Thursday, December 29, 2005

"We're up against a basic reality:"

Jim Pinkerton notes that the Emperor's new clothes are, well, transparent. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Throw the bums out!

The Old Media just don't seem to get it. They remind me of a political party that has been in power too long. They become arrogant, ingrown and inbred.

We had a House election some years ago here when the Republicans nominated a blockhead as a reward for service to the party in the past but who wasn't up to the job. The district which included on of the most conservative counties in the country elected the Democrat who did a good job and won two elections before he got knocked off by someone with more private money.

The liberal media establishment hasn't had any real challenge since the advent of television. They've gotten dull and developed an attention deficit. They are constantly being caught in mistakes and blatantly biased reports. Even today, they're calling the NSA wiretaps of people communicating with Al Qaeda "domestic spying." If it were that, it would be illegal, but it's not something to bet your wad on, as the latest Rasmussen poll shows. Who can trust that kind of analysis?

The media and the Democrats both show the signs of parties that don't understand what's happening to them. Meanwhile, the Republicans don't seem to understand that they've won or to believe that they can continue to win in the future. They seem to we worrying about the wrath of the Democrats when they come roaring back.

Newspapers are bloated and complacent. Like IBM v. Microsoft, they don't seem to understand what's happening. If they did, James Lileks would be on Times Select and Mark Steyn would be in every market. Instead we get Molly Ivins, Ellen Goodman and Tom Oliphant. And if they did, Brokeback Mountain wouldn't have been made, except as a stag film. Now if they could make a movie showing the romance between a cowboy and a giant ape.

"Look, people, you're becoming a cliched joke."

Academic Elephant has the last word and the best round up on the UMASS Dartmouth student who make up a story about being visited by jackbooted thugs after requesting Mao's "little red book" at the library. The story sounded suspiciously like a variation on the old "My dog ate my homework:" excuse for not getting an assignment done, except to his professor.
[H]ow gullible do you have to be to believe that Homeland Security agents would track down an undergraduate over this particular book? Might you wait to go to the papers before you verified the story? Or would you immediately assume it's true because it confirms your firmly-held assumption, let's call it your "instinct," about the Bush administration? . . .

At my school, on most days anyone with a driver's license can gain access to the open stacks and read this book to their subversive, communist heart's content and no one would know. Heck, anyone sitting at an internet cafe can read it. How on earth would Homeland Security track down and "tame" interest in such a book? Persecuting a lone UMASS student seems foolish and paranoid in the extreme.
But it's exactly the kind of thing these leftover '60s radicals would fall for. Her final paragraph is a classic of fisking:
Look, people, you're becoming a cliched joke. Do you think students such as this one will respect your concerns for their civil liberties? No. They will despise you as a gullible dupe and laugh all the way to the registrar with that A. Consider for a moment what this student really learned from Professor Pontbriand's class. Perhaps he consulted that original text by P.T. Barnum? Or was that David Hannum?

Get this.

John in D.C. leads his comment on the polls in which 64% of those interviewed approved of the NSA wiretaps with this bit of spin:
New domestic spying poll numbers are very bad for Bush
Yeah, right. He criticizes the wording of the questions, which to me sound pretty straight, compared with his paranoid belief, apparently, that the President was spying on him, personally; as if the administration had nothing better or more important to do. Talk about ideas of reference!

If this is your campaign pitch for next year, I suggest you get another advisor.

The latest addition to my reading list

Imperial Grunts by Robert D. Kaplan. For why, see this interview. I'm about half-way through Born Fighting by James Webb, about the Scots-Irish and their influence on American culture and politics. Kaplan's book will be a good follow up.

I can't help but see similarities between the history of the Scots-Irish and my own people, the Mormons. Both have been forged by generations of persecution. Both responded by moving to places that others didn't want and building a culture that has impacted history. Mormons aren't famed for being fighters, but it has always been part of our religion to uphold our Constitution and to serve honorably in the military. Even as they were leaving Illinois after being driven from their homes, the Mormon Pioneers organized a batallion for the Union Army. They didn't get to do much real fighting, but they served as ordered and the pay helped fund the exodus to Utah.

