January 31, 2006
Junk science in the Post...
...For their study, Nosek, Banaji and social psychologist Erik Thompson culled self-acknowledged views about blacks from nearly 130,000 whites, who volunteered online to participate in a widely used test of racial bias that measures the speed of people's associations between black or white faces and positive or negative words. The researchers examined correlations between explicit and implicit attitudes and voting behavior in all 435 congressional districts.
The analysis found that substantial majorities of Americans, liberals and conservatives, found it more difficult to associate black faces with positive concepts than white faces -- evidence of implicit bias. But districts that registered higher levels of bias systematically produced more votes for Bush....
It's impossible to properly critique the study, which has not yet been published. But I have my doubts about its validity. For one thing, "blacks" and "whites" are not equivalent groups. Most of us have a fairly clearly delimited mental picture that we think covers most "blacks." (Yes, yes, I know there are lots of exceptions.) Something like:
- Inner-city-urban with high levels of crime and welfare
- Southern rural honest-but-poor
- A growing middle-class that can fit in with middle-class whites pretty well
- 90% Democrat
But there is no equivalent simple mental picture to go with the word "white." If someone has positive feelings associated with the word "white," it's almost impossible to guess what sort of people they are thinking of. The group is just too vast and undefinable.
I wonder how the study might go if the "whites" presented in the test were limited to a sub-set who are also 90% Democrat. Say perhaps: "long-haired-urban-weirdos-with-piercing?" I bet they would discover that Republicans are not at all likely to "registered higher levels of bias." And if the white pierced-aliens were contrasted with blacks who work hard and pay their taxes, I bet you would find that Republicans test as "prejudiced against whites."
This sort of experiment can produce any result wanted. And since calling Republicans 'racists' is on page one of the tattered old 1970's lefty playbook, and most psychology experimenters are Democrats...
They're still at it in Bangor...
Marine veteran Jerry Mundy, a member of the Maine Troop Greeters, helps Army Spc. Talos Arend with a free cell phone call as his unit passes through the Bangor International Airport, Maine, on Monday. The group, which includes veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, has offered greetings, cookies and free cell-phone use to military personnel on flights to and from the Middle East region since May 2003.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images. Found at Army Times Frontline Photos 1-31-06. [link to photo]
Here's a bit from that story I blogged, 3 A.m. With the VFW, by SGT Michael Thomas:
...As I walked off the plane, I was taken aback: in the small, dimly-lit airport, a group of elderly veterans lined up to shake our hands. Some were standing, some confined to wheelchairs, all wore their uniform hats. Their now-feeble right hands arms stiffened in salutes, their left hands holding coffee, snacks and cell phones for us.
As I made my way through the line, each man thanking me for my service, I choked back tears. Here we were, returning from one year in Iraq where we had portable DVD players, three square meals and phones, being honored by men who had crawled through mud for years with little more than the occasional letter from home.
These soldiers – many of whom who had lost limbs and comrades – shook our hands proudly, as if our service could somehow rival their own.
We soon learned that this VFW group had not only waited for more than a day in the airport for our arrival, but that they were doing so for all the returning soldiers.
When the time came to fly home to Colorado, we were asked by our commander if we would like to join the VFW. Every hand in the unit went up eagerly – including my own.
Looking back on my year in Iraq, I can honestly say that my perception of the experience was changed; not so much by the soldiers with whom I served – though I consider them my saving grace – but by the soldiers who welcomed us home. For it is those men who reminded me what serving my country is really about...
"Beliefs have consequences, and they're sometimes harsh..."
It's interesting when an idea appears in several places simultaneously. Mike Plaiss sent me a link to a great essay by Arnold Kling Stuck on 1968,.
"Worldviews are more a mental security blanket than a serious effort to understand the world."
-- Bryan Caplan, The Logic of Collective Belief
Most people who were liberals in 1968 still are. Liberals. In 1968....
...I want to contrast the way the world might have appeared to a reasonable liberal in 1968 with the way events have unfolded since then. Afterwards, if you still prefer the folk beliefs of 1968 to my views today, so be it. But at least you have an opportunity to reconsider.
And I recently noticed something by Michael Barone on the same theme. And then today this great piece by Rich Karlgaard...
....Let's fire up Doc Brown's DeLorean time-traveler and return to 1976.
But would we really want to go? We'd be reminded that the prevailing view of the world in 1976 was:
• The planet was severely overpopulated and would soon run out of natural resources.
• The age of entrepreneurship was dead and was being replaced by the conglomerated efficiencies of large companies.
• Capitalism was morally repugnant because it wasted resources and oppressed the poor.
The zeitgeist of 1976 had taken root in 1968, a year of turmoil and doubt. Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich fueled our doubts with a bestseller called The Population Bomb. Ehrlich predicted catastrophe: Famine would break out, followed by global wars, etc. Implied in Ehrlich's writing was that humans were consumers, not producers, of resources. If Ehrlich was right--and most of us gullible college students thought he was--then the only moral path available for us was to not procreate.
Suppose you believed Ehrlich. Suppose your 1976 sense of moral certitude overrode your natural instinct to want children. Suppose it wasn't until the late 1980s that you woke up and realized Ehrlich was a boob, that he had gotten it all wrong. Whoops, better get busy trying to make babies, right? But what if all those years later one's sperm count or egg motility was no longer up to the task? What if your fertility window had opened and shut while you were under the spell of quacks like Ehrlich?
Well, too bad for you.
Beliefs have consequences, and they're sometimes harsh. One 1976 college grad joins AT&T, having been taught by John Kenneth Galbraith at Harvard that we live in an age of great corporate efficiency. Another joins Oracle, thinking this Larry Ellison guy is awfully smart. The first person trades excitement for prestige and gets neither. The second gets both, helps change the business world for the better and retires rich. Ideas and worldviews do matter greatly in our lives....
All so true. I remember when big corporations were popularly considered to be immune to market forces, because they could just produce whatever they wanted, and then have Madison Avenue brainwash people into buying it!
I think a lot of poor stuck-in-the-60's lefties still believe it. Imagine the cognitive dissonance they must feel, living in a age where decade-old companies can be considered dinosaurs, soon to be prey for younger and nimbler outfits! Must drive them crazy. That, and having Barry Goldwater in the White House...
January 30, 2006
This is fun, a Periodic Table of the Elements, with the letters of each element taken from photos--click on CL for Chlorine, and you see the photo it came from, a neon sign that reads "PLASTICLAND." (Thanks to Zakok.)
January 29, 2006
Just click the "Jesus" button in Preferences > National > Non-Persons ...
Bryan Preston notes that Google China is not just tossing political matters like Tianamen Square down the Memory Hole; religion is another inconvenience the commies and their capitalist under-strappers would rather do without:
...It’s easy enough to check. Google’s Chinese page for image searches is http://images.google.cn. We’ve been running searches from there and the surprising thing is that you don’t always get the same search results each time you run it. It’s almost as though your own machine’s cache of previous searches is influencing the results you get on subsequent searches. Or maybe Google is still tweaking the filters, so some things slip through sometimes but not at other times. Whatever is happening behind the scenes, it’s beyond argument that Google users in China are not getting the same search results as Google users in the US and elsewhere.
The difference in search results can be striking. On a clean search, Google-China turned up 10 hits on an image search for jesus christ. Just like that, no quotes. By comparison, the US version of Google image search turns up 168,000 hits on the same exact search terms. 168,000 versus 10. And this is just an image search. We’re not searching for the teachings of Jesus, just pictures. China’s version of Google significantly filters the search
Further, Google-China is even censoring photos of churches for some reason. On the US image search page, a search for church turns up more than 2.8 million hits. On Google-China, church turns up just 723 hits.
This is no accident. Google is helping its business partners in Beijing airbrush Jesus Christ right off the Chinese internet. Its cyber dragnet even nets people with the word “Christian” in their name, just to make sure Chinese citizens won’t get religion from their search engine results. Google needs to drop its “Don’t be evil” motto and replace it with something more honest, like “We help evil be evil.”This is a very serious issue. Google has put its financial bottom line over basic human rights. An American company is assisting the Chinese government in a Stalinistic airbrushing of faith from the internet. That Google is helping Beijing wipe Jesus Christ off the web at the same time that it is defying a fairly routine request from the US government for search data to determine if kids are accessing hard core p)rn is unconscionable...
But don't you understand!! If the brave young idealists of Google don't stand up to the jack-booted Bush Brownshirts....it could be the first step on the road to..to...TYRANNY! THEOCRACY! The slippery slope! First they came for the Child P)rn. But I was not that kind of perv, so I did nothing. Then they came for bestiality...!
I just wonder what the Google people thought, when told by the Chinese that they would have to hit the ol' Delete Key on Jesus Christ...How did they feel? Are they so "modern," so secular-rationalist that they felt nothing? It makes me feel queasy.
It is poignant...
Richard John Neuhaus must be a truly saintly guy, to be so forbearing in the face of this sort of ignorance...
...With notable exceptions, reporters are people of good will working hard to write a story that will please their editors. It is true that they are not always the sharpest knives in the drawer. These days most of them have gone to journalism school, or j-school, as it is called. In intellectual rankings at universities, journalism is just a notch above education, which is, unfortunately, at the bottom.
An eager young thing with a national paper was interviewing me about yet another instance of political corruption. “Is this something new?” she asked. “No,” I said, “it’s been around ever since that unfortunate afternoon in the garden.” There was a long pause and then she asked, “What garden was that?” It was touching.
What prompts me to mention this today is that I’m just off the phone with a reporter from the same national paper. He’s doing a story on Pope Benedict’s new encyclical. In the course of discussing the pontificate, I referred to the pope as the bishop of Rome. “That raises an interesting point,” he said. “Is it unusual that this pope is also the bishop of Rome?” He obviously thought he was on to a new angle. Once again, I tried to be gentle. Toward the end of our talk, he said with manifest sincerity, “My job is not only to get the story right but to explain what it means.” Ah yes, he is just the fellow to explain what this pontificate and the encyclical really mean. It is poignant...
Reminds me of an employee I had, back when I owned a bookstore. A customer asked if we had a copy of Moby Dick, and he said, "who wrote it?"
As a Word Note, it used to be common among Protestants to refer to the Pope merely as "the Bishop of Rome," implying that the papacy was just a "popish" fraud. The Book of Common Prayer once included the charming prayer: From the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities, good Lord deliver us. (Cranmer's Liturgy 1544, removed from BCP 1599)
January 28, 2006
Lonesome unilateralist cowpoke blues...
...So instead of the tides of anti-Americanism we were promised when we "went it alone" in Iraq our allies in Britain, Australia, and Japan won historic re-elections, our foes in Canada and Germany fell, the French and Kofi Annan have become virtual sock puppets, and so on and so forth. What was that Osama said about the strong horse and the weak horse?
Ol' bing Laden got that one right. "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse." Of course the poor booby probably though HE was the strong one, not George W Bush.
My guess and hope is that the good guys are just getting warmed up. it's reasonable to suppose that the swing of the pendulum will not fizzle out in a handful of years, after it spent at least a century swinging the other way, in the direction of socialism and secularism and nihilism. And, attractive as those ism's are, it's noticeable that they don't seem to renew themselves.
Young people repeatedly discover that the ideas of America's founders are still fresh and inspiring. Not many could say the same thing about Marx or Engels or Freud. And many people have said that Christian churches should cast off their dusty medieval notions and "get with it," "become relevant," blah blah blah, or face extinction. But just the opposite seems to be true. It's the churches who have resisted the pendulum's leftward swing that are filled with people, especially young people. (Charlene and I have found a good one.) I haven't heard of any growth in the Episcopal Church, despite gay Bishops and far-left politics and flirtation with every fad known to urban life.
Can the pendulum swing back far enough? I don't even have a guess.
....Every Democrat supporting the Alito filibuster deserves what they're about to get, and I hope they remember it in the coming years. But of course they won't. Their current political philosophy of preference is that of an average three year old: Throw a tantrum when you don't get your way, and whine when the tantrum leads to an even worse outcome. Oh, and the outcome isn't real anyway... elections you don't win are always stolen. Waaahhhhh!! Waaahhhhh!!!
