Thursday, January 20, 2005

Hitchens, Aristotle, Chartreuse and Friendship

Christopher Hitchens is like Chartreuse which is like Aristotle: strange and wonderful. At first, you don't know what to make of them, but soon they are all favorites. You can keep going back to them and are never disappointed. In short, they become friends.

How did Hitchens escape his Leftist dogmatic slumber? How did he throw off the warm blanket of the cult of Marxism? You might think it was 9/11 that finally shook him awake. You'd be wrong. Here he says that it was friendship that did the trick:
The realization that we were in a cultural and political war with Islamic theocracy came to me with force and certainty not on 11 September 2001 but on 14 February 1989, when the Ayatollah Khomeini offered money in his own name to suborn the murder of my friend Salman Rushdie.
Aristotle argues that Friendship is a necessary component of the good life. For Hitchens (as for Horowitz) it was critical. Only Hitchens' personal attachment to this one man enabled him to see through the Leftist cloud in his mind. Simple human friendship did what no amount of vigorous debate could.

I have grown to love Aristotle (I was a Plato man as a youth) and I crave Chartreuse. Now I have added Hitchens to my list. Here is another interview with him at Frontpage wherein you will find this gem:
The last time that I wrote anything that was couched in specifically "Left" terms was my book on Clinton, where I tried to persuade people that he was a reactionary as well as a thug and a coward and a crook. I rather lost that battle (though not that argument!) and was born originally as a group formed to defend a President's right to perjury.

Reflecting on where the rot set it, I have come to the temporary conclusion that much of the "Left" was forced by events to adopt a status-quo position. Thus, it neither really opposed nor welcomed (with some exceptions in both cases) the historic anti-Communist revolution of 1989. It sat on its hands during the Balkan conflict. It could find no voice in which to discuss the urgent challenge of holy war. When it came to Iraq, you could even hear leftists saying that an intervention might "destabilize" the region: a suggestive choice of term from supposed radicals, suddenly sounding like Kissinger Associates.

Much the same has become true on other fronts, with people essentially saying, on things like Social Security; just leave it the way it is. Even the environmental movement seems to resent modernity and be nostalgic for agrarianism. I'm perhaps over-speculating here, but another trope of "anti-Americanism" could be one that resents the United States as the country par excellence of disturbing change and innovation and, via regime-change, of revolution. The Right often makes a version of this mistake, as with stem-cell research and Buchanan-type isolationism and nativism. But the Left is really doomed if all it wants is a quiet life.
But, you really should read the whole thing to get his take on Michael Moore, Mother Teresa, Chomsky and Abu Ghraib.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Kid Rock Controversy Should Be Low Priority

As ethical dilemmas go, it's hard to beat the abortion issue. Whether you're pro-life, or pro-choice, you're probably pretty passionate about you're decision--you should be.

So if you're a person who worries about which faces are representing your party, I'm guessing this issue would be one that'd get you pretty fired up.

But I don't recall hearing the Religious Right or any other pro-life conservatives get fired up when pro-choice advocates Giuliani and Schwarzeneggr spoke at the Republican Convention. And when Arlen Specter was due to take the chairmanship of the Senate Judicial Committee, objections amounted to a very dull roar.

Given that, why is there such vigorous objection to Kid Rock performing at an official inaugural party. I'm no fan myself, but come on, let's straighten out our priorities! Kid Rock's music is not changing policy or killing babies.

The evil of rock-n-roll raunch has long threatened our youth with ruination. But I don't think any one confuses Kid Rock with mainstream conservatives. Nor do I think kids will get the idea that their parents approve of them having back-stage sex in a drug-induced stupor. Besides, everybody knows that what the establishment condones is immediately un-cool.

From what I can tell, folks have no problem with pro-choice megastars Giuliani and Schwarnegger. They have a little problem with powerful pro-choice senator Specter. They have a really big problem with Kid Rock.

I think that reversing that hierarchy would make alot more sense.

Regrets are Lame - National Politics: Bring on the 2nd thoughts: Bush admits some `regret' - Politics - Bush Learned Lesson From 'Bring 'Em On'

Why would he do this? He admits that he meant them at the time. I loved them and I think that many people voted for him because he is plain spoken. Do not apologize for the very thing that makes you great! Do you also regret the bullhorn incident?

There is no way that this "regret" will make any inroads with people who did not like "bring it on" or "Osama dead or alive." It does make me think that he is weakening in the second term. Besides, are we not defiant in the face of danger? I sure as hell hope we are.

