Archive for October, 2006

How Liberals Fight Terrorism

Friday, October 20th, 2006

How Liberals Fight Terrorism

If the following is not made into a Republican campaign commercial, and the Republicans do indeed lose, then some careers in Republican-campaign-land need to come to an inglorious and permanent end:

“(House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s) opening statement covered a full range of Democratic issues: fiscal responsibility. The minimum wage. The trade deficit. Student loans. Health care. Energy independence. Social Security. Medicare.

Then came the questions. “This is now the third election in a row in which they’ve raised security issues just before the election,” the first questioner said of the Republicans. “Why won’t it work for them a third time?”

…”This is what, I guess, campaigns will be about,” Pelosi conceded with some reluctance. “It shouldn’t be about national security.” [emphasis mine]

You know, that could have fit on a bumper sticker. “It shouldn’t be about national security” with a grinning, psychotic donkey face right next to the words, caricatured in a hybrid sort of way to offer the Minority Leader’s more outlandish facial features.

Does this absurd woman do anything in her personal life? By her logic, when you drive a car, it shouldn’t be about staying on the road, and when you cook it shouldn’t be about making something edible.

Anyway. The article is just chock full of surreal quotes like the above. Prepare to be amazed.

Update: I’ve been subscribed since early summer, I think, to the Democratic National Committee’s newsletter. Howard Dean has gone way out of his way to make sure I understand, in explicit detail, exactly how he and his party will stand up to that most nefarious of world threats…the Republicans.

On what his party intends to do about terrorists, I haven’t got a clue. He doesn’t seem to, either.

For The Anti-Death-Penalty Types VI

Friday, October 20th, 2006

For The Anti-Death-Penalty Types VI

People oppose the death penalty because it makes them feel good to oppose it. There is no other reason to argue against it. Among people who claim to value human life, there really is no reason to argue against it, because you have to have a death penalty in order for a culture to reach critical mass and continue to exist in relative safety for the innocent people who live there.

Yeah, yeah, European countries with wonderful crime statistics. Bite me. I said “critical mass” up above…this is important. Anybody who says it isn’t, hasn’t been looking at the problem very carefully. A nation comes to maturity and becomes more and more commercialized and…well, when you’re not familiar with the territory, where would you like to go walking after seven o’clock? In a strange farmland? Or in the financial district of a strange city? Would you blame the higher personal danger in the urban zone on the municipal laws in effect there? No, it’s not the laws; it’s the zoning. It goes hand-in-hand with doing more things for commercial purposes. The industrialization, the occasional blighting of neighborhoods that goes with it — it exposes the fact that some people simply have their gears stripped and can’t live with the rest of us.

They’ll kill; we, too, will kill innocents, by proxy, by letting the stripped-gear set walk around. We have a moral obligation not to do this. This is ugly stuff, but it’s all supported by the facts. Some of us feel good when such facts are ignored. They think it makes them better people. The lives of innocent children depend on those people not being allowed to vote, and I’m afraid that’s about as complicated as things get.

Today’s tragic evidence comes from the Seattle P.I. Anti-death-penalty types need to be aware of this story, so they can get a refresher course on how utterly screwed up the human model can get.

After Hurricane Katrina, Zackery Bowen and his girlfriend Adriane Hall appeared in news stories as examples of young people who had pressed on in the battered city despite evacuation orders and a lack of power and water.

Their story came to a disturbing end this week: Bowen leapt to his death from a hotel, leaving a note that led police to a French Quarter apartment where they found a woman’s charred head on the stove, limbs in the oven and torso in the refrigerator.

It’s just not one world, and we are not one species. Fortunately, this time, the trash took itself out.

How To Write A Headline

Friday, October 20th, 2006

How To Write A Headline

For the record, I’m sick to death of headlines that follow the rules below. I have MSN Messenger installed at home, and for some reason MSN TodayTM seems convinced I’m a woman. Even the stories decidedly pointed toward the masculine set, e.g., “Meeting Her Parents,” “How To Make Her Less Clingy,” “Is It Time To Get Your Prostate Checked?” have that soothing, feminine touch.

Not that I’m manly enough to know the difference between a field goal and a home run or anything…but the soothing feminine touch doesn’t do a whole lot for me. I’m left with this Bugs Bunny type reaction of “He don’t know me very well, do he?”

Well, the MSN Today folks, I guess, are just really good at following instructions:

1. How to.
Everyone loves a how to headline.

* How To Quit Smoking in 30 Days Or Your Money Back.
* How to Write a Novel in 30 Days.
* How to Lose Weight Fast.

Why do these headlines work so well? Because they promise a solution to your customers’ problems…

2. Question.
These headlines ask a question (obviously). If you want this headline type to work, it better ask a question that your customers want an answer to.

* Are you spending too much on your car insurance?
* Will your marriage fail?
* Will you know what to do if you’re in an accident?

So you mean there are people who actually like that kind of headline. Blecch.

Liberals Gone Wild!

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Liberals Gone Wild!

Victor Davis Hanson must have been reading my blog, in an honest effort to figure out what his opinions are supposed to be. Either that, or he’s been noticing the same things I’ve been noticing.

The Democrats have not elected congressional majorities in 12 years, and they’ve occupied the White House in only eight of the last 26 years. The left’s current unruliness seems a way of scapegoating others for a more elemental frustration – that they can’t gain a national majority based on their core beliefs. More entitlements, higher taxes to pay for them, gay marriage, de facto quotas in affirmative action, open borders, abortion on demand, and radical secularism – these liberal issues don’t tend to resonate with most Americans.

To compensate, leftist pundits, billionaire philanthropists and politicians, from current officeholders to ex-presidents, work to ensure that isolated moments of Republican ineptness (George Bush strutting on a carrier deck in his flight suit) and wrongdoing (repulsive e-mails from a perverted Congressman Mark Foley) blare out as the only issues of the day. This distracting drumbeat, not their own agenda, is the only strategy for success in the next election.

Go read the whole thing

Let’s Push Some Buttons

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Let’s Push Some Buttons

One of the tragic things to happen to American discourse, is that we tend to get caught up in what outlandish things we can say to get attention. Like for example…nobody would bet any real money that mankind is causing global warming, and facing extinction as a result. Or that we’d be better off if men were barred from holding public office for the next hundred years, or that Saddam Hussein made life better for people in Iraq than the way things are with him gone. Nobody would bet any serious money on those things. Certainly not important body parts. But people say things like that all the time.

It’s the price we pay for being an affluent society. People get to say silly, outlandish things all the time. And they don’t pay any price for saying these things. We’re too comfortable to pay prices for holding the wrong opinions. And this ends up hurting our collective ability to think problems through logically.

So let’s go all the way. I say, let’s just circumvent the tricky issue of how to get to the things we want…and discuss what it is we want to do. I think that’s what is lacking in 2006, right before our elections.

Here we go.

This is my “America” button. Push this button, and over in Iraq our guys are going to win and the terrorists are gonna lose. Nevermind how. The terrorists get captured or killed. Maybe the really good ones drop dead of heart attacks, and all the rest of them crap their pants and get captured. Or something. Point is, we win. Instantly. Guaranteed. All you have to do, is push the button.

Would I push it? Hell ya! Get outta my way, I’d push the button.

Okay, now this is my “No America” button. You push this, and we LOSE. That’s right, the terrorists kick our asses.

I would not push that button. No, no, no, no, no.

If I could take it apart, I would snip the wires. Osama bin Laden, of course, would like that button pushed. And so would a bunch of other dirty evil men. But I don’t want that button pushed, and I don’t think you do either.


This is where things get tricky. If you push this button, it’s World War II all over again. We’re going to have our elections and the Democrats are going to kick ass. Not only that, but all Republicans will wake up tomorrow with their heads full of Democrat thoughts. Everybody’s going to have an irrational fear of Pat Robertson breaking into their bedrooms and busting them for having sex in the wrong position. And confiscating their condoms. All Republicans lose in November. All Democrats win. President Bush resigns, and (somehow) a liberal Democrat takes his place as our new President. Immediately.

Oh, and the button also does what that first button does. We kick ass in Iraq.

As far as I’m concerned, that right there is a fair trade. I’d push it. Push it, push it, push it, push it. Of course, the Democrats would get ALL the credit for kicking that terrorist ass. Everyone would go “Yay, Democrats! They kick terrorist ass!” I know that’s silly…but anyway, that’s all good. I’d push the button.

Ah…well, you know what this button does. Push this, and nobody cares about Democrat issues. We all wake up tomorrow with an unquenchable thirst for dead terrorists and tax cuts. Republicans win, and…we kick ass in Iraq.

Yeah, I’d push that button of course.

Now, Democrats…which of those buttons would you push? And therein lies my point. We seem to have hit this bizarre little chapter in American history where one of our major political parties, has evolved into perfect and total opposition to, quite simply, knowing what to do. I personally know of a few Democrats who would join me in pressing that first button. Just a few. For all the rest of them — and this includes the ones I see on television, as well as the ones I know — the Shakespearean question of “to press, or not to press” is met with…some kind of silly speech. “Well, what I WANT is for George Bush to pull his head out of…” Anything to avoid stating the actual goal, in terms that are easily understood. “I don’t want to push the button that would make America lose, personally, but under the leadership we have NOW…” Just more speeches. That’s it.

Throughout the twentieth century, when Democrats won elections, they did so through the populist route: We perceive a lot of people want this thing, right or wrong…if your financial interests are aligned such that you also want the thing, you should vote for us. Other people have different interests but there are more of us than there are of them, and we’re going to win. In other words, from the gold-standard issues, right up until Watergate, they won by identifying their peers and I apply that plural in the most narrow definition possible: Companions who share interests. You and I don’t both have to like orange sherbet, or football; if what’s good for me is also good for you, climb on board. More of us, than there are of them.

Here it is 2006, the nation is bitterly divided…and yet, Democrats lost three elections in a row. Barely. Between Watergate and today, they’ve won not by defining peerages, but by sliming the other guys. It doesn’t work very often. What they need to do, is to go back to forming peerages. Defining common interests that appeal to so many people, that it really doesn’t matter who would be outside of those interests or who would be hurt by those interests.

I have to think the movers-and-shakers in the Democratic party know this. And yet, they won’t tell us which buttons they’ll press and which buttons they won’t. Neither will their rank-and-file. They’ve got a situation going where they can’t do this.

And they seem to like it that way.

That’s kind of unsettling.

Cheer Up

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Cheer Up

Let me be the first to comment on the self-inflicted damage we do when we put our faith in irrational optimism. From early on, I’ve had an appreciation that the rosey outlook offered by optimism is not only lacking in value; it tends to do damage. I’ve seen it. In fact, pessimists have a leg-up in achieving superior results. I’ve seen that too.

But pessimism works only so long as it’s confined to the situation-at-hand, and curtailed from poisoning the vision for the future. And in apply to the situation-at-hand, it’s only a help so long as it provides a superior fastening to the plane of reality.

An election is near, and we have a lot of pessimism. It is engineered — engineered, I say — to do anything, anything, anything but provide a superior fastening to the plane of reality. More like a de-coupling.

George F. Will sets us straight. Read up.

Nancy Pelosi vows that if Democrats capture Congress they will “jump-start our economy.” A “jump-start” is administered to a stalled vehicle. But since the Bush tax cuts went into effect in 2003, the economy’s growth rate (3.5 percent) has been better than the average for the 1980s (3.1) and 1990s (3.3). Today’s unemployment rate (4.6 percent) is lower than the average for the 1990s (5.8) — lower, in fact, than the average for the last 40 years (6.0). Some stall.
The Jack No. 2 well, in deep water 170 miles southwest of New Orleans, recently discovered a field with perhaps 15 billion barrels of oil — a 50 percent increase in proven U.S. reserves. This news triggered a gusher of journalistic gloom: More oil means more woe — a reprieve for that enemy of humanity, the internal combustion engine, and more global warming, more air pollution, more highway fatalities, more suburban sprawl.

