Saturday, March 20, 2004

Suggestions for Bush

Considering the points Andrew Sullivan makes about Churchill's defeat after saving his nation, I'm reminded me of several things that I've worried about in the upcoming election:

1. The failure to answer the "No WMD!" complaint. I may be out ahead of the administration, but it seems to me that the war in Iraq should not be allowed to be considered separately from its strategic position in the greater War on Terrorism. There are many good reasons why it made sense, after Afghanistan, to take on Saddam next: he was a pushover, which helps make the point that the U. S. is not someone the nations coddling terrorists want to mess with; he was known to have developed and used WMD in the past; he was a butcher of his own people, who would presumably welcome liberation; and Iraq occupies a central position in the Arab geography, next door to two terrorist havens and backers.

2. The lag between attacks by Democrats and the press and answers from the White House. They may be keeping their powder dry for the real campaign following the conventions, but that's not a good excuse for the press office.

3. The economy. It's a pity that Americans are so ignorant about how much power the president really has to change the economy, particularly the idea that government spending creates jobs. I don't know any way to overcome that, since economists don't make particularly good campaigners even if they could agree on anything. I think most of them would acknowledge privately that the jobs issue is a red herring, but too many of them want jobs in a Democratic administration to expect them to be that candid. Still, how hard can it be to point out that government doesn't create wealth; it only taxes and spends it.

Maybe I'm not giving the voters enough credit, nor the non-voters, either. Kerry is not the kind of guy that makes you want to be sure to turn out bright and early on Election Day to put him in office, but I've never seen the news media so blatantly campaigning in their news coverage. Like the story in the NYTimes about Bush's campaigns being sold ten fleece pullovers imported from Myanmar.


Andrew Sullivan endorses Mickey Kaus's term "pandescender" for a politician like John Kerry who panders and condescends at the same time. I don't think it has much of a future, since it doesn't really apply to any other politician I can think of.

Sullivan has another essay reminding us that Winston Churchill lost big as soon as the voters perceived that the Nazi threat had been eliminated, as if we needed it after Spain's left turn. It's worth repeating, though. In any sensible country Bush would be at 80% in the polls based just on his stand against terrorism, but I would think such a country would have a variety of points-of-view in its press and broadcast media.

The civil rights sophistry

Shelby Steele has an excellent piece on the difference between civil rights and gay/feminist/obese/etc. "rights." Barry Goldwater turned blacks against the Republican Party when he opposed the civil rights laws in the 1960s. These laws needed to be passed, but Goldwater was right on a number of points. No law can make other people respect someone they don't like, whether that dislike is racist or just based on idiosyncrasies. I remember thinking that a lot of blacks had unrealistic expectations for these laws, because even when you have full civil rights, you aren't guaranteed success and popularity. The successs of the black civil rights movement has also enabled a number of charlatans, like Jesse Jackson, who started as an activist but turned into an extortionist. A lot of blacks who received the benefit of affirmative action seemed to have more rage toward American society during the next three decades than their parents did in the 60s.

Perhaps the biggest negative fallout from the civil rights movement is that everybody else who could imagine themselves as victims has tried to jump on the bandwagon. That belittles the crimes that this country has committed against Negroes, and perpetuates a pernicious misunderstanding of the whole concept of civil rights. Read Steele's piece.

Read these headlines

And try to guess whom the NYTimes is supporting:
� 90 Day Media Strategy by Bush's Aides to Define Kerry

� Shirts for Bush Campaign Made in Myanmar

� Kerry's Record on the Military

� Clinton Aides Plan to Tell Panel of Warning Bush Team on Qaeda
The one on Kerry's defense voting record basically says everybody was doing it when the Cold War ended. "Mr. Kerry, like most of his colleagues, went along. But he also occasionally went further than the majority of his party." That's the third paragraph, following the news that after the end of the Cold War the Bush administration began to draw down deployments. Well, that disposes of any claims that Kerry is weak on defense, unless you read that last clause and go on.

The Shirts story is about "up to 10" (you read it right) fleece pullovers sold on by a Bush Campaign merchandiser which turned out to have been made in Myanmar, which is subject to an embargo, but apparently got here before it took effect. That's a major story, all right.

Fortunately the next item down suggests that the strategy behind overthrowing Saddam is working:
A year ago, it would have been inconceivable for a citizen of Syria, run by the Baath Party of President Bashar al-Assad, to make a documentary film with the working title, "Fifteen Reasons Why I Hate the Baath."

Yet watching the overthrow of Saddam Hussein across the border in Iraq prompted Omar Amiralay to do just that. "It gave me the courage to do it," he said.
So, I guess we can chalk up Ghadaffi's WMD and now stirrings of free speech in Syria to the Bush policy. How did the editors let that slip through?

Friday, March 19, 2004

Man, I've got to change my blog reading habits.

Jay Rosen is just too good to miss. His site isn't exactly a blog in the sense that it reacts immediately to developments, but his thinking and his sources for comments on the impact of the internet on journalism are insightful and important.