Traditionally the behavior of the current crop of Senate Democrats would have been universally condemned. You don't vote against - let alone filibuster - a superbly qualified judge on the basis that you disagree with future rulings you imagine he or she might make in the future. That's a prescription for a judiciary full of legislative gladhanders and sycophants. It would also make it virtually impossible for a president to appoint judges without his party holding a majority in the Senate. It's not for nothing the most partisan of Senate forbears didn't do what the current Senate Democrats seem intent upon...
...No leftist I have seen has explained the rationale for rejecting Alito - let alone filibustering him - in terms that couldn't be turned against any nominee of a Democratic president in the future....(Thanks to PoliPundit)
For anyone taking a long-term view--perhaps to the so-far-distant-it's-science-fictiony year 2008--what the Democrats are doing is simply insane. If they are assuming that they have a chance, any chance, at winning the White House in 2008, or 2012, or whenever, then it is crazy to create the precedent that a highly-qualified nominee of some future Democrat president can be blocked just because he or she might make liberal decisions in the future.
The Republicans in 1993 were certainly no pushovers! Yet they voted almost unanimously to confirm Ruth Ginsburg, even though they could not have had much doubt that she would issue future rulings they would detest. And in fact it's been that way all through our history. That the President gets to nominate Federal judges is just a fact of American life.
It's a basic of any democracy that parties have to accept the results of elections, including when you lose. You don't emigrate, or plan a military coup, or blow up the Parliament building. What Dems are doing now is sort of like that.
January 27, 2006
Whisper a little prayer...
Calgary Herald: Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore has accused the oil industry of financially backing the Tories and their "ultra-conservative leader" to protect its stake in Alberta's lucrative oilsands.
Canadians, Gore said, should vigilantly keep watch over prime minister-designate Stephen Harper because he has a pro-oil agenda and wants to pull out of the Kyoto accord -- an international agreement to combat climate change.
"The election in Canada was partly about the tar sands projects in Alberta," Gore said Wednesday while attending the Sundance Film Festival in Utah....
..and say, Thank you God, that this pathetic nutty-crunch-bar isn't President of the United States....
Did we ever dodge a bullet!
Silicon Valley thinking...
I haven't blogged about Google, because everybody else has already covered the subject...
But what I find particularly interesting is their "don't be evil" motto. It is SO typical of liberals, including Silicon Valley liberals. I see this kind of thinking all the time around here, and WHAT'S MISSING? How could the very people who claim to not be "evil" become so easily enmeshed in what looks like evil?
The thing that's missing are core principles. If you are going to plunge into a thicket like China, you need to have already sorted out your beliefs, and have a pretty good idea of how much you are willing to compromise them for practical needs. blithely saying "Don't be evil" won't cut it--you need to know exactly what it is you think is bad. And what you believe is good.
And the issues Google is struggling with don't all point one way. Google is a publicly held corporation. They have taken money from investors in return for a promise to seek profits and growth. "A promise made is a debt unpaid." If they forwent profits in order to "not be evil," they would have been doing another kind of evil: Defrauding their investors, who own the company. If they pass up a market of a billion people, then anyone who owns Google stock could say, "Hold on there, pals. I own part of this company. I'm one of your bosses, and "oil for the lamps of China" sounds pretty good to me."
They should have thought out what their motto means, and informed investors before they took their money. But that's what liberals never do---think it out. Just being liberal tells them that they are the "good guys."
Experience shows that if you lack a coherent set of beliefs and principles, you will flounder. You must know already what you want, and why, and broadly how best to attain it, if you are ever to deal effectively with the thousand-and-one crises that face you in government."
Listen to that wise woman. She knew!
Which leads to another point: Because of her and other mentors, especially Peter Drucker, I know. Little me. Those Google guys are very very smart. Probably ten times smarter than I am. So why do they look dim-witted to me? Because I have philosophical power tools! They are John Henry with his hammer, and I'm the guy with the steam drill. In fact I first encountered that "don't be evil" thing last year, and instantly suspected that it was a sign of dangerously muddled thinking.
Here's some ugly stuff about Google. I think those guys are Hip-Deep in the Big Muddy, and the utter mushiness of Silicon Valley culture leaves them CLUELESS about how to extricate themselves.
And the mess could be important in a purely dollars-and-cents way. Google is trying to use the enthusiasm and creativity and energy and spirit of it's employees to build things that are new and very difficult to pull off. Spirit matters, just as much as money. And it could well depress people's spirits, if their friends start suggesting that they Google terms like: "laogai."
Focused on job losses, not gains...
The Free Market Project (FMP) report, Hit Job, is the result of a detailed analysis of job and employment coverage by all three broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC. The study examined 151 stories on the 2005 evening news shows to assess how they had reported on both job losses and gains during a year of strong employment growth...
..."More than 4.6 million jobs have been added since May 2003 -- 31 straight months of positive job growth," Gainor added. "Unemployment dropped down to 4.9 percent, lower than the average of all three recent decades."....
You would never know it from watching TV "news."
...-- Job losses, not gains: The networks focused on job losses in slightly more than half the reports (76 out of 151). Just 35 percent of the stories addressed job gains (53 out of 151). In one typical report, Jim Acosta of the "CBS Evening News" left his viewers with a memorable image of the 8,700 job cuts at General Motors in his Nov. 21 story: "Just three days before Thanksgiving, GM is carving up its work force like a Butterball turkey."
-- Government spending promoted: Two of the big Washington stories -- the transportation bill and cutbacks at military bases -- showed how hypocritical the media were. The $284 billion transportation bill was filled with pork but created thousands of new jobs that news reports barely mentioned. However, when military bases were cut to save $48 billion over 20 years, the news shows did more than three times as many stories bemoaning the job losses...
This is particularly egregious. Base closures have almost always created more jobs than they destroyed. And the base-closing program is in fact a triumph by the US political system, where, as with all governments, it is almost impossible to end established government programs. I suspect the news people are trying to fool themselves as much as the public; they are clinging to Lefty zero-sum economic ideas.
-- 283,000 jobs ignored: Initial unemployment reports were later revised, but the networks ignored those revisions. In 2005, most of those changes involved the addition of jobs, so network news ignored nearly 300,000 jobs in all of the stories, except those few that included cumulative totals...
Economic reports are routinely revised, as more data come in. And routinely ignored by the media, if the revisions make Republicans look good. I remember the same thing in the Reagan years. (Or rather, I learned the same thing after the Reagan years, just reading this and that. There was no easily accessible Internet back then, so you had to stumble on the right article...
--CBS the worst: By embracing the highest percentage of job-loss stories and the lowest percentage of stories about job gains, CBS presented a skewed picture of employment.
Reporter Trish Regan's July 20 broadcast on the "CBS Evening News" was one of the year's worst, according to FMP. After airing a quote from Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan about "sustained economic growth," Regan allegedly undermined it. "But his sunny forecast isn't being felt on the factory floor -- Kodak cutting up to 10,000; Hewlett-Packard 14,500 layoffs -- or on the streets, where reality trumps forecasts."
Regan had opened her segment with the following: "Twenty-five thousand layoffs and more on the way. I'm Trish Regan with why the jobs picture is looking very 'pink' these days."...
Most new jobs are created by new and small companies. Job cuts, especially the big ones, tend to be in mature industries, where companies compete by becoming more efficient, or where they are being battered by economic change. If General Motors lays off 10,000 people, and a thousand small companies add ten people each, guess which makes a dramatic news story? Or which is even visible without poring over dry statistics?
Also, lay-offs can be a sign of economic strength. Boeing can hire 20,000 people at a busy time because it knows it can lay them off if they need to. European companies are always very reluctant to hire anybody, because of laws that "protect" workers from being fired by ogre capitalists. That "protection" is a disaster to the many people who would like to become workers, but can't find jobs. (And those "protections" are what liberals would like to have here. Voting Democrat is voting against workers.)
January 26, 2006
Well, the Pope USED to be a fascist...
I can't get excited about the things I might be blogging about this week. We need a war, or an election or something...
But I happened to click to Penraker, who I hadn't read in a while (there's too many blogs, we need a government program that will pay the marginal bloggers prodigious sums of money to not blog, in order to preserve electrons) and found a lot of items to recommend. Starting with the NYT's take on the Pope's first encyclical...
...Now what does this tell you about the Times reporting? In essence, their shock that the encyclical reveals a nice guy is at odds with their slanted reporting of the past. "WOW! Suddenly Benedict has changed!" is the subtext of the article. Our campaign articles (all articles in the Times are compaign articles of some sort or anther) that portrayed him as an evil ogre were right, but Gee - somehow he has changed now!....
...That is simply a hilarious distortion of what he said. This is like reading Pravda's reporting of a Reagan speech. Here is what he said:...
He meditates on this, referring to Virginia's Bill of Rights to the State Constitution:
...The amendment barring same-sex marriage would be added to Section 15, which begins by saying, "That no free government, nor the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue....
If you want to know what the Founding Fathers had in mind, you might start with that sentence. We have, in fact, managed to muddle through with self-government with far less of the "Republican Virtues" than they would have thought possible. Still...
....And I agree with Hinderaker that John McCain may end up being a palatable conservative nominee. He has infuriated me many times over the last few years, so it would be a long shot. His posturing on the torture bill was atrocious. He seems a maverick in many ways - but in a possibly flaky, not good, impulsive way. In fact, he seems to be more what Bush is accused of - impulsive, acting on his instincts instead of thinking things through. I bet Bush has read twice as many books as McCain, by the way....
flaky, impulsive...yeah. On Shadegg:
...Republicans are missing a huge opportunity. They should move boldly to REALLY reform and if they made eliminating earmarks a keystone of their platform they could enhance their position and move down the road towards a permanent majority. People hate things like earmarks - back door dealings, stuffing pork in bills at the last minute. It is the creeepy underbelly of politics - and like a soft underbelly, it would be easy to attack...
Hard to attack, I'd say. Like Term Limits, it will skitter away just when you think you have it pinned down...
5 Teachers in California refused to put up "gay pride" banners in their classrooms when ordered to by the school district. This story reveals the latest scam: You have to teach that gayness is desirable and wonderful - because if you don't, students will be "unsafe"
Well, it's not that children will actually BE unsafe. It's that some will FEEL unsafe...
A total disgusting scam. They claim to be "complying" with "state laws requiring schools to ensure students' safety and curb discrimination and harassment." How? By teaching "gay pride." Which, like all such lefty measures, is not about helping gays, but about breaking down traditional morality and community so as to make people more easily manipulated by the state.
And you can bet that the tough things that need to be done to really make students safe will not be done. And if some students happen to be discriminated against because they are Christian, you can double-down that there will not be any "Christian pride" banners in classrooms. Or anything done.
On the new Encyclical:
So far (I am not finished reading it, it appears the meat is in paragraph 28) It reinforces my initial impressions: This is the teaching pope. He is very good at it. His stuff is easy to read and communicates very simply and easily. John Paul issued deep philosophical encyclicals that had to be digested; Benedict takes those profound ideas and brings them down to an easily understood level. What a one-two punch...
On the Attorney General's speech:
Later, on an interview on NPR, he also gave this additional bit of information: The individuals at the NSA who are responsible for determining and certifying that the targets of the surveillance are actually Al Qaeda, or affiliated with Al Qaeda are career professionals. That means, they are not political appointees. They will keep their jobs if they ruffle feathers in the adminstration. That is important...
Keep it in mind when you are told that the Administration tramples on the "career professionals." On the NYT:
The New York Times is the most scared newspaper in the world. I used to subscribe to it, and I detected a recurring theme in the headlines. "Fear and Anxiety plague X (X being a country, or a group, or a geographical place - it doesn't matter...
... we have yet another gem in the FEAR series: "Fear and Death ensnare U.N.'s soldiers in Haiti."
I don't need to read the article to know that the NYT will NOT suggest that the UN's soldiers ACT like soldiers, and inflict "fear and death" on the thugs who are attacking them. They will NOT suggest that "peacekeepers" actually bring peace to haiti, by smashing and killing the monsters who prey upon that poor country. Oh no, that would be wicked.