See also Jonah Goldberg who says
neither of these statements ever bothered me, though I can see the case for regretting both, particularly the Osama thing. Personally, I don't mind if the world thinks we turn into a bunch of crazy cowboys when you attack us
Another story on this is here:
Round II: Slip won't show again, Bush promises US - The Economic Times
President Bush said he regretted sending the wrong impression of the United States when he used phrases like “bring ‘em on” and “dead or alive” in his first term and pledged to be more diplomatic...
"Our public diplomacy efforts aren’t very robust, and aren’t very good, compared to the public diplomacy efforts of those who would like to spread hatred and vilify the United States,” Mr Bush said. But he said he thought US efforts to aid tsunami victims would help improve Washington’s image abroad.
Yeah, those people "who would like to spread hatred and vilify the United States" respond well to diplomatic rhetoric. Come on! The aid to the Tsunami victims is the diplomacy of the US.

I love Bush because he says these things. I want my President to lead with strength and clarity of moral vision. I do not want him to bend to political sensibilities.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Torture, Sophistry and Right Girls

I have been concerned about the Abu-Ghraib thing for some time because I can't find any proof of actual torture. Of course, I have seen the same pictures everyone else has, but they do not prove torture. I've mentioned it before, but let me direct you here: Girl on the Right: Stop! You're Torturing me, here!
Torture, as I define it, is physically painful, and psychologically damaging. Cutting a prisoner's fingers or toes off would be torture. Starvation would be torture. Threatening to rape his wife - torture. But making fun of him, and humiliating him? That's just highschool ...
I am not so sure that a threat should be considered torture, but, basically, she has it just right.

Why are we so willing to accept the claims that American soldiers committed atrocities? Everything that I have seen/heard about serious torture at Abu-Ghriab is all second hand or implied.

Think of it this way. If you wanted to scare a prisoner into talking would you not want him to think that you were going to torture him? How would you lead him to believe that you were going to torture him? Would you not show him proof that you have already tortured his comrades? Wouldn't you let him hear that very torture? Of course, this proof would be very easy to fake. You just take before and after photos doctored to produce this effect. I argue that these pictures are what we have.

Here is a collection of some of the photographs.

Now, let me ask this. If you were going to photograph real torture, would you not be careful to actually photograph it. I mean, you would time your pictures not as before/after, but during shots. If someone has had their gentiles electrocuted, why are there no pictures of the electrocution taking place? Also, why would you have pictures of soldiers stitching a wound instead of the prisoner getting wounded. Speaking of the wounded, there was alot of fighting going on there. Of course, there would be wounded soldiers at Abu-Ghraib. The proof we need is that we did the wounding.

Here is a caption under the second picture from the site:
An Iraqi detainee appears to be restrained after havign [sic] suffered injuries to both legs at Abu Ghraib. It is unclear whether his injuries were from dog bites.
This is best/worst picture at the site and it fails to convince me. Why do we think that the injuries were suffered at Abu-Ghraib? (Oh, and no way were those the wounds of a dog bite.) Yes, he is being roughed up, but not much more than a cop might do here. Also, note that this soldier is not dressed like the others. His pants are dark green, not tan, and he is wearing a full helmet with some gear attached, perhaps night vision goggles. Is it not possible that this is a freshly arrested detainee? If so, was he resisting?

Graner was convicted of assault (down from "use of force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm) which was described this way here:
He also allegedly punched one man in the head hard enough to knock him out and struck an injured prisoner with a collapsible metal stick.
Gee, that does sound horrid. If this is the worst actual physical torture that occurred, this thing is way out of proportion.

Perhaps we as a nation do not want to do any of the things which obviously did happen. Maybe we do not even want to be the kind of people who fake abuse or use sleep deprivation and so on. That is a debate worth having. The problem is we are not having that debate; I'm not sure we can have that debate as long as we are so obtuse about the issue. Some people are taking testimony from completely worthless witnesses. See Wizbang.

The Left and the Liberals know they cannot win open and honest debates with us, so they resort to guerilla tacticts and sophistry (the whole issue is a sort of double cum hoc, ergo propter hoc). While we are busy dealing with the grown up world, they act like children complaining about everything and fighting us on every issue. Since we have to deal with serious threats, we end up letting them "win" on this or that issue. I think she put it just right when RightGirl said
It is also my contention that the U.S. is paying lip service to these trials, because frankly, they have better things to do right now. Such as feed a bunch of ungrateful people overseas, and bring a democratic election to a country that Amnesty International must have thought was doing just fine on its own.
Man, do I love smart conservative blogging babes. Lucky for me, I'm already married to one.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Attention All You Tax-Payers: Why I am a Conservative- part 2

I've heard through the family grape-vine that my youngest brother and his wife have been offered state-sponsored day care by their DHS case-worker.

