March 31, 2005

ante-blogospheric reminiscences

Lastango says:

Remember BB – those decades Before the Blogosphere when you were the only one who knew anything?

Man, it was lonely. I walked around loaded with a mix of good info and useless facts, finger on the trigger in case anyone raised one of my topics. Chances to open fire were rare and folks already barraged wouldn’t risk another salvo.

Not only was society safer once we obsessive types could find each other on the web, but some of us got a surprise: we didn’t actually know much. There was more going on in the world than we had heard about. Issues had more sides and background than we’d seen. Other people had had experiences, read sources, been places we hadn’t. Some even - gasp! - knew more than we did. Umph...

Boy do I remember. I was a neo-con and a supply-sider for decades, with nobody to talk to. Finger on the trigger--yeah, but I was not about to chase off my few friends by upsetting anybody. Maybe just a comment now and then. I still feel a certain pride remembering a pal who said, "I thought you were crazy when you suggested I vote for Ronald Reagan. But you were right."

Good info and useless facts. Useless, that is, until you have children. Mine are great question-askers. It's weird, really. I've never done that. They seem like brainless lumps for days at a time and then they get into these question-asking jags and will hit me with one tough question after another for a half-hour or more. I have to dredge up my useless facts as if my life depended on it. Exhausting. Mostly it's my boys who do it; my daughter is a bookworm like me, and finds her own facts.

But the weblog was made to order for me. I've been doing it since November of 2001, and I still manage to find a few things to say. Actually I was preparing for years, holding debates in my head with imaginary opponents, or thinking of the crushing things i would have said if had thought of them in time...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:02 PM

"sell gadgets and vote Republican.....sell vapor and vote Democrat."

Rich Karlgaard has an interesting piece in OpinionJournal about the politics of Silicon Valley, a subject I've always found perplexing...

[...] 6. In Washington, Republicans are the daddy party and Democrats are the mommy party. But out here, Republicans are the hardware party and Democrats are the software party. Intel's Mr. Barrett and Cisco's John Chambers sell gadgets and vote Republican. Google's Eric Schmidt and Oracle's Larry Ellison sell vapor and vote Democrat.

7. Republicans like to say the Valley was built on Moore's Law and risk capital. Democrats say the Valley was built on dreams and rebellion.

8. Valley Democrats and Republicans agree on: free trade, China optimism, the need to lift Congressional quotas on skills-based immigration, hatred of Sarbanes-Oxley and trial lawyers, the woeful state of K-12 education, the need for more federal science funding, the "they don't get it" obtuseness of telephone companies, cable companies and Hollywood studios, and the predictable failure of outsider CEOs such as John Sculley at Apple and Carly Fiorina at H-P.

9. They disagree on: the Iraq war, cultural values, the intelligence (i.e., math SAT scores) of George W. Bush, whether abolishing estate taxes will help small business or wreck meritocracy, and how to fix the K-12 system.

10. Silicon Valley has no clout in Washington.
Posted by John Weidner at 9:02 AM

March 30, 2005

What else do these cities have in common?

Jim Miller discusses this article, about pleasant and trendy urban neighborhoods, that despite their amenities, have fewer and fewer children...

...What else do these cities have in common? With the possible exception of Miami, all of them have been governed by Democrats and often fairly leftist Democrats at that. Is it possible that leftist policies drove out families with children? I think that's not only possible, but likely. For example, San Francisco has been tolerant, even encouraging, toward its large homeless population. That parents see such people as threats to their children is no secret — at least to those who do not work for the New York Times.

Seattle offers an even more dramatic example. Although the city had never had segregated schools, it instituted busing for racial balance and continued it for years and years. Busing is even more difficult in Seattle, for reasons of geography, than it is in most cities, as I explained in this post. As soon as it was started, families with children began leaving the cities in droves. That was not secret, but it was something that could not be discussed publicly in polite Democratic circles, except to deplore it. Egan quotes Charles Royer, who tried to attract kids back to Seattle in the early 1980s, at length, but neither Egan nor Royer even mention busing...

As San Franciscans with children, we have no difficulty understanding what's going on. Public schools are the biggest issue. Standards are low, crime is too common, and the bureaucracy is massive and remote. And of course, busing. What do parents in a nice neighborhood want MOST? To send their kids to the neighborhood school! Close by, with other kids from the neighborhood..

And that's precisely what leftists HATE. It's called choice. It's called working hard so you can move into a nice neighborhood so your kids don't have to go to school with the scaly creatures that live in your crummy old neighborhood. And what leftists like is BULLYING. They give it other names, but it's always about experts in government pushing people around to get some desired result. And never allowing them to vote on what exactly it is that's desirable. Those things always "emerge," and are "sensed" by those who are "enlightened" and "sensitive," sort of like how the Supreme Court senses with delicate antennae that the consensus has changed on some issue, and then adjusts the Constitution without bothering to trouble the little people in the legislatures who don't understand what they need.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:33 PM

March 29, 2005

"the glossies, most of their subjects, and sometimes their writers and editors"

Neomi Emory has a great article on how the glossies, frivolous mags like Vanity Fair, New York, New Yorker, and the "style" sections of the big papers, turned virulently, almost insanely anti-Bush last year (I had assumed that Valerie Plame was on the cover of Vanity Fair as a lark. Wrong.). And, more importantly, why?

...WHAT MAKES ALL THIS more than mildly funny is the fact that glitzkrieg--political war as carried on by the glossies--has become in a sense the core of the Democrats, their chief source of lucre, and most prominent face. "Look at Kerry's chief supporters and you see a new kind of elite," says Joel Kotkin, "a veritable 'hip-ocracy' of high-tech tycoons, Hollywood moguls and celebrities, and a bevy of Wall Street financiers." This describes the table of contents in most of the glossies, most of their subjects, and sometimes their writers and editors, one of whom pulled down a cool $100,000 for pitching a movie idea. An Axis of Edginess, they make up the Miramax wing of the party (named after the Hollywood studio that branched into publishing, and whose head is an ardent and tireless Democratic fundraiser). Last year, John Kerry cleared almost $50 million in Hollywood, and was seldom without a phalanx of film stars, who dominated his convention in Boston and stumped with him throughout the campaign.

"The most talked-about party at the Democratic convention was the one thrown by the Creative Coalition, featuring the kind of people one normally reads about at the supermarket," wrote the
Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger. "The most talked-about Democratic fundraiser before the convention was at Radio City Music Hall, featuring Whoopi Goldberg. . . . The most talked-about Democratic fundraising event after the convention is the Vote for Change Tour. . . . The world of celebrity and the world of the Democratic party are now joined at the hip." To this the glitzies bring all their good judgment, their sense of proportion, and their understanding of the common man.

The Democrats who used to produce things--cars, steel, and foodstuffs--are being replaced by those who produce fads and fashion....

"An Axis of Edginess." I like that...

(Thanks to Betsy N)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:16 AM

March 27, 2005

In the balance pan...

The estimable Bill Quick has listed 10 reasons why he is feeling disgusted with the Republicans. I thought I'd put in my reactions to them. --This is not a Fisking. I'm with him on some things, not on others. (And, as I'm sure you know, he's a libertarian, and I'm a conservative.)

1. The massive entitlement bill pushed through congress by George W. Bush for prescription drugs.
2. The lard-laden education bill Bush and Ted Kennedy put together and pushed through congress.
In both 1 and 2 there is something Bill is missing (or not interested in). I don't like the lard either, but in both cases Bush traded (and this was at a time when we didn't control the Senate) spending increases for important components of the Ownership Society. The Medicare bill included HSA's, and NCLB included the parental-choice provisions.

What's the thinking behind the Ownership Society? First, that shrinking the government isn’t going to happen. Not now, not never. Every law, subsidy, tax-break or program creates a constituency that will fight to preserve that bit of big government. It’s a trap that liberals have created for us, and no number of grumbling fiscal conservatives will ever get us out of it.

BUT, there is a way out of the trap. Even though Social Security (to take just one example) is a big-government program, any diversion of dollars into Private Accounts is, effectively, shrinking government. And that creates a trap of the opposite sort, one that will make people want more and more privatization as they start to see their accounts grow. That’s why the Left is fighting private accounts so bitterly. Bill most likely doesn't agree with the strategy, but he ought to be aware of it. Bush has yielded on spending increases to gain long-term benefits of Choice and Ownership. (I think this is the right plan, but of course it's still an experiment.)

3. The deadly combination of establishing huge new permanent expenditures while at the same time cutting taxes, thereby guaranteeing massive new debt for future taxpayers. Anybody who has ever run up significant personal credit card bills, and then tried to pay them off out of current income, knows what I mean.
NOT deadly, I would opine. At least if the concurrent goal of economic growth is achieved. That's what Reagan did. He increased the National Debt by 1.3 trillion, and people screamed about how their grandchildren would be enslaved by debt. But the economy grew by 17 trillion at the same time--that's what I call a good investment. And more importantly, it kept on growing vigorously. And now it has grown so large that that 1.3 trillion is no great burden at all. Many of those grandchildren have now been born, but they are not being crushed..

My credit card debt is a burden, but suppose I had taken on debt to buy a business? Or buy a house? Bush's tax cuts are like that, I think, and not like credit-card debt. He left money in the hands of the American people in hopes that it would be used for growth. And I think that's what we are seeing now.

4. Bush's support of renewing the assault weapons bill.
5. Bush's administration has refused to move forward, in fact has impeded, one of the most effective steps he could take to protect American air traffic: Against the wishes of the pilots themselves, he has blocked any realistic effort to let those pilots bear arms in their cockpits.
6. Bush's idiotic refusal to profile suspect groups in airports and elsewhere has led to stupidities like strip-searching wheel-chair bound grannies, and does nothing to increase traveler safety. If anything, it puts all of us at greater risk.
I agree with Mr Quick. But, one point to think about... we are on the offensive, and taking the fight to the terrorists home ground, not here. That's the right way to do it. That outweighs, to me, the idiocies of Homeland Security.

7. For those who mentioned the horrors of the Clinton administration, to wit: the sale of pardons, they should also know that not only did the Bush administration cover up or prevent entirely an investigation of the vandalism and thefts committed by the Clintonistas on their departure from the White House, he within the past month also covered up the results of the investigation of Clinton's pardon fire sale.
Bush did the right thing! Don't fight the pig in his own mud puddle. Especially this pig. Bush is attacking Clintonism more effectively by trying to get us back to a climate where nobody even thinks of doing such slimy things. He's ignoring Clinton, and history will ignore him also.

8. Bush's apparent intentions to ram through congress immigration legislation that will, in effect, post facto legalize millions of illegal aliens, and permit the influx of millions more who will initally be "legal," but will morph into illegals as soon as their time limits are up: all apparently in search of votes and support from the huge businesses that depend on illegal immigrants, at the expense of jobs for legal immigrants and American citizens.
I agree with that.

9. Bush's gross mismanagement of Fallujah in Iraq, that needlessly cost dozens of American lives, and for a time threatened the entire future of the Iraqi experiment in democracy.
Mismanaged, probably yes. But Bill's focusing on the wrong thing. We can't give democracy to the Iraqis, they can only do it themselves. Our real job is to do as little for them as possible, and encourage them to do as much as possible, without having things fall apart. The metric to watch is not whether we are defeating terrorists, but whether Iraqis are, and are learning the art of governing themselves. The "insurgency" has, if you will forgive my cold-bloodedness, been an excellent learning experience for the people of Iraq. the way millions voted under threat of violent death will be, with a bit of luck, their Valley Forge, their story to pass down to their children.