I'm sure their feelings (when a Republican is in the white House) are deeply pacifist, and like pacifists everywhere, they will gladly accept the necessity of distant brown-skinned people being tortured and murdered and trapped in hopeless poverty, so they, the morally superior beings of the NYT, can have "clean consciences."
January 25, 2006
Cindy Sheehan will attend...
Der Spiegel: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has followed up his calls for the destruction of Israel with plans to host a conference questioning the validity of the Holocaust....
dipping our voting fingers in maple syrup and waving them at the UN observers...
....For Tories, it was a good night, if not a great night. But, given that the party was reduced to two seats in the 1993 debacle, after 12 years in the wilderness most Canadian conservatives will take a strong minority government as a spectacular landslide. We'd be dipping our voting fingers in maple syrup and triumphantly waving them at the UN observers if they hadn't all fallen asleep 20 minutes into the thrilling election-night coverage...
...As the Liberals warned Canadians - or, rather, shrieked at them - Stephen Harper will take away "a woman's right to choose"! The unwanted boys you'll be forced to have will grow up to be Bush cannon fodder in Iraq, and the unwanted girls will be sold as white slaves for Halliburton corporate cocktail parties round the pool at Dick Cheney's ranch.
Well, that's certainly why I voted Conservative, but it's hard to believe many of my fellow Canadians (and even my fellow Quebecers) felt the same way. South of the border, Michael Moore wasn't the only one shocked by Liberal attack ads painting Scary Stephen as a Bush-loving neocon warmonger who'll slash and gut Canada's lavish social programs. For the past two weeks, American radio hosts have been asking me, with drooling anticipation: "Wow! Tell us about this great guy, Stephen Harper!"
And then I'd take a deep breath and try to explain that, no, he's not Canada's Thatcher or Reagan. But, with a bit of luck, he might be Canada's John Howard....
One hopes he will be like Bush, who just took off running even though his disputed election seemed to indicate that he should hang his head and only embrace modest goals. Ha ha! I hear that Harper is already talking of tax cuts. Good start.
Harper's win in Canada is welcome news to the entire Anglosphere. This is not so much on account of what Harper may do, although there are some interesting possibilites, but at a minimum for what he will not do: ride anti-Americanism as his substitute for an honest patriotism. The fundamental problem with the Liberals is that ever since Trudeau deconstructued the basis of historical Canadian patriotism, the Liberals have not been able to construct an adequate substitute. They are almost embarassed to love the real, historical Canada, (they are too busy apologizing for it) unless that sentiment can somehow be tied into America-bashing. Dudes, get a life -- and while you're at it, get a national narrative that consist of something else besides "I'm not them."....
Leftists HATE the study of history--for a whole bunch of reasons it's poison for them. It was a typical move for the Liberals to downgrade all pride in Canadian history and accomplishments. One is supposed to be proud of being modern, internationalist, atheist, "European," and pacifist. The human heart is not satisfied with that crap, and so Harper has a big opportunity, even if he can't get any legislation passed.
January 24, 2006
Having nothing to hide is the strongest position of all...
I'm going to indulge myself in a Fisking of today's piece by EJ Dionne, in the Washington Post. Dionne writes:
Perhaps it's an aspect of compassionate conservatism. Or maybe it's just a taunt and a dare. Well in advance of Election Day, Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, has a habit of laying out his party's main themes, talking points and strategies.
I'm going to spoil the suspense and tell you that poor Mr Dionne will not, in this essay, grasp that having nothing to hide is the strongest position of all. One pities his bewilderment.
True Rove junkies (admirers and adversaries alike) always figure he's holding back on something and wonder what formula the mad scientist is cooking up in his political lab. But there is a beguiling openness about Rove's divisive and ideological approach to elections. You wonder why Democrats have never been able to take full advantage of their early look at the Rove game plan.
"Beguiling and open," yet "divisive and ideological." Will our intrepid columnist reach enlightenment through this strange koan?
That's especially puzzling because, since Sept. 11, 2001, the plan has focused on one variation or another of the same theme: Republicans are tough on our enemies, Democrats are not. If you don't want to get blown up, vote Republican.
Thus Rove's speech to the Republican National Committee last Friday, which conveniently said nothing about that pesky leak investigation.The investigation of the New York Times? Rove noted that we face "a ruthless enemy" and "need a commander in chief and a Congress who understand the nature of the threat and the gravity of the moment America finds itself in."
"President Bush and the Republican Party do," Rove informed us. "Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many Democrats."
Rove went on: "Republicans have a post-9/11 worldview, and many Democrats have a pre-9/11 worldview. That doesn't make them unpatriotic -- not at all. But it does make them wrong -- deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong."
Oh, no, those Dems aren't unpatriotic, just security idiots.
Here's why the same approach keeps working. Aside from its being obviously true?
First, note that phrase, "the same cannot be said for many Democrats." This is Rove's wedge through the Democratic Party. Rove has always counted on Bush's capacity to intimidate some Democrats into breaking with their party and saying something like: "Oh, no, I'm not like those weak Democrats over there. I'm a tough Democrat." The Republicans use such Democrats to bash the rest of the party.
Well dog my cats. The man just wrote that to be a Democrat is to be WEAK. And if you are acting strong you have "broken with the party." Amazing.
Moreover, these early Rove speeches turn Democratic strategists into defeatists. The typical Democratic consultant says: "Hey, national security is a Republican issue. We shouldn't engage on that. We should change the subject." In the 2002 elections, the surefire Democratic winners were a prescription drug benefit under Medicare (an issue Bush tried to steal), a patients' bill of rights, the economy and education. Those issues sure worked wonders, didn't they?
It doesn't even occur to him that Dems were wrong on BOTH the war issues and domestic issues.
By not engaging the national security debate, Democrats cede to Rove the power to frame it. Consider that clever line about Democrats having a pre-Sept. 11 view of the world. The typical Democratic response would be defensive: "No, no, of course 9/11 changed the world."
Just saying, "Of course" gives the whole game away.
More specifically, there's a lot of private talk among Democrats that the party should let go of the issue of warrantless spying on Americans because the polls show that a majority values security and safety.
A majority values "winning." You know, that's what you're supposed to do in wars.
What Democrats should have learned is that they cannot evade the security debate. They must challenge the terms under which Rove and Bush would conduct it. Imagine, for example, directly taking on that line about Sept. 11. Does having a "post-9/11 worldview" mean allowing Bush to do absolutely anything he wants, any time he wants, without having to answer to the courts, Congress or the public? Most Americans -- including a lot of libertarian-leaning Republicans -- reject such an anti-constitutional view of presidential power. If Democrats aren't willing to take on this issue, what's the point of being an opposition party?
Actually Bush and the Republicans reject it too. The Administration is just doing what we've always done in war time (see previous post). So, sorry, no issue.
Democrats want to fight this election on the issue of Republican corruption. But corruption is about the abuse of power. If smart political consultants can't figure out how to link the petty misuses of power with its larger abuses, they are not earning their big paychecks.
Notice there's no suggestion that Democrats have or can or should eschew corruption. It's just an "issue."
And, yes, the core questions must be asked: Are we really safer now than we were five years ago? Looks like it. Has the Iraq war, as organized and prosecuted by the administration, made us stronger or weaker? Did Osama bin Laden just mention "truce?" Do we feel more secure knowing the heck of a job our government did during Hurricane Katrina? The party of Nagin and Blanco sees an issue? Do we have any confidence that the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies will clean up their act if Washington remains under the sway of one-party government? No, nor under two-party government.
Imagine one Super Bowl team tipping the other to a large part of its offensive strategy. Smart coaches would plot and plan and scheme. You wonder what Democrats will do with the 10-month lead time Rove has kindly offered them.They have no good options.
What blows me away about this and most Democrat productions is that, even considering that it's about tactics, it is utterly AMORAL. There is not the least mention of doing what is right or good for the country. And it is totally without any plans or dreams or hopes for building a better world. Contrast it with a bit of Mr Rove's speech...
...In late January 2001, America's new President said, "We are here to make progress, we are not here to mark time." George W. Bush has been true to his word. He is one of history's Consequential Presidents. He has fundamentally recast America's national security strategy. And he has put forward a bold domestic agenda.
In foreign policy President Bush has earned the title as one of history's Great Liberators and in domestic policy he will be seen as one of its Great Reformers. Much has been achieved and much more remains to be done.
Whether that vital work gets done depends in large measure on all of you. Our ideas will prevail only if you continue to strengthen our grassroots efforts that can make all the difference between victory and defeat...[link]
a long tradition of wartime enemy surveillance...
Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez made a great speech today at Georgetown University Law Center. Worth reading.
As one who's interested in history, I liked this, which is dead on:
...In 2004, the Supreme Court considered the scope of the Force Resolution in the Hamdi case. There, the question was whether the President had the authority to detain an American citizen as an enemy combatant for the duration of the hostilities.
In that case, the Supreme Court confirmed that the expansive language of the Resolution —“all necessary and appropriate force”—ensures that the congressional authorization extends to traditional incidents of waging war. And, just like the detention of enemy combatants approved in Hamdi, the use of communications intelligence to prevent enemy attacks is a fundamental and well-accepted incident of military force.
This fact is borne out by history. This Nation has a long tradition of wartime enemy surveillance—a tradition that can be traced to George Washington, who made frequent and effective use of secret intelligence, including the interception of mail between the British and Americans.
And for as long as electronic communications have existed, the United States has conducted surveillance of those communications during wartime—all without judicial warrant. In the Civil War, for example, telegraph wiretapping was common, and provided important intelligence for both sides. In World War I, President Wilson ordered the interception of all cable communications between the United States and Europe; he inferred the authority to do so from the Constitution and from a general congressional authorization to use military force that did not mention anything about such surveillance. So too in World War II; the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt authorized the interception of all communications traffic into and out of the United States. The terrorist surveillance program, of course, is far more focused, since it involves only the interception of international communications that are linked to al Qaeda or its allies...
Espionage and intelligence-gathring is as intrinsic to war as slugging it out on the battlefield. We have, in past wars, fought the secret battles ruthlessly and savagely. As we should. The current notion put forth by lefty losers that we should apply the constraints proper to criminal law to cases of espionage or terrorism is fatuous nonsense and partisan buncombe.
Where's the feminist outrage?
One of the benefits of the War on Terror is the dozens of ways it has been revealing Leftists for the frauds they are. You may not remember, but denouncing the Taliban was a commonplace in leftist/feminist circles before 9/11. But, like commies after the Hitler-Stalin Pact, they changed their minds once being anti-Taliban started looking like being pro-America. Now stories like this are ignored by "feminist" leaders...
Associated Press KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Suspected Taliban gunmen burned down a primary school in Afghanistan's main southern city Sunday, the latest in a spate of attacks against teachers and institutions that educate girls.
No one was hurt in the pre-dawn attacks against the Qabail Primary School in Kandahar, said Hayabullah Rafiqi Othak, Kandahar province's education director.
A group of men tied up two security guards and made bonfires of books and wooden desks that eventually razed the whole building, he said. The school, which was on a two-month vacation, taught some 700 boys and girls.
Dozens of schools have been burned since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban in 2001 for sheltering Osama bin Laden. Most of the attacks have come at night and have caused no deaths.
On Tuesday, however, suspected rebels beheaded the headmaster of another coed school in the region.
The Taliban maintains that educating girls is against Islam and also opposes government-funded schools for boys because they teach subjects besides religion...(Thanks to Jim Miller)
The litany of hypocrisy goes on and on. The biggest environmental crime of our time, the destruction of the Iraqi Marshes, is invisible to "environmentalists!" Enemies who debate the proper way to kill gays are invisible to the fakes who make a big whoop-te-do about the "don't ask don't tell" policy. "Pacifists" care nothing about Iranian threats to nuke Israel...not to mention those "anti-nuclear activists." And those lefty Jewish leaders who claim that fundamentalist Christians are their biggest threat.
Or the liberal "Christian" clergy who are exquisitely sensitive to the feelings of Moslems and communists, but utterly ignore current persecutions of Christians. Or the academics who go on and on about slavery in America, but are indifferent that blacks are being enslaved right now in Sudan...
It's a long list one could compile...
January 23, 2006
Every option BAD...