Watching history

It seems that emergence is underway in Iraq. The Iraqis are self-organizing, and it's unclear what the outcome will be, but the result will be determined by their own character and will. This was a great experiment for us, more so for them. Whatever happens, however, I believe that America's reaction to the attacks of 9/11 was honorable. Despite the rage and contempt of the armies of clones in the mainstream news media, we chose to dethrone a hideous tyrant and deliver a population from under his boot heel. I felt that we had shafted them in 1991-2 by giving them hope and then allowing the U.N. to pull it away from under their noses.

People who think the war in Iraq is somehow motivated avenging George H. W. Bush's defeat by Bill Clinton, fail to realize what a rebuke it was to his handling of Saddam. I well remember his hailing of the "New World Order," and the frigid response to that from conservatives. I remember the bumper stickers, "Saddam still has his job, Mr. President. Do you?"

Those who choose to characterize our response this time as imperialism and oppression can't see past Vietnam to the way we ended World War II. They'll be astonished and most likely embittered if the Iraqis succeed in establishing a working democracy. If they fail, I will still feel that we did the right thing, and I believe that most people who had been filled with Al Qaeda propaganda before this war, must admit that we spent huge sums and many lives trying to make their lives better. We did the right thing.

I fervently hope and pray that the silent majority of Iraqis see what needs to be done and will insist that their government represent their will and their best interests. The burden of the government is being shifted onto them. May they realize how great an opportunity this is, and not let it be snatched from them by demagogues and meddlers. And may America stand by them, and live up to its promise.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Do we need more watchdogs?

One of the activists among the survivors of the victims of 9/11 calls for another commission. I think it would be a waste of time, in light of the inability of Congress to set aside political games and just do something for the good of the country. No, it has to benefit labor unions, or maintain the fiefdoms of a bunch of committee chairs. And don't respond to any intelligence without a judicial hearing or a congressional debate, no matter whether it will be gone within moments.

I keep seeing the quote "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety," attributed to Ben Franklin. I'm pretty sure he was talking about the choice between fighting for independence and repose in the tender mercies of the British. When we elected our own government, the equation changed somewhat. I don't see the efforts to protect us from terrorists as a limitation on any liberties I enjoy. I keep trying to understand what the Privacy Freaks are worried about. If we want absolute privacy, we shouldn't be living in society. We gave it up when we started living and trading with others.

Why should we have to hire watchdogs to watch the watchdogs we already have? I think Bush has been doing what he's supposed to and getting not a word of thanks for it. I'd almost like to see Hillary! get elected just to make a point, but only almost.

Update: According to Robert F. Turner Ben Franklin wouldn't have applied his famous dictum to the president's authorization of NSA wiretaps:
First of all, the Founding Fathers knew from experience that Congress could not keep secrets. In 1776, Benjamin Franklin and his four colleagues on the Committee of Secret Correspondence unanimously concluded that they could not tell the Continental Congress about covert assistance being provided by France to the American Revolution, because "we find by fatal experience that Congress consists of too many members to keep secrets."

Update to top stories

Sorry, I should have remembered that the entitlement programs running out of control are the top story of the past 100 years. I think the time will come when Americans will curse FDR as much as they praise him now. He purposely set upt the Social Security system to be a universal benefit so that it would be politically impossible to do away with it. That feature basically guaranteed that it could never be adjusted either, except by raising payroll taxes, which is the Democrats' only proposal for fixing this mess. They apparently have written off younger workers who will get stuck holding an empty bag.

Private memo to Harry Reid, my fellow Mormon: President Heber J. Grant, the prophet at the time Social Security was enacted, warned against it. He called it a dole, and he was right, although FDR insisted that it be structured to give the impression that it was a savings plan rather than a pay-as-you-go system, which it is. The difference is that a lot of people paid payroll taxes thinking they were building personal accounts, when they were just supporting the retirees who were drawing
Social Security. We were warned by the spokesman of the Lord. Of course, being a senator, you won't have to worry about your retirement, will you?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Further thoughts on Bush and the NSA

As I've read and heard the discussion of the Warrantless Wiretaps. I began to wonder if I would have thought Clinton should have been impeached for doing the same thing. I can't say for sure, but I thought at the time that the best ground for removing him from office was his lack of judgment and seriousness about the job of President. I didn't really think that his perjury really harmed the office as much as what he lied about, when he shook his finger at the camera and got indignant that his sexual responsibility was being called into question.