(Also, ALL our wars have been mismanaged. We lost 800 men in a few minutes at Slapton Sands, for nothing. Iwo Jima and Pelelieu were unnecessary objectives, pure waste. Belleau Wood was thought to be "lightly held." By historical standards we are doing extremely well in managing the WOT, and Bush should get some of the credit

10. The recently revealed first instincts of Bush's FEC to impose draconian measures per the CFR bill Bush signed after he said he did not support it. Bush's signing of that measure is, in my opinion, more than sufficient grounds for his impeachment.
CFR is BAD. EVIL. No question in my mind. Bush is wrong to have any doings with it.

11. Of course, the massive Republican hypocrisies of Schiavo.
Schaivo has become an out-of-control flash-point for many issues and bitter controversies. I don't think Republicans could, politically, have not intervened. I'd tend to give everybody a free-pass, and judge Republicans AND Democrats by how they act in less extreme circumstances.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

I'm a believer in Original Sin, and expect ALL human endeavors to be flawed. ALWAYS. So inevitably we have to weigh plusses and minuses, and chose the lesser of evils. I think Bush and his administration have some other plusses that ought to be placed in Bill's balance pan....

A few, in no particular order: Bush has brought dignity back to the White House--personnel don't wear jeans and strew pizza boxes around. He is constantly pushing for freer trade. Rumsfeld's relentless drive to restructure our forces for the 21st Century. Tort Reform. The ever-widening push for democracy. Refusal to deal with Arafat. The sheer genius of the Iraq campaign, which is now paying huge benefits in many ways. Dumped Kyoto, ICC, and ABM. Began serious work on missile defense. First White House in recent decades with almost no leaks. Bush can mingle easily with ordinary Americans, and has won the trust and affection of our troops. And his style and personality torment leftists, leading them to make foolish mistakes. Bush campaigns for the whole party, not just his own reelection.

The Bush Doctrine. Revising the "Treaty of Westphalia" and establishing the principle that national sovereignty is dependent on democratic legitimacy. PSI & Caspian Guard. Libya is out of the WMD game. India is befriended and France sidelined. Declared openly, for the first time, that we would defend Taiwan. Defeated two horrid Democrat candidates. Saved us from at least one truly ghastly First Lady. Saved us from having John McCain as Republican candidate!! [Thank you, God!] Gave us a smart bookish First Lady we can be proud of. Nominating many good judges. Appreciates Scalia and Thomas. Unlike Clinton, Bush picks strong capable subordinates (and according to witnesses I trust, is a superb manager and nobody's puppet.) Thrilling people: Condi. Paul Wolfowitz. Richard Armitage. Elliott Abrams! Dick and Lynne Cheney! (Bush is the first President EVER to have a strong VP doing useful work!!! Not to mention Dick's wife and two daughters, all doing real work in the administration.)

Posted by John Weidner at 1:27 PM

What color is October?

Norm Geras reports that he (and some of his readers) sees the days of the week as having colors:

Some people see colours when they look at numbers and letters, and according to this report scientists can explain why: it has to do with 'cross-activation between adjacent areas of the brain involved with processing different sensory information'. I'm in no position either to confirm or to challenge this, but it reminds me of something I've never shared with you and you'll be aching to know; which is that for as long as I can remember I've seen the days of the week as having a colour.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are black; Tuesday and Thursday are red; and Sunday is orange. The days are also spatially arranged, approximately so:

Thursday - - - Saturday


Tuesday - - - Sunday

The week begins bottom left, on Monday.

It's that spacial arrangement I find interesting. My week is a straight bar, but I see the year as a clock face, with Dec. 15 at the noon position. But it goes counterclockwise, with January where 11:00 is...
(Thanks to Natalie, who sees the number 7 as green)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:41 AM

March 26, 2005

"I am dust and wind and shadow..."

O God that art the sole hope of the world,
The only refuge for unhappy men,
Abiding in the faithfulness of Heaven,
Give me a strong succour in this testing-place,
O King, protect Thy man from utter ruin,
Lest the weak flesh surrender to the tyrant,
Facing innumerable blows alone.
Remember I am dust and wind and shadow,
And life as fleeting as the flower of the grass.
But may the eternal mercy which hath shone from time of old
Rescue Thy servant from the jaws of the lie.
Thou who didst come from on high in the cloak of the flesh,
Strike down the dragon with the two-edged sword
Whereby our mortal flesh can war with the winds
And break down strongholds, with our Captain, God. Amen

      --The Venerable Bede
Posted by John Weidner at 8:44 PM

Brave non-conformists...

Quote from KC Star (copied from OJ because I can't endure to fill out another one of those registration forms.)

Conformity rocks across America these days while dissent keeps losing its voice.

That condition emanates from the White House, and it's spreading across the country like a cancer. Gone are the voices of reason and caution such as former Gen. Colin Powell. He stepped down as secretary of state when President Bush began a second term.

Powell was replaced by Condoleezza Rice, former national security adviser and close Bush confidant. What Bush unilaterally wants goes.

The same go-along-to-get-along infection grips the GOP-dominated House and Senate. The wrongheaded legislative action they took with Bush this week to send the Terri Schiavo feeding tube case to federal court is the latest example.

It's as if many in government have signed loyalty oaths such as those required in the McCarthy era when alternative stands weren't tolerated...

This reminds me of the way one becomes a "nonconformist" by joining a nonconformist group and and conforming to their ways. Just put on your beatnik outfit and you can stand in brave dee-fiance of 1950's conformity!

But really folks, the idea that conforming to the left-wing position is "non-conformity" (and "brave" and "dissent" and "speaking truth to power") is so silly I'm amazed these people keep pushing it. This piece is particularly goofy because it equates "reason and caution" with non-conformity. Huh? Colin Powell?

And: "...the McCarthy era when alternative stands weren't tolerated." No no. Being a Communist wasn't tolerated. (And the Communists were in fact a group that enforced stifling conformity.) There were lots of people taking alternative stands in that era, contrary to the myth.

I guess the whole schtick about Lefties being non-conformists comes from the 60's when long-haired rebels supposedly defied crew-cut middle-American conformity. But I WAS THERE, and I tell you that that's pure baloney. I went to Berkeley during that time. Those "60's rebels" were conforming to a fad. Totally. The clothes, the hairstyles, the patter, the causes--all out of the same cookie-cutter. You could drop into any big campus and see the same types, the same faces, and be able to just guess what they thought and believed. They were conformists then, and they still are! It's the 21st Century, but they are still pretending it's 1972.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:37 PM

Inexplicable? I think not.

From PowerLine:

Considering the vast amounts of money that are spent on public education, especially in urban areas, stories like this one seem inexplicable: "NYC Recalls Math Guides Full of Errors".....

Of course there's nothing inexplicable about it. Throwing money at problems often makes them worse, and in education often means just hiring more bureaucrats.

What's needed is a culture that says,"We demand the highest possible quality of teaching and are willing to pay extra for it, and to give teachers a lot of freedom to act, as long as they get good results." That sort of thing rarely comes out of government, but is frequently seen in the private sector, which is why the best thing we could do would be to privatize education, and just leave government with the job of collecting taxes to support it. (That's one job government seems to do with enthusiasm and energy.)

Posted by John Weidner at 1:31 PM


Something to keep in mind about the Schiavo case is that once the facts are established in a trial court, an appeals court usually has to stick with them. So if the Schindlers have lost their all their appeals it doesn't mean that justice has been done.

From Steve Sailor's blog, via Orrin Judd:

A Florida lawyer writes:
I have been following the case for years. Something that interests me about the Terri Schiavo case, and that doesn't seem to have gotten much media attention: The whole case rests on the fact that the Schindlers (Terri's parents) were totally outlawyered by the husband (Michael Schiavo) at the trial court level.

This happened because, in addition to getting a $750K judgment for Terri's medical care, Michael Schiavo individually got a $300K award of damages for loss of consortium, which gave him the money to hire a top-notch lawyer to represent him on the right-to-die claim. He hired George Felos, who specializes in this area and litigated one of the landmark right-to-die cases in Florida in the early 90s.

By contrast, the Schindlers had trouble even finding a lawyer who would take their case since there was no money in it. Finally they found an inexperienced lawyer who agreed to take it partly out of sympathy for them, but she had almost no resources to work with and no experience in this area of the law. She didn't even depose Michael Schiavo's siblings, who were key witnesses at the trial that decided whether Terri would have wanted to be kept alive. Not surprisingly, Felos steamrollered her...[there's more]

I'm getting sick of the argument "you conservatives believe in the rule of law, so why can't you go along with the multiple rulings by the courts?" Or, "You conservatives believe in Federalism, so how can you let Congress or the President to step in?" If Teri were a poor felon on Death Row there would be a proper means by which what seems to be an injustice could be corrected--President's and governors have the power of the pardon.

The power to pardon doesn't work in this case, but the attempt by Congress to interfere is analogous to it. I don't think it undermines Federalism, anymore than if Bush pardoned someone on Death Row.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:17 PM

March 25, 2005

Defense against bigots...

Brian Tiemann has posted a ringing defense of Charles Johnson's LGF (Little Green Footballls) against the slurs of Leftists.

...It's come to this, then: compiling documentation of real, actual outrages, with photos and direct quotes from quite mainstream sources, and pointing at them with a glowering expression—why, that's racism! And never mind the things he's actually pointing at; those are just "the way things are", or "our fault", or (as one self-described gay person explains why he doesn't care that Charles is, from the Islamists' perspective, on his side):
Regarding Islam. I'm an American who does not plan to travel overseas to flaunt my sexuality, so I could give two shits what Islamic countries are doing. I do know, however, that there is an American Taliban that wishes it could do the same to gays here. I'll fight my battles at home first.
Here, in a quite compact space, we've got the purest distillation of the grotesque contortions that concepts like "racism" and "bigotry" and "human rights" have undergone in recent years. Charles, who—though a casual familiarity with his history and motivations makes obvious that it's not even remotely necessary—is careful to never even accidentally make any public statement that could be construed as "racist" (much as these guys try to demonstrate that his sarcasm toward dissembling Islamists amounts to such), and who runs perhaps the only site dedicated to applying the most rigorous standards of volunteer journalism to the cause of staring with a cold and unblinking eye at the threat that made itself plain to us on 9/11/01, is the Left's pariah. He's no better than the neo-Nazi site that Google News has voluntarily listed, in their eyes. Never mind the incalculable service he's done these past years, shining a light on matters that the evening news prefers to keep hushed-up; his daring to do it in the first place makes him the target of death threats, slander, and—perhaps most galling of all in the world of blogdom, where reputation is one's most prized asset—a name one can hardly even speak in mixed company...

I wouldn't mention LGF in company of some bloggers I know...that it's racist and disgusting is just something that's "already known," that needs no evidence. Similarly I wouldn't mention listening to Rush Limbaugh in polite SF company. People "know" what a fascist he is without having to bother actually listening to him. Bigots. [I should add that if you are actually making a case against,say, Rush, or Johnson, or whoever, using facts and logic, that's not bigotry.]

Posted by John Weidner at 7:51 AM

March 23, 2005

I'm too polite to say "I told you so"

But I said this would happen....

LA Times...The new cooperation between Bush and Chirac and the almost daily contact that U.S. and French officials have maintained during the crisis contrasted with the bitter rift that emerged between the two countries over Iraq two years ago.

In crafting a policy on Lebanon, the Bush administration has adopted a more measured approach, departing from the more rigid style that characterized its diplomacy during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

As a result, the U.S. has enlisted more allies in its campaign to free Lebanon of Damascus' grip. It has also shown greater flexibility as it grapples with the task of how best to strengthen Lebanon's democratic process once Syrian forces are gone.