My brother and his wife are two able-bodied, moderately intelligent people who live in Never Never Land. They have all the natural tallent to be contributers, but instead they are parasites. They have plenty of family support, but they don't use it because it doesn't come with approval of their lifestyle.

Now instead of meaningful family pressure to grow and make a better life for their child, they get a freebee from the state.

Welfare: the ultimate enabler.

Tsunami Releif First Hand, The Aussies and the Pogues

Power Line: A First-Hand Account From Sumatra
I distinctly remember seeing an older woman with a baby on her hip as she stood to the side of the crowd looking longingly at the 40 pound bags of rice being taken away...

Every morning we take 80 volunteers from the carrier to stand all day ... The heat and humidity can be stunning, but they labor all day and not only do not complain, but seem to be almost joyous as they work. Today I saw not only our sailors, but also soldiers from the Australian Army labor all day to ensure that the work gets done.

I have really grown to love the Aussies

In South Australia I was Born
Heave away, haul away
In South Australia, 'round Cape Horn
We’re bound for South Australia

The Pogues

Bush's inauguration cost not so bad?

Money magnet - The Washington Times: Business - January 12, 2005

I'd been hearing alot of complaining about the $50 million price tag for the inauguration. This article makes a case that it is not so bad, after all. Here two bits:
The [positive] economic effect could reach well over $100 million as visitors descend on Washington for the four-day celebration, shelling out money to hundreds of local businesses for everything from hotel rooms and limousines to souvenirs, tuxedos and ball gowns ...

Mr. Clinton's first inaugural cost $33 million in private funds, and his 1997 inaugural committee raised $23.7 million.

Clinton's first inaugural cost $45.87 million in today's money. Bush's proposed $50 million is only 9% more.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Not Exactly Rocket Science: Comment-A-Thon: Do it for free. Do it for Fun. Do it to support breast cancer research. But, do it today, before midnight.

damnum absque injuria: whats-a-hack-worth: Xrlq has little respect for Hackwoth and that is interesting in itself, but, follow his link to Michelle's post on Rathergate.

The Queen: What a rant!

Nanking and the Tsunami

Endymion and I are heartsick over the death and suffering following the Tsunami. We are so very thankful for the safety we enjoy as U.S. citizens. We were struck, however, by these numbers as we were watching the History Channel:

In the rape of Nanking (12/1937-03/1938), the Japanese military killed over 200,000 Chinese men, women, and children. That's 50,000 more than were killed in the Tsunami. Also, they raped and tortured 20,000 women and girls.

I guess the sheer numbers led me to compare one event to the other. It's a little perspective in the for-what-it's-worth category. After all, the History channel compared Nanking to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It's important to remember with due reverence and context the great tragedies of our time.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Logical Bitch-Slap, Marx vs. Books and Kantian Torture

The Maverick never fails to please. Except when he makes me think too hard -- that hurts.

Here he puts the smack down in his own defense. He is right, or course. It is terribly important that we are clear about what is that we should actually be arguing. Logic is very helpful in this regard, but only if one is willing to submit to it.

Here he voices a complaint of bookish types everywhere. Steve, read this. In so doing, he makes an argument I have made before. Leftism is evil. I have always liked Aristotle's ethics of habit. Why do so many people habituate themselves to theft? You might also want to see this.

Here he makes my head hurt a little. Again, he is right about the inherent problems, but I think Nietzsche and Hume are right in the sense that things will go better for us if we are more skeptical of broad claims than we are of the simple. I don't mean this in any technical way; I just mean it practically.

Here he takes up a discussion about the ethics of torture. Specifically, why are we not hearing from Consequentialists defending torture? He is also confused by the distinction between absolute and nonabsolute deontology. I am with him here. The way I see it, there can be no such thing as nonabsolute deontology. I think that is the sort of thing that occurs when one has tried to examine some issue, like torture, from a deontological perspective and screwed it up. Then, when the result is unpalatable you change the rules.