I don't believe that anything Bush has done is worthy of impeachment. The real reason this is being thrown around is because the Democrats and the press want payback for Clinton's impeachment. The one they should blame for that is Clinton himself, but for access to power, they'd sell their own mothers.

Anyway, I don't think that Clinton, Bush or anyone else did anything wrong by authorizing wiretaps for the purpose of preventing terrorism or foreign spying on Americans. The whole "Domestice Spying" meme is a measure of the desperation of the left. I'm sure that some people think that such things are unconstituional, but I don't take them seriously. What this whole kerfuffle makes me think of is Emerson's line that "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." We elect people and give them vast power. If the president has the power to launch nuclear missiles, it seems kind of penny-ante to say he can't be trusted on wiretapping foreign agents.

There is no way to protect ourselves from politicians who use their powers for political purposes. FDR, JFK, J. Edgar Hoover, LBJ and Nixon, and probably Bill Clinton, all did it. If anything, Clinton should have used his presidential power more boldly to combat Al Qaeda. George W. Bush is different in that he hasn't used the FBI to keep his secrets or to punish his enemies. I trust him. I can't say that about the New York Times, the Washington Post, most federal judges or journalists, including a fair number of conservative ones. You can't lay down a universal rule. You just have to decide whether you want to see more terrorist attacks or not. And I don't believe that that constitutes trading liberty for a little security, or whatever it is Ben Franklin said. He wasn't talking about terrorists.

Now that's what I call a grabber!

A headline should grab your attention and make you want to read more, no? This one has it all:
Police say woman didn't voluntarily swallow phone
Try to resist reading that story.

Europeans believe he had WMD.

Why isn't the left outraged?
A DUTCH businessman was found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to 15 years in prison yesterday for helping Saddam Hussein to acquire the chemical weapons that he used to kill thousands of Kurdish civilians in the Iran-Iraq war.

The ruling by a court in The Hague — which could have an impact on the trial of the former Iraqi dictator in Baghdad — also said that genocide had been perpetrated against Kurds in Iraq after Saddam accused them of collaborating with Iran. ...

Wisdom from the Past

Robert Heinlein
I found in traveling around the world that a great many people . . ., apparently well educated and sophisticated, were convinced that the people of the United States were in the grip of terror and that free speech and free press no longer existed here. They believed that the United States was fomenting a third world war and would presently start it, with Armageddon consequences for everyone else, and that the government of the United States smashed without mercy anyone who dared to oppose even by oral protests this headlong rush toward disaster.

These people could "prove" their opinions by quoting any number of Americans and American newspapers and magazines. That they were able to quote such American sources proved just the opposite, namely that we do continue to enjoy free speech even to express arrant nonsense and unpopular opinion, escaped them completely. (via Best of the Web)
Who'd have thought people would get so bent out of shape over not having terrorist attacks on our homeland for the past four and a quarter years? [ht: Hugh Hewitt]

Glad not to be a journalist.

Betsy of Betsy's Page says eloquently what a lot of us feel about journalists. (I prefer to save "reporter" as a term of respect for people like the late Michael Kelly and Michael Yon)
It's enough to make me seriously glad not to be a reporter where there seem to be serious ethical questions of whether or not it is proper to help a kid caught up in a criminal world.
What is more distressing about this is that people with the twisted, arrogant, self-righteous approach to ethics are teaching at most of the J-schools in the country.

There are reasons for legal ethics to be different from the general kind, lawyers are part of a system where the finding of truth depends on a vigorous effort by both sides to represent their respective sides of a case. "journalists" are professional wannabes who have concocted rules of ethics for which they have no legal basis. Why do they describe their relationship with those they cover as "adversarial?" Why assume that everybody in government is lying? It's an artifice to give substance to their claim to need special rules, to elevate themselves into "professionalism."