Has anybody else noticed the Enzyte commecials?

The ones with the guy grinning like his face muscles were reacting to the drug? They remind me of the Cialis warning that erections lasting more than FOUR HOURS may require medical attention. Ya think?

It's a new internet abbreviation!

To LOL, IMHO, etc. we can now add MBITRW for "Meanwhile Back In The Real World" I think it will be very useful during the next 7 and a half months.

Kerry's woes

Kerry had another disastrous day, all due to the fact that people are seeing him close up. I don't think the populace has ever realized how vastly wealthy he is. I didn't. But hearing the story of his sale of his villa in Italy for over $7 million to George Clooney prior to running for president, may cast a different light on all of his blather about opposing special interests and all the left's attacks on Bush's privileged background. When Bush gets time off, he's back at his ranch clearing brush. Kerry is at Sun Valley denying that he ever falls off his snowboard, unless some sonuvabitch Secret Service Agent gets in his road.

He and Ted Kennedy have about as much insight into the lives of ordinary Americans as the Jacques Chirac, and about as much in common.

OK, I've seen it twice now. It's officially a rumor and speculation that the Democrats may dump Kerry before the election because he has turned out to be a lemon of a candidate. Hugh Hewitt calls it "pulling a Torch [as in Toricelli] replay." It's starting to appear possible given Kerry's inability to take a position, to make a simple statement without equivocation, or to quash his own aristocratic snobbishness and arrogance.

It would be fun to watch the Democrats implode, it weren't so nerve-wracking.

Blog despair

I was gone for four days attending my sister-in-law's funeral. When I came home and started reading my usual blogs, I realized that I'm always behind the curve. Whatever I think, it's all been thought and written before, and in cases like James Lileks, much more creatively and aptly.

For every Lileks and Instapundit there are hundreds of thousands of us bloggers who just have to comment on the days news, even if guys like Mickey Kaus and Hugh Hewitt have already pretty well nailed it.

Still, out of the vast hoard of commentators out here, some make points in ways that nobody else has. I find blogs especially useful because of the counterspin they provide to the mainstream media. It's the only way to get a fair view of the facts. I don't agree with everything I read, but most bloggers aren't trying to convince me of their objectivity and immunity from questionint their integrity. They also have a lot more angles on the news, since they represent a broader diversity of backgrounds and opinions than the major news dailies and networks. They are in the military, journalism, law, computing, engineering and so on, and their backgrounds give their opinions a persuasiveness that Maureen Dowd will never have. They also give readers a basis for assessment. The idea that Josh Marshal should be trusted to interpret events for us is revealed to be preposterous when one has seen his blog. He is so dedicated to the Democrat Party, that I wouldn't trust him to write obituaries. Yet he and so many like him dominate journalism. That's why we need not only reporters of facts, but a spectrum of analysis to help remove the bias.

Sometimes I despair

From Best of the Web linking to this comment:
[A]n Angry Left poster over at put everything in perspective: "Capturing Osama does not create jobs."
Guess what, dude. Neither does electing John Kerry.

I'm so tired of this myth that more government spending and taxing creates jobs in the economy. These idiots seem to think that life would be perfect if we all worked for the government and those evil corporations all paid their fair share of taxes (100% of profits).

Thursday, March 18, 2004

"I have seen the future of Europe, and it isn't."

Mark Steyn examines the future of Canada and the EU. You can't quote highlights without repeating the whole thing.

Then there's this reminder to Australians and others in the Coalition who think that appeasement might be the best route after all:
[Y]ou can stick your head in the sand and paint a burqa on your butt. But they'll blow it up anyway.

Dick Cheney

Hugh Hewitt played clips from a Dick Cheney speech yesterday. Cheney is a low key speaker, and if his points were as fatuous as John Kerry's, he'd be hard to listen to. But within his monotone are cogent facts and logic. It's like watching a train. You know where it's headed, and that no silly slogans or talking points will turn it aside or slow it down. And that's why Democrats despise him.

I've been worried by the almost universal antipathy toward the Bush administration in the mainstream media. If the members of that administration have anything to counter it, this may be it. They stick to facts and logic and they pile them up without letting up. I saw Richard Perle on Chris Matthews's show last night as the host peppered him with Democrat talking points and attacks on him. Perle kept his cool and came away unscathed in my opinion. The sad part of it was that Matthews looked petty and silly and that Perle didn't get to make his case without being interrupted every time he tried to speak. I can only hope that American voters aren't as dumb as the media and the Democrats consider them to be.

Does Vietnam matter?

It seems to matter a lot to Kerry, who constantly uses his service in that war as evidence that he is not a chicken. I don't know what that service really has to do with his qualifications to determine foreign policy, though. His post-service anti-war activism seems more relevant today.

I think that this story (link via Instapundit) is pretty much irrelevant, but the fact that the John Kerry of today does not want to engage the enemy definitely does matter and it matters a great deal.

Saving marriage?