...This is an incredibly complex issue wherein all proposed courses of action (which are all over the board...) seem to lead to varying definitions of: BAD, REALLY BAD or REALLY REALLY BAD!
This colonel is a Huge Fan of Tom Barnett; a master strategist. But it is not an impossibility that some wingnut in the gap will not wait for A to Z (South Carolina comes to mind as precursor to Civil War).
I take Amhedinejad at his word. Israel must be rubbed out and the corollery is that nukes are the only means. Rational men cannot impose a MAD deterrence against a MAD man; won`t work.
The trouble with a Madhi is in his blindness to any consequence of a Jihad!
Israel`s second strike capacity is kinda moot if there is no Israel anymore.
IMHO, waiting for internal Iranian reform is utopian; ain`t gonna happen. Additionally, I do not believe anyone knows the timeline to an Iranian operational nuclear weapon.
In sum: Iran is mountainous, full of hardened underground sites. Surgical anything is out. Conventional would be bad/really bad. Nuclear would be really really bad. Doing nothing would also be really really bad.
Take your pick...................
I'd say he's got it right. In addition, nuclear facilities have been built underneath Iranian cities, which probably rules even pinpoint strikes out. A blockade is probably the best option; the regime would not last long without oil exports. But it is also perilous, as a glimpse at the map will show.
Any such action should be done as a united show of resolution and force by all the major free world nations. But most of them (along with a significant minority in the US) have been deeply corrupted by socialism and pacifism, and so have become incapable of showing resolution on ANYTHING. So this is unlikely to be an option.
Pacifism kills. (Either real pacifism, which is pretty much extinct, or leftism-pretending-to-be-pacifism, which is what we see now.) Both of them amount to "let the foreigners die, as long as I don't have to make difficult choices or fight evil or defend freedom."
The loathsome slimeworms who have been directing their anti-war anti-everything-decent-Americans-hold-dear protests against our wounded troops at Walter Reed Hospital forgot to renew their permit!!! They are OUT, and the human beings are in, with a strong message of support for America's heroes. Read all about it!
Best sign: "This corner under new non-commie management."
January 22, 2006
Karl Rove made a fine speech recently...(I could not find a direct link, but it's posted at Hugh's blog)
....Four decades ago, the Republican Party was relegated to the wilderness – and today Republicans control the White House, the Senate, and the House; a majority of governorships; and in the last several elections, more state legislative seats than in 80 years.
More importantly, we have seen the rise of a great cause. Three Republican Presidents and Republican Congressional majorities have achieved a tremendous amount in two-and-a-half decades. The Cold War was won – and today we are winning the war against Islamic fascism. Millions of people who lived in tyranny have been liberated – and freedom is spreading across the globe. Republicans rebuilt our national defenses; cut taxes and spurred economic growth; ended “stagflation;” limited government’s growth; reformed welfare and insisted on accountability and high standards in education; took important steps to protect and strengthen marriage and the family; and stood up against judicial activism and for constitutionalism.
But there is much more to be done...
Rove's speech is mostly about the power of ideas to bring about political change, which I agree with completely. "Much more to be done" That's for sure. My hope and estimate is that Republicans are just getting warmed up, and the future holds things that will make lefties fling themselves off cliffs en masse.
Here's a bit more--a cautionary tale...
...The GOP’s progress during the last four decades is a stunning political achievement. But it is also a cautionary tale of what happens to a dominant party – in this case, the Democrat Party – when its thinking becomes ossified; when its energy begins to drain; when an entitlement mentality takes over; and when political power becomes an end in itself rather than a means to achieve the common good.
We need to learn from our successes – and from the failures of others. As the governing party in America, Republicans cannot grow tired or timid. We have been given the opportunity to govern; we have to continue to show we deserve the trust of our fellow Americans....
January 21, 2006
John Lewis Gaddis, author of a half-dozen books on the topic, is the nation's foremost historian of the Cold War. So when in the 1980s he dismissed Ronald Reagan's goal of ending the Cold War, arguing instead that the American-Soviet competition had settled into a stable "long peace," it would have been natural to conclude that Gaddis, the august expert, was right.
He was wrong, of course. Gaddis explains why in his crackling-good, recently published book, "The Cold War: A New History."...
...As Gaddis puts it, "An entire generation had grown up regarding the absurdities of a superpower stalemate — a divided Berlin in the middle of a divided Germany in the midst of a divided Europe, for example — as the natural order of things." It fell to the saboteurs to remove the world's "mental blinders."
"They used to the utmost," he writes, "their strengths as individuals: their personal character, their perseverance in the face of adversity, their fearlessness and frankness, but above all their dramatic skill, not only in conveying these qualities to millions of other people, but also in persuading those millions themselves to embrace those qualities."
When the might of the rival superpowers was measured in material terms — how many missiles, with how much throw-weight — they realized the power of "a moral and spiritual critique of Marxism-Leninism." When stability had come to be valued above all, they sought change. When the truth — most importantly about the nature of the Soviet Union system itself— had become obscured, they spoke it.
Gaddis quotes Thatcher: "I had long understood that detente had been ruthlessly used by the Soviets to exploit western weakness and disarray. I knew the beast."...
"I knew the beast." I really like that. And I don't need to point out the obvious parallels with our own time.
Charlene went marching today, on the Walk For Life. She had a great time, but was disappointed that the counter-protesters were a pretty puny bunch, so she doesn't have much exciting to report. No violence, only one giant puppet, and the twisted-demented-and-repulsive component was pretty mild by SF standards...
She thought the marchers numbered several thousands, and the anti's only a hundred or so....
She took pix that show more marchers, but I liked this one, with the Balclutha in the background, and the steam ferryboat Eureka next to it. [You're letting yourself wander off-topic --ed. Ooops.] Charlene regrets not getting a picture of the Gay/Lesbian Pro-Life group!
She said the anti's kept running ahead and posing themselves as a backdrop to the march, so they would look more impressive on TV.
Update: More links and details here. Apparently there were 15,000 people on the march!
Notice the same sign in different places...
You know, maybe some people should be in burqas...
AND, in the Giant Puppet category, the WINNER, and only entrant...
A fever is not caused by the disease, but by the Immune Response...
Esko Aho, the former prime minister of Finland, reports to the European Commission in Brussels:
Europe's most successful companies are turning their backs on EU markets because of red tape, a high-level report said yesterday...
...The findings made unsettling reading for the EU leaders, ripping into their pledges to build a "knowledge-based Europe" that would overtake America in 10 years.
The reality was the opposite. Not only were US, Chinese and Japanese firms outspending Europe on research and development, the gap with Europe was growing.
Perhaps most damagingly, Europe's most important countries were pouring more and more of their technology investment overseas, as they despaired of the European Union becoming "innovation friendly"....(Thanks to Betsy N)
What's most important to watch is not the problems--we all got problems--but the response. When people like me say that Europe is dying, it's because we expect no renovatio, no movements of reform and renewal to arise.
There are no grass-roots movements big enough to make changes. No cowboys will be elected, no Reagans, no Bush...not even a Schwarzenegger. There's no "Culture War," no National Review, no AEI, no Rush Limbaughs.
Here in the US we have a competitiveness problem of our own, in the blood-sucking lawsuits that hinder every move we make. BUT, we also have an immune response, with Tort Reform being high on the Republican agenda. (It will be an up-hill battle, with the Democrat Party being a wholly-owned subsidiary of those leeches. But that's one of the reasons Republicans are now in the majority. We are anti-bodies generated by parasitic infections.)
When you are sick, and have a fever, the fever is not caused by the disease, but by your immune system fighting back. I predict the Europe will not be running a temperature as a result of these obvious problems...That's a sign of imminent death.
(I pasted some more of the report below)
...Unless EU governments took bold action to increase spending on research, freed labour markets so skilled workers could move more easily, and stopped pouring taxpayers' money into dying industries, Europe's post-war way of life was doomed....
...His report listed a string of gloomy indicators. In 1992, six out of the 10 top-selling pharmaceuticals were produced by European companies. In 2002, this figure had fallen down to two. European firms invested billions more in the United States than US firms invested in Europe....
...European governments were criticised for continuing to pour state aid into dying industries such as cars, steel and textiles. As part of the so-called Lisbon agenda of 2001 EU leaders committed themselves to spending three per cent of their gross domestic product on research and development.
Halfway through the 10-year Lisbon agenda programme, the EU still spent a meagre 1.9 per cent, far behind the US or Japan....
January 19, 2006
Nil desperandum, brothers and sisters...
I confess. This surprised me. I've just been assuming that, even if reactionary despotisms of the Middle East can be transformed, the one in Washington would be unassailable...
Washington Post: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that she will shift hundreds of Foreign Service positions from Europe and Washington to difficult assignments in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere as part of a broad restructuring of the diplomatic corps that she has dubbed "transformational diplomacy."
The State Department's culture of deployment and ideas about career advancement must alter now that the Cold War is over and the United States is battling transnational threats of terrorism, drug smuggling and disease, Rice said in a speech at Georgetown University. "The greatest threats now emerge more within states than between them," she said. "The fundamental character of regimes now matters more than the international distribution of power."
As part of the change in priorities, Rice announced that diplomats will not be promoted into the senior ranks unless they accept assignments in dangerous posts, gain expertise in at least two regions and are fluent in two foreign languages, citing Chinese, Urdu and Arabic as a few preferred examples.
Rice noted that the United States has nearly as many State Department personnel in Germany -- which has 82 million people -- as in India, with 1 billion people. As a first step, 100 jobs in Europe and Washington will be immediately shifted to expanded embassies in countries such as India, China and Lebanon. Many of these diplomats had been scheduled to rotate into coveted posts in European capitals this summer, and the sudden change in assignment has caused some distress, State Department officials said.
Officials said that ultimately as many as one-third of the 6,400 Foreign Service positions could be affected in the coming years....(Thanks to Betsy Newmark)
Wow! Shake-ups! Psychological even more than physical, I'd guess. "Coveted posts in European capitals" forsooth. Expect the usual subjects to howl about "stifling of dissent," "Unitary Executive," "Imperial Presidency," "fill-in-the-blank" blah blah blah. But what's really being crushed is one of the last places the Cold War is still being fought, like those Japanese soldiers in island jungles long after the homeland has surrendered.
Expect a lot of early retirements of the old guard. And expect those who are excited by the world as it is to be heartened and encouraged. Also, the main rationale of the reactionaries is that the experienced old hands understand the world better than elected newcomers, who should not be allowed to make changes. Condi's changes undercut that brutally. India IS more important than Germany. Probably 10 times as important. and the State Dept. is being forced to accept it.
All the same except different...
Here's a web site that explains the relationship of Hindi, Hindustani and Urdu, which have long confused me...
....Then, about seven centuries ago, the dialects of Hindi spoken in the region of Delhi began to undergo a linguistic change. In the villages, these dialects continued to be spoken much as they had been for centuries. But around Delhi and other urban areas, under the influence of the Persian-speaking Sultans and their military administration, a new dialect began to emerge which would be called Urdu. While Urdu retained the fundamental grammar and basic vocabulary of its Hindi parent dialects, it adopted the Persian writing system, "Nastaliq" and many additional Persian vocabulary words. Indeed, the great poet Amir Khusro (1253-1325) contributed to the early development of Urdu by writing poems with alternating lines of Persian and Hindi dialect written in Persian script.
What began humbly as a hodge-podge language spoken by the Indian recruits in the camps of the Sultan's army, by the Eighteenth Century had developed into a sophisticated, poetic language.
It is important to note that over the centuries, Urdu continued to develop side by side with the original Hindi dialects, and many poets have written comfortably in both. Thus the distinction between Hindi and Urdu was chiefly a question of style. A poet could draw upon Urdu's lexical richness to create an aura of elegant sophistication, or could use the simple rustic vocabulary of dialect Hindi to evoke the folk life of the village. Somewhere in the middle lay the day to day language spoken by the great majority of people. This day to day language was often referred to by the all-encompassing term "Hindustani."
Because day to day Hindustani was essentially a widespread Indian lingua franca not associated with any particular region or class, it was chosen as the basis for modern Hindi, the national language of India. Modern Hindi is essentially Hindustani with a lexicon of Sanskrit-derived vocabulary in preference to the Persian borrowings of literary Urdu. Likewise, Hindustani in its Urdu form was adopted by Pakistan as a national language because Urdu is not tied to any of the regions comprising modern Pakistan....