The recent 20 percent decline of the cost of a barrel of oil, from a nominal record of $78.40 (which, adjusted for inflation, was well below the 1980 peak of $92 in 2006 dollars), has produced an 81-cent decline in the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline in 70 days. For consumers, that is akin to a tax cut of more than $81 billion.

If you don’t have a good understanding of the difference between a fact and opinion — not quite as simple a matter as it sounds — you use the honor system when you depend on your “news” sources to tell you what’s up, as opposed to who to vote for. And if those “news” sources don’t understand this critical difference, then they use your vote as a barometer of how well they’re doing their jobs.

And nobody in this country, on either side of the aisle, wants things to work that way. Er, let me rephrase that. Nobody with a reputation worth defending will admit to that.

Memo For File XXVIII

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Memo For File XXVIII

Yesterday in the Best of the Web column, James Taranto poked fun at the Democrats for coming up with yet another slogan.

The Democrats have a new slogan, the Associated Press reports:

Ned Lamont uses it in his Connecticut Senate race. President Clinton is scheduled to speak on the idea in Washington this week. Bob Casey Jr., Pennsylvania candidate for Senate, put it in the title of his talk at The Catholic University of America–then repeated the phrase 29 times.

The term is “common good,” and it’s catching on as a way to describe liberal values and reach religious voters who rejected Democrats in the 2004 election. Led by the Center for American Progress, a Washington think-tank, party activists hope the phrase will do for them what “compassionate conservative” did for the Republicans.

“It’s a core value that we think organizes the entire political agenda for progressives,” said John Halpin, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “With the rise of materialism, greed and corruption in American society, people want a return to a better sense of community–sort of a shared sacrifice, a return to the ethic of service and duty.”

Isn’t this about the 87th slogan the Dems have come up with? Remember “culture of corruption,” “America can do better,” “enough is enough,” etc.? Maybe the Republican slogan should be “slogans are not enough.”

Then again, maybe they are enough. It now seems within the realm of possibility that Democrats will take one or both houses of Congress in three weeks, even though they are campaigning on not much more than not being Republicans. But the Republicans are campaigning on not much more than not being Democrats. To our mind the Republicans have the better of this argument, but there is something to be said for punishing the party in power if its performance has been subpar.

I was intrigued by this speech using the phrase 29 times, by the challenger to Sen. Rick Santorum’s seat in Pennsylvania. So I scoured the web and eventually found a full transcript on Bob Casey’s campaign website. It’s a damn good speech, neatly capturing everything that has ever appealed to humanity about this “common good” concept. He presents the result in such a way that, if you’re unacquainted with this debate, you’re left thinking “who could possibly argue with that?” In other words, his speech does exactly what speeches are supposed to do.

When I was growing up, most parents believed that their children would have better lives and more opportunities than they themselves had, and we all believed in the promise of tomorrow and a brighter future. A perfect example of that belief was my grandfather, Alphonsus L. Casey, who went to work in the darkness and danger of the anthracite coal mines as a mule boy when he was just 11 years old. The novelist Stephen Crane wrote about miners and mule boys “toiling in this city of endless night.” And he described how mule boys would carry a lamp and “run ahead with the light” in the darkness. Only in a country like America could a mule boy go on to earn a law degree and create a new life for himself and his family, one that would inspire his son to carry a different kind of light as the governor of Pennsylvania.

But something seems to have changed in recent years. Instead of hope, fear threatens to become the pervasive feeling in this country. We now live in a country where, according to a recent Pew study, only one third of all parents expect their children to be better off than they themselves are. And around the world, America is losing the moral authority that has made us the standard for other nations to emulate. Many factors play into these changes. But at the core is something quite simple: Many of our leaders have lost their moral compass and no longer seem to believe that the purpose of government should be to promote the common good.
The common good must first be based upon a solid foundation of justice. As Saint Augustine taught us: “Without justice, what are kingdoms but great bands of robbers?” Justice cannot abide 34 million people in poverty and 8.3 million children without health care. Justice cannot ignore the suffering of millions of parents in this country who have to face the soul-crushing thought that they might have to tell their child to go to bed hungry�or who realize that they simply cannot afford the medical treatment their child needs.

In the month or so since Casey’s speech, it’s been commented-upon here and here.

I’m most impressed by what Bob Casey did not say. If you click open the transcript and read it word for word, you will most assuredly not see something like this: “I have opportunities my parents never had, my parents had opportunities my grandfather, the mule boy, didn’t have. This improvement of each child’s hopes and dreams, over his parents’ hopes and dreams, was made possible by respect for the common good.” Bob Casey does not say that. He does not say “My grandfather was able to make life better for his children, because as a mule boy he had some really great health benefits.” These are things upon which his sales pitch, logically, must depend…those, or something like them. He goes to great lengths to lead his audience to believe these things, but nowhere in the entire speech does he take the responsibility of actually saying that.

He can’t say that, because it would be provably incorrect. The simple fact of the matter is, his idea is nothing new. It’s as old as the hills. Civilizations have risen and fallen on this principle of the common good and the subordination of the individual. Throughout the millenia, the human race has shown a proclivity toward “natural selection” — a tendency to say “Hey, this worked out pretty swell! Let’s do a whole lot more of it!” — and the Common Good schtick has never managed to float to the top. Oh sure, it’s rejuvenated like Frankenstein, repeatedly. It has a lot of appeal for people. But it requires the rejuvenation. Where a civilization prospers, the “common good” is never central to the prosperity; instead, those who seek to promote such a concept, swoop in like long-lost “relatives” discovering the guy who just won the lottery.

A scrutinizing and energetic read over the Wikipedia page helps to provide the reason why the whole deal really isn’t as good as it sounds…

The common good is a term that can refer to several different concepts. In the popular meaning, the common good describes a specific “good” that is shared and beneficial for all (or most) members of a given community. This is also how the common good is broadly defined in philosophy, ethics, and political science. This concept is increasing in popularity as moral vision for the progressive left in American politics. [emphasis mine]

Wikipedia is a resource anyone can edit, and I’m going to leave this alone because it states the essentials accurately. But I have criticism here. It trivializes what is important, and emphasises what is trivial. I’m leaving it alone because I think the way people interpret what they see is the responsibility of the reader, not of the writer.

So let’s allow the definition to stand, but add this comment.

All…or most. That determines everything. Absolutely everything. Substantial numbers among us, on both sides of this conservative/liberal barrier, would agree: If something is good for all of us, let’s go ahead and do it. And we would further agree, if something is bad for most of us and good for just a tiny portion of us, let’s not do that.

What if something is injurious to some among of us, and at the same time, good for the majority of us? I’m not talking about a working, functional, nuclear-powered car that would cause short-term economic hardship to the petroleum industry. Some guy owns a gas station, he’s forced out, and re-enters the business world in a different occupation with more promise. Over the long term, he goes through an adaptive process and ends up the richer for it. That isn’t really “injury.” No, I’m talking about real injury. Like a progressive tax. There’s simply no “upside” to paying a higher tax, even if other people think you “can afford to” pay it.

And that’s what “common good” really is. It’s a rationale for inflicting genuine injury on selected subsets of people which are assured to be in the minority, so the act of injury can find shelter in a democratic process. Taxing smokers. Taxing rich people. Taxing businesses. “Don’t tax you don’t tax me; tax the guy behind the tree.”

Casey talks about principles he learned from living in a family with eight children. But the word atruism doesn’t appear in his speech, one single time. That word would provide the substance for which people are looking, as they lend Casey’s comments their sympathy. That’s what people really value. It means concern for the welfare of others. Like, for example…I don’t care if this proposed tax will never impact me, I don’t care if it will only hit “rich” people who “can afford” it. Punishing people for being productive is morally wrong, so I’m going to oppose it. That. That’s altruism.

The “common good” folks, throughout human history, present themselves as being more altruistic. They never, ever, quite seem to end up that way. There’s a reason for that. What they really want, is a license to determine what the common good really is, and they want this to work kind of like Agent 007’s “license to kill.” The phrase “common good” is carefully constructed to commit, conceptually, to nothing. It doesn’t promise to improve society over the long term, it doesn’t promise not to hurt people. It doesn’t even promise to confine itself to actions most people would like, or even to help more people than it hurts. It doesn’t promise any of those things. If it was capable of commitment to greater aid than injury, on a nose-count basis, it would be called “populism.” But that’s not what it is.

It’s bureaucracy over common sense. And it leads to dystopian societies, again and again. Democrats who want to run on the phrase, probably know this to be true. After all, they’ve chosen to start a debate about “common good” in the fall of 2006, rather than in the winter of 2005. They can’t afford for people to think about it for too long.

Update: The older I get, the more of a link I see between this “common good” stuff, the forementioned dystopian society, and a deterioration in the ability of the masses to think critically. It makes sense when you put yourself in the shoes of the dictator; how do you go about controlling the lives of large numbers of thinking people? You don’t. It’s like herding cats. But when people form their cognitions of reality and their hopes and dreams, based on the cognitions, hopes & dreams of those around them — it has to be much easier.

And so we have “common good”. Once the resources we’ve placed in public trust are marshalled toward that, then reality is no longer entrusted to the common man. There are things you know to be true, with which the public officials agree with you — and then there are the ideas you have for yourself, on which the public servants dissent. The latter of those two, simply don’t matter. Nothing will be done about them.

Lately, we’ve had this hot movie-making trend where you make the dystopian society into a model for George Bush’s America and therefore a model for conservatism. But when you go backward in time, when much more eloquent prose was written about the dystopian society — when such tomes were based on the real-life challenges that faced Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum and Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin, you see that historically such oppresive regimes have been carefully constructed by our liberals. That is to say, our collectivists. Not conservatives, but those dedicated to oppressing the spirit of the individual, subordinating it to the flimsy ambitions of the apparatchiks.

In few places is this more apparent, than in the first chapter of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four”:

The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one’s teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one’s neck. The [Two Minutes] Hate had started.

As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience…The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party’s purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even � so it was occasionally rumoured � in some hiding-place in Oceania itself.

…Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room. The self-satisfied sheep-like face on the screen, and the terrifying power of the Eurasian army behind it, were too much to be borne: besides, the sight or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger automatically. He was an object of hatred more constant than either Eurasia or Eastasia, since when Oceania was at war with one of these Powers it was generally at peace with the other. But what was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were � in spite of all this, his influence never seemed to grow less…

In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen. The little sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and her mouth was opening and shutting like that of a landed fish. Even O’Brien’s heavy face was flushed. He was sitting very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a wave…The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.

Arbitrarilly, let’s just add twenty years to this. What does this look like…a Bush rally, or a Kerry rally? Really?

Undirected emotion flows through a crowd that has surrendered to group-think, and has long ago made a regular ritual out of hating a designated individual with a blind frenzy. They remember that they hate the man…so much better than they remember why, exactly.

Substitute “George Bush” in place of “Emmanuel Goldstein,” and what you’re left with — well, it could be any meeting of any one of a number of leftist groups. It could be a typical radio show on the now-defunct Air America. So what is the ideology of a dystopian society? Millions of people think the above describes conservatism, perfectly. It’s what conservatism is all about. They think that…because they’ve been told to think that. But thinking people, can see the similarities for themselves. And not too much in the conservative camp, has resembled what’s exerpted above. But an awful lot of liberal stuff has. An awful lot.

“Common good”; the Nineteen Eighty-Four novel neatly captures exactly where it gets you. Is this what we need right now? Really?

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XXI

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XXI

I simply can’t think of a better way to say this, or of anything to add to it.

If there is any among you who still thinks the mass media isn�t in the pocket of the Left, you merely have to compare how the Plame affair went from being the biggest scandal since Capt. Dreyfuss to a non-story once the crime couldn�t be laid at the feet of Karl Rove or Dick Cheney. Of course, inasmuch as Valerie Plame was not an undercover operative, it was never a big deal. But once it turned out that Clinton colleague Richard Armitage was Shallow Throat, the media buried the story back among the classified ads.