Donald Sensing makes an argument I considered some time ago, that marriage has already been so devalued by heterosexual society that gays couldn't do it any more harm. I rejected that because I foresee the day when courts, having ruled that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, will deny churches which refuse to perform such marriages the legal right to perform any marriages.

I don't agree with Sensing's claim that marriage is primarily social institution rather than a religious one, because I believe the Biblical account that God instituted marriage between Adam and Eve. I don't see how he draws from that account the view that marriage is prehistoric. However, I agree with his conclusion:
If society has abandoned regulating heterosexual conduct of men and women, what right does it have to regulate homosexual conduct, including the regulation of their legal and property relationship with one another to mirror exactly that of hetero, married couples?

I believe that this state of affairs is contrary to the will of God. But traditionalists, especially Christian traditionalists (in whose ranks I include myself) need to get a clue about what has really been going on and face the fact that same-sex marriage, if it comes about, will not cause the degeneration of the institution of marriage; it is the result of it.
I would argue that society still has an interest in promoting stable families and that the function of procreating and raising children with love and nurture is one that no other institution will ever be able to furnish. The problem is that our popular culture has become intolerant of that argument and will test it with disastrous results. When this society has destroyed itself, a minority will survive because that minority has preserved marriage and family as fundamental values, but the time from now to then is likely to be one of great trial for those who cling to them in the face of attack by the rest of society.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


The Salt Lake City Council has amended its ordinance on disorderly conduct after an incident last October when a man headed to the LDS General Conference became incensed by a "street preacher" who was yelling at passing LDS members that they were going to hell, weren't Christians, etc. This harassment included waving around a woman's LDS temple garment, which is sacred to members of the church as a symbol to them of the covenants they make with God in their temples. For this slob to be waving such garments at passing women and sneering at their beliefs, however, was treated as his First Amendment right by the city's mayor, Ross "Rocky" Anderson, whose career heretofore was litigating civil rights claims.
Anderson had city attorney Ed Rutan examine the city's ordinances governing free speech after clashes arose between fundamentalist Christian street preachers, who are critical of the LDS Church, and people attending the October semiannual general conference.

Skirmishes erupted after street preachers donned religious clothing considered sacred by LDS members.

Seeing the preachers wear the clothing around their necks was too much for two men who assaulted the preachers and stole the clothing.
It should be noted that the "assault" consisted of grabbing the garment and pulling it away from the man who was desecrating it, which was also charged as theft.

Mormons are taught to ignore such indignities by anti-LDS "preachers" who regularly paphleteer, yell through bull horns at passersby and try to disrupt wedding parties trying to take photos outside the temple.
Still, Anderson and Rutan said the street preachers would not be banned from wearing sacred church clothing around their necks, because that is protected speech, akin to flag burning.

Moreover, such an action is aimed at the broader crowd of LDS members rather than specific individuals. And "fighting words" or words that are "inherently likely to cause a violent reaction," can only be directed at individuals or small groups of no more than four, according to various federal court rulings.

So any speech or display aimed at the conference masses would be considered free speech, according to Rutan and deputy city attorney Boyd Ferguson.

This may be an accurate statement of First Amendment law, but it is nonetheless despicable behavior, akin to wearing minstrel show black-face makeup or a white hood outside an NAACP convention. I wonder if Anderson would be in favor of waving Confederate battle flags and yelling "nigger" at passing black people on the street.

The harassing behavior of these so-called preachers which is being defended by the mayor is not preaching or testifying. It's not even debate. It's an attempt to annoy and intimidate Mormons and make it unpleasant for them to attend General Conference. When did this childishness acquire Constitutional dimensions? When did we give up the right to go into public places without being assaulted verbally, accosted by ever more aggressive panhandlers and people who should be in secure facilities? When did democracy lose the power to insist on standards of behavior in our common areas?

More and more it occurs to me how simple it is to frame every issue in terms of liberty and inalienable rights (or their penumbras). It's a Pavlovian American response. Liberty=righteous indignation, but that's not what this country was about, everybody shutting up while the loudest and fringiest monopolize everything and shout everybody else down.

We see it everywhere, and hear it everywhere. Liberals are only just getting to feel what the rest of us have been putting up with for the past 40 years, as conservatives gained access to the one public space that the liberals had overlooked, AM talk radio. Rush Limbaugh started giving them a dose of their own poison, and a vast neglected market responded, instantly recognizing the arrogance, the anger, the patronizing and condescension. Now what passes for discussion is yelling, insults, childish bickering and vituperation; and the nation is split right down the middle.

Hugh Nibley made the point some time ago that what we need to fear more that wholesale tilts to the left or right is polarization, an abandonment of the middle ground of tolerance and civility until we all occupy camps at the extremes. What I see happening today is a determination to make the commons into a no-man's land, a place we only go through to get somewhere safe, rather than a destination, a place we share peacefully with respect and consideration. There is such a thing as evil, but it doesn't lie across the straight and narrow path to perfection. Rather it infests the side roads, the mists and marshes, the dens, dark woods and cliffs without fences. We shouldn't be making the center so difficult to walk along.