Also, as always, it is important to be very clear about the problem we wish to submit to a deontological analysis. There are many activities which we may want to call torture, some of which actually are torture and some we should not call torture. This is probably the cause of the trouble for deontologists. It is easy to condemn categorically hot pokers and such, but sleep deprivation? I mean, come on, a few days without sleep is NOTHING like a hot poker up your ass (neither is the threat of electrocution anything like the deed). Allowing this does not require a new ethics.

Well, it's late, my pipe is out and my head hurts. Thanks Bill.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Kid Rock, Conservatism and Controversy

What kind of blog would this be if we didn't address the Kid Rock controversy. Again I'll point you to:
MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy � A Message for the Uptight

I agree with her on two main issues. All things considered, this is a pretty dumb controversy. Also, you can curse and be a conservative. That said, here I go...

One of the things that Liberals say they believe in, but actually don't, is that people can change. Conservatives are often called hard-hearted because we are willing to judge people. We see evil and call it such. We are not shy about acting against it either. On the other hand, we get all excited when evil is defeated. That is the point of judging anyway -- identify the enemy in order to defeat it. People are evil to the extent that they do evil. If they stop doing evil, they stop being evil. Our great delight is in those people, once stupid and/or evil, who have grown in wisdom and become good. Their goodness is their great honor.

So what about Kid Rock? He was most surely stupid and probably evil. He may no longer be either. I don't really know, but some people seem to think that he has reformed (read the Michelle's comments). He supports Bush and the troops and that is a start to be sure. Does he still encourage the disgusting and damaging behavior like he used to do? That is the question. If he does not, then we can make the argument that he has reformed and embrace him. If he does then we should not.

Let me be clear about what I mean. I practice no religion, but I am deeply moral. I am in no way a part of the "Religious Right," but I am a Conservative. I curse like a sailor (well, like the Coast Guard, anyway) and I have no problem with foul language in the music. My problem is that Kid Rock does, in fact, encourage disgusting, dangerous and yes, I'll call it evil, behavior. This should not be condoned by anyone -- tolerated perhaps, but not condoned. It makes no sense at all to give this a stamp of approval by inviting him to play at an official function.

However, as I said, I also believe that a man can change. I am very willing, indeed happy, to encourage this change. Are we not all called in our moral duty to help our fellow man? I say that conservatism is a philosophy of compassion. It is this compassion which moves us both to condemn and forgive. You can not have the latter without the former. If it is true that Kid Rock is trying to reform his ways, we must encourage that.

How do we know if he is reforming? That is simple enough. Does he openly reject his past wrongs? When he does, we will know for sure. Now, the tough part is deciding whether to embrace him without an explicit rejection of his former self. That is up to each of us and that is the debate we should be having.

I know that it is hard work to reform one's ways; it can take years. I sympathize with those people who are trying to work it out for themselves. They are bound to screw it up along the way. I do not condemn them for that. I condemn people who refuse to try.

The question is not one of condemnation, though. It is whether it is appropriate to have him on the official program. Personally, I want to see some clear indication that Kid Rock is at odds with his old lyrics and habits. Without that, I would not invite him to perform at any official party. I would, though, invite him to the parties and show my support in other ways. Bush seems to be comfortable with a softer approach. If Bush thinks that Kid Rock is trying to become a better person, then that is a fair position. Michelle Malkin disagrees. I'll wager, though, that if Kid Rock did speak out against his own immorality, she would embrace him (probably not literally).

Beautiful Blog, Charity and War

Terrorists aren'’t being “stingy”

First of all, My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy is a beautifully made blog. Check it out. Also, she's part of the superhero group with Pajama Hadin. Neat!

She points out that many of the Muslim charities providing aid are tied to, or are themselves, Islamofascists. In the world we have now, there is no place for PC cultural relativist bullshit. These people are our enemies, and they are there to recruit terrorists. It's a shame that the suffering of the tsunami victims is also a front in the war on terror. But, our enemies are there and we have to take the fight to them.

In WWII, we dropped food supplies to the starving citizens of war-torn Europe, not just as charity, but to send a message. We wanted them to know it was the USA that had their back. We need to do the same in the tsunami relief effort. We need to display our flag, our soldiers, our aid workers and our ideals. Somebody will win the hearts and minds of the tsunami victims. Let's make sure that it is someone who believes in freedom not oppression.

[Endymion contributed to this post.]

The U.N. is Evil, a Fox and a Hedgehog, Pajamas.