Liberals who are aware that I�m not religious sometimes take me to task for not criticizing the religious Right with the same zeal I bring to bear on what I refer to as the religious Left. (For those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to those zealots whose bible is the Gospel According to James Carville. The prophets of the faith include Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter.) The fact is, I have nothing against Christian fundamentalists. Mainly, I disagree with them on the issue of abortion. But I don�t think that those in the Pro-Life movement are evil, whereas I think those on the other side, those who promote 13 and 14-year-olds having abortions without parental consent, are.

Go read the whole thing

Why Do Black Americans Still Vote For DemocRATS?

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Why Do Black Americans Still Vote For DemocRATS?

Via David Drake: Why Do Black Americans Still Vote For DemocRATS?

Bashing the Boy Scouts II

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Bashing the Boy Scouts II

The City of Berkeley is allowed to withhold funds and aid to the Boy Scouts, while allowing similar aid to similar organizations, based on the Scouts’ restrictions against atheists and homosexuals. The California State Supreme Court has ruled, and the U.S. Supreme court has declined to hear the appeal.

Six years after the Supreme Court ruled the Boy Scouts could ban gay leaders, the group is fighting and losing legal battles with state and local governments over its discriminatory policies.

The latest setback came Monday when the high court without comment refused to take a case out of Berkeley, Calif., in which a Scouts sailing group lost free use of a public marina because the Boy Scouts bar atheists and gays.

The action let stand a unanimous California Supreme Court ruling that the city of Berkeley may treat the Berkeley Sea Scouts differently from other nonprofit organizations because of the Scouts’ membership policies.

For something that has become such a touchy issue, this whole thing about where public funding goes — it doesn’t appear to be drawing an equal representation of all interested groups. Rarely does the electorate get to directly vote on it.

And I suppose that by itself is okay, in matters of constitutionality. Whether one document logically comports with another, is not a matter for voting. But it seems a little strange to me; I can’t remember the last time a leftist, secular organization, of any kind, was denied funds or aid from a public treasury on the strength of more traditionally-minded segments of the populace feeling alienated by the principles and practices of that organization.

It would appear this wind blows only one way. Now, I think we would all agree if it’s all about “fairness,” this is something that should be fixed before any important decisions are made. About anything.

There’s more…

On a separate matter, federal judges in two other court cases that are being appealed have ruled that government aid to the group is unconstitutional because the Boy Scouts of America requires members to swear an oath of duty to God.

Huh. Such a case would necessarily ask, once again, how high is that “wall of separation.” Whatever the answer is, I hope it comfortably explains what’s documented here:

[Thomas] Jefferson’s actions as President of the United States are important guidelines in understanding what he meant by the “wall of separation.” In 1803, one year after the Danbury letter, Jefferson made a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians, wherein he pledged money to build them a Roman Catholic Church and to support their priests � all from federal funds. Jefferson apparently saw no conflict between asking Congress to implement the treaty’s provisions by appropriating funds, and the prohibition that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . .” In addition, Jefferson signed three extensions of “An act regulating the grants of land appropriated for Military Services, and for the Society of the United Brethren for propagating the Gospel among the Heathen.” This act granted free of charge titles to sections of land to the United Brethren. In addition to holding the land in trust for Indians who were already Christians, the United Brethren used resources derived from cultivating and leasing the land to send out missionaries to proselyte among the non-Christian Indians. Once again, had Jefferson been an absolutist, as the Everson Court suggests, he would have vetoed not one, but all three extensions of this act. Thus, the Danbury letter is significant because when taken out of context, it provides the foundation for an absolute separation of church and state. Not only was Jefferson referring to the federal government, but his activities while in office also indicate that he was not an absolutist.

This is another lingering question I have. Not just about what Jefferson, et al, did — but why we, today, spend so little energy inspecting these little anecdotes. It’s supposed to be all about “constitutionality.” I think most of us, whatever our biases, would use the Doctrine of Original Intent in inspecting the Constitution. The Constitution is 215 years old, and most of the guys who had a role in writing it and ratifying it, spent years afterward doing lots of stuff and writing lots of other stuff down. Original Intent — shouldn’t we be examining evidence of their intent?

Sidebar Update VII

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Sidebar Update VII

I’m not entirely sure what the point was linking back to me here, but I’ll take it. And I’m going to blogroll him too, because I’m heavily biased in favor of motorcycles.

And the Infidel and the Vampyr and Hatless and Sweet, Familiar Dissonance, and of course the unfairly maligned Locomotive Breath.

More: Pillage Idiot, Politechnical Institute, For Your Conservative Pleasure, Strata-Sphere and Macsmind.

Update 10/18/06: Hey guess what? N.Z. Bear at The Truth Laid Bear finally fixed that corrupt database record that represented this blog, which nobody actually reads anyway, in his “ecosystem.” So I actually have inbound links now. I always did, but now his system actually counts them without crashing…which means I have ranking. I’m an “insignificant microbe” no more. So now that we have an accurate, non-zero count, the magic application says I am a…wait for it…I’m a Flippery Fish, ranking #9412. That’s above the Slimy Molluscs and below the Crawly Amphibians. Cool, I’ll take it.

Scalia Debates ACLU

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Scalia Debates ACLU

Via Jay at Stop The ACLU

Via AP:

Justice Antonin Scalia on Sunday defended some of his Supreme Court opinions, arguing that nothing in the Constitution supports abortion rights and the use of race in school admissions.

Scalia, a leading conservative voice on the high court, sparred in a one-hour televised debate with American Civil Liberties Union president Nadine Strossen [link mine]. He said unelected judges have no place deciding politically charged questions when the Constitution is silent on those issues.

Arguing that liberal judges in the past improperly established new political rights such as abortion, Scalia warned, “Someday, you�re going to get a very conservative Supreme Court and regret that approach.”

Bingo! Scalia slams them here. To put things in context, he said this after speaking about what he called judicial aristocracy, and how one day the consequences of putting so much power in the hands of nine lawyers might come back to bite them. The news report doesn�t include it, but all Nadine Strossen had to say to this was, “Let�s hope not.” This response was quite revealing if put in the proper context. She was pretty much saying that bad calls are o.k. as long as they go in the direction of the ACLU�s philosphy [sic].

Trying to find video. Pretty busy morning. I’ll get back to that project later.

We’re All Such Independent Thinkers III

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

We’re All Such Independent Thinkers III

Quoth Noreen at Independent Bile, this past spring, in the post that sent her site to my blogroll…

…if I hear anyone saying “Is it just me, or…..” or “Am I the only one who…” then I move away from them as fast as I can.

And, by the way, the answer to those questions is “No” and “No”, because invariably, the things that these cunts believe themselves to be the only ones saying, doing or thinking, are incredibly mundane things that half the population say, do or think as well. And even if these “AM I the only one” types happen to be boasting about slightly rarer traits than usual, like : “Am I the only one who collects feathers” or: “Am I the only one who enjoys being bitten by dogs”, you can bet that there still are other people who do those very things as well, because the world is enormous.

All of which is certainly a bunch of entirely valid observations, but if the problem was limited to just those, Noreen would be going off on this bunny trail without me. People collecting feathers don’t bother me one bit. People wondering if they’re the only ones collecting feathers, likewise, can do that all day long as far as I’m concerned.

But blogger friend Aup from Just Muttering made a salient observation about this:

In my experience, that verbal nonsense is a passive-aggressive trick that some people use to get people to say “oh no no, it’s not just you” and then share something. I hate it.

And there ya go. Pondering the situation a little more closely, one sees there really isn’t much reason to string those five words together but to coerce a false sense of agreement from the apathetic. Example: I freakin’ hate Seinfeld. Suppose for the moment you have never watched Seinfeld. You don’t give a rat’s ass about Seinfeld one way or the other. I know you don’t watch Seinfeld, and really don’t care for it or against it. I know this. But I want to pursuade you to my point of view — at least, cosmetically.

And I know if I say “I freakin’ hate Seinfeld” you’re going to say “I’ve never watched it” and nothing else. What if we’re not alone? What if we’re in the presence of someone else who also never watched Seinfeld and doesn’t know what to think of it? The conversation might go against me…after all, gee, like 67% of us have never watched Seinfeld. Maybe we should tune in sometime!

No, that won’t do at all. I freakin’ hate Seinfeld, remember? So I take a different approach, is it just me, or does Seinfeld suck??? Ah! Now, there’s no way to be “hip” unless you know something about Seinfeld. It’s an invitation to those unacquainted with Seinfeld that…if you don’t know anything about the matter under discussion, you’d better start pretending that you do. And oh by the way, the “prevailing viewpoint” is that it sucks. One guy just decided that for the rest of us. Truly an exercise in the tail wagging the dog.

You might say it’s a Jedi mind trick, that only works on the weak-minded.

Well, the liberal resource AmericaBLOG would like to give it a try.

Is it just me, or has Google News become useless? Their definition of “news sites” seems to include an ever increasing number of simply bizarre Web sites that aren’t even the top in their category of site. Meaning, they’ve tried to include blogs, but only some blogs, and many of the ones they have you’ll never have heard of, and many of the ones you have heard of are just plain bad. When I’m doing a news search, I want news site – not blogs, not left-wing conspiracy sites, or right-wing religious nutjobs. News. If they want a blog search enging, that’s fine too. But the current state of affairs has taken a great news search engine and turned it into a bunch of noise.

That’s the post. All of it. Every single word, every single comma. That’s right; no examples given, just the “is it just me” schtick. Upon what dullard could such feeble magic possibly work?

Well, along comes Markos Moulitsas, founder of DailyKOS. Coerced not only into agreement, but into action as well.

I agree with Aravosis:

Is it just me, or has Google News become useless? Their definition of “news sites”…

Google News is becoming unusable. They need some serious soul-searching about what they are and what their mission is.

A “news” operation needs to present news, and credible news at that. That means get rid of the blogs (mostly opinion), get rid of the no-name sites, the conspiracy sites, and the rest of that crap.

I voluntarily asked for Daily Kos to be removed from Google News since it was returning results from this site that quite frankly weren’t up to the sort of standards I expect out of a service offering up credible news. Obviously, I was alone in trying to preserve the integrity of the service. Not even Google News seems to give a damn.

Again, no examples given. And, unbelievably, the problem is not called out by someone making requests to Google News and being frustrated by a list returned by the search engine of “no-name sites…conspiracy sites, and the rest of that crap.” No, the complaint is being made by the guy whose “crap” is included in what’s presented to others.

Moulitsas’ banning of Google News has made the headlines of C/Net.

Moulitsas, once again, has helped to demonstrate what liberalism is all about. Permitting the free flow of information and ideas — only so long as it makes his side look good. You want news about, let’s say, red socks. Someone on DailyKOS might have written an article on how he forgot to take red socks out of the wash and his little white “Buck Fush” tee shirt got bled all over, and IT’S GEORGE BUSH’S FAULT!!! And if that were to be returned in your search results, why, you might get the idea that some of our liberals are a little, y’know, kooky. Just a tad bit soft in the head for the time being. So Moulitsas, et al, are going to use social activism once again — to make sure you don’t find out how kooky they are. Not to make sure Rosa Parks can sit where she wants. But to keep liberal weirdness under wraps.

Most among us don’t give a rip about conservatives or liberals, but would rather be concerned about learning stuff from the “innernets” when we want to learn about it. In their interests, I would have hoped an exchange of examples would be forthcoming. Neither KOS nor AmericaBLOG thought that was worth exploring.

Is it just me, or is that interesting?

Summit V

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Summit V

Twenty-two short days to go. So how’s it gonna be?

The NRO says it will go shitty, but Bush and Rove think different.

I’m siding with NRO.

But there is substantial reason to disagree. Like, for example, the lingering issue with our current adminstration’s foreign and domestic policies. I’m relying on the premise, widely-accepted by many others, that these policies are reviled by many. And simply disliked, by many more. And approved, but only grudgingly, but yet many more. I’m taking this as a given.

But…there are reasons to challenge this. For example, if the policies are so unpopular among so many demographics of the electorate, from whence comes the urgency to make such an incendiary issue out of the hired help?

