characters). I just wanted to die.

I have a kid in my 8th period World History class who can’t speak a word of English. Well, maybe ya and no; at least he can nod and shake his head in English. He can’t understand a thing said, written, or read. What this kid and many others need is a year long course on English; taught in Spanish by a teacher who has no other agenda than getting them fluent in the language. Then, once he can understand, speak, read and write in English, Leo can be successfully launched into “regular classes”, and taught all the other things he needs to know to succeed in his “new home”.

To immerse this boy, and thousands like him, in the shark tank of English speaking America without any help or aid is a sin, yet to do otherwise may well be a crime. The excuse I hear in the Small Learning Community (SLC) sessions where we discuss Leo’s fate and struggle; how to get students to sit by him to whisper, or how to get the already overloaded Spanish instructor to meet with him to explain his assignments; is that providing the basic training necessary for him to succeed is racism. How stupid is that?

I actually became a very successful Japanese speaker. My trainer was a genuine genius; my first District Leader a wise young man. Elder Lovell, my DL, sat me down my second night in Japan and explained that good missionaries get up at 6:00 AM (the handbook said up by 6:30) but that great missionaries get up at 5:00. I got up at five for the next year and a half. It took two months of intense training in Hawaii, the constant companionship of bilingual mentors, hours at the books every day, constant assignments and practice drills, several vocabulary notebooks worn to ribbons, and the memorization of fourteen, hour long dialogues (lessons plans, old and new), before I could tear through the language barrier.

What hope does Leo have? No one is teaching him English. All he gets is 90 minutes every other day in an English as a Second Language (ESL) class where the teaching of language is secondary to trying to get him through his math homework so he can get at least one passing grade. In his welding class he gets by, by aping his classmates at their projects. The rest of the time he speaks Spanish with his Spanish speaking friends, his Spanish speaking mother, or daydreams in Spanish while sitting “immersed” in classes taught in English where he may as well be deaf and dumb. As long as Political Correctness and bigotry dominate education in this country Leo has no hope at all.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Where Have All the Prophets Gone?

When Kish, the father of Saul lost his asses, he sent his son to look for them and Saul went to the Prophet Samuel to find out where the lost livestock was. In the process of telling Saul the asses were found, God took the trouble to tell Saul he would be king of Israel.
When Themistocles wanted to know how to save Athens from the Persians he sent to the Prophetess at Delphi and the God told him to defend his city behind a wall of wood.
When the sons of Traquin the Proud and their friend Brutus wanted to know who would rule Rome they asked Apiphia and she told them it would be the first to kiss his mother. Brutes tripped and kissed Mother Earth, the rest is history.
When Muhammad wanted to know which of all the religions taught the truth he asked God and God sent the angle Gabriel to tell him to proclaim Islam.
When Joseph Smith asked the same question as Muhammad, 1200 years later, God told him where to find the golden plates.
Where have all the prophets gone? Now we’re stuck with the likes of Pat Robertson.
“Associated Press
VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia — Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson predicted Tuesday a horrific terrorist act on the United States that will result in "mass killing" late in 2007.
"I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear," he said during his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that."
Robertson said God told him during a recent prayer retreat that major cities and possibly millions of people will be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime after September.
"I put these things out with humility," he said.
Robertson said God also told him that the U.S. only feigns friendship with Israel and that U.S. policies are pushing Israel toward "national suicide."
Robertson suggested in January 2006 that God punished then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with a stroke for ceding Israeli-controlled land to the Palestinians.
Predicting events for the coming year is an annual tradition for Robertson.
He predicted in January 2004 that President George W. Bush would easily win re-election. Bush won 51 percent of the vote that fall, beating Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
In 2005, Robertson predicted that Bush would have victory after victory in his second term. He said Social Security reform proposals would be approved and Bush would nominate conservative judges to federal courts.
Lawmakers confirmed Bush's 2005 nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. But the president's Social Security initiative was stalled by widespread opposition.
"I have a relatively good track record," he said. "Sometimes I miss."
In May, Robertson said God told him that storms and possibly a tsunami were to crash into America's coastline in 2006. Even though the U.S. was not hit with a tsunami, Robertson on Tuesday cited last spring's heavy rains and flooding in New England as partly fulfilling the prediction.” (End quote.)
How good a track record should a Prophet have? It seems to me that God should get it right every time. Any Prophet worth his salt ought to be able to tell us in which cave Ben Laden is hiding, and which cities to evacuate before the hurricanes or the nukes hit. If God can keep track of a bunch of donkeys, why would he neglect a nation’s innocent children?
As for Robertson, how misdirected can he be. How silly to be worried about how the U.S. treats Israel while American condones the murder of a million innocent babies every year. Since he can’t even recognize sin, it is ridiculous to think he can communicate with us for God. Robertson is no better at prophesying hurricanes than Al Gore, or terrorist attacks than Alzawahari. Where have all the prophets gone?