Pajama Hadin - UNheard of contributions of the U.N. to tsunami relief - pajamahadin political news commentary blog

OK, this is backwards, I know, but I wanted to send you to the Diplomad post via this blog, the Pajama Hadin, for two reasons. First, I like the name. I am, in fact, writing tonight in my new pajamas. Second, they quote one of my favorite Greek Lyric Poet Greek. I also like the superhero theme! You think they play Champions?

Anyway, when you go there, go on to the Diplomad link and read it. A quote
for the millionth time I realized that if not for Australia and America almost nobody in the tsunami-affected areas would have survived more than a few days. If we had waited for the UNocrats to get their act coordinated, the already massive death toll would have become astronomical.

I have been pissed at the U.N. for a while, but the Chief Diplomad seems to feel, in a great rant, that it is systemic and endemic. There can be no reform. Since we can't destroy this evil -- where is its heart anyway? -- we must circumvent it and thus render it useless. Like some eldritch god no longer worshipped, it will fade into the blackness of the forgotten past.

Progress on Guns nears

I can't tell you how happy I am that Bush won re-election. We are already seeing so much progress on so many issues. Now, Bush is laying the groundwork to correct the 65 yr old Supreme Court mistake on the 2nd amendment. - Bush Lawyers Target Gun Control's Legal Rationale
Readying for a constitutional showdown over gun control, the Bush administration has issued a 109-page memorandum aiming to prove that the Second Amendment grants individuals nearly unrestricted access to firearms.
I have never really understood why Liberals hate guns, but that is another issue. Let me just mention a few things in support of my view.
From the same WSJ article:

The memo's authors, Justice Department lawyers Steven Bradbury, Howard Nielson Jr. and C. Kevin Marshall, dissect the amendment's language, arguing that under 18th century legal conventions, the clause concerning "a well-regulated militia" was "prefatory language" without binding force. "Thus, the amendment's declaratory preface could not overcome the unambiguously individual 'right of the people to keep and bear arms' conferred by the operative text," they write.

This is of course true. We should read it this way, "we have to keep an army for use against foreign enemies. This is dangerous to the freedom of private citizens. Therefore, we must also protect each citizens right to have and carry around with them firearms."

John Lott has done great work in his book More Guns, Less Crime. He makes the case that, well, more guns means less crime. There is some trouble with expanding the argument to a national level, but it is important work.

Along similar lines, Tech Central has an article discussing whether we can expect the police to actually protect us from crime. Of course, carrying your own gun can do just that.

I carried a gun for a while when I was hunting down deadbeat dads. When I had that thing on my belt, I would take extra care to avoid any situation which might call for its use (outside of my work, of course.) I mean, I would avoid walking down dark allies and such. Further, I was careful to keep out of arguments, especially on the road. On the other hand, I was aware of my responsibilities to use it if needed. I studied the law and tried to prepare myself mentally. What I am saying is that carrying a gun made me a better citizen. I am not alone in this:
A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.
--- Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, 1785. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, (Memorial Edition) Lipscomb and Bergh, editors. [GunCite]
I am not sure how much and what kind of regulation we should put on the 2nd Amendment, but the argument must start at the beginning. Bush is seeking to do just that.

Update: speaking of regulation, check out this discussion. Stupid, selfish, small-mined people make everything more dificult, including the gun deabte. The mysterious Xrlq has it right, but follow his link to Connie Du Toit's take on the matter too.

[edited: Xrlq pronoun her to his.]

Friday, January 07, 2005

Armstrong Williams

Here is the original story in USA Today. ABC has an article here, too.

Michelle Malkin doesn't like it and Jonah Goldberg thinks that it is, at least, dumb.

NewsMax and the Freepers respond by pointing out that Moyers and NPR, and the like, are much worse. I think the case for Left bias at PBS, NPR, CBS, etc. has been made, but more on this later.

Joe Scarborough is agreeing with Malkin and Goldberg, calling it "sleeze" (right now as I am writing this), saying if it had been Clinton and CBS News we would go nuts. Further, he says that this kind of thing will confirm what Frankin and the lefty trolls have been saying -- vast right wing conspiracy. Can you imagine Eric Alterman's response?

There is one fuzzy issue. Armstrong is not really a journalist. Technically, he is not held to the same professional ethic as journalists. He is a columnist and commentator. He must be held to that standard. Perhaps, in this case, the standard is the same. I tend to think it should be. I say that he should have told his audience that he had been paid. That seems unethical to me. But was it wrong to hire him in the first place? It was certainly stupid, but should it be unethical? Are not columnists paid for their opinion anyway? It was terribly unethical for him not to tell us that he had been paid to comment on NCLB, yes, but, was it wrong to pay him?