Fascinating how the languages seem to be defined by poets...
January 17, 2006
good example of a bad example...
When you hear the, "Don't execute murderers, just lock them up forever" line, keep this guy in mind:
Allen was sentenced to death in 1982 for orchestrating a triple murder in Fresno in 1980. He had arranged the killings while incarcerated at Folsom State Prison, serving a life sentence for another murder, the newspaper said...[link]
..Two federal judges and the California Supreme Court have rejected motions to bar Allen's execution, which his lawyers say is cruel and unusual punishment because he is so old and ailing...
So, they delayed justice for 25 years, and then have the incredible gall to say he's too old!
I feel an extra animus towards the anti-death penalty crowd because they are so eager to seize on any argument, no matter how dishonest. If Allen had got off on some legal technicality, they would be crowing that "An innocent man was on Death Row!" In fact it's almost certainly very rare that any innocent person is condemned to death, because most of them are habitual criminals, known to cops and prosecutors. They are not "innocent," even if they didn't so what they were convicted of.
More importantly, ANY large undertaking is going to kill or maim some innocent people. If you build a big hospital, it is statistically likely that someone will be killed, either a construction worker, or by a traffic accident due to construction barriers Or some old person, evicted from their home, will go into a decline and die. And many other harms will be done as well. To repeat, ANY large undertaking is going to kill or maim some innocent people. The argument that "innocent people may be killed" is utterly bogus. The anti-death penalty movement is killing innocent people, by undermining our efforts to fight crime. And probably the reason Allen was left alive after his first conviction was due to that movement. The opponents of the death penalty killed those three innocent people!
I think the only valid argument against the death penalty is that it is spiritually harmful to us as a people to kill. And I think the exact opposite is true. I think the antis are mostly a part of the larger argument, that we should not believe in our laws or our culture or our nation enough to fight for them. That we should not fight terrorism, or Communism, or crime. Should not fight for traditional morality. And should not fight for freedom.
January 16, 2006
The real gulag...
When leftists harp on the poor prisoners of Guantanamo (who suffer problems like gaining too much weight) it's good to remember the real gulag in Cuba. Keep stories like this in mind when liberal frauds tell you how wonderful life is away from evil capitalist America:
...Dr Biscet was detained on December 6, 2002 for organising informal discussion meetings for the ‘Friends of Human Rights’ groups he was trying to establish. He was later sentenced to 25 years in prison along with scores of other human rights and democracy activists in a major crackdown on dissidents in March 2003.
He has been confined in a punishment cell for long periods of time over the past two years, has been denied food at times, and his health has suffered enormously. This most recent detention came just one month after he had completed a three-year prison sentence for his human rights and pro-democracy activities.
Many more dissidents remain in prison, including Jorge Luis Garcia Perez or ‘Antúnez’, who is another prisoner supported by CSW. He has been in prison since 1990, and like many others, has very serious health problems....
The link was from Amy Welborn. And she adds this, from the reader who sent her the link:
However, there is much more to this story than the fact that he has courageously opposed the regime throughout his life. Three years ago, I escorted his wife (Elsa Morejon) around Capitol Hill in an effort to raise awareness in Washington of the ongoing persecution of those who dare to demand freedom. But during a meeting with sympathetic members of Congress, Morejon revealed that one of the reasons her husband was sent to the gulag the first time was that he refused to perform abortions for the teenage girls Castro uses as part of the sex-tourism industry in Cuba. Biscet is a devout Catholic, and recognized by Amnesty International as a Prisoner of Conscience. He should be the Mandela of our day, but sadly few people outside of the Cuban American community have ever heard of him. Now more than ever an international outcry is needed to let the world know of Biscet's struggle. At the very least, this man needs our prayers.
Among the many many reasons to be bitter about the way leftists cover up the evils in Cuba, is the lack of protest from so-called "feminists" about the exploitation of women there. I guess a "sex-tourism industry" is OK, as long as it's supporting a communist government. They do it "for the children."
#197: The ever inventive Krugster...
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD
In First, Do More Harm (01/16/06) Paul Krugman makes another broadside attack on what is becoming the most successful part of the Bush health care initiative–Heath Savings Accounts “HSAs”. No wonder! As we have pointed out previously this at-first modest “under the radar” proposal has now snowballed into a system of financial accounts large enough to make grown liberals cry.
By letting people save, tax-free, in HSAs consumers can take more and more responsibility for their own health care decisions including how much to spend on what type of service or insurance. In time HSAs could wean the nation off our irrational employer-based health care system in which everyone is led to believe someone else is paying when, all the while, it is the employee, personally, paying through lower wages.
Krugman’s usual spiele on this is twofold: that 1) HSAs are only for the rich and 2) they drive the wealthy out of company insurance programs thereby weakening these programs for everyone else. Squad readers will not be surprised to hear (since we have said it before) that there is no evidence to support either of these claims.
So why are we bothering to write this report? Because the ever inventive Krugster has come up with a third reason to oppose HSAs:
“But the case of diabetes and other evidence suggest that a third problem with health savings accounts may be even more important: in practice, people who are forced to pay for medical care out of pocket don't have the ability to make good decisions about what care to purchase. "Consumer driven" is a nice slogan, but it turns out that buying health care isn't at all like buying clothing.”
This is really quite choice. It could go down as one version of “the liberal’s last words”:
We tried to help those fools, but they were too dumb to listen to us!
[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. ]
This SF Chronicle piece is interesting to me for a couple of reasons.
Anti-abortion ad on BART angers activists. Many placards have been defaced or destroyed. (BART is our local transit system)
One is that it's a good example of the bubble that leftists are in, at least those who live in trendy coastal enclaves. They are not only angry that they should be exposed to ads criticizing the Roe decision, they are shocked and surprised!
My other thought is, what a perfect place public transit is for ads that try to make people think. If your ad is on the inside of a bus, you have a captive audience of bored people who will almost have to read it.
It always amazes me, when riding public transit, how few people bring a book or magazine along. Most passengers stare blankly at the walls. Perhaps they have a rich interior intellectual life to sustain them, but they sure look stupefied.
Transit is the one place where ads do not need to be simplified to catch a fleeting attention-span. It's the one place you can put a wordy ad, and be sure that it will be read. But almost no one takes advantage of this.
January 15, 2006
Clue. Clue. So close to a clue...
It's just so fascinating, watching the thought slowwwwwwly penetrate into Democrat minds, that they are the minority party, and no longer at the center of the universe. But they are just so stuck. They grew up thinking, or at least those of my generation did, that where they were was the "center," and the far-right was Barry Goldwater, and the far-left was like, you know, Stalin. (It wasn't really true even then, as the success of Nixon's "silent majority" attested.) This is from an NYT article, Glum Democrats Can't See Halting Bush on Courts:
...In interviews, Democrats said the lesson of the Alito hearings was that this White House could put on the bench almost any qualified candidate, even one whom Democrats consider to be ideologically out of step with the country...
The suspense just kills me. Will the light bulb go on, will the other shoe drop? HOW LONG can they go on imagining that they are the ones who decide what's "in step?"
...That conclusion amounts to a repudiation of a central part of a strategy Senate Democrats settled on years ago in a private retreat where they discussed how to fight a Bush White House effort to recast the judiciary: to argue against otherwise qualified candidates by saying they would take the courts too far to the right...
Fascinating. The assumption that they are the ones who set the buoys in the harbor, and tell the ships that they are too far to port or starboard.
...Even though Democrats thought from the beginning that they had little hope of defeating the nomination, they were dismayed that a nominee with such clear conservative views - in particular a written record of opposition to abortion rights - appeared to be stirring little opposition...
Oh, the suspense, the suspense...
..."It may be a mistake to think that their failure demonstrates that they necessarily did something wrong," said Richard H. Fallon, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School. Referring to one of the major Democratic complaints about Judge Alito's testimony, Mr. Fallon said: "As long as most of the public will settle for evasive or uninformative answers, maybe there was nothing that they could have done to get Alito to make a major error."...
Amazing assumptions. Reality is that for a minority party failing is normal, but they can't quite admit that. And the "mistakes" they are hoping for would probably not bother the public at all, since most of the public are not liberal Democrats--another thing they can't admit.
...Several Democrats expressed frustration over what they saw as the Republicans outmaneuvering them by drawing attention to an episode Wednesday when Judge Alito's wife, Martha-Ann, began crying as her husband was being questioned. That evening, senior Democratic senate aides convened at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, stunned at the realization that the pictures of a weeping Mrs. Alito were being broadcast across the nation - as opposed to, for example, images of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, pressing Judge Alito about his membership in an alumni club that resisted affirmative action efforts.
"Had she not cried, we would have won that day," said one Senate strategist involved in the hearings, who did not want to be quoted by name discussing the Democrats' problems. "It got front-page attention. It was on every local news show."...
Crazy assumptions. Just crazy. Assuming that Americans will recoil in horror from someone who does not support affirmative action! Assuming that ordinary Americans care what the grotesque Teddy Kennedy says. Assuming that the public cares about this charade (but at the same time is so stupid that an image of a weeping woman will destroy all rational thought.) Actually the public made its preference clear by electing Republican majorities, and doesn't want to hear the details. Assuming they can win.
"You're trying to convince the American people that this man is not on your side," said Dale Bumpers, a former Democratic senator from Arkansas. "Obviously, we didn't do a very good job....Tom Daschle, the former Democratic senator from South Dakota, said: "It is causing far more serious consideration by at least the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee of what you do in future cases. How do you make clear where this person stands?...
Clue, clue, so close to a clue...and yet so far. Everybody KNOWS where he stands. We like it.
..."There were very few principles on which we could all agree," said Mr. Daschle, who was Senate minority leader at the time of the meeting. "But one was that we anticipated that the administration would test the envelope. They were going to go as far as the envelope would allow in appointing conservative judges."...
The envelope that's being pushed is the filibuster envelope. (The real envelope is much bigger.) But these guys are preserving their dream-world by imagining that that one procedural trick equals real strength. Sort of like France imagining it's still a major power because it has a veto at the UN Security Council.
...The panel also advised them, participants said, that Democratic senators could oppose even nominees with strong credentials on the grounds that the White House was trying to push the courts in a conservative direction, a strategy that now seems to have failed the party....
Uh, maybe because this is a Conservative country? I think these guys really believe that it's all been a bad dream, and at any moment they will wake up and be back in 1973. Maybe Teddy Kennedy's laser mind will pin the hapless Alito down and extract the truth! And then it will be like one of those Hollywood courtroom dramas where the guilty one stands up and shrieks a confession in the courtroom. "I did it! I confess! I'M GUILTY!" And then the good guys win and go back to being the center of the Universe.
January 14, 2006
Lucy pulls football once again....
I saw this intro in an article by Howard Kurtz, in the WaPo
Beneath the rumble of the Abramoff scandal and the Alito confirmation, a pretty spirited argument is taking place within the Democratic Party: not just the usual soul-searching about finding a winning message for 2008, but about the war and national security and the essence of what the party stands for. (My emph.)
Oh goody, I thought. Finally I get to find out. The essence, the very essence of what the Dem Party stands for! Alas, it was not to be. Unless the "essence" of the party is being "anti-Republican," there's nothing in the article to give me a clue.
There never is! Every time the Dems suffer a defeat, there's this spate of articles on how the party should get back to its "core values." But the articles never suggest or even hint what those core values might be. This one is the same. It's all about tactics. And in-fighting among factions.
To a conservatie Republican, this is insane. Or rather, amoral. We will discuss or argue conservative principles at the drop of a hat. And argue over the extent to which those should also be Republican principles, and how much to compromise with necessary political tactics. If there are no principles that underlie your tactics, then your actions are amoral.
I have a lot of opinions about liberals, but I don't really know what liberals think that liberals are. You can't pin them down. If pressed they may say something like, "We liberals are for the little guy," or some-such mush. But that's not a principle; it's too vague. You know darn well that if the "little guy" is a white male, being squeezed by a teacher's union or an affirmative action program, it's gonna be c'est la vie, baby...