I have an old theory that the reason doctors, lawyers, dentists, etc. came to be called "professional" is that so much of the work they do is distasteful to everybody else, that if they're going to do it, they're darn well going to get paid for it both monetarily and in respect. What do journalists do that's so unappealing? Being obnoxious isn't a requirement for the job. It's just the choice that a lot of people make. Putting "getting the story" above every other concern, such as helping people obviously in trouble, is inhumane, especially when only other journalists see anything to complain about it.

Journalists unnecessarily set themselves apart from the rest of us. They arrogate some special authority to themselves than nobody gave them. We didn't elect the New York Times to rule on what constitutes news, and we sure didn't consent to 80% of the news to be given a liberal slant. No wonder the Democrats have gone nuts. They've been told so often by the media that they represent truth, justice and the People for the American Way that they have lost touch with reality. Now the media are losing votes as well, and reacting much the same way.

Monday, December 26, 2005

"this is a major setback"

The abuse of the Patriot Act, that is. What kind of mind sees the failure of the government to revert to the practices of J. Edgar Hoover as a setback? No wonder he doesn't give his name.

I wonder what his thinks of the attacks on 9/11/2001.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

I hope this is right.

Robert D. Kaplan writes that the future leaders of America are among the lower ranking officers serving in Iraq. I worry that more are in today's law schools. The ghost of Christmas future may declare that word to be a violation of some law.

A year ago,

I was visiting my son's parents-in-law near Coos Bay, Oregon. His father-in-law is a professor of marine biology there, a career that to me is like being Indiana Jones.

The first thing we heard on Christmas Day was that he has a friend in Sri Lanka whom he couldn't locate after the tsunami. As we watched, I was reminded again of how vulnerable we all are. How many people on Earth live below 30 feet elevation? Certainly Katrina and Rita reminded Americans that a lot of us arein that category, too.

How many were saved by the intervention of the American military and the outpouring of help from around the world? There was a study announced this week that we may be causing global warming by cleaning the air. Thank you, Scientists. I feel more reassured than ever that change is the real condition of this earth. Whether we need to worry about global warming or not, disease, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoon, hurricanes and tornadoes will continue to plague us. Why do so many people seem determined to add war and famine to the mix?

My uncle's memoirs of the Cabanatuan prisoner of war camp in the Phillipines illustrate how inhuman human beings can get, and how they can rise above such horrors. So far, I've read through October 1942 and my heart goes out when I read of his hopes to be rescued before December when he actually had 3 more years to go.

Socialism is against my political leanings, but I wonder how many lives could be saved by just what this country spends on computer software. The more we do to create jobs around the world, the more good we do, even if those jobs seem menial and exploitative to us. Don't send money merely. Buy products.

The things we have in common are more important than the things that separate us.

This post from Iraq the Model reminds me that Christianity was in Iraq before Islam and that they and Judaism all share the same historical foundation.

Let us pray for what we all wish for, peace and safety for families to rear children and seek their own happiness without the Herods, Hitlers and Saddams to interfere. Governments are supposed to make society work for the common good, but somehow they too often end up being destructive, and good people have to die to restore them to what they should be. Let's hope that the dream of democracy can be made to work in Iraq and spresd throughout the world the notion that God wants us all to be free.

I think that most Americans would wish that for all Muslims, freedom, peace and safety. All those purple fingers showed me that Muslims hope for the same.

This year, as nearly every every year since the Second World War thousands of Americans around the world are on duty in hopes of preserving peace at the cost of billions. We do it out of good will, in hopes that more won't have to die in the future, and that tyrants will be deterred. They won't be, but the dream still lives and is invoked again this year as every year: Peace on Earth. Good will to men. God bless us every one.

Merry Kristmas, Santa Kos

This comment from Kos really is pretty funny. Maybe he'll find something in Hollywood. Anywhere else, and he'd probably face crisis of faith in liberalism.