Saturday, January 24, 2004

According to David Brooks,

John Kerry lacks follow through. Sounds like another Clinton, but with more circumspection.

Brooks is a terrific writer and a keen observer, as he demonstrates in his column on the Iowa Democrat caucus participants (link may disappear or be changed to pay only).
[I]f you had to pick a quintessential figure to represent the Iowa Democratic voters who have been showing up at rallies over the past few days, it would be a 55-year-old teacher. She is a moderate, optimistic, progressive educator who wants to believe in politics again. She wants to believe that big changes can still be made in this country, and that big challenges like poverty and the uninsured can still be addressed.

She has some pet peeves. She is upset by the billions of dollars the drug companies spend on commercials, which drive up the cost of her prescriptions. She loathes the No Child Left Behind Act, which threatens to brand her school a failure, even though she and her colleagues are doing the best they can.

But it's the dream of big, history-shaking changes that really inspires her. She wants to talk about the issues that used to be so prominent but now seem never to get attention: urban blight, segregation and the misery caused by hunger and homelessness.
. . .
I'm struck by how oblivious this campaign has been to the consequences of 9/11. I'm struck by how the grand idealism of the crowds is out of proportion to the smallish policies on offer. Nonetheless, it's sort of inspiring in this cold Iowa winter to see at least some Americans who have preserved, despite decades of discouragement, a stubborn faith in politics, and the possibility of change.
He's kinder than I would be, I suppose. I attended grade school, fourth through sixth grade in Ames, Iowa, and none of my teachers were like this. I suppose they were working to put their husbands through college, but I can't imagine any of them being content with the grade inflation and politically correct curricula in fashion today.

I have very little patience with the people who respond warmly to speeches like the one I heard Edwards give on Monday night, full of sentimental gobbledygook about ending poverty and assuring everybody can afford healthcare. It's not that I don't care about the poor, just that this kind of rhetoric keeps alive impossible goals and immoral programs and ignores the nature of all governments. Whatever they enact as law creates rights, and poverty in and of itself doesn't entail rights to other peoples' property, nor should it.

Another example of how blogs provide perspective

This item about Republican Senate staffers discovering that they had access to the Dems strategy memos, illustrates the hypocrisy of the liberal media. I remember that intercepted phone call, too, now that someone else reminds me.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Eugene Volokh has a followup on the Omaha "African-American" story.

I think the school principal has really done his minority students a disservice by suggesting that they need to be protected from challenges and "insensitivity." Wouldn't it have been better as a teaching moment to, say, have a debate between students over the issue? Is it really a benefit to darker skinned students to give special awards available only to them and not the whole student body. What are they to infer from that? What does it tell them about the First Amendment?

Some kids might conclude that this is a racist country and become bitter and angry. Some will decide that if their principal thinks they need this kind of protection, he must think they really aren't equal to the light skinned majority.

So I followed Instapundit's link to The Daily Kos . . .

This is the liberal, openminded, free thinkers left? The posting reads like a leftist version of the Aryan Nations, with George Bush as the Jews. Here's a sample:
I concede that I always find myself astraddle the fence. The Democratic Party leadership and Democratic Presidents have disappointed me over and over again since I became politically active 40 years ago. Today, the leadership?’s lack of anger ?… no, scratch that, rather the lack of openly displayed frothing rage at the machinations and manipulations of this horrible administration nauseates me, practically on a daily basis.
Kinda makes you want to drop by for a friendly discussion about politics, no? Like calling Hugh Hewitt up to defend USC, except these guys aren't kidding. I get the feeling that if any conservative posted a comment there, they'd hunt him down and pound a Dean yard sign through his heart. Generally, this kind of bitter rancor drives me away from people, even when I agree with their politics.

Kos himself seems pretty rational, writing a review of Dean's interview on ABC with Dianne Sawyer which I agreed with from what I saw of it. I thought Dean's warwhoop was used pretty unfairly against him, after I saw the video. Other than making me worry about his blood pressure, it didn't seem that out of bounds for a political pep talk. Still, I have to wonder if Dean's main attraction thus far hasn't been his anger. There he was in a sweater beside his wife as she tells the world that he really isn't that angry. I guess it's just Bush that gets to him. He doesn't show anywhere near that kind of irritation with Osama bin Laden or Saddam. Apparently, what really brings out his rage is the fact that there's a Republican in the White House who didn't just turn around and go home after the U.N. refused to support the overthrow of the most hideous criminal since Joseph Stalin.

Of course, most of us would be more upset with the people who engineered the 9/11 attacks and decide that the best way to go after terrorists would be to try to change the kind of governments who give them shelter and support, and look for a strategic place to start to make the point that we're not going to repeat the weak-kneed responses of the last 20 years to atrocities against us. But I guess there are people who are so offended by their loss of power that they can't get to that point in analyzing our situation.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Heh. I can almost believe this!