Foreign diplomats and many U.S. critics of Bush's handling of foreign affairs have praised his actions during the crisis in Lebanon that followed the Feb. 14 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri...

Of course they spin it as "a chastened US has learned it's lesson and now goes back to diplomacy." But it is precisely because we were willing to fight in Iraq that we now have the luxury of settling problems peacefully (with a bit of luck) by diplomacy. For how many decades has diplomacy failed utterly to change things in Lebanon? Now suddenly it seems to be working....

Colin Powell had the chance to be the greatest diplomat since Metternich. But he blew it, and now Condalezza Rice will win the prizes. Which is only fair, since she gave whole-hearted support to the President when the going was tough, and the appeasers and weaklings were demanding retreat.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:13 AM

March 22, 2005

Fiskus americanus "giganteus"

This collection of little poison dagger-jabs by the NYT really aroused my contempt. Warning: long Fisking ahead.

March 18, 2005 EDITORIAL New York Times
Two Years Later
The invasion of Iraq, which began two years ago this weekend, was a world-changing event. We can see many of the consequences already. The good ones, so far, exist mainly as hopes and are fewer than the bad ones, some of which are all too concrete...

The good starts with liberating 25 million people from one of the cruelest tyrannies in history. The good ALREADY far outweighs the bad.

One of the few positive domestic consequences of the war has been the nation's determination - despite obstruction from the White House and its supporters - to honor the memory of each American man and woman who has died in Iraq...

GROSS LIE. You lefty's "honor" our dead by using them as propaganda for America-bashing and appeasement--things that almost all our military community despises. And you rarely report the REAL honoring, such as the many times that whole communities in the heartlands turn out with flags for the funerals of our men, or to welcome troops home. Or the enormous amount of time the President and his supporters spend visiting the troops and families and the wounded. I wonder how many Timesmen visit Walter Reed Hospital to cheer-up wounded soldiers?

The administration has been shockingly callous about the tens of thousands of Iraqi victims, whom ordinary Americans cannot count let alone name...

LIE. Utter filthy lie. Our forces have bent over backwards to minimize civilian casualties, often paying the ultimate price themselves. Most of the Iraqi victims have been killed by Ba'athist and Islamist terrorists. Who don't even pretend to be trying to achieve military victory; their murders are done so YOU will gloatingly report them in the western media, so YOU will do your part for terrorist victory and western capitulation. The blood of many of those Iraqis is on YOUR hands, because you've done your best to encourage their murderers. "Shockingly callous" describes the NYT and the western press exactly.

The Real Reasons
The Bush administration was famously flexible in explaining why it invaded Iraq, and the most important reason, in the minds of Americans and in the arguments made by American diplomats, turned out to be wrong. There were no weapons of mass destruction to destroy...

The NYT and the French, and the UN had exactly the SAME belief about Iraqi WMD's. So why aren't they called "wrong?" And the main reason that WMD's were put formost in our war-arguments was that YOU, and your whole leftish realm, demanded that we seek approval of the UN. And the only thing the UN cared about was the WMD's. The tortures, the genocide, the stagnation and oppression of the Arab world, you and the UN cared nothing about those. You were cold-hearted bastards, and now you have the supreme gall to criticize the Bush Administration for over-emphasizing WMD's!

Worse, the specialized machinery and highly lethal conventional weaponry that Saddam Hussein did control was looted during the invasion and is now very likely in the hands of terrorists. As James Glanz and William Broad reported in The Times, among the things missing is high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms. The WMD argument was not only wrong, but the invasion might have also created a new threat...

This is the grossest effrontery I've read this year. "There were machines to make nukes BUT there was no WMD problem BUT Bush has CREATED a WMD problem by attacking Saddam's nuclear bomb program, which wasn't otherwise a problem." Jeez. (And we know from that NYT article that "looting" isn't the right word; the stuff was hauled off using heavy equipment and truck convoys, before the Americans arrived. Bush's fault of course.) And if a terrorist nuke goes off in NY, I bet surviving Timesmen will blame Bush for letting himself be distracted by the UN instead of dealing with the Iraq problem sooner

However, there was another theory behind the invasion. Mr. Bush might have been slow to articulate it, but other prominent officials were saying early on that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would shake up the hidebound, undemocratic regimes in the Middle East and free the natural democratic impulses of Arab and Islamic people. This rationale may still hold up. Iraqi and Afghani voters marching stolidly to the polls was by far the most hopeful image in the past two years.

They were not "stolid," they were both joyful and determined even to the point of death. "Stolid" would describe a Timesman forced to concede that perhaps something good has come from an American war. And if Bush HAD articulated that reason earlier, the NYT would have been the first to deride him.

There is an endless list of qualifications. Many of the most promising signs of change have little to do with Iraq...

They have EVERYTHING to do with Iraq. The only reason these new flowerings aren't crushed by tyrants and terrorists is that they know the US is deadly serious. The reason Condi's frown caused Mubarak to announce elections was because he knows we are serious--BECAUSE we didn't flinch in Iraq.

The peace initiatives in Israel were made possible when Yasir Arafat died and was replaced by a braver, more flexible leader. The new determination of the Lebanese people to throw out their Syrian oppressors was sparked by the assassination of the Lebanese nationalist, Rafik Hariri, not the downfall of Saddam Hussein. And in Iraq itself, the voting largely excluded the Sunni minority, without whose cooperation Iraq will never be anything more than a civil war battleground or a staging platform for a new dictatorship...

Bullshit. Bush sidelined Arafat in 2002 by announcing that the Palestinians must have a peaceful elected government to earn our help getting a state. And the Lebanese can protest now because they know the Syrians are afraid of Bush. And the Iraq election did not "exclude" the Sunnis (they were welcome to vote and many of them did)---certain Sunni groups boycotted it, and now are scurrying to be included in the new government. "Excluded the Sunni"--what a slimy lie that is.

With all that said, even the fiercest critic of George Bush's foreign policy would be insane not to want these signs of hope to take root...

A lot of them are insane in exactly that way.

That would not excuse the waging of an unnecessary war on false pretences, but it could change the course of modern history. Grieving families would find the peace that comes with knowing that spouses, parents or children died to help make a better world...

They KNEW IT ALL ALONG! Anyone who follows military websites and blogs is aware that our forces have ALL ALONG been very aware of what they are fighting for, and how necessary it is. It's the vile America-haters led by the NYT who have been trying to convince them our losses were unnecessary and futile. (ALSO, bringing the hope of freedom to a billion or so people WOULD excuse waging war on false pretenses, although we did not do so.)

The Real Losses
Even with the best possible outcome, the invasion is already costly. America's alliances, particularly those with Europe, have been severely frayed since President Bush turned his back on the United Nations in the fall of 2002...

No no, we didn't turn our back on the UN. We begged the UN to enforce its own binding resolutions, and our "allies" refused to support us there. France and Germany are NOT friends. They don't like us and they hinder us at every opportunity.

Even some of his early supporters, like Spain, have edged away...

Spain didn't edge away, it cravenly capitulated to terrorist blackmail. Which is fine with the NYT.

Tony Blair remains the exception, mainly because of his willingness to ignore public opinion. If there is such a thing as the European street, anti-American feeling is strong and universal...

That "public opinion" doesn't just happen, your colleagues in the European press work non-stop to create it. They are bitterly anti-American, and you reveal your true colors by going along with them.

Things are even worse on the Arab street. While hope for change may be rising, opinion about the United States has never been as profoundly negative...

A LIE. We are suddenly starting to see the REAL Arab street, not the bogus one run by dictators and hyped by the NYT. Those million-or-so demonstrators in Beruit seem to have a rather good opinion of the US. They are the "Arab street."

Even under the best circumstances, it would have been hard for the proud people of the Middle East to acknowledge any benefit from an armed intervention by a Western power. And the occupying forces have made themselves easy to hate with maddening human-rights disasters. When the average Egyptian or Palestinian or Saudi thinks about the Americans in Iraq, the image is not voters' purple-stained fingers but the naked Iraqi prisoner at the other end of Pfc. Lynndie England's leash...

Because that's all Al-Jazeera and Al-NewYorka want to report. The hundreds-of-thousands tortured and murdered by Saddam go down the Memory Hole. The children tortured and wives raped to make their loved-ones confess mean nothing to you cold-hearted bastards at the NYT. ONLY incidents that can be used against America interest you. You tirelessly lead the media-chorus in tearing down America, then turn around and say, "Look how BUSH has made everyone hate us."

The atrocities that occurred in prisons like Abu Ghraib were the product of decisions that began at the very top, when the Bush administration decided that Sept. 11 had wiped out its responsibility to abide by the rules, including the Geneva Conventions and the American Constitution...

Rubbish. The Convention covers only Lawful Combatants who abide by the rules of war. Our opponents do not, but the NYT would never dream of criticizing them, while it reviles the US for not rewarding them anyway. And in fact we have treated our captives very humanely, while the Falluja terroritsts broadcast from the mosques their intention to torture and kill any American they captured. Which is OK by the NYT. The Abu Ghraib abuses were being investigated and dealt by the US Army months before the lefties became interested, but for the NYT it's the only thing that's ever happened.

For the United States, one of the greatest harms from the Iraq conflict has been the administration's willingness to define democracy down on the pretext of wartime emergency...

False. The War on Terror was debated vigorously during the last election, and the Iraq Invasion was argued about for over a year, and placed before Congress to vote on. And the voters and their representatives have strongly endorsed the President and his policies. That's what galls you at the NYT--the voters have rejected you. It's called democracy. Get ready for more of it.

Mr. Bush was not honest with the American people in the run-up to the war. He hyped the WMD evidence abroad and played down the cost at home. The results of last fall's election ensured that he would pay no political penalty. But other people sit in judgment as well. Mr. Bush's determination to have his war and his tax cuts at the same time meant masking the real price of invading Iraq, and even now the costs are being borne mainly by overseas holders of American debt. The international markets know this, and over the long run are most likely to be less forgiving than American voters...

So if the markets know it why aren't they unforgiving in the SHORT RUN? What a preposterous argument. The NYT peers into the future and declares international markets will agree with it...sometime or other. How Krugmanesque. And the enormous economic benefits that will come from VICTORY in the War on Terror are not considered. I suspect both victory and economic growth are not things the NYT is hoping for.

The New Challenges
Those stains on the index fingers of proud Iraqi voters have long faded. As Robert Worth of The Times discovered in interviews with average citizens, an inevitable disillusionment has set in. People reasonably want to know what comes next. More chilling, they seem to be prepared to blame competing ethnic groups for anything that goes wrong.

"Interviews" by Timesmen ALWAYS find that people agree with their position. But POLLS say that Iraqis feel very hopeful about the future. So which should we believe?

Iraq's newly elected leaders must organize a government that Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and smaller ethnic and religious groups feel has their best interests at heart. They must also accomplish some practical matters - more electrical power, cleaner water, better security - to give their constituents the confidence that things really can get better.

The first challenge is up to the Iraqis, and so far, there are not many signs that any group is prepared to compromise for the common good. Americans must help with the second problem, and almost no one inside Iraq seems to feel the infant government can survive right now without the Western military.

Yes, the ARE signs, starting with the disinclination of the Shi'ites to start slaughtering Sunnis, as many of them richly deserve. And the majority of Iraqis think they WILL be able to survive without the US forces in a year or two.