A principle or a "core value" is something you support even if the other party is advocating it, and gaining from it. One reason I'm so cranky about liberals these days is that I had always assumed that they shared with us a few core beliefs: that when America is attacked, it is time to put aside differences and all pull together until victory is won. And that victory should be our goal. And that, once engaged in war, we consider it worth spending lives and treasure to build better and more free societies, as we did with Germany and Japan after WWII.
Hoo boy, was I ever wrong on that one...
UPDATE: Tom Bowler sets me right on liberal principles. Of course they have them...
January 13, 2006
al Qaeda's Algerian affiliate...
One additional item to add to the previous post, another reason they aren't going to report the story:
...The three Algerians arrested in Italy were members of the GSPC, al Qaeda's Algerian affiliate. Thanks to Steve Hayes's reporting, we now know that large numbers of GSPC members - specifically - were trained in Iraq prior to the war. Coincidentally, the GSPC is now one of Europe's most major problems. Plots involving the GSPC have been uncovered in Spain, France, and Italy. Additional members have been arrested in Germany...(Thanks to PowerLine)
Leftists/Democrats/pacifists/news-media don't want you to know this. Because this is just one more reason, among many, why President Bush was correct to make the Iraq Campaign the centerpiece of the War on Terror. And why the frauds and hypocrites who are sabotaging their country in time of war should be driven out of public life.
January 12, 2006
If a tree falls in the forest, and the NSA hears it...
Here's more on the terror-plot you didn't hear about [Emphasis mine. Thanks to PowerLine]
AINA: The mainstream U.S. media outlets have failed to report a major terrorist plot against the U.S. - because it would tend to support President Bush's use of NSA domestic surveillance, according to media watchdog groups.
News of a planned attack masterminded by three Algerians operating out of Italy was widely reported outside the U.S., but went virtually unreported in the American media.
Italian authorities recently announced that they had used wiretaps to uncover the conspiracy to conduct a series of major attacks inside the U.S....
....The arrests were a major coup for Italian anti-terror forces, and the story was carried in most major newspapers from Europe to China.
"U.S. terror attacks foiled," read the headline in England's Sunday Times. In France, a headline from Agence France Presse proclaimed, "Three Algerians arrested in Italy over plot targeting U.S."
Curiously, what was deemed worthy of a worldwide media blitz abroad was virtually ignored by the U.S. media, and conservative media watchdog groups are saying that is no accident.
"My impression is that the major media want to use the NSA story to try and impeach the president," says Cliff Kincaid, editor of the Accuracy in Media Report published by the grassroots Accuracy in Media organization.
"If you remind people that terrorists actually are planning to kill us, that tends to support the case made by President Bush. They will ignore any issue that shows that this kind of [wiretapping] tactic can work in the war on terror."...
Think about this. How many newspapers would be sold if the headline was TERROR PLOT AGAINST U.S.! Or how many people would tune into the network news if the teaser was "New 9/11 plot may have been foiled." The news media are in the business of selling news, but here they have refused to sell their product. Because that would have also helped the President. That's pure partisanship.
The media can publish whatever they want to publish (though if I were a stockholder, I'd feel like I'd been robbed by my employees). But I would say that they have forfeited any right to any special status as "guardians of the public," or "watchdogs," or "protectors of whistle-blowers."
January 11, 2006
Mac fans are very happy with the new Intel Macs announced at MacWorld yesterday. New Powerbooks and iMacs running Intel dual-core chips. Awesome, and awesomely fast footwork by Apple for shifting an entire platform.
One little caveat. Tom Yager points out that the performance boost announced is somewhat bogus:
..Apple uses SPEC*_rate2000 tests as a foundation for claims that Intel-based Macs outperform PowerPC G4 and G5 by a factor of 2 to 5. Well, yeah. A dual-core anything outperforms a single-core anything else by a factor of 2 to 5 in benchmark tests that make use of multiple threads or processes, tests crafted specifically for the purpose of stressing SMP-based systems. It's murky marketing, and the sad part is that Apple didn't have to resort to it to make Apple's PowerPC-to-Intel switch look like a smart one. Mac users have no choice, and users also know more or less what to expect performance-wise....
I'm sure the new machines are faster, but real-world software will only get a "factor of 2 to 5 boost" if it is designed to use dual-core chips. Games or high-end graphics apps will likely be able to do that soon, because it's worth money. The extra speed is something people will pay for, or switch to a competitor for. But Ma and Pa Average-user will see a more modest performance boost.
But the really important point is that Apple has solved its biggest hardware problem. As Steven den Beste pointed out years ago, Apple, as it seemed, could never solve its chip frustrations, because Apple was not a big enough part of IBM's or Motorola's business to justify the necessary investment...
...Steve Jobs is dancing as fast as he can; he's doing what he can to mitigate the damage. But in the long run the only solution, besides praying that Motorola suddenly passes a miracle, is to abandon the PPC and switch to something else which is more competitive, from a source which will do a better job of keeping up. (And short of going x86, it's difficult to conceive at this point of just who that might be.) But if it's a different and incompatible architecture, such a switch is going to take a very long time and be very painful. It took at least ten years to ultimately make the cutover from 68K to PPC; it surely would take at least five to do it again to something else...Well, they did switch to x86. And obviously it's not going to take 5 years. The trick was that Apple has been pushing its developers hard to move to its own development platform, X-Code, rather than using CodeWarrior. And secretly it's been readying X-Code to easily produce "dual binaries," programs that run natively on both old and new chips. So most programs created with X-Code will make the move easily. Unfortunately that doesn't include MS Office and Photoshop. But Office will probably be tolerable running in emulation. And Photoshop is probably scrambling to switch, since the Mac is too big in graphics for them to ignore.
Low-lifes on trial...
Michelle Malkin has posted pictures of the defendants in the trial that just started, who are accused of slashing the tires of 20 Republican Campaign vehicles. don't expect to see much in the news about it.
Can you JUST IMAGINE how press and lefties would be going berserk if these low-lifes were accused of attacking Democrats!
Imagine the the bloviating, the POMPOSITY! "Democracy is dead," "Workers and minorities have been 'disenfranchised,'" America is fast becoming a police state..."first they came for the campaign vans..."
And the worst: "The America we all once knew (sniff) and loved (sniff) is (choke) GONE!"
January 10, 2006
You can safely bet on it...
Peter Burnett, writing about an academic study on "rudeness in the workplace:"
...The decline in public civility is a wonderful example of how hopeless modern rationalism can be as a tool for analyzing and regulating human behaviour. Everyone knows viscerally and experientially that public life is becoming increasingly mean and selfish, even threatening, but you can probably safely bet the mortgage a study like this will conclude:
A) there were a lot of rude people in the past and no one can really say for sure it’s getting worse;
B) those people who are rude are being mistreated in some way and are largely unconscious of their offensive behaviours. They will become paragons of politeness when they get their due or are counseled and educated;
C) punishment and sanctions are “inappropriate” because there are no objective standards of what is or isn’t rude, and, besides, there are really no victims, and;
D) Those promoting civility must take great care not to trample on important political freedoms like the right to be menacing and vulgar or socially desirable goals like having every employee express himself with total, unhypocritical honesty.
But not even Las Vegas would offer long odds it will conclude civilized behaviour rests on the sublimation of natural instincts for the good of others and that a society guided by a libertarian, secular ethos will gradually work its way back to inchoate resentments, tribal suspicion and hair-trigger defensiveness....
January 9, 2006
About every three generations...
I encountered this cartoon in a history of the Roosevelt family. It's a bit of evidence for the 70-Year Cycle theory, and is the sort of thing that doesn't often get into history books. People were deranged about FDR in exactly the way they were about Lincoln, and are now about Bush.
I expect that few histories a hundred years from now will notice that people in well-to-do urban enclaves buy anti-Bush baby clothes...
January 8, 2006
There's been lots of people commenting on Mark Steyn's piece on the decline of Europe and its ongoing demographic collapse. But Scott Chaffin pointed out one reaction that seems really weird, from Thomas PM Barnett, author of The Pentagon's New Map:
...Wow! Somebody get a lynching party together. We better hang some of them dark-skinned pagans before they start screwing our women! You there–start having some babies for Der Fatherland!...
I think Barnett is one of the smartest guys around, with a lot of good thoughts. He's right many things, especially on how the world works as a whole, and where it's going. But he's a liberal.
He's not a ranting left-winger, and he's a supporter of the WoT, which is why this comment seems odd. (Well actually it is literally insane; it doesn't even vaguely connect with what Steyn is writing.) But it's also very revealing, just because there aren't a lot of liberals supporting the war, and no others (that I know of) supporting it as part of a thought-out plan for transforming the world for the better. Barnett's spent a couple of decades as a thinker on military matters and foreign affairs. His perspective is especially valuable to a conservative like myself, because there aren't many liberals thinking clearly about, well... anything.
But I've been watching him for a while now, and it seems to me that, because he's a liberal, there are certain places he just can't go. In particular, he looks at nations exactly like liberals look at a community of individuals. To liberals, it is forbidden to say or think that people of some groups or ethnicities are more able than other people, either culturally or genetically. You mustn't say, or think, that individuals from certain minority groups are not doing as well as others because they lack a culture that values education and hard work and family values, or even more verboten, because their IQ scores are lower. Any differences must be attributed to outside forces.
Barnett views nations and major ethnic groups the same way. For instance he puts a lot of emphasis on the flows of information that characterize those parts of the world that are flourishing (The Functioning Core, in his lingo. The poor and dysfunctional parts of the globe are The Gap). But Barnett always assumes that if a country is opened up to those "flows," and if certain other problems are solved, then that place will tend to flourish just like the others, and move into the Core. He never suggests that some group might fail to prosper despite advantages because their culture is dysfunctional.
(Actually some of the world's worst violence occurs where one ethnic group within a country works harder and smarter and gets rich, and arouses other groups to punitive violence. Think Nigeria, or Sri Lanka, or "Palestine." Think Jews in many lands. And, leaving aside the question of actual genetics, it is clear that some cultures have deep-rooted traits in their 'genes" that lead to success or failure. Just look at the different fates of former British colonies and former French or Spanish colonies...)
But Barnett never goes there. And especially, he can't go where Steyn is leading, to the conclusion that Europe is circling the drain. Barnett's writings always assume that the EU is roughly equivalent to the US, and that they could be equal partners in the world's affairs if only they wanted to, if only we did a better job of drawing them in.
Barnett's hysterical reaction (...Those frickin' Muslims are breeding like rabbits and infiltrating us like crazy. Europe will be lost within a short historical timeframe. Hell, it may be too far gone already. Like Corn, Steyn pushes for an aggressive sort of re-education campaign, where, apparently, we outdo the House of Saud in brainwashing...) is exactly like the reaction you would get if you suggested that certain minority groups are not represented at elite colleges in sufficient numbers because they are lazier or less intelligent than others. Screams of racism. Virulent attacks on you, and accusations that you are advocating euthanasia or "ethnic cleansing" or "white supremacy," even if you never mentioned those things.
Steyn's point is not that Muslims are breeding too much, but that Europeans are NOT breeding. Spain's birthrate is such that its population is going to halve every generation! That's a fact. And Steyn never mentions any "re-education campaign," or suggests any sort of remedy. That's purely Barnett's fantasy. And I think these are fantasies invented because seriously considering or debating these questions would endanger his liberal worldview...He literally can't go there.
"a bid to outdo"
Nick Danger at Redstate:
...You would think that the arrest of terrorists planning to "outdo 9/11" would warrant some news coverage in the United States, but that's not what the editors at your Ministry of Truth decided...Just ducky. So glad the mainstream media are protecting us. Not only do they protect us by deciding what the Constitution means, what secret intelligence should be published, what news from Iraq is too good misleading...not only that, but they are PROTECTING US FROM OURSELVES!
...If you're a regular reader of Turkish Press or Geo in Pakistan, you already know that on December 23,Three Algerians arrested in an anti-terrorist operation in southern Italy are suspected of being linked to a planned new series of attacks in the United States, Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said Friday.But if you have been relying on the U.S. media to warn you about things like this, you haven't heard anything about it....