I got that in the back of my mind. The incumbent party wants to make an issue out of the opposing party’s prospective Speaker of the House of Representatives. The challenging party wants to make an issue out of the incumbent party’s…advisory-type guy. Challenging party — needs to pull it’s head out of it’s ass. But what’s new.

Why Men Are Paid More

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Why Men Are Paid More

And it was written by a woman, every single word.

Did Karl Rove Do This?

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Did Karl Rove Do This?

Wouldn’t it make perfect sense if he did?

Road Rash

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Road Rash

Dress for the slide, not for the ride.

H/T: Boortz.

Incomplete Instructions

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Incomplete Instructions

I have much more ability at writing instructions than at following them. To watch me follow someone else’s instructions, is an experience for which I probably should be charging people. Anything that is open to mis-interpretation, I can mis-interpret without trying to. It’s a wonder to behold. You don’t have to wait very long at all to watch it happen. I’ll get hopelessly stuck…or, with great confidence, pick the wrong interpretation…while the guy who actually wrote the instructions, and hundreds of other people who successfully followed them, struggle with the epiphany that any part of it was open to interpretation at all.

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, Ah’m not a smart man, but I know when instructions are incomplete. And former President Clinton’s instructions to me, are incomplete.

Former President Bill Clinton told Iowa’s Democratic Party faithful on Saturday that the actions of “an extreme sliver” of the Republican Party have backfired and “profoundly divided” the country.

“We’ve got a big responsibility. Forget about 2008. Forget about the politics. Just go out and find somebody and look them dead in the eye and say ‘You know, this is not right’…This is America,” Clinton said. “We can do better and this year, it’s a job that Democrats have to do alone.” [emphasis mine]

The Reuters dispatch does not specify what “this” is. I guess I’m supposed to fill that in. What has America done, that is out of place in America.

To answer that, I have to figure out what America is.

Well, in 1797 Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Act and President Adams signed it into law. Was that American, or un-American?

During Andrew Jackson’s presidency, we had the Cherokee Trail of Tears. The Supreme Court declared the forced migration illegal, and President Jackson is associated with the apocryphal quote “Justice Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” If the President’s words did not comport with this, his actions certainly did; the Trail of Tears proceeded. Was that American?

Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus. Was that American?

Congress passed an income tax. Like any government, ours has always taxed people…it seems a little un-American for the government to make it their business how well each of us is doing in a given year. Or does it?

The states were denied representation in our nation’s capital when we passed the Seventeenth Amendment. President Wilson threw people in jail, for opposing his policies during World War I. American, or un-American?

Franklin Roosevelt, the “American Caesar” closed the banks, outlawed gold, imposed a 70% marginal tax rate on the highest earners, poured cream into ditches while babies starved, and threw tailors in prison for charging more than 35 cents to mend a shirt. American? The Supreme Court thought not; they tore his New Deal measures to shreds, but knuckled under when he threatened to pack it with six new justices. After that, it became a docile little lamb. So long, judicial oversight. American?

I’ll not even go into the Japanese Internment, everybody seems to agree about that. Not everybody seems willing to discuss it though. The people have been instructed to forget it, and they have complied. Is that American?

John Kennedy made his little brother Attorney General. Was that American? Decades later, Democrats running for office who had absolutely nothing to offer, campaigned on “bringing back Camelot.” American?

And out of that history full of contradictions and turmoil, we come to Things The Way They Are Today. And former President Clinton asks us to measure those things against a yardstick that has, by any reasonable measure, sustained sufficient abuse to permanently retire as a measuring device. What does he mean when he says something doesn’t belong in America? Against what does he make this measurement, other than his own selfish conceptualization of right and wrong.

And does anyone have a personal, moral compass subject to weightier and more devastating challenge, than our 42nd President?

Out of relative oblivion, arises this presumption that “American” is an adjective so conceptual and so pure, that one can harrumph about how it applies to this thing over here and doesn’t apply to that thing over there, without taking the slightest effort to define what it is. And that it’s perfectly valid to bitch and kibitz about what horrible things are “being done to the Constitution,” without even having taken the time to look at the Constitution since the sixth grade, let alone know what it says.

I know this to be true, because a lot of people have been following President Clinton’s advice. To the letter. He says “go out and find somebody” and I’ve been that somebody. Things are being done that are un-American…I subject this premise to the kind of inspection any rationally-thinking person should bring up. Nothing heavy, mind you. Just normal questions I would want to have answered if, hypothetically, I wanted to take their message and propagate it further, wishing to be sufficiently informed as I do so.

It’s too much scrutiny for them. This “look them dead in the eye” thing goes sailing out the window. They end up looking at their toes. Or off in the distance. Trying to extract, out of some ether, an answer they need that they do not have.

Once one inspects the Constitution, it appears it’s being followed; once one takes the time to actually read the Geneva Conventions, and measure them against what we’re doing — one struggles to assert, logically, how they even apply.

I think I know what President Clinton means by “America.” I think he envisions a utopia where there aren’t any Republicans. That definition — none other — supports what he has had to say lately. His words, and his actions, are consistent with a dictate that electing more Democrats is not an means to some other end, but an end in itself. Just…get them in.

If “America” has something to do with this, to the best of my knowledge he has yet to explain how.

This Is Good XXVI

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

This Is Good XXVI

Nothing heavy or clever going on here, I mean, not on my part anyway. Just flipping around YouTube watching beer commercials. Five of the best:

Now, we all KNOW women are much, much more sophisticated and mature than men. Everybody knows this. And yet, how would you explain this to the space alien who was intelligent, completely unacquainted with actually meeting men and/or women from our planet, but had been monitoring our satellite television signals? How would you explain this…that this planet’s beer commercials are so damn funny, and all the feminine hygeine product commercials are so stilted and cliched and stupid? The space alien would probably be one of the worst male chauvinist pigs on our planet, and he’d be like…what? Just going by what I saw here.

Maybe after he drove on our freeways for awhile, he’d gain a better perspective.

Ugly American

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

Ugly American

A lot of people like to talk about how poorly-behaved Americans are. In recent years, this has become a widespread phenomenon that threatens to wear the word “boorish” completely out of the English lexicon, like wearing the high-traffic path out of a carpet.

In fact if you were to arrange all Internet content into a massive pie chart, I would estimate on an item-by-item basis, that half of it, of course, would be porn; maybe 7% commercial enterprises; another 5% conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks; an additional 3% would be other political opinions, like mine; 2% blog pages about motorcycle riding, knitting, and the like; toss in another 1% or 2% to cover all the bitching about Meredith Viera and Star Jones leaving The View, and all the rest would be a bunch of bullshit bloviating about Americans. We make our women wear tops on the beach, we swagger, we don’t extend our pinkies, we eat salad with the dinner fork.

Well, for anyone wishing to make a list capturing the content of that big ol’ slice, don’t forget to add this.

“The rise in anti-Americanism is a threat to our national security,” [Keith] Reinhard says. “The more people dislike us, the more easily they can be recruited by our enemies. In this global world, we need all the friends we can get.”

Reinhard, a former international marketing executive hailing from New Zealand, has founded an activist group called BDA, and the BDA has put out a sixty-page booklet to address this problem.

To overcome such perceptions, Reinhard founded the Business for Diplomatic Action (BDA), a group of educators, executives and citizens working to combat the spread of anti-American sentiment.

Although its primary focus has been business travellers, the BDA recently extended its efforts to all Americans travelling abroad — its World Citizens Guide, booklets and pamphlets offering a crash course in other nations’ histories, religions, traditions, peoples and languages.
The World Citizens Guide is colourfully illustrated and includes images of nations’ flags, facts about each country and common sense tips that would benefit any traveller.

The 60-page, passport-sized booklet was created for students who study abroad. Its success ushered in the pamphlet, an abridged version, for business travellers.

The booklet, which also includes an interactive mini-CD, includes the 50 most useful words in Arabic, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

It suggests that Americans should learn the norms of the countries where they travel and follow them to prevent someone from unintentionally sending the wrong message.

For example, the book says: “In most European countries, the correct way to wave hello and goodbye is palm out, hand and arm stationary, fingers wagging up and down. Common American waving hand moving side to side means no — except in Greece, where it is an insult.” [emphasis mine]

Well, packaging is extremely important, and Reinhard’s product impresses me as a positive contribution, because of the way it’s packaged. After all, the content itself, is loaded with problems I’m being asked to overlook.

Stringing together what this article says, after all, what I’ve been told is that an ignorant American might go to Greece and show his ignorance by waggling his hand side-to-side; some offended Grecian will then become more susceptible to being recruited by America’s enemies. Is Greece really loaded with natives who are one hand-waggle away from becoming Al Qaeda operatives?

Does that really make sense? What scares me is, gee whiz, maybe it does in this world. And if that’s the way things are, well, I have a few problems with Mr. Reinhard’s proposed solution.

I find this interesting. If I were to approach a major newspaper and tell them, “I see a link between people who are acrimonious to Americans, for whatever reason, and America’s enemies” I would never be taken seriously, and if the paper decided to take a look at me it would assuredly be in a negative way. Witness the world reaction to President Bush’s now-notorious line about “with us or against us.” But then I can take the Reinhard approach, do exactly that with the overture of “I want to make some new rules for Americans to follow. I want to point out how boorish Americans are as a whole, and put them on a shorter leash.” And hosannas will be sung as the palm leaves are laid at my feet.

But it’s the same sentiment. Exactly the same. So that’s my first beef; the selectivity. Our newspaper editors and political pundits instruct us to sneer derisively at anyone making a link between hostility to America, and terrorism — even though we can use our intellect to conclude nothing else, but that terrorism is rooted in hostility. And yet, when someone dishes out the right platitudes about Americans being rude to people overseas, suddenly the rules are changed.

The second problem has to do with the date. Sure, “I question the timing” has become a stale cliche, in some parts even understood to be an invitation to giggling. Doesn’t it fit here? People around the world resent Americans all the time. Why start harping on the issue as we begin the third week of October in an even-numbered year? Why? If it’s not an agenda, it could be incompetence. Maybe a little of both. But it has to be at least one of those.

Third beef is with the union between the mission statement and the logical premise. As an American, if I’m rude to people while travelling overseas, I might tick people off. Ticking people off is a national security threat because it might lead recruiting by America’s enemies. So I should be nicer to people overseas, because America “need[s] all the friends we can get.”

What kind of friend would this dirty little cretin be? I waggle my hand the wrong way, and he’ll listen more closely next time Al Qaeda needs his help blowing people up? Fuck him! What an asshole. Sounds to me, from what Mr. Reinhard said, like America has been way too friendly. Hey, all I’m doing is taking his comments seriously here — be nice, or else your boorish behavior will be used as a recruiting tool. Well, used as a recruiting tool upon whom, exactly? Just askin’. There’d have to be something wrong with the guy who wouldn’t ask. What kind of prospective friends are we talking about here?

Fourth problem…and expressing this one, calls upon the reader to make the most out of whatever resources might be available on the receiving end, especially attention span and common sense. My fourth problem with this little project is this:

Like millions of other people, I have a lot of ideas for “combat[ing] the spread of anti-American sentiment.” America itself, after all, is a nation whose history is rich with spreads of anti-(fill in the blank) sentiments within her own borders. Anti-black sentiment, anti-native-American sentiment, anti-Asian sentiment, anti-Jewish sentiment, anti-Hispanic sentiment. America, like no other country in the world, has played host to a veritable Baskin-Robbins 31 flavors of racial bigotry.

And defeated them.

We have more experience at this than any other country conceived by God or man. No small feat, when you’re dedicated to the free expression of any idea, no matter how repulsive that idea might be. How do you marginalize ugly ideas, when you’re opposed to the practice of marginalizing ideas? And somehow, American ingenuity has triumphed, with our honor more-or-less intact. If you’re a bigot or a sexist or a homophobe, you must choose your audience very carefully or you will mocked…if you hold a position of authority or trust, you will be driven from it the minute your true nature is exposed, your career likely ruined for good. That’s about as marginalized as ideas can get in a country honoring free speech.

Now that America finds herself, as a whole, on the “business end” of prejudice and raw hatred brandished on the world stage, it just seems to me we should stick with what works. Use our own experience. We do know something about this.