It is hard to imagine a quick exit that would not make things much worse. But at the same time, it's clear that the presence of American troops is poisoning the situation. Under constant fire from Sunni insurgents, the soldiers are seldom free to provide the good-will services that many would undoubtedly like to do. Instead they stand behind barricades, terrified that the next vehicle will be driven by a suicide bomber. The inevitable consequence is what happened to the Italian journalist and her protectors whose car was riddled with bullets en route to the airport. Far more often, the people inside the cars are Iraqis...

Of course. An Italian communist journalist rates high with the NYT, even though she's an obvious liar. American military personnel, however, often tell a different story. A story of courageous soldiering PLUS good-will services in enormous variety PLUS optimism about Iraq and its people. But the NYT is too wily to be taken in by a bunch of baby-killers from the primitive Red States. And the NYT would never dream of insulting Sunni terrorists by suggesting that THEY are "poisoning the situation." Only Americans are "poisonous"...

The invasion has stirred up other dreadful side effects that must be addressed. One is that other rogue nations watched what happened to Saddam Hussein and not unreasonably took the lesson that the only way to keep American forces away permanently was to acquire nuclear weapons quickly. Curbing the international market of the most lethal weapons must be the top priority for the White House, but it is not possible without the multilateral cooperation they scorned before the invasion. North Korea, which any sensible person regards as a far more deadly threat than Saddam Hussein ever was, can be kept in check only by allies working together...

There is in fact a LOT of multilateral work being done to curb nuclear weapons, such as PCI. But the NYT never sees it. And we have relentlessly pushed for 6-way negotiations in dealing with N Korea, but somehow that doesn't make us "multilateral." In fact, to the NYT, America (during a Republican administration) is ALWAYS guilty. If we try to do anything vigorous, and other nations won't help, WE are automatically guilty of alienating them. THEY are never guilty of shirking international responsibilities or letting an ally down.

The Enduring Principles
Like a great many Americans and most Europeans, this page opposed the invasion of Iraq. Our reasons seem as good now as they did then. Most important is our belief that the United States cannot work in isolation from the rest of the world. There are too many problems, from global warming to nuclear proliferation, which can be solved only if the major powers collaborate. Americans need both the counsel and restraint of other world leaders...

Restraint is what's on your mind, not collaboration. European "allies" have stagnant economies, chronic high unemployment, plummeting birthrates, seething masses of hate-filled welfare-dependent immigrants, decayed armies...but to the NYT it is self-evident that they should be restraining us with their superior wisdom. It never occurs that perhaps THEY night need some kind of kick-in-the-pants from us .

The White House has almost unthinkable power, and the rest of the globe has the right to take a profound interest in making sure it is exercised wisely.

But not to the point of actually, you know, HELPING us...

(I find The NYT's attitude loathsome, but it now occurs to me that they've been well-punished--It was obviously an agony for them to say anything good about a Republican war. What a sour and dreary world these Timesmen must live in. Their own country performs prodigies to succor the oppressed, and they can't feel any joy. Can't for even a moment forget their bile and just say, "Well-done America, we're proud of you!")

Posted by John Weidner at 5:48 PM

ahh, the UN...

Lance Frizzell quotes from this:

''What we call for is to bring the troops home,'' said Matt Leber, coordinator of Nashville Peace & Justice Center, ''and the United Nations takes the lead. So the United States would not be the primary decision maker but primarily fund the rebuilding of Iraq.''

Uh huh. We pay, and the UN makes the decisions. Heard that one before, haven't we? And it's analogous to a certain domestic version, where ordinary Americans are supposed to cough up the taxes, but lefty elites and judges should decide how they are spent.

And one wonders if the fact that we tried hard to involve the UN in Iraq, and they refused because they have no stomach for the danger even penetrated the brains of these idiots? And how about the MANY scandals of UN personnel exploiting children for sex? Have they blocked that out of their consciousness, or do they consider those individuals expendable for the greater cause?

Posted by John Weidner at 11:13 AM

A belief in the future...

The plight of Europe is such that, whenever I have the chance to talk to young people now, at any age from 12 to 20, I always urge them to make their future in America, particularly if they are clever and energetic, qualities essential for a vigorous life over there. America has everything Europe lacks. It has the world's most dynamic economy, making impressive gains in productivity while expanding the number of jobs at the rate of a quarter of a million a month. It is growing in numbers, attracting the world's best immigrants, and with a healthy birth rate of its own. Population is just topping 300 million and will be 425 million by mid-century. It has a democratic spirit at all levels of society so that people really feel they create and participate in government. In science and philosophy, in painting, sculpture, music and literature, it makes Europe seem provincial. It has nearly 4,000 universities, including all the world's best. Most of all, it has a belief in its own future, a confidence that the world can be made, and will be made, a better place, not only materially but spiritually. It is the nearest we have in the world to The Good Society, and my only regret is that I did not make my home there 30 or 40 years ago, when I was still young enough to weather the change. Instead I have to make the best of enjoying the bits of England that are left.....

-- Paul Johnson, quoted by Jay Nordlinger
Posted by John Weidner at 8:06 AM

March 20, 2005

Potted Plants 1 and 2...

A friend notices this Thomas Friedman column in the NYT, where he suggests Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani should get the Nobel Peace Prize, and says:

Notice how Friedman reduces the liberators (Bushes I and II) to potted plant status who benefited mainly from good luck, while passing out Nobels to the liberated who demonstrated inspired cooperation and rational self-interest. Maybe they should give Academy Awards to theater chains for creative "movie selection."

It's gotta be hard to be Friedman right now. A liberal Democrat AND a Middle-East specialist. A lot of fancy footwork and smoke-blowin' is called for. And even if you manage to pass the credit to al-Sistani, that just calls attention to the the fact that Bush based his plans on the expectation that people like al-Sistani would emerge. That's what it means when you say that freedom is the gift of God. Rather than a largess of government given to the "little people," who probably won't appreciate it.

...The first person to vote in the [Afghan] presidential election, three years after the Taliban ruled that country with such barbarism, was a 19-year-old woman, an Afghan refugee, who fled her homeland during the civil war. Here's what she said: "I cannot explain my feelings, just how happy I am. I would never have thought I would be able to vote in this election." She's voting in this election because the United States of America believes that freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world...
-- President Bush,
October 9th, 2004
Posted by John Weidner at 2:05 PM

When America has problems, their eyes light up...

Jack Kelly, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette demolishes Robert Burns of the AP:

...Journalists portrayed the February shortfall in the worst possible light.

"To the daily drumbeat of casualty reports from Iraq, young blacks and women are marching away from offers to the join the Army," wrote Robert Burns of The Associated Press.

"These trends, combined with negative effects of the Army's image as a last-resort career choice for what one study called the 'average Joe,' suggests the military's largest service may be entering a prolonged recruiting slump at a time when it is trying to expand its ranks," Burns wrote.

Or maybe not. The last time the Army missed a monthly recruiting goal -- in May 2000 -- it made it up by the end of the fiscal year. The glass always seems half-empty when you tell only half the story...(thanks to

The "journalists" are on the other side. And you can bet your last Ducat that if the recruiting goal ends up being met, it won't be "news" to the AP, and a lot of people will be left with the lingering belief that the Army is scraping the bottom of the barrel for cannon-fodder. When in fact many recruiting trends are positive:

Among them:

...Since the economy is stronger now than it was in 2001, and good economic times typically are hard times for military recruiters, a 36 percent increase in the proportion of young people willing to consider enlisting since the war on terror began says something good about our young people that Burns, apparently, is not eager to have you hear.

Burns notes with alarm that the proportion of young people who cite fear of combat as a reason for not joining the military nearly doubled (from 14 to 26 percent) between 2000 and 2004. He quoted the study again: "In the past, barriers were about inconvenience or preference for another life choice. Now they have switched to something quite different: fear of death or injury."

But is it all that astonishing that fear of death would be a bigger consideration during time of war than it is during peacetime?

Money for college was the principal reason young people gave for a willingness to enlist, followed by "duty."

Proportionately more blacks and women enlist for the economic benefits, while a higher proportion of white males give duty as a reason for joining up.

So blacks and women who enlisted primarily for the benefits are being replaced by white males who enlist primarily to serve their country. That's not such a bad thing...
Posted by John Weidner at 11:27 AM

March 19, 2005


Alan writes:

The case of Terry Schindler Schiavo is a portent. If she dies now, there will be no precedent to stop the march of euthanasia from a secret vice to an accepted option, and eventually a mandatory writ against the incapacitated. I'm not usually an advocate of 'slippery slope' theories, but this one resembles a frozen waterslide....

My guess is that the situation is close to the opposite. If she dies now she will be a martyr, and a catalyst for change. If she's kept from dying, people will tend to regard the problem as being "solved," and things are less likely to change. And I think we are much farther from a slippery slope than they are in places like the Netherlands, where things like this don't even seem controversial. And there's no legal precedent being established, that can only be done by an Appeals Court.

I noticed the liberal SF Chronicle has a headline about it today. That's got to be bad news for the Culture of Death. A lot of people will be scratching their heads and dimly remembering that somebody said that legalizing and encouraging abortion was a slippery slope that might lead to euthanasia. (I can imagine how sophisticates heaped scorn on such a preposterous notion.) If it's already a headline-making story, and we now face a two-week death-by-starvation watch, at the same time that the Pope is approaching death....I think the country's going to go nuts over this case.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:56 PM

March 18, 2005

That's NOT what the judge said...

Nina Yablok is a lawyer/blogger (and wife of blogger Ed Driscol) and has a good post on the Apple trade secrets case, which I think is generating a lot of misinformed comment. In response to Jeff Jarvis's contention that the judge had ruled that bloggers are not journalists, she writes:

No, that is NOT AT ALL what Judge Kleinberg said.

In fact, he said quite the opposite. He specifically (and clearly to anyone who bothered to read the decision) did not decide whether Bloggers are Journalists! First, in his introduction, Judge Kleinberg states:

The order of this Court does not go beyond the questions necessary to determine this motion... and it cannot and should not be read or interpreted more broadly."

And later, the Judge clearly states it is not necessary to decide whether the bloggers (Movants in the decision) are journalists. He says:

Defining what is a "journalist" has become more complicated as the variet of media has expanded. But even if the movants are journalists, this is not equivalent of a free pass. The Journalist's priviledge is not absolute."

Judge Kleinberg proceeds to make his ruling without deciding the "are bloggers journalists" issue because it is not relevant to the narrow question he was asked to decide....(there's more)

I don't think the rumor-site Think Secret should even be called a blog. I don't think there is any legal definition of what constitutes a blog. But, if you called an expert witness to the stand--such as ME--I would testify that I've been blogging since 2001, and occasionally reading Think Secret for at least that long, and I NEVER ONCE thought to call it a blog, or put it in my folder of Apple-related weblogs.

She also has a good post on those ads urging you to form a Nevada Corporation. Not a good idea.

Update: More from John Gruber.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:49 PM

March 17, 2005

"visible for all to see"

Ace writes about the message conveyed by those thin ribbons of cloud you sometimes see crossing the sky...

...See, it’s easy when you sit here on the sidelines thinking “why yes! Let’s have a protest!”. It’s a bit more difficult when your neighborhood is run by an organization that would make Al Capone and Frank Nitti wince in shame. Make no mistake about it; Hezbollah and the Syrian occupying army are ruthless murdering thugs and yet, the men and women of Lebanon are walking right up to them and saying “Time to go home, Assad!”.

So, what is it that’s letting the people of Beirut feel free to oppose their oppressors? And just exactly how do you face down a Broke-nose Hezbollah ‘ward heeler’ while you sip coffee in the corner café? My guess is that they just look up at the contrails of the jets and they get the message. The message is clear and the president delivered the message when he said
“Stand for freedom and we will stand with you!”.