The attacks would have targeted ships, stadiums or railway stations in a bid to outdo the September 11, 2001 strikes by Al-Qaeda in New York and Washington which killed some 2,700 people, Pisanu said.
Obviously, if we knew that terrorists were planning to "outdo 9/11," the resulting panics would leave millions of us little Lemmings trampled or crushed, and anyone wearing a turban would be instantly lynched...and even worse, we would be likely to support the extremist Bush Administration, and let that crazed right-winger Judge Alito onto the Court...
January 7, 2006
Bring 'em on...
There's another lie going around, about how the Bush Administration is responsible for the recent coal miner deaths.
Newsbusters has the facts; a general downturn in deaths since 1995. (With an uptick in the last Clinton years, which I'm sure the media found perfectly acceptable.) And compare 2005's 22 American deaths with China's 2,600!
But what bothers me more then the political gotcha games, is the picture I've seen presented recently of miners as poor ignorant fools driven to unacceptable work by greedy capitalism. This is a despicable canard; our miners are well-paid, and are proud to follow a difficult and dangerous craft that is vital to our country. This is exactly the same dirty lie leftists use to dishonor and denigrate our military.
And more bothersome than that, is the sub-text that being a coal miner (or lineman, lumberjack, carpenter, fireman) is to be less important, less significant, less worthy of consideration than being, say, journalists, professors, or clergy. Just the opposite is true. If we tossed out all our journalists, all our professors, and all the fake-Christian lefty-trendoid Jesus-was-a-socialist churchmen, the country would not only be the better for getting rid of rotten ideas, but also better because those people would quickly be replaced by better ones from out of the vast reserves of talent and energy to be found among ordinary Americans.
And more bothersome yet is the subtext that the most important goal of life is safety and security. I won't explain why this is a pernicious thought---if you don't get it already, you probably never will.
costs of appeasement...
Jonah Goldberg, on the movie Munich:
It didn't make my column, but one thing that bugged me was the constant emphasis on money. The Israeli hit squad was told to keep their receipts. They kept a running tally of how expensive everything was, etc etc.
I got the sense that what Spielberg and Kushner were trying to communicate was that "vengeance" is expensive not just morally, but financially as well. We could be spending the money on better things, in other words. But one has to wonder whether in the rest of the world that message (as intellectually and morally bankrupt as it is) will rise above the more superficial message that Jews are always concerned with money...
People who portray Jews as obsessing over money are NOT trying to convey any lofty message. My guess is that it's simply anti-Semitism. Or perhaps just the typical position of a millionaire Hollywood Lefty, expressing disdain for ordinary people who have to worry about money. Which the Israelis probably did; Israel was a poor country with a crushing defense burden. And despite support from terror-supporting dictators and European Eloi-states, the terrorists probably had their own money worries, and their own budgets---but nobody ever portrays them as money-grubbers.
"Expensive morally and financially." I disagree totally. It was morally correct to hunt down and kill those murderers. It was the only way justice could be done, and the only way to prevent them from murdering others, and a necessary step to discourage future terrorism. Appeasing terrorists is equivalent to murder, and we are fighting a war now partly because the world did not give Israel its full support in the fight against Palestinian terrorists. And Spielberg is now helping to cause future wars by his moral equivalence about terrorists. Spielberg is a murderer.
The financial point is just laughable. Slaughtering terrorists is about the best financial investment the world can make. They are now costing the world's economies trillions of dollars a year, if you combine direct costs plus opportunity costs plus the costs of uncertainty.
January 6, 2006
"a swift and brutal assassination"
Iain Murray writes, in The Corner:
....While new Tory leader David Cameron's rush to the political center has alarmed genuine Conservatives, it has attracted vast numbers of voters away from the Liberal Democrats, the polls show. Kennedy failed noticeably to respond to the challenge. If anyone drove the knife into Kennedy's back, it wasn't his former Press Secretary, nor the 11 frontbench spokesmen who signed a letter indicating their unhappiness, it was David Cameron. He appears to have pushed the Liberal Democrats off the precipice.
The Liberal Democrats look destined for a period of internecine strife as they try to decide whether they are a free-market Liberal party or a statist Left party. Support will almost certainly wither away as the paper of Kennedy's leadership is stripped away and the cracks he allowed to grow are revealed.
It is therefore quite possible that a return to two-party politics is imminent in the UK. Ironically, this should make the distinctions between the parties easier to grasp. Without having to worry about tactical voting, the parties will not have to spend time campaigning for a nebuolus "center ground," but will probably instead be able to target their message more precisely. In that respect, British politics may become more like American. If Cameron has acheived that by a swift and brutal assassination of the Liberal Democrats as a credible electoral force, he deserves praise...
I confess I have mostly been ignoring British politics in recent years. But Cameron is starting to seem interesting, and his willingness to support Labour policies that he feels are right, rather than being merely "oppositional," is refreshing to an American.
I have yet in my life to hear any reason for the existence of the Liberal Democrats, so if he's got rid of them, I'm in favor.
There's only one war...
Clinton W. Taylor has a good piece in American Spectator of the Flight 93 memorial...
...I suppose that is an improvement. Nonetheless, the winning memorial to a plane crash is still...a hole in the ground....
...Murdoch's designers bear some of the blame for this failure, but there are three sources of bad inspiration that deserve singling out as well.
The first precursors of failure were the poor design criteria. Murdoch's design responded to a "Memorial Expression," directing that the plan should "allow freedom of personal interpretation" of the Battle Over Shanksville. In a brochure announcing the new design, Paul Murdoch's letter boasts that his memorial is "open to emotional experience, individual interpretation and personal contemplation."...
In other words, it's tacky to express any public belief in anything. It's acceptable to have personal beliefs (it's better to just be "open to emotional experience"), but our nation must not express any belief in anything. Especially not that our people were heroes, that they were soldiers in the war on the terrorists, who deserve to be held up to our children as models of what Americans should be.
This argument over a memorial, like every culture-war skirmish, is a battle in the war. Which war? There's only one war.
...Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure....
This is a war against America and all it stands for. How do you know who's on the other side? It's easy.
Just imagine a different sort of memorial. say, a high hill topped with big American flags surrounding a large bronze sculpture portraying ordinary Americans attacking terrorist animals with their bare hands, clawing their eyes out and stomping on their skulls.
Now, think of all the people who would hate that monument. Leftists and al Qaeda killers and multiculturalists and Taliban and Quakers and (most) Europeans and Ba'athists and journalists....you know, the whole evil America-hating kit 'n caboodle. That's the enemy. That's who we are fighting against.
Read the whole piece by Taylor. It will be worth your while...(Thanks to Michelle)
Wrath Of God...
Scrappleface has the latest from Pat Robertson...
By Scott Ott: (2006-01-06) — Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, who yesterday told viewers that God’s wrath spurred Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s massive stroke, today said his own “ignorant remarks are another manifestation of God’s anger.”...
...“If Christians would read the Bible, instead of just watching TV, they would understand that people who claim to know exactly why God does what He does are usually false teachers,” said Mr. Robertson. “God disciplines American Christians for their willful ignorance of the Scriptures by having me embarrass them every 60 days or so with another ridiculous remark.”...
Lordy, what an embarrassment that guy is....
January 5, 2006
"He always looked calm even in the most tense moments"
Renata, in Israel, writes:
...I don't want to talk politics right now. Doesn't matter if I agreed or not with Sharon's ideas, views and moves. He's a controversial figure and this is what makes him special. Doesn't matter if he's right or wrong. I'm just sad because I admire him. We're talking about a man who never feared going ahead - and this is a characteristic I really envy and admire. We'talking about a man who took part in all the of the cration and development of this country. He was there, in loco. For good and for bad. He was there, doing, witnessing, planning, criticizing, defending, attacking. I do admire him.
Unfortunately the public doesn't know too much about the man Sharon. I had the pleasure of knowing a bit about him during the almost year and a half running through the Knesset corridors. He's funny, is always in a good mood, jokes all the time on everyone and everything. Everytime I stared on him, I saw a kind of grandpa in front of me. The closer I could be was last year. I remember the Knesset was about to vote Gaza disengagement plan and everyone went nuts - from reporters, to politicians. Sharon got to the Parlament and instead of heading to his office, went to the restaurant. He rarely appears at the restaurant. Sat in a table, the staff brought him black coffee and dry fruits which he ate slowly. In a matter of seconds, the place was flooded with journalists. As I used to walk around all the time, I saw this and ran to his table as everyone while I called the Knesset TV's correspondent Michael Tuchfeld. I was one of the first who got there and dared sitting with him around the same table. Me, Udi Segal, from Channel 2 News, and Nitzan Chen, from Channel 1. And I was there, listening to his jokes, his laughs, his calm. He always looked calm even in the most tense moments. Just amazing. An amazing figure.
I don't know what's gonna happen in the next hours but I'm pessimistic as everyone else. I'm never going to forget that day, in which we sat around the same table, and I felt so excited...
As I commented to her, I remember reading about how the Israeli army in the early 1950's was actually not very good, and how the inspiration and model for what it became came from Sharon's paratroopers...(I think this was the book)
I can't think of any other person, past or persent, who could claim to have changed the course of history, and then done so again 50 years later! Renata is fortunate just to have met him.
From Robin Burk at Winds of Change:
...What story is that? Only that a pack of about 30 'youths' - specifically, young men apparently from the banlieus and at least in part of north African (Moroccan) descent - got on a train at Nice and proceeded to rob, beat and sexually assault passengers.
The French police arrived at the Les Arcs station but refused to enter the train because no formal complaint had been lodged. Passengers were afraid of retaliation so did not complain formally. One person who was at the station says the 20 year old female was sexually assaulted - from the wording, it would appear "gang raped" - while the authorities waited outside.
I'll wait while you digest that. An eyewitness says that the police DID NOT INTERVENE while a young woman was gangraped by these thugs, because they'd didn't have a formal complaint.
Have your breath back yet? Okay let's go on....
Passengers outnumbered the youths 20 to 1, but not one intervened or fought back, either to protect themselves or the young woman being assaulted. That might be due to the death threats screamed by the gangs at those who called police on their cell phones.
However, according to No Pasaran reader Andre Thiele, who was at the station, the authorities DID hasten to remove all evidence of the event from the station and no French media outlet carried the story until a German paper broke it later..(thanks toRand).
This is where they want us to go too. Who? The sludge-brains who vote "Democrat" and listen to NPR and think liberating Iraq was evil but 9/11 is something we ought to forget. The meat-heads who tell us that "European Culture" is so superior to coarse crude America. They won't admit it, but that's the path they are pushing us onto.
And those lovely folks who bring us gun control. Europe is far advanced over nasty horrid America in that regard, so none of the "youths" had to worry about some gal pulling a Glock out of her pocketbook and sending him off to Allah. That's what they want for us..
And the superior beings who bring us fake pacifism. Have you noticed that there have been other stories from the cultured Old World lately, about police not tackling dangerous bad guys? You think that has no connection with armies that don't ever fight? And with "peacekeeping" forces that stand by while massacres occur? Think again. It's the same thing! It's pacifism. (Or rather, the modern lefty pacifism that only gets aroused to stop pro-American or pro-democracy wars.) And the selfless courage of our firemen rushing into the burning WTC comes from the exact same place of the spirit as the courage and ferocity of our soldiers fighting for freedom right now in Ramadi--and both are under attack from leftists, and both are seemingly dead in France.
And Robin has one more point:
I will ask what I've asked before here at Winds of Change: where is the outrage by western feminists about the rape of young women by gangs of young men coming from immigrant and at least culturally, if not actively religiously, muslim backgrounds???????
There won't be any outrage. Rape is bad when committed by white males of non-muslim background. They must be punished severely. In all other cases, why, toleration is the most important virtue, don't you know? And we mustn't criticize other cultures--that would be racist. And complaining might help Bush and Republicans..better to endure a few rapes (while denouncing white patriarchal culture as oppressive to women.) And criticizing Muslims can be dangerous! Just give them what they want, and maybe they will go away.
This is the sickness of liberalism:
[link] There was outrage Wednesday when a Vermont judge handed out a 60-day jail sentence to a man who raped a little girl many,many times over a four-year span starting when she was seven.