Intolerance toward black people: In this country, it was once the rule. Now it is an exception. What happened?

Did we hand out 60-page booklets to black people to stop being so thuggish? No, we did not.

Did we bomb townships where anti-black sentiment was known to be expressed? No.

Over time, we simply called to the attention of people that anti-black prejudice, was exactly that. Prejudice. Pre-judging. The dissention was exposed as something that said very little about the targets of the ill feeling, and was much more of a shameful commentary on the person nurturing it. It became a symbol of what it is: childishness. Simple-mindedness. One-dimensional thinking. It was exposed as logically untenable.

Even the man who hated black people out of personal experience, was exposed as guilty of generalization. Person of color commits a crime against you or your relatives, you come to regard all persons of color a certain way — that’s wrong. Groups are groups, people are people. To go through life as some two-bit racist just because that’s what your daddy was, even though you’ve never met any black people yourself — doubly wrong.

Same goes for persons of another faith, or any other race, or surname.

Okee dokee then. America fought prejudice by getting the message out about how to look at people. How mature grown-ups look at other people, and how silly, immature bigots look at other people.

It’s a success story.

So why aren’t we fighting this worldwide instance of prejudice and slack-jawed, simple-minded, poorly-thought-out animosity exactly the same way?

To put it more concisely, it’s just impossible for me to look at some foreigner who got an American hand waggled at him in the wrong direction, and goes on to say “those dirty rotten Americans…” with any more esteem, or tolerance, than the average filthy redneck who suffered some perceived slight from a minority group and went on to say “those dirty so-and-so…” I just don’t see any difference in those two situations. None whatsoever. People have had opportunities to explain a logical difference to me; very few have taken the time or energy to do so, and the ones who have tried, have been far from compelling.

In fact, in the example of the European guy who encounters a boorish American tourist, I have to ask — maybe this is my fifth problem with the article — what does that foreign guy do for a living? Isn’t he in the tourist business, or engaged in something related to it? Isn’t he at least out-and-about somewhere that’s been developed as what you’d call a “tourist trap,” like, maybe, St. Mark’s Square?

Gosh, I’ve lived in tourist traps before. Seems to me when you’re walking through someplace you might meet some tourists, you should expect — y’know — pretty much anything.

I mean, you wouldn’t believe what we see here in America from other countries. Why, just this last spring we had a huge demonstration all over the country from illegal immigrants — let me repeat that, ILLEGAL immigrants — from another country. They marched around, and let’s just say they represented their native country less than optimally. Some of them even carried around signs to the effect that they ought to take the place over, that the rest of us didn’t even belong here!

You know, it seems to me that those illegal immigrants, back then, might have been able to use an etiquette guide. It seems to me their behavior might have been interpreted as ugly, thuggish, and more than a little arrogant. It might have led to anti-illegal-alien sentiment. In fact, it did. I don’t remember any snotty lectures about manners, or 60-page rulebooks being handed out about how, while you’re illegally trespassing into this other country where you have no right to be — make sure you don’t waggle your hand in the wrong direction and accidentally make some enemies.

No, to the best I can recall, as this other country was being represented by the “travellers” in a not-quite-sunny sort of a way — if this resulted in a bad feeling in the natives, it was portrayed as some kind of character issue with the natives.

Was I not paying attention at the right time? Did I miss something?

Best Sentence

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

Best Sentence

I read a lot of stuff. Books, magazines, newspapers, funny pages, journals, articles, blogs. Every once in a great while I see a single sentence that stands out among all the rest — not only among all the sentences I’ve read that day, but that week or that month. Because of the nature of the blog, they usually pop up there. Not always.

The last sentence I really liked a lot was cobbled together by the Anchoress: “What a foppish snot.” Just damn. If that sentence was a pair of boxers, you’d have major arousal going whenever you slipped them on, and you’d change out of them at the slightest sensation of a fart building up.

That was nearly two months ago, which just goes to show why I don’t hand out awards for these things like some people do. After all, what would that be? Quote of the…month? I can go a whole year, or a good chunk of one, not seeing anything of that caliber.

So I’ve decided to go ad hoc. Best quote awards for…whenever they pop up. One-sentence quotes only. Best sentence award. Something that merits extra-special attention…one sentence long. It happens four times in a week, we’ll deal with that…it doesn’t happen again for two years, we’ll deal with that too.

Best sentence — for today. Goes to “I Don’t Like You In That Way” under the post entitled, “Eva Longoria is a Slut”. It’s actually two sentences. We’ll learn to adapt to that, because this is some creative writing worth noting:

Eva Longoria’s vagina is like that thing that Jabba the Hutt tried to throw Luke in. It’s always open and it’s always hungry.

I really don’t know from experience if this is true or not, but it jives with what little I know about her. I don’t know anything that would contradict this. Hey, she’s doing other guys, she’s never expressed an interest in me, not that I’d reciprocate…that’s good enough.

Anyway, it’s a non-issue. If she’s living like a nun, and the article is slandering her, that is highly skilled slander. Nothing like a Star Wars analogy to describe someone’s sex life.

Inhofe and O’Brien

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

Inhofe and O’Brien

The exchanges between Sen. James Inhofe and CNN anchor Miles O’Brien, have been pretty entertaining and not very much discussed.

Wherever MMGW (this blog’s acronym for “man-made global warming”) is discussed as a possibility, the melting ice caps are getting an increasing amount of attention. I have been waiting for one thing here, and I’ve been waiting for a very long time. I haven’t seen it, and I don’t think I’m expecting very much.

I want to know how much melting ice we’re looking at here. Measure it however you will. Cubic miles, tons, whatever you want. I want to know, worst-case scenario, how much of it is falling into the oceans and melting.

And then I want to know how much this brings up the ocean levels. Deriving this, from the answer to the ice question, is just not complicated science. It is simple third- or fourth-grade math. A ton of ice melts and becomes, with some margin of error, so-and-so-many cubic feet of water. A billion cubic feet of water, distributed throughout all the world’s oceans, brings up the level so-and-so many feet.

How much do the ocean levels rise? I’m not looking for just the answer — I’m looking for the math that leads to it. The fourth-grade-level math.

I’m not asking for very much, here, at all. And it says a lot that I have yet to be satisfied here.

Update 10/16/06: Debra Saunders says Global WarmingTM is a religion, not a science.

Noonan IV

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

Noonan IV

Peggy hit it out of the park once again. But what else is new?

The Sounds of Silencing
Why do Americans on the left think only they have the right to dissent?
Friday, October 13, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Four moments in the recent annals of free speech in America. Actually annals is too fancy a word. This all happened in the past 10 days:
[She goes on to list the four things]
There’s a pattern here, isn’t there?

It is not only about rage and resentment, and how some have come to see them as virtues, as an emblem of rightness. I feel so much, therefore my views are correct and must prevail. It is about something so obvious it is almost embarrassing to state. Free speech means hearing things you like and agree with, and it means allowing others to speak whose views you do not like or agree with. This–listening to the other person with respect and forbearance, and with an acceptance of human diversity–is the price we pay for living in a great democracy. And it is a really low price for such a great thing.

We all know this, at least in the abstract. Why are so many forgetting it in the particular?

Let us be more pointed. Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don’t. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn’t come quickly, they’ll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.

And they don’t always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.

And all this continues to come more from the left than the right in America.

Honestly, I don’t know who’s delivering more devastating body-blows to the American Left: Peggy Noonan, or Ann Coulter. They’re both female. They both have valid criticism for our liberals, which is in turn rooted in solid fact. Both of them use iron-clad logic. And yet the liberal response is to scourge Annie, and ignore Maggie. It seems all the liberals with an opinion about how to respond, agree that these are the appropriate responses, and they’re not interchangeable.

Why is that? How in the world can the style of delivery be so important, and the content of the criticism be so trivial?

Anyway, she’s on to something here. But what’s new. Liberalism, as we know it today, is unfit for any medium powered by dialog. It is a post-industrial-revolution ideology, an ideology molded and shaped by the pubescent development of electronic broadcasting. It has evolved to take full advantage of technology, now some seventy years old, capable of taking one man’s thoughts and thrusting them upon many listeners, viewers or readers.

The technology responsible for collecting responses and delivering them back to the original speaker, is much, much newer. It’s not that liberals lack the brainpower to participate in a dialog — it’s that the ideology to which they cling, is poorly developed for hosting one. It came to maturity during a period when leading-edge technology encouraged a monolog, and nothing more. So they don’t want to “bully,” per se. They’re just compelled to do so. They can’t tolerate a free exchange of ideas, because the principles they seek to support, will not stand for it.

Which brings me to

Air America Parent Files for Chapter 11
By Claire Hoffman, Times Staff Writer
October 14, 2006

Red ink finally got the better of the nation’s blue-state radio network.

The parent of Air America Radio, plagued by management and financial problems since its inception, filed Friday for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

The filing in New York by Piquant, the network’s parent company, became necessary after negotiations with one of the privately held company’s founding creditors broke down, said Air America spokeswoman Jaime Horn. She declined to identify the creditor, but Piquant has had troubles in the past with its business partner, MultiCultural Broadcasting Inc.

The liberal radio network, which bills itself as a progressive spot on the dial, will remain on the air � including on Los Angeles affiliate KTLK-AM (1150) � while operating under Bankruptcy Court protection.

Wassup? This was supposed to be the liberal solution to Rush Limbaugh, et al. Why is the runway never quite long enough to support the takeoff of the Air America jet? And how come the hopes and dreams of liberal talk radio, seem to be pinned to the hopes and dreams, such as they are, of AA?

There’s something about the medium of talk radio that is hostile to the liberal viewpoint. That, or else the liberal viewpoint has not quite yet been fairly hosted in the medium of talk radio…and AA is enjoying less than sunny prospects, simply because the right people haven’t been in charge. Both of those may not apply, and one, or the other, must. Which is it?

Well, I’m ready to rule out the second of those two simply because if there’s a Rush-Limbaugh-like liberal market in talk radio, yet untapped, this would involve downright vulcanic levels of heat and pressure, fully capable of finding their own outlet if the market fails to create one artificially. AA would have a competitor for releasing this juggernaut of liberal talk-radio-ready angst. More than one competitor. Many competitors.

So assuming I’m right, and it’s really the first of those two options, that the talk radio medium is not equally friendly to the liberal viewpoint as it is to the conservative one…and therefore, will everlastingly remain that way…it goes to support my response to Peggy Noonan. Yes, liberals are bullies. Not because they want to be, but because they have to be. That is the chosen medium of what they seek to promote, and what they seek to promote, exists to be promoted. Not discussed…just propagated, outward, no response necessary or desired. It’s an archaic set of principles, doctrines, rules and axioms designed to be mass-produced and mass-consumed. But not to be pondered, and certainly not to be questioned or criticized.

And so, you re-try the Air America experiment a hundred more times, in a hundred parallel universes — you’ll get back the same result a hundred times. While Rush Limbaugh lights his cigars with as many hundred dollars bills as he wants to. Anybody who’s listened to AA, and also listens to Rush Limbaugh, knows what I’m talking about. Rush is ready to discuss why he believes the things he believes, Randi Rhodes just chirps away about President Bush being a liar. She’s not ready to discuss what the lie was, or why she thinks it was a lie. And so listening to Air America, is boring.

Eh, not that The Blog That Nobody Reads is some kind of huge party all the time. But when you can’t discuss why you think the things you think, you’ve got to be boring all the time. It’s guaranteed. You’re reduced to just repeating the conclusions you’ve reached, over and over again, until the show’s over. If Rush Limbaugh did that and nothing more, we never would have heard of the guy.

Summit IV

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Summit IV

There are times I feel sorry for Democrats, at least, almost. Such in-your-face optimism we have seen! And yet, throughout all of this week, I haven’t read one single thing about the Foley “scandal” anywhere. Not one thing.