Somewhere over Lebanon tonight is an unmanned UAV quietly snapping pictures in the cold high atmosphere of the Bekaa valley, leaving its signature behind in the form of thin white vapor contrails, visible for all to see. Sitting far below in gun emplacements are Syrian soldiers looking up at the contrails as they unfold across the sky. The soldiers as well as the Lebanese civilians are getting the message long before their leaders get the message. The message will be delivered to their leaders in the form of a folder containing pictures of the very same gun emplacements taken by the UAV. It is my guess that someday soon, very soon, Ambassador Bolton will deliver the folder to President Assad. Ambassador Bolton will smile in retort in the way that the Afghan Chieftain did to the talibani commander just a few years ago. His statement to Assad is essentially the same, lay down your weapons and stop fighting, or you will surely die...

My only fear is that we won't stand with people that we have encouraged to rebel against tyranny. If things get tough we have to be there, whatever the cost. But I have a lot of faith in the President and his team. We have stood with the people of Iraq as we promised, though the opposition of appeasers and leftists was vicious and unrelenting and utterly unscrupulous.

Because we have kept faith with Iraq, the likelihood of needing further military intervention has been greatly reduced. But if it's needed I pray America doesn't fail the test.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:16 PM

"hundreds of thousands of slices of pizza"

Support our troops.....and also give a thought to the men and women of the Israel Defense Forces. They are friends fighting on the front lines of the same war against terrorist slime-creatures that we are fighting.

Lance has posted an e-mail from that cool gang PizzaIDF:

We never stopped nor were we stopped.

Well three years later we’re still getting the pizzas out to the soldiers (—and they love to get them.

We continue to deliver Pizza and Soda to our active duty soldiers on behalf of Israel’s supporters from many different countries around the world. In addition to hundreds of thousands of slices of pizza so far, we send out burgers and soup (hot in winter, cold in summer) on a regular basis. We also send donuts for Hanuka, Honey and Honey Cake for the soldiers’ families at Rosh haShana (New year), Fruit packages for Tu biShvat (New Year for the Trees—Arbor Day), Kosher l’Pesach packages and of course, Mishloach Manot treat packages for Purim....

$16.95 will buy pizza and Cokes for a patrol, delivered in the field. Or be really cool and treat a whole platoon for $89.95!

Posted by John Weidner at 4:38 PM

dishonest and insane?

I'm currently enjoying Ari Fleischer's new book, and notice, via Volokh, that Slate has a new feature, The Fleischer Watch: Introducing an ongoing inquiry into dishonest or insane assertions buried inside Ari Fleischer's White House memoir.

Someody feeling a little defensive? So far I haven't read anything that seemed dishonest or insane, and if the first column, by Timothy Noah, is any indication, this new feature will be mostly a look at how clueless journalists can be. Noah writes:

In his new book, Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House, Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary, lays out various "biases and predilections" of "the liberal press." Among these is its 'belief that government is a mechanism to solve the nation's problems," its insistence that "emotional examples of suffering … are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories," and its tendency to stay "fixated on the unemployment rate." Fleischer might just as well have complained that the press believes the Earth revolves around the sun...

Note that Fleischer doesn't say that these ideas are wrong, just that those are the biases of the press. But Timothy Noah proceeds to defend the ideas as if Fleischer had said they were false, and as if their truth were as obvious as the earth revolving around the sun. Thereby not only missing the point, in a really stupid way, but also demonstrating the point! He himself has those same biases and doesn't seem to be able to even imagine that someone could disagree without being "dishonest and insane."

To respond very briefly to Noah's points (though this is irrelevant to what Fleischer was saying)...

...If the government doesn't exist to solve problems, what the hell do we have it for?...

Many people believe the government should provide national defense, and legal and monetary frameworks, and beyond that let people solve their own problems. You don't have to agree, but it's stupid to be unaware that there are other viewpoints.

..If a lagging economy didn't cause people to suffer, there would be no great reason to keep track of the economy at all. Anecdotes about individual sufferers help the public understand in a concrete way what it means to have a weak economy...

One wonders if the pictures of sufferers are intended to deceive yourselves and preserve your world view. There are many reasons to track the economy besides the problems of the unemployed. Almost everything that happens is affected by, and reflected in the economy.

...The principal way people suffer when economic growth is weak or nonexistent is by losing their jobs. The statistic that keeps track of the people who lose their jobs is the unemployment rate (at the moment a so-so 5.4 percent). Fleischer doesn't want the press to focus on the "micro" story of individual suffering, but neither does he want the press to focus on the "macro" story of economic statistics. In effect, Fleischer is saying that it's unfair for the press to cover the economy at all....

When Clinton was reelected the unemployment rate was 5.6, and yet there were no stories about sufferers in the news. Nor do your stories ever show sufferers in Germany or France, where unemployment is over 10%. Nor do you tend to point out the many ways that our economy has been strong over the last couple of years. Fleisher said nothing about what he wants, just that these are your predilections. But if he had he would have said that focusing only on the negatives is very misleading, and that you are STUPIDLY missing the real story, just as you did in Iraq.

The indicators of a growing economy were clear to many people back in 2003. But you "journalists" missed the story. Recent economic growth stats have been extremely good, but you are still missing the story. You are blinded by your biases.

If, perchance the stock market were lousy but employment was very high, you would be "illustrating" the economy with heartrending pictures of suffering stockholders. You decide what story you would prefer first, and then go looking for "illustrations." Wasn't it ABC that was advertising for families who had lost loved-ones in Iraq, to "illustrate" the upcoming SOTU?

Posted by John Weidner at 8:22 AM

March 16, 2005

Looks promising...

I've heard several bloggers mention the two Dartmouth alumni who are running for Dartmouth's governing board as "outsiders." University boards are usually filled by members of "the club," who are backed by the administration. But the power of the Internet now makes it possible for other people to seek votes.

Here's an except from Peter Robinson's Email, which I found at Hugh Hewitt's blog:

....The administration often suggests that we alumni must not presume to know what is best for Dartmouth. Since many of us graduated, we are told, the world has changed dramatically. It has indeed.

· In nations around the globe, we have witnessed the change from central, authoritarian control to democracy.

· In business, we have witnessed the change from pyramid-shaped enterprises to enterprises with organization charts that are nearly flat.

· In communications, we have witnessed the change from a tight control of information by elites, intent upon enhancing their power, to the free and utterly effortless exchange of ideas that new information technologies have made possible.

· In government at all levels, we have witnessed the change from an arrogant belief in social engineering to a renewed appreciation of the enduring values of our civilization, including freedom of speech and respect for the views of each individual...

Precisely. Read the whole thing. All those changes have not, as you well know, impacted the entrenched and corrupt faculties and administrations of our universities. Not yet. Especially not the return to the "enduring values of our civilization." But maybe things are changing...

Posted by John Weidner at 3:28 PM

March 15, 2005


From The Note:

....Now, per ABC News' Jon Karl:
Condoleezza Rice sure tried to close the door on running for President yesterday (Will somebody please ask her about vice president?), but today she'll announce a couple of high-powered hires that make it clear the State Department is becoming the kind of power center it hasn't been since the days of James Baker . . . or maybe even Henry K.

ABC News has learned that at about noon ET today, Rice will appear in the ornate Benjamin Franklin room with Karen Hughes. The President's most trusted advisor is running back to Washington not to rescue his Social Security plan, but to do something about America's image in the world (and maybe buff up Rice's image in the process).

Once confirmed, Ambassador Hughes' title will be Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy. And she's got some high-powered help: White House personnel diva Dina Powell will be Hughes' deputy and the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The Egyptian-born Powell is just 31, but she's the highest-ranking Middle Eastern woman in the Administration and she speaks Arabic. When she wasn't helping the President pick his cabinet secretaries, Powell often traveled to the Middle East as a White House emissary on reform and women's rights in the Arab world.

With Rice, Hughes, and Powell all at the State Department, the women who were closest to the President over the past four years (besides the First Lady, of course) will all be going to work at Foggy Bottom. Throw Liz Cheney into the mix (she started as an Assistant Secretary of State two weeks ago) and you have some real VP firepower over there as well.

Karl can keep the Social Security portfolio. Maybe, just maybe, the women are on to something. Could this President's best chance for a history-making second-term accomplishment be in the Middle East, not on Capitol Hill?

The Hughes announcement comes as a shock to almost everybody outside of Rice's inner circle. "They're really serious about this," says a senior State official who worked for Secretary Powell and now works for Rice. "The State Department will be a locus of power that it never was under Colin Powell."....

Liz Cheney too? Splendiferous! This may cause a few of those people who claim Bush is "not interested in diplomacy" to choke on their croutons. And for those who have complained that Bush is doing nothing to clean up the mess that is the State Department, well, it's happening. I rather think it's happening. And I will modestly refrain from saying "I told you so" just because I have several times told you that standing firm in Iraq was going to yield big diplomatic payoffs, and in fact was intended to do just that, and not to start a series of wars.

Rice's image needs no "buffing up" of course, but reporters have to say something snarky.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:32 PM

On the defensive...

A lot of bloggers have quoted this paragraph from Time, and pointed out that it rather demolishes the idea that attacking Iraq would create a host of new terrorists...

...Al-Zarqawi's aide also revealed that his boss, after pondering the absence of attacks in the U.S. in recent years, concluded that a lack of "willing martyrs" was to blame. Al-Zarqawi believes, according to his lieutenant, that "if an individual is willing to die, there was nothing that could be done to stop him," even in the U.S. There is no evidence, say intelligence agencies, that al-Zarqawi's agents have infiltrated the U.S. But authorities remain vigilant...

My take is that it's not so much a lack of martyrs, but the fact that he's burning through the ones he's got in attacks on Iraqis and on Coalition forces. Al-Zarqawi is forced to. He can't admit defeat in Iraq, which is at the heart of the Arab world.

That's one of the many reasons why the Iraq Campaign was an act of genius. We are forcing the terrorists to react to our moves. We are not sitting like a bunch of Democrats or Euros waiting to be hit, and then deciding what to do or who to apologize to. Zarqawi would love to regain the initiative, love to attack your town, but he can't. Threats in Iraq keep coming at him. Elections, new constitution, cooperation between Shi'ite and Sunni and Kurd, reconstruction, spreading affluence and freedom, the spread of democracy to other Arab countries and to Iran.

Certain people would like you to believe that American deaths in Iraq are meaningless. But every attack on our troops is one less attack that can be made somewhere else.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:37 AM

March 14, 2005

Things ain't what they used to be...often they are better

Alan Sullivan has a great post on things that are better than they used to be. Among them wines, auto tires, smart munitions that save lives, and the weather.

What would I add? Square-drive screws. They're not really new, but have become common recently. I would hate to live without them.

Bourgeat copper pans lined with stainless steel.

Software of course, improves at a breathless pace. I would mention in particular the incomparable SketchUp, which lets me sketch my projects in 3-D. And I'm not talking about drawing in 2-D and then rendering the drawing in 3-D. I mean pulling and pushing the 3-D shapes themselves. The coolest. And Ecto, the blogging client, has made my life much easier.

retracting dog leashes.

Charlene wants to add: E-mail. Of course it's not new, but her world of law practice has recently hit a point where a huge amount of information-moving drudgery is now done at the click of a mouse. It's improved because she can do more with it.

She adds eBay. Of course. And craigslist for free want-ads of any kind. And the produce department at our local Albertson's...thank you globalization and NAFTA!

American politics is better. Wow, how that's changed. it's Spring!

Charlene says: "Worse--colleges, which once were where you would go for the joy of learning, and now they're just a travesty."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:59 PM

One of America’s greatest...