Does this mean that the government can not pay an expert who also publishes his opinions? I mean, if you want to hire an expert to help inform the public would you not seek out one that is widely known?

Further, was he actually paid to promote it? Or, was he paid because he promotes it? Was the content of his work purchased? USA Today said he was paid to comment on it and to encourage others to do the same. Presumably this could entail both praise and criticism.

I raise this issue, not out of naiveté, but to propose this: can the administration pay two commentators, one for and one against the bill to debate it in their columns? This certainly would not qualify as propaganda. If this is acceptable, then could one not argue that since the majority of the media is against the bill, Armstrong was hired merely to provide the public with fair debate? I think this is what the Freepers are saying.

If not, then are we saying that the government must not influence public debate? That seems an absurd goal -- it does this all the time. Heck, the government used to mandate equal time.

In any case, how could Paige, et al., not know that this would be counter-productive? I would fire him in a second. I would also fire Williams. I would not prosecute him and I might not prosecute Paige, but heads should roll.

I should probably say that I, personally, would never accept money like this; not just because it looks bad; not just because it gives ammunition to the Left; but for the very reason that Michelle and Joe are mad -- it is disgusting. I'd feel like a whore.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Tsunami Relief-- Just Some Thoughts

1: Every minute of the day, I can get updates on the numbers dead, displaced, and at risk. I can find out how many are from Sri Lanka, how many were tourists, how many are children.

2: Reporters aren't telling me what I want to know about foreign aid. There are many reports of the pledge totals from Germany vs USA vs Australia. But try to found out how much is gift, and how much is loan. Try to find out the totality of aid from our country (including privatemoney) compared to that of other countries. Try to find out if the reported pledges include all forms and expenses of aid (for instance ships, military personnel). USA pledged $350 mil. We also sent 12 ships--is that part of or in addition to the $350 mil?

3: Jan Egeland bemoaned that if stingy Americans were taxed enough, we could have pledged more aid. Did he wonder if that would reduce the amount of private money donated. Furthermore, private citizens can access their money very readily, as opposed to govnt. money which has to be budgeted by congress.

4: Does Egeland imagine that USA should have been taxing its citizens and building a massive relief fund in anticipation of an unprecedented natural disaster that no one could have foreseen?

5: Numerous editorials have criticized Bush for remaining at his Crawford ranch for three days before giving a statement. But for whose benefit did they demand a statement? The people hit by the Tsunami wouldn't have heard it. Did the UN need to see G.W. on CNN to know what was going on? This criticism only exists for the opportunity to criticize, it has no real merit. Indeed, Bush haters are exploiting this tragedy for political talking points.

6: Bill Clinton said publicly that some one needs to take a leadership role in the relief effort. Does he think that should be the UN, or the US, or maybe him? Bush participated in a small core group (USA, India, Japan, Australia) for relief, and though this core group was quicker with results Bush was criticized for trying to undermine the role of the UN.

7: My personal experience with helping people is that there are some who never are appreciative , no matter what you give or how hard you work. Others are extremely appreciative for every small thing. I think we're hearing a lot from the first group.

8: I've seen criticism in the form of comparing Florida hurricane relief to the Indonesian Tsunami relief. Possibly, there is a good point here. I think it's interesting that Bush critics blame him for allowing too many jobs to go overseas, then also for spending less on Indonesians than Floridians.

9: Get a load of this quote. "The Americans have to understand our culture here," said Hilmy Bakar Almascaty, vice-chairman of the Jakarta-based Islamic Defenders Front, which is mobilising relief efforts of its own.
"If they are not sensitive to local issues then there will be problems. If American women come to Aceh, they must wear dilbab for example. There is Sharia law in Aceh and that is what is dictated."

Seems to me that people who want help should tolerate the cultural practices of those helping them. The people who actually need the help probably do. I think this guy Almascaty is likely speaking out of turn (did he lose his home or family?) and wants to prevent western influence, even if it hinders the relief effort. Here's more from the same article:

USAid's Bok said it was unlikely US service personnel would adhere to a Muslim dresscode.

"I don't think the practice of Islam in Aceh is such that it forces all people to wear dilbab," said Weiss. "This is not Saudi Arabia."

As I said, these are just thoughts. I'd be happy to know what the rest of you think.