Except for this passage, in an article written by a famous, liberal Democrat with high name-recognition…

An article in The New York Times this week makes this same point, stating, “As word of Representative Mark Foley’s sexually explicit e-mail messages to former pages spread last week, Republican strategists worried — and Democrats hoped — that the sordid nature of the scandal would discourage conservative Christians from going to the polls. But in dozens of interviews here in southeastern Virginia, a conservative Christian stronghold that is a battleground in races for the House and Senate, many said the episode only reinforced their reasons to vote for their two Republican incumbents…[A]ll [interviewed] insisted the episode would have little impact on their intentions to vote.”
The Democrats have a lot of work to do if they are to make serious gains in the upcoming elections. Sadly, the Democratic party has lost the white Southern voter who now overwhelmingly votes for Republican candidates.
…[T]he Clinton years are long gone and the radical left has again taken control of the Democratic Party, as reflected in the election of Howard Dean to the chairmanship of the party. The most recent exhibition of the power of the radical left wing of the party was its ability to defeat Senator Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary. Most distressing was the Democrats’ abandonment of Lieberman after he chose to continue to run as an independent. Stalwart Democrats, people I support, like Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Chris Dodd and others, walked away from Lieberman. They believe that they and Lieberman were bound by the primary results. That is simply not true. There is no law, party rule or ethical principle that prohibits a candidate from attempting to win as an independent. What’s more, Lieberman is not only the incumbent, but he is also a recent Democratic Party candidate for vice president. He stated that should he win, he will be part of the Democratic Party Caucus in the U.S. Senate.

Interestingly, the people of Connecticut in a recent poll voiced support for Lieberman, who is now 10 points ahead. Last week, I campaigned with Lieberman at Grand Central Station. Hundreds of Connecticut-bound commuters stood in line to shake his hand before boarding their trains. Only two people yelled at me for supporting the Senator.

What happened? Well, late last week everybody forgot all about the Foley scandal. Nutcases with nuclear weapons can make that happen, believe it or not. Ann Coulter sums it up thusly:

At least with former Rep. Mark Foley, you could say the Democrats’ hypocritical grandstanding was just politics. But in the case of North Korea, Democrats are resorting to bald-faced lies.

Current New Mexico governor and former Clinton administration official Bill Richardson has been on tour, bragging about the groundbreaking Clinton administration negotiations with North Korea — keeping his fingers crossed that no one has access to news from 1994.

In 1994, the Clinton administration got a call from Jimmy Carter — probably collect — who was with the then-leader of North Korea, saying: “Hey, Kim Il Sung is a total stud, and I’ve worked out a terrific deal. I’ll give you the details later.”

Clinton promptly signed the deal, so he could forget about North Korea and get back to cheating on Hillary. Mission accomplished.

Under the terms of the “agreed framework,” we gave North Korea all sorts of bribes — more than $5 billion worth of oil, two nuclear reactors and lots of high technology. In return, they took the bribes and kept building nukes. This wasn’t difficult, inasmuch as the 1994 deal permitted the North Koreans to evade weapons inspectors for the next five years.

I tried to check up on this five-years-no-inspections thing. I really don’t know what Ann Coulter is talking about here. I dug into my pockets and pulled out my handkerchief, calculator, iPod, comb, spare buttons, old chewing gum, and — ah! — there it was, my copy of the 1994 Agreed Framework. Section IV seems to be the pertinent one. Couldn’t find anything about this. I dunno where she’s going with this.

Does it really matter?

Seems to me we got a situation here — once again! — where “prevailing viewpoint” goes off in one direction, and common sense, along with the conclusions of most people who’ve learned about the matter, runs off in the opposite direction. Democrats came up with cool idea about how to handle the psycho in NK (or his Dad, I suppose), they implemented it, they depended on the good faith of someone who hasn’t demonstrated good faith…and their cool idea failed. People understand this — most people would like it to be a little more complicated and “nuanced” than that — it simply isn’t. The foregoing is as complicated as it gets.

Look up the Clinton-apologist viewpoint on this. You’ll see a bunch of attempts to change the subject, subtly. Not to address it, but to change it. Carter had a hot idea, the Clinton administration implemented it, they all got snookered, and the idea turned out to be a dud. The cartoon at right sums it up perfectly. H/T: Bullwinkle Blog.

I’ve talked about this at length. No imminent danger, people think one way; imminent danger, people think an entirely different way. One week ago, Kim Jong-Il had not yet set off his device, whatever it is; now he has. Are we talking about the same things we talked about 168 hours ago? No, we are not. The human psyche simply isn’t up to supporting a consistent priority scheme, across several different scenarios where danger waxes and wanes. It simply isn’t possible for us. If we had that capacity, we wouldn’t be capable of surviving.

To put it more concisely, when a madman is running around with a weapon, you aren’t going to care about sex scandals. You haven’t got it in you. — And you aren’t going to elect the same leaders.

Kim Jong-Il, or whoever schedules the tests for nuclear weapons in NK, either has abysmally bad timing or else that guy really, really wants our country to have a Republican Congress next year. His country, in a stunningly brief stretch of time, has created a perfect environment for one.

I’ll help it along.

Stephen F. Hayes, of the Weekly Standard: On the “there is absolutely no connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda” MYTH. Yeah, you’re God damned right that’s what I’m calling it: A myth. Connections, for those who have been paying attention, up the yin-yang. Read. Required reading, for everybody, even if it’s over a year old. Well, that’s the way it should be, anyway.

Richard Cohen, columnist for the Washington Post, regularly chides the Bush administration for presenting what he calls fabricated or “fictive” links between Iraq and al Qaeda. The editor of the Los Angeles Times scolded the Bush administration for perpetuating the “myth” of such links. “Sixty Minutes” anchor Lesley Stahl put it bluntly: “There was no connection.”

Conveniently, such analyses ignore statements like this one from Thomas Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission. “There was no question in our minds that there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.” Hard to believe reporters just missed it–he made the comments at the press conference held to release the commission’s final report. And that report detailed several “friendly contacts” between Iraq and al Qaeda, and concluded only that there was no proof of Iraqi involvement in al Qaeda terrorist attacks against American interests. Details, details.

Did you know about that? How many friends do you have with really outspoken opinions about this, who have no clue about what Hayes said?

A really cool blog I found out about when the author made an intelligent, insightful comment about a left-wing guy trying to censor someone. The fellow who was supposed to be censored, was an Iraqi national who took offense at the gathering of phony statistics to bolster the idea that dead Iraqis are all over the place, Iraq invasion is a disaster, blah blah blah. The Iraqi wrote a persuasive article on why he objected to this, made some good points about how the stats were being gathered…I lost the bookmark to that one, sorry. I’ll look later. Anyway, the very first commenter starts coercing him to yank the article down before someone has time to read it. Yeah. Right. So this guy put him in his place. Yay, guy! Followed his signature to his home page, and I like what I found there.

And now we got a brand new resurrected scandal! Yes, the timing is suspicious on this one too…but at least it’s relevant to national security.

A group of House Republicans called Wednesday for a congressional investigation into the improper handling of classified documents by President Clinton’s national security adviser, Sandy Berger.

Berger admitted last year that he deliberately took classified documents out of the National Archives in 2003 and destroyed some of them at his office. He pleaded guilty in federal court to one charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material and was fined $50,000.

Ten lawmakers led by House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter, R- Calif., and Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., released a letter calling for the House Government Reform Committee to investigate.

They asked the committee to determine whether any documents were missing from Clinton administration terrorism records, to review security measures for classified documents and to seek testimony from Berger.


Why has it taken this long? Tell me again how “Republicans run everything.” Tell me that one again. Sandy Berger should have been turning big rocks into little rocks a long time ago. I have to believe that, in his place, I certainly would be.

And now for something completely different: A list of really, really “good” movie villains.


Wednesday, October 11th, 2006


A: Eighteen (18) pounds.

Q: Average weight gain per detainee at Guantanamo.


Wednesday, October 11th, 2006


David Beamer, father of Flight 93 victim/hero Todd Beamer, has been going around reminding people what the fight is all about and our liberals aren’t the least bit happy about it.

On yesterday morning’s FOX & Friends First I was stunned to see the face of David Beamer, father of Flight 93 hero Todd Beamer, appear on my screen making a political pitch out of the tragedy of his son’s death. In front of a montage of clips of his son, the 9-11 towers, soldiers fighting in Iraq and the Shanksville site where United 93 crashed, Mr. Beamer appeared in a political ad and uttered words cleverly designed to mislead FOX viewers once again into believing that somehow Iraq had something to do with the death of his son and 3,000 other Americans. The ad was paid for by Progress for America, Inc..

According to SourceWatch, “the PFA was, from the beginning, ‘closely associated’ with the Bush administration, the Republican National Committee and ‘their consultants.’ PFA was established in 2001 to support George W. Bush’s ‘agenda for America.’ The PFA Voter Fund, which was set up in 2004, raised $38 million in support of Bush’s 2004 election bid.” One of the most prominent names affiliated with PFA is C. Boyden Gray, a major Republican power broker.

Republicans with money! Using it for campaigning! Oh, how evil!

Here is the clip…

What gets liberals in an uproar, is that Beamer is implying Iraq has something to do with Al Qaeda. Well, it’s a matter of fact that it does, now. Liberals would like to promote the idea that before we invaded Iraq, the two had not a thing to do with each other at all…and the elder Beamer’s message poses a problem for this, in no small part because not a single word of what he said can be proven false. That’s why Newshounds had to use the phrase “uttered words cleverly designed to mislead”…come to think of it, that phrase, itself, is full of words cleverly designed to mislead.

Attention liberals in general, Newshounds in particular: The soldiers to which Mr. Beamer seeks to direct your attention, and the attention of others, are in Iraq simply to do a JOB. A good chunk of the fighting force there, believe in this job, and some of them actually signed up for this job.

My point is, Saddam’s old regime having something to do with the 9/11 attack is unproven — that is a completely different thing, from saying it is REFUTED. Completely different. Saddam’s old regime had a long, rich history of sneaky, underhanded, “attacks” against the United States, mostly logistic in nature. Aid and comfort to our “provable” enemies, harboring “real” terrorists, that kind of thing. He was a credible threat in the spring of 2003, and the credibility of that threat remains strong today.

I have a text file I like to upload in forums wherever and whenever this silly “Saddam was innocent until proven guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt” thing comes up…which is quite often. The text file quotes a single page from a recent book by Stephen Hays, and contains a lot of facts which, so far as I’m aware, have never been disproven or even subjected to factual challenge.

“Iraqi intelligence documents from 1992 list Osama bin Laden as an Iraqi intelligence asset. Numerous sources have reported a 1993 nonaggression pact between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The former deputy director of Iraqi intelligence now in U.S. custody says that bin Laden asked the Iraqi regime for arms and training in a face-to-face meeting in 1994. Senior al Qaeda leader Abu Hajer al Iraqi met with Iraqi intelligence officials in 1995. The National Security Agency intercepted telephone conversations between al Qaeda-supported Sudanese military officials and the head of Iraq’s chemical weapons program in 1996. Al Qaeda sent Abu Abdallah al Iraqi to Iraq for help with weapons of mass destruction in 1997. An indictment from the Clinton-era Justice Department cited Iraqi assistance on al Qaeda ‘weapons development’ in 1998. A senior Clinton administration counterterrorism official told the Washington Post that the U.S. government was ‘sure’ Iraq had supported al Qaeda chemical weapons programs in 1999. An Iraqi working closely with the Iraqi embassy in Kuala Lumpur was photographed with September 11 hijacker Khalid al Mihdhar en route to a planning meeting for the bombing of the USS Cole and the September 11 attacks in 2000. Satellite photographs showed al Qaeda members in 2001 traveling en masse to a compound in northern Iraq financed, in part, by the Iraqi regime. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, senior al Qaeda associate, operated openly in Baghdad and receved medical attention at a regime-supported hospital in 2002. Documents discovered in postwar Iraq in 2003 reveal that Saddam’s regime harbored and supported Abdul Rahman Yasin, an Iraqi who mixed the chemicals for the 1993 World Trade Center attack — the first al Qaeda attack on U.S. soil.