I was saddened to learn that John Barron has died. From NRO:

...One of the Digest’s most important contributions to the cause of anti-Communism came in the form of articles and books by John Barron, who passed away on February 24 at the age of 75. On the day Barron died, most of the mainstream media was too busy genuflecting before the altar of Hunter S. Thompson, perhaps the most overrated journalist of his generation, to notice the departure of Barron. There was a short obituary in the Washington Times and — last week, finally — a slightly longer one in the Washington Post.

A man who was one of America’s greatest and most patriotic reporters deserves better...

Boy, that's for sure. John Barron spent a lifetime writing about the monstrous evils of Communism and the the brave men and women who served on Freedom's Wall. Trendy lefty intellectuals disdain him, and have ignored his death, but unlike them, EVERY GODDAM THING HE WROTE WAS TRUE!

One of my favorite books is MIG Pilot, his biography of Victor Belenko, the Russian pilot who flew his MIG 23 to Japan. An utterly fascinating tale of real life in the Soviet Union, and of a bright and talented boy growing up poor and hungry.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:32 PM

March 13, 2005

Hit by lightning with winning lottery ticket in hand...

I find it astonishing that there are still people who can't see that the Rather documents are obvious fabrications. If you mess around with graphics at all, if you have ever tried to make fonts or type or pictures assume the shapes you have in your imagination, you will know in your bones that it is impossible to write the same words in two different typewriters, or two different programs or OS's, and have them come out looking just the same. The odds are better of being hit by lightening as you are reading the winning number on your lottery ticket...

Yet here we go again:

...Moreover, if lawyers know how to hire appropriate experts even if journalists don't, why didn't the panel, which was backed by a huge law firm, hire its own experts to determine the authenticity of the documents? One suspects that if the panel had done so, it would have ended up with some experts saying the documents were reliable, others not sure. And that would have put the panel back where CBS was...

I guess it's because I'm part of the Macintosh world, where graphics is just the sea we swim in, but such ignorance is flabbergasting. High School students have re-created the fabrications in graphics arts classes! The quote is from a piece in the NY Review of Books which is trying to revive the maybe-not-fake-but-wishfully-accurate school of Dan Rather analysis. But it's just goofy. It also goes on about whether the signatures are authentic. But these are copies, so there is no way of knowing if an authentic signature was cut-and-pasted into a fake document. NO WAY AT ALL. It's an insult to our intelligence to suggest such a thing.

Here' once again is the Animated GIF thanks to Jeremy Chrysler:

animated GIF of forged TANG documents
Try making ANY two documents created in different programs line up like that. You can't do it!

I won't even try to discuss the other "evidence" in the article that Rather was really on to the truth...We've shoveled out that stable too many times already.

WORD NOTE: I think "fabrication" fits better than "forgery," since the thing was made up out of whole cloth. This isn't similar to things Col. Killian actually wrote.

And yes, I'm aware that the author of the review may "get it," but just be lying. However the air of blockheaded smugness strongly suggests someone who just knows they have the truth, and is impervious to any contrary evidence.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:28 PM

Just a typical ho-hum congressional district...

OpinionJournal has an article on Gov. Schwarzenegger's campaign to abolish gerrymandering in California. This may be good news for the whole country--California tends to lead national opinion.

This may help too:

....It is also a good portent that the gerrymander scandal is being noticed at long last by liberal media elites, who ignored it as long as it helped to preserve Democratic majorities in Congress. But now that Tom DeLay has become the House incumbent-in-chief, the New Yorker, the Sacramento Bee, the Los Angeles Times and other liberal editorialists are finally catching on to the fact that the gerrymander is a double-edged sword. This latest switcheroo reminds us of their decision to oppose the late and unlamented Independent Counsel statute only after it was used against Bill Clinton. Partisan motives notwithstanding, welcome aboard...

Gerrymandering in District 23, California
Remember the sudden howls of agony when Texas redistricted in 2002? A hundred years of Democrat redistricting was OK, but Republicans? (Just for the record, the charge that Texas Republicans were unfairly taking an extra redistricting outside the traditional 10-year census cycle were false. The 2000 redistricting was aborted by a court, which returned things to close to the 1990 plan. And the Texas legislature only meets every 2 years, so problems from 2000 can only be corrected in 2002.)

Posted by John Weidner at 1:58 PM

March 12, 2005

Arabs plant potatoes?

My daughter would like to share with you this joke:

An old Arab lived close to New York City for more than 40 years. He would have loved to plant potatoes in his garden, but he is alone, old and weak. His son is in college in Paris, so the old man sends him an e-mail. He explains the problem:

"Beloved son, I am very sad, because I can't plant potatoes in my garden. I am sure, if only you were here, you would help and dig up the garden for me.
I love you,
Your Father"

The following day, the old man receives a response e-mail from his son:

"Beloved Father,
Please don't touch the garden. It's there that I have hidden 'the THING'.
I love you, too,

At 4pm the US Army, The Marines, the FBI, the CIA and the Rangers visit the house of the old man, take the whole garden apart, search every inch, but can't find anything. Disappointed they leave the house.

A day later, the old man receives another e-mail from his son.

"Beloved Father,
I hope the garden is dug up by now and you can plant your potatoes.
That's all I could do for you from here.
I love you,
Posted by John Weidner at 5:36 PM


Wesley J. Smith writes:

...Yesterday, I linked an article written by Michael Fumento, which noted that a potential cure for juvenile diabetes using adult stem cells is not being funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, even though the technique cured mice with late stage disease.

Fumento wanted to follow up with a
"Part 2" commentary. But, it appears that somebody doesn't want this truth widely disseminated. According to Fumento, his syndicate, Scripps Howard refused to publish the article, based on it allegedly being a "diatribe." What? Fumento's tone is utterly reasonable. The facts about which he opines are indisputable. Indeed, SCIENCE DID publish the study demonstrating that adult spleen stem cells completely cured mice with late stage juv. diabetes. Despite this amazing success, the JDRF DID refuse to fund human trials. Finally, the JDRF DID fund Proposition 71, which created a right to therapeutic cloning, to the tune of about $2 million. Yet, even IF that technology EVER becomes an effective treatment for juv. diabetes, it is at least a decade or more away...(Thanks to Orrin Judd)

I don't have time to dig into this right now, but the pattern seems familiar. Or rather, patterns. Footprints left by invisible men. I've read a number of instances of promising adult stem-cell research (even cures) getting no publicity, sometimes no funding, because fetal stem cells are all the rage among the fashionable.

And of course we've seen many instances of stories being ignored by the Gasping Media. I'd guess a calm factual debunking of John Kerry's Vietnam service would also be a "diatribe" to the Scripps-Howard syndicate.

And we've seen the pattern of large non-profit or public-service organizations moving leftward, and having more interest in pushing a certain agenda than in solving their particular problem or cause.

And the footprints of what you might call "crony socialism," [Wrong word. I need something like "crony trendy-leftism"] which I suspect is far more common than "crony capitalism." What are the chances that the board or management of Scripps-Howard intersects socially with the board or management of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation? Pretty high, I'd guess. Charlene and I don't belong to the social circles that are asked to sit on the boards of foundations and charities and schools. But we sometimes encounter them here in SF. Being fashionable has a lot to do with what goes on these days. Around here being, say, black or Jewish doesn't keep you out of the best social circles. But I suspect that being "pro-life" or being a "Reagan Republican" would...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:16 AM

March 11, 2005

who can afford these peonies?

Facing the wind makes us sigh
we know how many flowers fall
spring has come back again
and where have the fragrant longings gone?
who can afford these peonies?
their price is much too high
their arrogant aroma
even intimidates butterflies
flowers so deeply red
they must have been grown in a palace
leaves so darkly green
dust scarcely dares to settle there
if you wait till they're transplanted
to the Imperial Gardens
then you, young lords, will find
you have no means to buy them

Yu Xuanji. 844-871

Poem found here

Posted by John Weidner at 10:30 PM

On the list of the world's most repressive regimes...

Claudia Rosett has a splendid piece about a phone conversation she had with Nguyen Dan Que, a dissident in Vietnam, who has spent much of his life in prison...

..It is important for the world to understand that in saying such things, Dr., Que knows all too well the risk he is taking. Back in 1975, as Saigon fell, he had a chance to leave--and turned it down. Even today, he says, "For me, exile is not freedom." Instead, for more than 30 years he has seized every chance to speak out and demand liberty for his country. For that, under Vietnam's communist regime, he has paid dearly--spending more than 20 years in labor camps and prisons. Released on two previous occasions, due to international pressure, Dr. Que seized the chance each time to again demand freedom for Vietnam's people. Twice, the regime jailed him again, most recently in March 2003--an outrage that was swamped at the time by the flood of news from Iraq, as the U.S.-led coalition went in to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

And though it is cause for immediate rejoicing that Dr. Que has been released, it is not yet a sign that Vietnam's brutal regime is easing up. "It's likely that I was just transferred from a smaller prison to a bigger one," he says. His release looks more like a matter of hostage politics, as Hanoi's regime haggles with Washington over Vietnam's recent designation by the U.S. as a "country of particular concern" for being what Human Rights Watch calls "one of the worst violators of religious rights in the word." Vietnam also makes Freedom House's short list of the world's most repressive regimes. The prisons of Vietnam are infamous for torture, beatings and filthy conditions. Dr. Que notes that after his latest bout in which he was imprisoned incommunicado for two years, he is "tired out....

"infamous for torture, beatings and filthy conditions..." This is the lovely regime that people like John Kerry, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, and all the 60's radicals and war-protesters helped give the world. Millions murdered, millions imprisoned, millions fled as refugees, millions crushed under poverty and brutal tyranny. And yet....for the "anti-war generation" life goes merrily on. I guess my thought-processes are just too out-of-the-mainstream, but I don't understand why those people aren't spat upon as they walk down the street. Yet I imagine that Mr Kerry, when the occasion demands, gives touching speeches on the Holocaust, with solemn warnings that we must never again let people be dragged off to concentration camps. Then everyone applauds and he goes home and eats his baked beans with a hearty appetite. Lunacy.

And the same people who helped into power those communists who've had Nguyen Dan Que beaten or tortured and kept for years in solitary confinement now swell up like bullfrogs with pompous indignation about the so-called tortures at Abu Ghraib. Amazing.

I ardently hope that the tsunami of freedom that is beginning to rock the globe eventually lands on Vietnam. Not only because the good people of that land deserve to be delivered from tyranny, but because a lot of freedom-haters can be taunted: "Say, you were right. Iraq IS another Vietnam."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:45 PM


Through all my adult life, conservatives like me have been depressed and frustrated by what seemed an insoluble dilemma. Every time Congress voted some favor or boon or subsidy or welfare payment to some group, they instantly became a constituency that would fight tenaciously to maintain that bit of pork, and would therefore tend to favor politicians who believed in big-government largess. It seemed like a ratchet that could only produce ever larger government and an ever more dependent population and a permanently entrenched Democrat party.

As an example, I used to be a bookseller, and well remember how publishers and the American Booksellers Association had a hair-trigger reaction to any proposed change to the special postal rates for books. I too benefitted from this, and might, even though I believed in smaller government, have hesitated to see this special rate abolished.

BUT, this kind of thing can work both ways. Jonathan Chait has a lefty screed on the evils of Social Security reform, and in it is this interesting item:

...As conservatives well understand, once a group of voters has been given a property right by Washington, they will never allow it to be taken away. The individual rights will be a ratchet, one that can be expanded but never contracted. The pressure for expansion would be especially strong during extended bull market runs, such as during the late '90s, when the public (and even some economists) tends to delude itself into thinking that stocks will rise forever. This is why conservatives are so insistent upon establishing individual accounts. They have uncharacteristically volunteered compromises--even offering to violate their theological opposition to tax hikes--in order to insert their opening wedge. Privatizers understand full well that any concessions they make can be legislated away in the future, while private accounts cannot...