I don't watch SOTU addresses. I feel pretty much like Glenn Reynolds does about them, except that he at least watches them. I wait for the sound bites and video clips. From those, it sounds like Bush answered the critics of the war in Iraq, especially the charges of unilateralism, with confounding eloquence.

What the Democrat's arguments and grousing over the past year amount to is a complete denial of the things we all felt when we saw those planes fly into the WTC 2+ years ago. I don't think I will ever forget the sickening realization of what I was seeing, nor will I ever be able to forgive those who gin up a spurious outrage over the reaction of President Bush to those attacks. These people, for whom power outweighs simple honesty and humanity, deserve to be condemned to spend the rest of their lives sitting on the sidelines watching Republicans run the country, except that Republicans probably couldn't resist the corruptions of such power.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The Patriot Reactionary

I've been unimpressed by the criticisms of the Patriot Act, largely because I suspected that a lot of it was crying "Wolf," and that, in John Ashcroft's words, "The Department of Justice has neither the staffing, the time, nor the inclination to monitor the reading habits of Americans." Making the Patriot Act into an Orwellian juggernaut is Procrustean goofiness. We might be able to construct a system similar to that in 1984 with the aid of computers, but is it really surveillance if no human ever looks and acts upon private activities?

How African is South African?

Students at Omaha's Westside High School were disciplined for "plaster[ing] the school Monday with posters advocating that a white student from South Africa receive the 'Distinguished African American Student Award' next year."

It's funny how students are able to pierce the pomposity and hypocrisy of preceding generations, and how those who are being poked seem to react in the manner most calculated to prove the students' point. I've never known too much history, but after reading several books on the revolutionary period and early U.S. history, I know that "inappropriate and insensitive speech" is pretty close to the exact kind of speech that was intended to be protected by the First Amendment. I recognize that schools need discipline and supervision, but this kind of political correctness and hypcrisy is hardly the way to inspire respect. Professor Volokh makes the point more forcefully.

Lileks on 60s and 70s movie music

I think I know what he means. I used to notice it most on TV shows and wonder if this is how my favorite music sounded to grownups. A lot of the movies made back then look like they were made for TV, and sounded like it as well.

The RIAA is suing 532 more downloaders.

Music lawyers filed the newest cases against "John Doe" defendants -- identified only by their numeric Internet protocol addresses -- and expected to work through the courts to learn their names and where they live.. . .

"Our campaign against illegal file sharers is not missing a beat," said Cary Sherman, president of the recording association. "The message to illegal file sharers should be as clear as ever."

Remember this

From Bush's State of the Union address:
We have not come all this way, through tragedy and trial and war, only to falter and leave our work unfinished. Americans are rising to the tasks of history, and they expect the same from us.
I hope he's right. What always impresses me about great crises in history is how narrowly the right decisions were arrived at.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

James Lileks says it better . . .

than I did:
I have to note that I am not surprised Dean got pasted in Iowa. Why? Because this was IOWA, for heaven�s sake. It�s the Midwest. We can tell when someone is getting carried away with himself, and we know what to do: shun him, kindly.
Big news flash for media types, Americans, even Democrats, can think for themselves.

Instapundit sums up the commentary . . .

on the Iowa caucuses. I think that Iowa Democrats are not as rabid against Bush as the New York and San Francisco ones. They probably all have Republican friends who have made them nervous by their anticipation of running against Dean. And they probably know that being against such a popular and successful war is a loser issue. Of course, all the candidates have been criticizing the war, but not in the way Dean does. He has come across like Dukakis when he was asked how he'd react if his wife had been raped. His anger toward Bush doesn't come with a clear sense of how he would have dealt with 9/11. When that comes up, there is no anger, only insouciance, "It doesn't matter where Saddam or bin Laden is tried."

Maybe the best Republican tack would be to roll back the clock to the days immediately after the attacks and compare Bush's statements with the Democrat candidate's, then ask which of them the viewers would have preferred for president then. Would we want someone who treated them as criminal matters or as acts of war? Instead of "Are you better off than 4 years ago?" it should be, "Would you feel safer if __________ were President, and had turned the problem over to the U.N.?"

Update: I just heard the audio of Dean's concession/seizure. People all over the place are saying he's toast, which probably means he's not. I think that the last few weeks of Dean and Clark's gaffes, the Iowans probably just decided that Kerry was the safest candidate and Edwards was the best looking. As for Edwards' speech to his supporters, I thought it was scary; another Hubert Humphrey promising to eliminate all social disparities. We're already well on the road to bankruptcy because of entitlement programs, and his answer is to step on the gas.

Monday, January 19, 2004

The hypocrisy of the filibuster

From James Taranto:
A Times editorial, although acknowledging that the recess appointment is "perfectly legal," calls it "lamentable" because it "avoids the confirmation process." The Times doesn't mention that the reason a recess appointment is necessary is because of the Dems' lamentable efforts to avoid the confirmation process.