“Then, on March 21, 2004, Richard Clarke, a former top counterterrorism offical with access to all of this information, made a stunning declaration: ‘There’s absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda, ever.'”

— The Connection, Stephen F. Hayes, ISBN 0-06-074673-4, pp. 177-8

So here’s my beef.

With all of the above, the left-wingers are correct in saying the above falls short of proving Saddam Hussein had anything to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001. They’re right in saying that.

Just as a Republican would be correct in saying, the Foley mess, and the DeLay mess, and the Abramoff mess do not prove there is a culture of corruption in the Republican party.

Liberals, who are supposed to be champions of the rights, privileges, and renewed capacities for people to do their own thinking as sentient and intellectually autonomous individuals…would have the former of those “proofs” held to be absolutely inadequate. And the latter of those “proofs” to be utterly, incontestably sufficient.

And in that logical contradiction, they uncompromisingly deny people the right and privilege to think for themselves. To the point where a bereaved father — the morality of bereaved parents is absolute, remember that? — observes that the soldiers in Iraq are fighting the same group of people who conspired to kill his son, and boom! Liberals have to make sure they have the last word. David Beamer’s words are factually correct, but they make for a political problem for the Democrats who want a referendum on a military operation already engaged. And so Todd Beamer’s father has to be shouted down.

I know of no evidence to indicate Todd Beamer would disagree with David Beamer’s position on this. I do know of evidence indicating Nick Berg held different views from Michael Berg, and that Casey Sheehan disagreed with Cindy Sheehan. No matter. David Beamer is the bereaved parent that has to be shouted down. His words are factually correct, but they cannot be the last ones.

The “Al Qaeda had nothing to do with Iraq” platform is far, far too important. Of course you can’t prove the negative. Nor does it pass the “left testicle” test — no thinking man, sufficiently educated about the whole situation, is going to place his left gonad on a block under a sledgehammer, and bet the family jewels that Saddam Hussein was innocent in all this. In the final analysis, the innocence of the old Hussein regime is a matter of religion. It is a matter of faith. One shows one’s allegiance to a sect by holding it to be a truism, and proferring it whenever and wherever one has the ability to do so…against the evidence.

And of course, by making sure that whenever someone like David Beamer contests it in any public forum, that infidel is never allowed to have the last word. Never, never, not ever!

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XX

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XX

Bullwinkle, addressing the issue of electronic versus paper voting, nailed it shut. Tight.

The Democrats don�t really want a paper trail, they just want to be able to call for a recount every time they lose, no paper trail is the excuse. They�ll still call for a recount every time they lose even if there is a paper trail.

If I was a Democrat, especially if I was in the leadership of the party, I’d immediately begin exploring new and innovating ways of proving him wrong. Hmmm…any interest in doing that? Any at all?

They don’t want to represent the country, and they have no interest in uniting over dividing. They want to call the shots.

A party needs 218 seats in the House to name a new Speaker and put it’s own guys in the committee chairmanships. The Democrats want that 218. If they get 217 instead, there will be legal wrangling. Everyone knows this to be the case. If they win that 218th seat through the wrangling, the thirst will be slaked, “The People Will Have Spoken,” and they will go about the next piece of business…….angrily. Everybody knows that, too.

If you trot on down to the Democrats’ office with a nifty plan to get 300 seats, or 350, or 400…nobody there will bother to listen to you. Everybody knows that too! It’s all about taking the hill. They end up representing 99.99% of us, or 50.01% of us…it’s all the same to them. All the same. Which is really odd, because you’d think with all the legal jockeying after the 2000 elections they’d be really interested in winning a Reagan-type landslide that would be open to nothing but the most reckless challenge. I’m just speaking the obvious here, none of it would be a surprise to anyone, and nobody would spend a lot of breath or energy arguing against it, no matter what their interests.

But for some reason, you’re not allowed to say this in “public.” Not unless you follow it up, real quick, with something along the lines of “…and Republicans are exactly the same.” Well, I have doubts that they really are the same. Seems there’s a lot of pressure on the Republicans to at least pretend to be a “Big Tent” party. Whereas, whenever I see someone pressuring the Democrats to do something, they’re pressuring the Democrats to alienate more people, marginalize more people, and generally start doing a better job telling people to fuck off.

They’ve lost the last three elections in a row. 50.1-49.9, 50.1-49.9, 50.1-49.9. It’s always the same. Always just a hair away from that oh-so-crucial midpoint…close…no cigar. Every other Thanksgiving, they end up giving “If Only”‘s instead. You would think, with all the mistakes Republicans have been making, Democrats would put more emphasis on winning converts — a whole lot of them, so that any Republican-friendly shenanigans at the ballot box would have to be unworkably hugely expensive and complicated, to even become a threat.

But no. All we see is calling the other side stupid, right up until the election, and in the weeks afterward a whole lot of griping about “Gore/Kerry is too smart to have his message understood” and bizarre insinuations about malfeasance and skulduggery in the counting of the votes.

That is not the extent of the evidence backing up Bullwinkle’s claims. You should go read the article, to get the rest of it. What are you waiting for?

Not In It For The Attention, Mind You… IV

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

Privacy ConcernsNobody ever reads this blog, of course, but the cartoon at right has been doing something rather significant to change that since we posted it Friday. This is due in no small part to the efforts of blogger friend Good Lieutenant at Mein Blogovault, who evidently appreciated what he saw that he decided it merited reflection not only there, but over at Jawa Report as well.

Which is cool, very cool…after all, this is how we come to be aware of other individuals in the blogosphere. Some of whom appreciate The Blog That Nobody Reads, like this guy and this guy; others of whom, do not (check out post by locomotivebreath1901 on October 09, 2006 at 06:30pm). I always get a big kick out of people who criticize me for the length of what I write. I see it as a confession…and I don’t understand how it can be seen any other way. Here you are, bellyaching about “blah blah blah,” meaning, this guy who writes for a blog nobody ever reads — he says so! — can’t wrap up his stuff in a paragraph or two. So you’re not going to finish reading it…but it’s very important to let the world know you won’t read all of it, and the reason you won’t, is because it’s soooooooo long. Like fuckin’ Goldilocks, bitching about the bed being too big or the chair being too hard. Which means, there’s some maximum length, over which, you can be guaranteed not to bother yourself with something.

So you don’t read anything over a certain quantity. All of which goes to support the idea that what you know is, precisely, jack-shit. Well you know…that, plus a bunch of bite-sized stuff.

I understand there are people like this. Why would they advertise it? Why tell the entire world about your Vienna-sausage-sized attention span?

[See update below.]

Anyway. So people like this cartoon that I didn’t draw…which I didn’t find on my own…and as more and more people come to read The Blog That Nobody Reads, this starts to bug me. Credit must be given where it is due, and I came by it over at the Rottweiler’s site, under a post by user juandos (post #14).

Anyway, new visitors, we’re plumb-pleased to have you here. Now my conscience is clean. I mean, uh, somewhat.

Update 10/11/06: It appears I have misjudged someone and I might even owe someone an apology. I’m checking out “Locomotive Breath” and his blog, and not only does he seem to have some very common-sense ideas, to say nothing of peers o his blogroll, but he’s been kind enough to blogroll me as well. D’Oh! Not sure what to make of his original comments…although I must say in my own defense, I’ve seen other things in the blogosphere that were easier to interpret. I mean, here we go, verbatim: “Blah, blah. Blah, blah, blah, blah & blah. Blah, blah. Blah?” How would you take that? In hindsight, I see I should have lapsed back to the first rule of any Information Technology professional: When in doubt, do nothing. Should’ve kept my silence.

This guy’s blog is actually pretty cool. Actually has some stuff that’s worth reading.

A pity, really. I’ve bellyached a lot about some of the folks who bellyache about me and my lengthy posts — that was some of my best snarking yet. If only it were directed more wisely. Ah, well. Live and learn.

Update 10/14/06: Hey, on the subject of not being in it for the attention, mind you, wouldja look at this. The Blog That Nobody Reads just got an award, by snarking and bellyaching away, about people who do a lot of whining about reading long things. Quote of the Week.

The author posted an update later, “taking back” these words but I still had to make this my quote of the week because I always feel exactly that way when I read someone complaining that some other blogger’s posts are “too long.” (I’ve never had the honor of being on the receiving end of such a complaint.) It’s not just that they don’t want to take the time to read long articles – some people really don’t have the time – it’s the tone of the complaints, as if length alone is an actual fault. This does give the impression that the complainer lacks a normal adult attention span. If it really is a matter of having limited time why not just move on?

“Lynn S.,” I think, said it better than I did. Although hey — I’m the guy with the award, and let me assure anyone who pays attention to such things that I have been on the receiving end of such complaints. Many times.

It would make some sense, mind you, if there was an undertone to the effect of: “I get the feeling there’s something important you have to say here, something it would benefit me to explore, but it’s out of the question for me to digest it in the format you have presented it because your shit is way too long.” That would make a lot of sense. Who hasn’t been there?

But let me assure anyone who cares, I am a complete virgin to that kind of constructive criticism. What I see, directed at myself and others, is more along the lines of “get a load of that guy.”

As in — “Saddam Hussein was not a threat” — and The Blog That Nobody Reads comes along, and says, not true. Saddam was a threat here, he was a threat there, he did this thing he did that thing…blah blah blah…and the criticism comes back, “get aload of that guy and how long his shit is.” Yeah, RIGHT Einstein. We’re only talking about who’s dangerous and who isn’t dangerous. In a world chock full of venomous vipers who are so dangerous, that the word “dangerous” really has no meaning that these assholes can’t completely re-define six times everyday before breakfast. The evidence proving them as such — nobody with half a brain, who’s been paying attention to such things, is going to say we can come to know about one-tenth or one-twentieth of it without clearance and need-to-know.

YEAH. And we’re supposed to have a knock-down drag-out about whether the guy is a complete fuckin’ teddy-bear or not and keep everything down to twenty words or less…or else some anonymous nameless faceless blog-commenter guy is going to point out how long my stuff is and make fun-o-me.

Hee hee! I’m doing it again. Oh well, funny things happen when a guy gets poked in the same spot for the hundredth time, and he’s writing about it at five in the morning. Anyway. Cool award…appreciate the mention…”Lynn S.” has a blog worth reading, and it’s headed to the sidebar.

This Is Good XXV

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

This Is Good XXV

Well no, the situation is not good, it’s very, very bad. The article that sums it up, is good. And it really needs a broader audience. Via Political Party Pooper:

North Korea: A fumbled framework
By Snoop

REPOST: Good thing we can go back and read some of this stuff�
Now liberals pay attention, I�m reposting this for you because I have been reading some of your blog posts and you people simply are not dealing with reality.

Posted: January 15, 2003

On Jan. 13, 2003, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright blasted President Bush’s handling of North Korea in an interview with The Times of London. She told the paper that “her Republican successors had squandered their inheritance from the Clinton administration and unwisely depicted North Korea as a member of the ‘axis of evil’ with Iran and Iraq.”

A day earlier, former Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger had also blasted the blunt talk from Bush. “This kind of rhetoric just plays into the paranoia of North Korea,” Berger asserted on CNN�s “Late Edition.” Berger also rejected criticism of the Clinton administration�s handling of North Korea: “For some people in this administration, I’m beginning to think that blaming Clinton is a substitute for thinking.”

Thus continues the all-out effort to redeem the 1994 Framework Agreement. Democratic strategists and Clinton apologists understand the stakes. Having been repudiated at the polls in November, Democrats understand that national security issues are likely to dominate the politics of the country for at least a decade, and the Clinton record is the record that all Democrats, but especially Hillary, will have to defend. The trouble is, it cannot be defended. The Clinton administration did almost nothing to contain the menace of al-Qaida, allowed itself and the U.N. to be expelled from Iraq, and oversaw the depletion of the nation�s military readiness. One of the very few “achievements” of the eight years of Clinton “statesmanship” was the North Korean deal. If it turns out to have been a fool�s play, it is going to be very hard to craft the exhibits for the foreign-policy wing of the Clinton Library.