The judge said he no longer believes in punishment and is more concerned about rehabilitation.
Prosecutors argued that confessed child-rapist Mark Hulett, 34, of Williston deserved at least eight years behind bars for repeatedly raping a little girl countless times starting when she was seven.
But Judge Edward Cashman disagreed explaining that he no longer believes that punishment works.
"The one message I want to get through is that anger doesn't solve anything. It just corrodes your soul," said Judge Edward Cashman speaking to a packed Burlington courtroom. Most of the on-lookers were related to a young girl who was repeatedly raped by Mark Hulett who was in court to be sentenced....(Thanks to Michelle Malkin)
Symptoms of the sickness...
- As always, it's other people who do the suffering while liberals and pacifists posture and feel superior.
- As always, there's no sign that the victims mean anything to the liberal--only the criminal.
- The Rule of Law means nothing--just his feelings
- Justice means nothing.
- The statistical fact that a sex offender of that age is NOT going to be rehabilitated means nothing. (Unless he's on Death Row--then he will write a children's book and be "redeemed" before you can say Tookie five times.)
- If this scumbag rapes some other child, the Judge will NOT take any responsibility, or re-think.
- As always, the issues are framed falsely--nobody's claiming that indulging anger is going to "solve things." Nor is it a judge's JOB to "solve things."
- The wishes of ordinary people are held in contempt. The judge has innate superior knowledge that the simple folk lack.
- Feel-good mushy thinking is presented as known truth. So, "anger corrodes the soul?" Says who? On what evidence? And exactly whose souls are being referred to here? And what-the-hell business is it of a judge to pontificate on other people's souls?
Who decided this???
PowerLine quotes this, from an interview with James Risen:
..."The checks and balances that normally keep American foreign policy and national security policy toward the center kind of broke down. You had more of a radicalization, in which the career professionals were not really given a chance to forge a consensus within the administration. The principals -- Rumsfeld, Cheney Tenet and Rice -- were meeting constantly, setting policy and never allowing the experts, the people who understand the region to have a say...
Heaps of questions pop into my mind:
- Define "normally." (Just wondering, living as I do among millions of people who define "normal" as "liberal Democrats run everything.")
- Those "checks and balances?" Somehow I suspect that Risen and his information-providers consider themselves check-ers, and are going to howl with outrage when the Grand Jury starts treating them as check-ees. And I'm going to laugh.
- The "center:" Where IS this wise and beneficent center? Hmmm? Why do I suspect it's the table around which the NYT editorial board meets?
- The "center" pt 2: WHO decided that we are supposed to be in the "center?" When was that law passed?
- Those "people who understand the region?" Are they maybe people who have a lot invested in the status quo, and much to lose if the region changes?...including maybe their high-paid retirement to a Saudi-funded 'think tank?" Their pals in ruling elites? Their entree with the polished people who keep the rabble under control? (For their own good of course, since "the people who understand the region" know that they are not "ready" for democracy.)
- "The principals." They came in because of one of those election thingies--that's bad, right?
- "Never allowed...to have a say." Well that would sound dreadful, if we hadn't spent the last four years listening to liberals claim they've been "silenced, suppressed, censored, marginalized..." when in fact the country has heard them loud and clear---and rejected them!
January 4, 2006
Civilizations die from suicide...
Mark Steyn's piece in OpinionJournal today is a must-read...
...Yet while Islamism is the enemy, it's not what this thing's about. Radical Islam is an opportunistic infection, like AIDS: It's not the HIV that kills you, it's the pneumonia you get when your body's too weak to fight it off...
...That's what the war's about: our lack of civilizational confidence. As a famous Arnold Toynbee quote puts it: "Civilizations die from suicide, not murder"--as can be seen throughout much of "the Western world" right now. The progressive agenda--lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism--is collectively the real suicide bomb...
...When it comes to forecasting the future, the birthrate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2006, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026 (or 2033, or 2037, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management and Queer Studies degrees). And the hard data on babies around the Western world is that they're running out a lot faster than the oil is. "Replacement" fertility rate--i.e., the number you need for merely a stable population, not getting any bigger, not getting any smaller--is 2.1 babies per woman. Some countries are well above that: the global fertility leader, Somalia, is 6.91, Niger 6.83, Afghanistan 6.78, Yemen 6.75. Notice what those nations have in common?
Scroll way down to the bottom of the Hot One Hundred top breeders and you'll eventually find the United States, hovering just at replacement rate with 2.07 births per woman. Ireland is 1.87, New Zealand 1.79, Australia 1.76. But Canada's fertility rate is down to 1.5, well below replacement rate; Germany and Austria are at 1.3, the brink of the death spiral; Russia and Italy are at 1.2; Spain 1.1, about half replacement rate. That's to say, Spain's population is halving every generation. By 2050, Italy's population will have fallen by 22%, Bulgaria's by 36%, Estonia's by 52%. In America, demographic trends suggest that the blue states ought to apply for honorary membership of the EU: In the 2004 election, John Kerry won the 16 with the lowest birthrates; George W. Bush took 25 of the 26 states with the highest. By 2050, there will be 100 million fewer Europeans, 100 million more Americans--and mostly red-state Americans.
As fertility shrivels, societies get older--and Japan and much of Europe are set to get older than any functioning societies have ever been. And we know what comes after old age....
There's a lot more, and I don't have much time to comment (and adding comments to Steyn is a bit presumptuous). But one thing that becomes ever clearer is that my instincts were right, and in spending decades as a grumpy right-winger I've been on the right track--"The progressive agenda--lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism--is collectively the real suicide bomb..."
January 3, 2006
The other group of reformers...
I was writing in the last post about the book God's Choice : Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church, by George Weigel. Charlene and I are both enjoying it, learning a lot of stuff that you won't get from the press. There's a lot they don't want you to know. It rather looks to me like the situation we have here in domestic politics and culture, with press and leftists frantically demonizing conservatives to try to hide their own reactionary emptiness and bankruptcy.
It's much the same with Pope Benedict, formerly Cardinal Ratzinger. The same sort of people hate him not because he really is a reactionary, but because he was a leader in the other group of reformers of Vatican II and after. (He is, interestingly, the last figure of Vatican II still active in the Church.) Here's a little snippet, to give you a slight flavor of what I'm reading...
...Ratzinger agreed with those who thought that the church of the past few centuries had shrunk itself, theologically and spiritually, and that Vatican II's task was to "usher Catholics into a larger room." The reform Ratzinger imagined would have two dimensions, usually described in Council argot by a French term and an Italian term. The reform required ressourcement—a "return to the sources" of Catholic theology in the Bible and in the early Fathers of the Church, where, as Nichols writes, "the Christian religion took on its classic form" from men such as Ignatius of Antioch, Cyprian, Ambrose, Augustine, Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, Athanasius, and John Chrysostom. Ressourcement, it was believed, would free Catholic theology from the cold logic and bloodless propositions of the neo-scholastic system; and having been liberated in that way, theology would revitalize Catholic life. That revitalization was the second dimension of the kind of reform Ratzinger imagined: the famous aggiornamento, or "bringing up to date" of the Church's practices, structures and methods of encounter with modern culture and society...
...the biblical and patristic ressourcement would allow the aggiornamento of the Church in the modern world to be a genuine, two-way dialog, with the Church offering fresh insight to modernity, its aspirations and its discontents....
...The problems came, in Ratzinger's view, when aggiornamento lost its tether to ressourcement—when the "updating" of the Church did not begin with a return to the sources of Catholic intellectual and spiritual vitality...Instead of building Nichols's larger room in the Church, an aggiornamento unmoored from ressourcement stripped the room of a lot of its furniture...unleashing what a later generation would have called Catholic "deconstruction": the new question became, "How little can I believe, and how little must I do, to remain a Catholic?"...
"Two-way dialog, with the Church offering fresh insight to modernity." Think about that one a moment. In liberal culture, such a statement is unimaginable. It's the stuffy old Church's job to listen to modern culture, and get up to date. A position which was reduced to banality by certain clueless TV commentators at John Paul II's funeral, who said things like, "This may be the last chance for the Church to become relevant." (I kid you not, they really said that.)
Uh huh. Gotta become relevant to the secular rationalist world, or....or what? Thing is, the secular welfarist world is dying. Literally, in Europe and Japan, which are facing demographic collapse. Someone recently pointed out that by 2050, 60% of Italians will not know the experience of having brothers/sisters/aunts/uncles/nephews or nieces. And spiritually dying---dead--producing no exciting new ideas or movements, no compelling art, taking no risks, believing in nothing enough to fight for it (which fits a lot of Blue State America too). While the Catholic Church, and the non-liberal Protestant Churches are growing vigorously, and still produce people willing to die for their faith. (And, just as meaningful, to put aside a lot of personal pleasures, and follow God's command to be fruitful and multiply.)
I suspect there's "a last chance to become relevant" happening for somebody, but it's not who the Hollywood script says it is...
it's not all that interesting...
I just read this paragraph, which refers to the election of Pope Benedict, but which seems to me to fit a whole lot of things right now...
...If "progressive" Catholicism has no serious candidate, it's not because candidates are not available; it's more likely because the so-called progressive project, eager for the Catholic Church to make the same concessions to modernity that virtually every other non-fundamentalist Christian community has made since World War II, is exhausted. And if it is exhausted, it may be because, ultimately, it's not all that interesting, this business of deconstructing centuries of doctrine, liturgy, and moral teaching. That, in turn, may explain why the progressive project is infertile—unable to attract the brightest students in graduate schools of theology in the United States, for example... (From God's Choice : Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church, by George Weigel.)
Not interesting. Exactly. It's like "art." For the last century and a half the idea has been that if we chuck out all things old, and all things restrictive or disciplined, our creativity will flourish. But actually just the opposite has happened. Art has become more and more boring. Somebody I read long ago said that it's almost impossible to make an ugly object by carving stone with a hammer and chisel. And if you are working with plastic it's hard to make a beautiful one.
My point isn't "anti-modern," however, but anti modernism, which is a sort of Party Line or "ism" that says what "modern" is supposed to be. Modernism may, long ago, have been the creation of free spirits at the cutting edge, but now it's a become a petty intellectual tyranny. A self-appointed group gets to say what's modern, and label anything else "old-fashioned" or reactionary. And what would be funny if it were not so destructive, is that the modernists themselves are now the reactionaries, defending old ideas against the tides of change.
There are lots of modern ideas and movements that are not "modern." As an example (from the same book) there's a cartoonish view of the Catholic Church pushed in the press, that divides it into reformers, and anti-reformers who want to push back the clock. One thing Weigel makes clear is that the real division is between two different flavors of reform that emerged from Vatican II. I may quote more about this soon, but I recommend Weigel's book.
January 1, 2006
Up to her tricks again...
Andrea changed her URL and the name of her blog at the stroke of midnight. She's now here. I think it's one of those inverted-snobbery things. "I can hide away, the paparazzi will still find me."
Well, they will.
They can't help themselves...
AJ Strata notes another Washington Post article revealing information, from "current and former senior administration officials," about just how we collect data on terrorists. In this case, they don't even contend that anything illegal is happening...they just...well, Strata's title for his post says it all: The Media Cannot Stop Itself From Helping Our Enemies.
But he does have a suggestion of how we might fight back:
...A while ago someone suggested a way for ‘We The People’ to fight back as these treasonous liberals expose us to attack. The idea was to bring a class action law suit against the media outlets who recklessly expose our defense mechanisms to our enemies.
We don’t need to win, as much as get millions and millions of people signing up against the New York Times, Washington Post, the reporters themselves. In my opinion these companies are impairing my civil rights by exposing me and my familiy to terrorist acts. I have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and the partisan actions of these leakers is putting all of this at risk.
These are not whistleblowers. Their motivations are purely partisan politics.
Time for us to remind everyone the power is in the people. So if anyone knows how to start a law suit against these people please let us all know...
There is no hope of these people reforming or changing. They are stuck in 1973 (In General Honore's immortal phrase, stuck on stupid) and to admit error now would would be to admit their whole lives have been wasted on foolishness. They can't be changed, but they can be punished. My preference would be to give them a little time for reflection in a certain Caribbean resort I've heard of. But tangling them up in lawsuits would not be bad.