Ha ha. The insidious creeping evil of private property!

(Thanks to Rich Lowry, whose point was that Chait is admitting that Dems oppose SS reform because people would like it!)

One Democrat talking point I noticed that should be refuted, is that private accounts would be disastrous for those who are retiring just as the market happens to go down. First, you should have pulled gradually out of the market as you approached retirement age. That's basic, and would probably be required in SS accounts. But even if not, all you have to do is work a few more years! The market will go back up. We're not a bunch of Frenchmen who shrivel up and die if forced to work past their 65th birthday.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:56 PM

Quote of the hour...

Charlene loved this, by Mrs P:

Hillary Clinton is not fit to be President of the United States. She's fit to be President of Harvard.
Posted by John Weidner at 1:45 PM

#177: A hawk without a landing gear...


As we tried to point out in Squad Report #175 Paul Krugman has an interesting conundrum all his own. In Slanting Social Security (03/11/05) he unleashes yet another cover-the-waterfront attack on Social Security reform initiatives. This time he attacks the Social Security Administration (SSA) itself for hyping the problem and suggests, quite correctly, that the estimated date of bankruptcy (currently 2042) is a moving target that depends on economic performance. The SSA used an absurdly low US annual growth rate of 1.8 % to make its estimates whereas most economists (including Krugman, if you put a gun to his head) believe it is much higher, perhaps 3 to 4 %. A rate as high as 3.5% would push the bankruptcy date so far out that most voters would happily "kick the can down the road."

So why doesn't Krugman close the deal by making this crucial point? That's the conundrum; he can't do it without acknowledging that the Bush economy is in very good shape. Out the window would go all of his favorite straw men based on Bush's mismanagement. Remember the "great unraveling" or the "road to banana republic-hood" or the "Japanese-style deflation?" None of that could happen in an economy growing at 3.5%. Instead it would be something to celebrate, as a golden age.

So Krugman's now like a hawk without a landing gear circling his quarry. He sees it clearly, but dare not strike.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:05 AM

March 10, 2005

If it's undisputed I guess there's nothing I can say...

We've all seen those arguments about how liberals are bright-eyed optimists leading humanity to the perfect future, and conservatives want women to wear burkas, etc.

If you are planning to write one, let me give you a tip. It has to be done with a light and clever touch (Here's an example. Wrong, but it sounds plausible), because if you lay it on too thick, and aren't really up on your history, you sound like an utter fool:

....One of the undisputed lessons of history is that the liberal class has been on the leading edge of every major step in social evolution.

The other undisputed lesson is that those who consider themselves conservatives have opposed every major step because change makes them anxious. But they ultimately lose.

Having lost all the major battles, they continue to fight marginalized skirmishes such as requiring public school teachers to lead Christian prayers, teaching the pagan story of creation as science, supporting theocracies, racism, sexism and a host of other barbarisms.

Before the ink on the Constitution was dry, they mounted a campaign to "put God" in it because the atheists and secular humanists who wrote it forgot to do so. Two hundred years later, they are still fighting the same battle despite the lessons from history showing that government and religion is a lethal mix.

Conservatives lost the battle to make America a theocracy like those found in Europe and the Middle East. They lost the battle to keep Africans in bondage, but have still not given up on white supremacy and run Christian academies throughout the South to avoid integrated public schools....

Hilarious. I wonder if Karl wrote it for a jape...

(Thanks to Jonah Goldberg)

Posted by John Weidner at 10:24 PM

Shrines scorched...

Lt Smash writes on how militant atheists have persuaded the San Diego City Council to remove the cross on Mt Soledad. A landmark I've seen a thousand times (without once feeling any desire to extirpate the loathsome creeds of the lesser folk. Guess I haven't figured out how to be a Republican yet.)

But what I wonder is, suppose our forces in Asia happened to shoot up a mosque, and toppled a minaret or two? Would those same people condemn us as war criminals for our disrespect for sacred shrines?

(And I'm sure these secular activists speak with shock and indignation about how Christian busybodies are infiltrating our society and telling everyone else what to do and think...)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:31 PM

March 9, 2005

Addendum to previous...

Another thing that bugs me about the post by Publius which I wrote about in my last, is that these people who claim that the pronouncements of the UN are The Voice Of The World, always feel free to cherry-pick what actually comes out of the UN. For instance, the UN had previously passed 16 "binding resolutions" that Saddam was supposed to comply with, but didn't.

So how come those resolutions aren't The Voice Of The World?? Since the US and its allies were for the first time making those resolutions actually, you know, "binding," how come we are not credited with carrying out the wishes of the world? And why isn't Publius castigating those who blocked the enforcement of those resolutions? Or of Resolution 1441?

Posted by John Weidner at 8:31 AM

March 8, 2005

WE put it to the test...

Publius writes:

...For Fukuyama, who is firmly in the Hegel camp, legitimacy is intricately connected to this idea of “recognition.” Liberal democracy is successful because the idea of individual rights and one-person/one-vote recognizes all people as equal. Because it recognizes everyone’s inherent dignity, it is eminently legitimate.....

...But for now, let’s say that Fukuyama is right – let's say that legitimacy is important because of this idea of recognition. If he is right, then the neocons’ unilateral march into Iraq may trigger a new wave of History so to speak. That’s because, regardless of how Iraq turns out or what you think of the war, it was essentially an illegitimate operation in the most literal sense of the word. I suppose you could try to squeeze the invasion into some hazy language from a past UN resolution. But everyone knows that the US withdrew the final resolution that actually would have authorized force because it couldn’t get enough votes.

Whether the invasion was right or wrong, the world views the American action as illegitimate. And to be honest, I don’t see any way to justify the war’s legitimacy, which is a different question from whether the war was "good." America ignored the wishes of the world. And in doing so, it failed to “recognize” the world’s common humanity. We trampled on the people of the world’s dignity because we did what we wanted to do because we could, despite what they wanted. That is how Hegelian History gets moving – those who feel wronged align against the force that wronged them. In failing to get UN approval, or the approval of any legitimacy-conferring coalition or international body, the neocons forgot one of their most basic principles – legitimacy matters...

The analogy he's making here is entirely bogus. I certainly agree that liberal democracy confers legitimacy. But then Publius, like a gazillion other people, extends this concept to the sphere of nations, and equates votes of the UN with democracy. The UN is somehow supposed to represent "the wishes of the world." This is utter malarky. To take an extreme example, Syria or China could take a turn on the Security Council, veto our invasion of Bormenia, and "The World" has spoken! Liberating Bormenia is now "illegitimate." (Of course in practice this is applied only to the US and Israel. When France sends troops somewhere no one gives a damn if it is "legitimated" by the UN.) The poor people of Bormenia get no vote--they don't matter, they're not "The People Of The World."

Yes, legitimacy matters! That's why OUR actions such as Iraq or Afghanistan, always end in ELECTIONS. We act, and then we put things to a VOTE. That's why what the United States of America and our coalitions-of-the-willing do IS legitimate, and why what the UN does is NOT legitimate.

We (and Great Britain and many brave people in Poland, etc.) were instrumental in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Was this "illegitimate?" Well, WE put it to the test. We've been pushing elections and democracy there ever since. So the people could confer or deny legitimacy, instead of a few "international" bureaucrats and diplomats. And time and time again our actions have been validated by the way the people enthusiastically embrace the freedoms and democracy we have helped provide. Where, pray tell, are the votes of the common people legitimating the actions of the UN???

It's not the US that "tramples on the people of the world’s dignity." That job is handled by the UN. It is an utterly corrupt and evil organization, dedicated to preserving the comfortable status quo for luxuriant elites. There's nothing accidental about the repeated scandals of trafficking in sex slaves and forcing children to barter sex for food. There's nothing accidental about the prodigious thievery and corruption, compared to which Global Crossing or Enron are small beans. They are the very essence of the institution, and the bloated old regimes it defends. It is EVIL. And those who repeatedly use the UN to work against the forces of freedom are participants in this evil.

I won't go so far as to say that Publius is participating in evil, but he is certainly "de-legitimizing" our language and public debate by claiming the "The World" says this and that without knowing or caring what ordinary people might say if they were allowed a vote.

There is NO way to legitimize something like the Iraq Campaign in advance. Publius writes of "the approval of any legitimacy-conferring coalition or international body." So what or who decides if a coalition is "legitimacy-conferring?" How does an "international body" gain its own legitimacy? They certainly don't get elected. (People like Publius usually seem to think that legitimacy and "multi-lateralism" are conferred by France, though they don't put it so baldly in public.) If the people of Iraq could have secretly voted in advance to either keep the Saddam/sanctions/UN status quo, or to be liberated by our coalition, does anybody have any doubt how the vote would have gone? That's LEGITIMACY, pure Fukuyama/neocon legitimacy, and no amount of fancy talk by theorists can wish it away.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:19 PM

Libertarianism is basically the Marxism of the Right...

I highly recommend this critique of Libertarianism, by Robert Locke, in American Conservative Magazine...

....But because 95 percent of the libertarianism one encounters at cocktail parties, on editorial pages, and on Capitol Hill is a kind of commonplace “street” libertarianism, I decline to allow libertarians the sophistical trick of using a vulgar libertarianism to agitate for what they want by defending a refined version of their doctrine when challenged philosophically. We’ve seen Marxists pull that before.

This is no surprise, as libertarianism is basically the Marxism of the Right. If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism. Society in fact requires both individualism and collectivism, both selfishness and altruism, to function. Like Marxism, libertarianism offers the fraudulent intellectual security of a complete a priori account of the political good without the effort of empirical investigation. Like Marxism, it aspires, overtly or covertly, to reduce social life to economics. And like Marxism, it has its historical myths and a genius for making its followers feel like an elect unbound by the moral rules of their society...
....Empirically, most people don’t actually want absolute freedom, which is why democracies don’t elect libertarian governments. Irony of ironies, people don’t choose absolute freedom. But this refutes libertarianism by its own premise, as libertarianism defines the good as the freely chosen, yet people do not choose it. Paradoxically, people exercise their freedom not to be libertarians...

We never see Libertarian revolutionaries seizing control of the state like leftists do. I suspect they lack a certain ooompf, because they don't have the biggest psychological attraction of Socialism: the prospect of being one of the superior people who control everyone else's lives in minute detail. (If there ever were a Libertarian state, I suspect that the outcomes Libertarianism predicts would soon be compulsory, and the totalitarian apparatus would evolve accordingly.) But socialists have this in mind all along (perhaps unconsciously), so the little Lenins are happy to labor for decades in obscure Zurichs, or pour fanatic energy into controlling the student council at the local Junior College.

Libertarians can't match that ant-like dedication, because they have no tantalizing vision of the wonders they will achieve in the first 5-Year Plan...

Posted by John Weidner at 2:47 PM

Why "Realists' should not be entrusted with power...

James P. Pinkerton writes, in Newsday:

'People Power" is erupting around the world, but what about here in China?

What sort of political arrangements would these 1.3 billion Chinese make for themselves if they could write a real constitution? And should Americans be confident that a democratic China would be friendlier to the United States?...

Neither President Bush nor his supporters EVER say that all the newly democratic nations are going to be friendly to the US. This is a straw-man argument. The point is that once countries become solidly democratic, we don't have to worry about them dissolving into chaos or poverty, or sponsoring terrorists or invading their neighbors.