Let us just say, as a hypothetical, this whole sorry situation was put in a manuscript…simplified…fewer characters…let’s say Secretary Albright, herself, is a key player in this current election cycle. Let’s say she has Nancy Pelosi’s job in your manuscript. And let’s say on her side of the aisle, there’s some flattering name given to this kind of diplomacy so it can be discussed more easily. This Jimmy-Carter-style, “I got him to agree so we don’t have to worry about that anymore” kind of diplomacy — where it’s taken as a given that life is just a big Star Trek episode, and nobody ever lies about anything. Don’t call it “appeasement,” call it — “Kumbaya” diplomacy. “Faith-based” diplomacy.

In your manuscript, the Albrosi brand of foreign-affairs leadership is shown to be utterly ineffectual, and even damaging, by a huge putrid mess along the lines of the sampling of reality chronicled above. And, mostly because of a sex scandal, the Albrosi party manages to retake Congress anyway…even though everybody knows, the way this party negotiates with the tinhorn dictators around the world, just flat-out doesn’t work.

No, wait. Everybody doesn’t just know that…everybody’s been shown that. But they go to the polls, and vote on the sex scandal.

Of course the publisher is going to reject your manuscript. Of course he will! It’s simply too far-fetched. It would never actually happen…in…real……..*

Update: Pillage Idiot put some enhancements on the graphic above to help get the point across. Great effort, kind of sad that it’s needed.

Update: Found a script to the first Die Hard movie. You know that ferret-faced guy who says man-o-action Bruce Willis is messing everything up, tries to negotiate with the terrorists like they’re okay kinda guys? Gets himself shot? His name is “Ellis” and one of his smartass first lines, inserted into the script to show the audience that he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing, is a silly little jumble of syllables “Sprickenzie Talk?”

Holly: Where are you going?

Ellis: I’m tired of sitting here waiting to see who gets us killed first… them… or your husband. Hi there.

Holly: What are you going to do?

Ellis: Hey, I negotiate million dollar deals for breakfast. I can handle these clowns. I want to talk to Hans. Hans! Sprickenzie talk?
Ellis: Hope I’m not interrupting…?

Hans: What does he want?

Ellis: It’s not what I want, it’s what I can give you. Look, let’s be straight, okay? It’s obvious you’re not some dumb thug up here to snatch a few purses, am I right?

Hans: You’re very perceptive.

Ellis: Hey, I read the papers, I watch 60 minutes, I say to myself, these guys are professionals, they’re motivated, they’re happening. They want something. Now, personally, I don’t care about your politics. Maybe you’re pissed at the Camel Jockeys, maybe it’s the Hebes, Northern Ireland, that’s none of my business. I figure, You’re here to negotiate, am I right?

Hans: You’re amazing. You figured this all out already?

Ellis: Hey, business is business. You use a gun, I use a fountain pen, what’s the difference? To put it in my terms, you’re here on a hostile takeover and you grab us for some greenmail but you didn’t expect a poison pill was gonna be running around the building. Hans, baby… I’m your white knight.

Hans: I must have missed 60 Minutes. What are you saying?

Ellis: The guy upstairs who’s fucking things up? I can give him to you.
Hans [on radio to McClane]: I have someone who wants to talk to you. A very special friend who was at the party with you tonight.

Ellis: Hello, John boy?

McClane: Ellis?

Ellis: John, they’re giving me a few minutes to try and talk some sense into you. I know you think you’re doing your job, and I can appreciate that, but you’re just dragging this thing out. None of us gets out of here until these people can negotiate with the LA police, and they’re just not gonna start doing that until you stop messing up the works.

McClane: Ellis, what have you told them?

Ellis: I told them we’re old friends and you were my guest at the party.

McClane: Ellis… you shouldn’t be doing this…

Ellis: Tell me about it.

Ellis: All right… John, listen to me… They want you to tell them where the detonators are. They know people are listening. They want the detonators of they’re going to kill me.

Ellis: John, didn’t you hear me?

McClane: Yeah, I hear you, you fucking moron!

Ellis: John, I think you could get with the program a little. The police are here now. It’s their problem. Tell these guys where the detonators are so no one else gets hurt. Hey, I’m putting my life on the line for you buddy…

McClane: Don’t you think I know that! Put Hans on! Hans, listen to me, that shithead doesn’t know what kind of scum you are, but I do —

Hans: Good. Then you’ll give us what we want and save your friend’s life. You’re not part of this equation. It’s time to realize that.

Ellis: What am I, a method actor? Hans, babe, put away the gun. This is

McClane: That asshole’s not my friend! I barely know him! I hate his fucking guts — Ellis, for Christ’s sake, tell him you don’t mean shit to me —

Ellis: John, how can you say that, after all these years–? John? John?

[Hans shoots Ellis]

Hans: Hear that? Talk to me, where are my detonators. Where are they or shall I shoot another one?

This shows signs of being a rough draft, since I remember Ellis being shot in the face through the bottom of a whiskey tumbler or something. But the point stands. “Sprickenzie Talk” diplomacy is rooted in the axiom that anytime anybody, anywhere, shows an ostensible willingness to cooperate, it must be genuine and there can be no ulterior motives.

Nobody with a lick of common sense would put any faith in it, because nobody with a lick of common sense would put any faith in this underlying axiom. Anybody who gives it five seconds of serious thought, knows this to be true.

And yet, how much are we being called upon to risk on it. Again and again and again…as “Sprickenzie Talk” diplomacy is shown to be a loser’s proposition, again and again and again. And again.

Update: NRO says to condemn the Axis of Evil speech is to condemn Bush for prescience.

He didn�t create the Axis of Evil; rather, he voiced the problem. And if that shocked European diplomats, well too bad. If it�s a choice between national security and enabling European diplomats to remain secure in their illusions, I�d hope both Republicans and Democrats would favor the former…Dialogue is no panacea.

Memo For File XXVII

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

Memo For File XXVII

Dear Grandchildren, reading this forty years from now:

I’ll do my best to make this objective and unbiased, to you. I can’t word it in a way that would seem objective and unbiased to those who are alive today. In our current times, we wouldn’t know objective and unbiased if it bit us square in the ass.

We have these things we have learned, which are subject to visceral disagreement and great controversy. We have other things we have learned, which are not subject to any substantive disagreement whatsoever. If you take the things that are not subject to any disagreement, and pursue them with logic and common sense, you arrive at conclusions which…well, don’t ask me to explain it. Just watch this.

Saddam Hussein used to have weapons of mass destruction. He used to. This is not subject to dispute in any way, at least, not from those who are informed about the situation; it is an established fact. As of 2003, it would seem, he no longer had them. Conclusion? He physically got rid of them somehow, between 1991 and 2003. That last sentence, if I say it out loud in a mixed environment, in a public setting, I am branded a right-wing zealot and a Bush apologist. What does a “moderate” person have to say about it? Honestly, I’m still trying to figure that one out. Based on what I can discern from actually living in the year 2006, it seems a “moderate” person isn’t even supposed to be thinking about what became of the weapons.

We aren’t talking about pop-guns here. I really can’t think of a more important question to try to answer…and I don’t know of anyone who can…

Here’s another one. As of a month ago, the head of the CIA says we have killed or captured 5,000 Al Qaeda terrorists (h/t: Politechnical Inst.). If someone, somewhere, thinks he has been lying about this, I’ve yet to see or hear of that case being made. Nor do I hear anything of the liberal plan to somehow disable 1,000-or-more Al Qaeda operatives per year, on average, as they seek to gain control of our government. Right before an election, I can’t think of a more important question to ask; neither can anybody else, to the best I’m aware; yet for a reporter to ask a Democrat candidate, “what are your plans to kill or capture terrorists?” is an unthinkable prospect, and surely such a reporter would be branded as a right-wing hack. In short, we all “agree” this question is pretty important, but we won’t tolerate anyone actually seeking an answer to it. The people I am repeatedly told are “moderate” and “unbiased,” simply won’t permit it.

I have more. Like…”everybody agrees” that the popularity of the United States within the world community, is on a steep downturn. When I say everybody agrees, what I mean is that people disagree about what is to be inferred from this, not about the premise itself. The consensus is that we are held in lower regard by other countries, compared to the way we were seen before. It is not uncommon to have debates about our policies in which some of us call our current President a liar, and insinuate some pretty awful things about him…he misrepresented intelligence to get us into a war, he’s stirring up a “climate of fear” to solidify his power base, etc. Freedom of speech extends to saying such things, in Yahoo Chat, in bulletin boards, and other places where the international community can easily see the dissention in place within our borders. Not even the slightest social taboo discourages this airing of dirty laundry for all the world to see, as was the case in times past. Conclusion: Perhaps other countries have a lower regard for us not because of our policies, but because we’ve been so incredibly candid about how divided we are, and how little we care for each other. That would seem to be worthy of acceptance by some reasonable minds, or at the very least some serious exploration — at LEAST that — but again, if I say it out loud in a public place I’m a you-know-what.

I have yet one more, and it has to do with supporting the troops while opposing the mission in which those troops are engaged. I am told, fairly often, that this is intellectually possible and is even widely, and sincerely, practiced. I have formed the habit of questioning this thusly: Does such support extend to all the troops? Even the troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, voluntarily, choosing to sign up specifically for the mission at hand, because of a personal belief in it? Troops who consistently vote Republican? I’m not sure of the answer to that question, because the next thing that happens is a bobbing of the Adam’s apple followed by a quick change of subject. Naturally, I only ask such a question in a private setting, because…well, you know the rest.

I suppose it’s only natural that inspecting current events with some genuine curiosity, something beyond simply mouthing the most widely-accepted platitudes, is always going to be a touchy subject. And I have great confidence you are able to inspect what has happened, in these times, with the same latitude and real freedom that I can use to inspect — let us say for sake of argument — World War I.

Lessons to be learned from this? Well, it’s clear to me that freedom of speech is pretty worthless without a freedom to think for yourself, and a freedom to think for yourself can’t be exercised in any meaningful way without a freedom to communicate your ideas in a wide variety of environments. During elections, in between elections, in public but isolated areas, in places where real decisions are made. Directed toward audiences of like-minded individuals, and directed toward others more inclined to challenge your ideas. Perhaps that’s why the First Amendment covers the right of the people peaceably to assemble as well as the much-ballyhooed “freedom of speech.”

Another lesson to be learned from this is that, apparently, one of the best ways to safeguard this right to peaceably assemble — to take your ideas someplace where they’ll flourish, and actually have an effect on things, regardless of merit — is to constantly, constantly, constantly bitch and moan about having the freedom-of-speech taken away, whether or not that is really the case.

It makes no sense, none whatsoever, to say “I am opposed to any and all operations to fight terrorism, but don’t you dare say that I’m not committed to fighting terrorism.” Or to say “everybody agrees Saddam Hussein was a dangerous, bad guy, but he wasn’t really so bad, and he was not dangerous.” Or to blame one’s own country for all the evil that takes place in the world, pontificating about our own guilt endlessly, and then intone with righteous indignation “but don’t question my patriotism.” None of those things make any sense. And yet the people who indulge in such neck-breaking contradictions, are about to win a major election. Because of an eleventh-hour sex scandal, with fingerprints of behind-the-scenes manipulation ALL over it.

What will they actually DO once they’re in? Only you know, grandchildren. The only thing anyone will tell me, is something about investigations and impeachment hearings. What about this thing everybody’s supposed to be worried about…the terrorists? My “moderates” tell me that, by simply asking the question, I am contributing to the Climate of Fear.

It would appear there is a great deal more to “freedom of speech” than the ability to say something without fear of criminal prosecution. We all have that ability, or at least most of it. But that much larger protection, the freedom of speech…the freedom to conduct a real dialog in which ideas are exchanged — where questions are asked, with a genuine expectation that something valuable will be learned — that’s a wholly different thing. And I’m afraid that’s been lost. Entirely reasonable inquiries can be made, and the next thing that happens is not a reckoning of the most plausible answer, or a pondering of the unworkability of coming up with a plausible answer, but instead, the branding of the person who asked the question as a “kook.” Nobody really expects it to go any differently anymore.