...Here in China, absent honest elections, there's no way to know the truth for sure, but it seems apparent that the party's single biggest foreign-policy plank - the reincorporation of Taiwan back into "The Motherland" - is a political winner among ordinary Chinese.

Which is to say, the United States, which supports Taiwan's continued independence, has probably found itself on the wrong side of China's emerging political majority...

Ridiculous. It's a "winning issue" because the Chinese don't get to argue the issues they are really interested in.

Does Pinkerton imagine that the people making the stuff that Walmart sells want a war with the US and Taiwan? Or even bad relations? It's easy for the Chinese government to whip up anger about Taiwan right now, because people can't express their anger about corrupt officials and poverty and high taxes and lack of opportunity and religious oppression.

Every time there's a nation that may possibly democratize, we hear predictions that they are going to be just like they were before. I bet there were predictions in the 1940's that Germany and Japan would elect a new bunch of brown-shirts and start new aggressive wars....

(Thanks to Orrin, who points out that China probably won't stay one nation once the grip of the Communists is loosened.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:44 AM

March 7, 2005

#176: Krugman appears on Meet The Press

P. Krugman


In his last few columns Paul Krugman has been swirling in a world of negativism and partisanship with regard to reforming Social Security. As we pointed out in squad report #175 even when he makes a good point (instead of just recycling previous ones), it is buried so deeply in anger and nastiness that very few notice.

Yesterday, however, Krugman appeared on meet Meet The Press (03/06/04) where his "hell no, we won't go" attitude toward any Bush policy or initiative was pushed pretty hard by co-guests Kate O'Beirne and Joe Kline. He spent most of the program looking like he would rather be just about anyplace else. It's fun to read the whole thing, even minus the shifty-eyed body language. Here are some interesting excerpts:

TIM RUSSERT: Paul Krugman, has the Iraqi election changed the terms of the debate regarding the president and the Democrats?

MR. KRUGMAN: Sure. It's a little bit harder to--I mean, someone like myself would say very strongly this was a war sold on false pretenses. It's actually greatly damaged America's position in the world if you look at it broadly, but there has been some good news lately and we're all glad about that and we hope for the best. You know, you can't be rooting for American failure. You know, we're all Americans. We all want to see things go well and you can't be rooting against democracy. You want to see it succeed.

Now, you know, the news may change. It's five weeks, still no government in Iraq. You know, it's starting to look a little bit like another one of those Kodak moments, you know, toppling of the statue and then the weeks go by and suddenly it turns out that it looked better than it seemed. But maybe it'll turn out well, but, you know, you have to just hope that this is a good thing.

That was a very uncomfortable question for Krugman, especially the part about "you can't be rooting for American failure." The only time he perked up a bit was during the sequence "…you know, the news may change." However, O'Beirne then nailed his ass pretty good:

MS. O'BEIRNE: Tim, given the remarkable things that appear to be happening in that part of the world, I think the Democrats have to be extremely careful not to sound so resentful and pessimistic. They, of course, run the risk of being on the wrong side of history because something clearly seems to be happening there. Any party that appears to be welcoming a defeat for America because that's good for them politically is in a terrible position, and their traditional commitment to Democratic forces, fighting against repressive regimes, has been not much in evidence when they seem so unhappy or begrudging about these remarkable developments.

On the topic of the next Democratic presidential nominee:

TIM RUSSERT: Paul Krugman, how do you see things unfolding?

MR. KRUGMAN: I think it's just wildly up in the air. I mean, you know, there's enormous turmoil on the Democratic side trying to figure out--there's a lot of unity but there's a lot of turmoil about what the party stands for. And I just don't know. I mean, I can't--I dread the prospect of a Clinton run just because I think that would be--it would be an attempt to recreate the politics of the '90s when you had Bill Clinton, who was a president who managed to sort of triangulate. And I think we ought to have an election that's really about what what kind of country we're going to be and we won't have that if it's Hillary Clinton running.

O'Beirne and Klein pounced all over that one:

MS. O'BEIRNE: Paul represents the true believers who wouldn't want to see another Clinton presidency. And the grass roots, the active sort of angry grass roots that delivered the chairmanship of the party to Howard Dean might not want to see that kind of a presidency. But I think Hillary Clinton is a stronger candidate in that environment. She's such a known quantity that she has a lot of running room. She can move pretty significantly to the right, I think, and keep--she's been solid on national security--and keep an awful lot of those angry liberals on the reservation.

MR. KLEIN: Paul, I have a question for you: What was it about the peace and prosperity of the eight years of the Clinton administration that you didn't like?

MR. KRUGMAN: No, I liked the way the country ran.

MR. KLEIN: I think that he had a real governing philosophy. It wasn't triangulation. It was moving us from the industrial age to the information age, and that's where the Democratic Party is going to have to move...

MR. KRUGMAN: There's a radical right...

MR. KLEIN: ...if it wants to have any role in American politics.

MR. KRUGMAN: There's a radical right challenge to America as we know it that's under way, and I think the Democrats--I mean, maybe Hillary Clinton can do this. I'm actually not opposed to her, right? But they need to make clear that they are going to turn back that tide, not blur it.

MR. KLEIN: The answer to a radical right challenge isn't a reactionary left response.

We think Klein has it exactly right. Krugman represents the "dead end" wing of the Democratic Party and it will stay a minority party until the members of that wing die off. Clearly, they will never change.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:38 AM

March 4, 2005

Away for a bit

I'm away for the weekend, back Monday....

Posted by John Weidner at 11:59 AM

What's a Dutchman?

A friend sends this NYT article, about the Dutch legislators being stashed in prisons to protect them from death threats.

He asks: I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere. I'm probably the only righty on the east coast who still reads the NY Times. Occasionally it's worth it. But something is going to give in Holland. These bastards can't go around threatening to murder elected officials in Europe the name if Islam without a backlash. Can they?

Well, they are getting away with it so far. I think it's not being made much of here because, whaddya gonna say? If the Dutch won't wake up when they get wake-up calls like they have had recently, there's nothing we can do. I think it was Orrin Judd who said, after the murder of Theo van Gogh: "The easy part for the Dutch will be deciding to get tough on terrorists. The hard part will be deciding in the name of what?"

I don't think the problem is Islam. The problem is the vacuum in the hearts of much of the western world. I, or millions of other red-statish Americans, could tell the Dutch what they need to do, but they are not capable of hearing it. They no longer believe (most of them, not all) in their own culture and traditions. They have noting to say to the Islamist radical who is willing to kill or die for his beliefs. What's the typical Dutchman willing to kill for? Or die for?

I'm wondering if I should add another item to my rather long list of reasons why invading Iraq was a stroke of genius. We've started a wave of reform and democratization in the Muslim world. If successful, there will be millions of people who have risked death to find freedom. THEY will have something to say to their Muslim brethren in the slums of Europe. They will have an an alternative answer to the question of what is worth fighting for...

It's not inconceivable that a future peaceful pro-democracy revolution might happen in the Netherlands. With local Muslims being coached in freedom's power by people from Iraq. (It would have to be called "Orange Revolution II")

Posted by John Weidner at 11:38 AM

March 3, 2005


From the Beltway Buzz  column by  Eric Pfeiffer:

A senior Senate staffer writes in to note the following on Senator Robert Byrd’s opposition to ending filibusters on judicial nominees:

“Sen. Robert Byrd took to the Senate floor today railed against what he called the ‘nuclear option’, but has previously spoken in defense of what is really just a constitutional option. But I think he said it best before when he explained that a majority has the right to make its own rules:

‘This Congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the past … The first Senate, which met in 1789, approved 19 rules by a majority vote. Those rules have been changed from time to time … So the Members of the Senate who met in 1789 and approved that first body of rules did not for one moment think, or believe, or pretend, that all succeeding Senates would be bound by that Senate … It would be just as reasonable to say that one Congress can pass a law providing that all future laws have to be passed by two-thirds vote. Any Member of this body knows that the next Congress would not heed that law and would proceed to change it and would vote repeal of it by majority vote.’

— U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, Jan. 15, 1979

“In fact, Sen. Byrd led the charge to establish new Senate precedents in 1977, 1979, 1980, and 1987 - including a number of precedents that were designed specifically to stop filibusters and other delay tactics that were previously authorized under Senate rules or prior precedents,”
Posted by John Weidner at 7:35 AM

March 2, 2005

Just read it...

I previously quoted from Justice Scalia's dissent in Roper v. Simmons. But it was only just now that I read the whole thing. I recommend it highly. Its scathing clarity and logic is a pure pleasure! We are desperately lucky that George Bush is President, and that upcoming nominations are likely to be of people similar to Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

You can download a PDF of the dissent here.

Thanks to Benjamin Pugh.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:52 PM

"like-minded foreigners"

Justice Scalia:

The Court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our Nation's moral standards--and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures. Because I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment, any more than the meaning of other provisions of our Constitution, should be determined by the subjective views of five Members of this Court and like-minded foreigners, I dissent...

(Thanks to Powerline, where good posts on the subject can be found)

The concurring justices cite European opinion for exactly the same reason our reactionaries are desperate to pretend that Europeans are still our allies and elders. Because those "opinions" are untainted by the masses. The ordinary people don't get a vote...if they did many European countries would probably also have the death penalty.

(The reactionaries are also pretending Germany or France are still our allies because they are terrified of change. They grew up in a world where their opinions were the norm, and so they've never had to formulate a political philosophy. They never thought about their ideas, just picked them up as attitudes. Now a changing world has left them all at sea. They grew up with the Atlantic Alliance and never questioned it. Actually, through most of our history our relations with the European powers has ranged from prickly to hostile.)

One the same subject, I have to say I disagree with the Pope that support of the death penalty is part of the "culture of death." I think it's the opposite. Most of those who oppose the death penalty do so because they no longer believe in our laws and morality and tradition enough to be willing to enforce them with the ultimate penalty. They don't think there's any right or wrong.

They tend to be the SAME people who also support abortion and embryonic stem-cell research. Oppose it because they don't care to defend life--the lives of murder victims, the lives of those whose neighborhoods are devastated by crime and lawlessness, the lives of old people who are afraid to go outside. And the lives of those many people who find existence meaningless--a problem which is reinforced by governments who won't take stern action to enforce our beliefs and traditions.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:57 AM

March 1, 2005

Dog-blogging it....

We have a visitor at our house. This is Greta, a Standard Poodle.
Greta, a Standard Poodle Rex and Greta tup-of-war
One of the nicest, most intelligent dogs we've ever had a chance to get to know.

She loves playing tug-of-war with our dog Rex, (one of the nicest not-quite-so-intelligent dogs you might meet.)

(And if you happen to subscribe to Forbes, the poodle Greta mentioned on the letters page of the March 14 issue is verily the same dog you see here...)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:36 PM

The ordinary happiness of human beings...

I borrowed this from the Federalist newsletter...

It is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects -- military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden -- that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time.
      --C. S. Lewis
Posted by John Weidner at 4:04 PM

It will be fatal! Fatal, I tell you! Aaaugghhhh.....

Matthew Hoy has created this little item, just for folks like me to post.

Of course he doesn't have a plan. If Bush were not focused on Social Security, Kruggie would be castigating him for doing nothing while the Social Security crisis grows.

Actually Krugman's face makes me want to have a caption contest, rather than think about economics.

How about:"Look into my eyes. You are growing drowsy. Drowsy. Drowsy. Bush's plan is fatal. You are getting sleepy.....sleeepy......the economy is imploding.....sleeepy....."

Posted by John Weidner at 2:15 PM