Friday, June 30, 2006

It may be time for a mandatory retirement statute.

Sloanasaurus in the comments to Ann Althouse's blog on Hamdan makes this simple yet trenchant point:
[S]aying that the terrorists are protected by the Geneva convention is absurd. For treaties to have meaning you must have two sides.
What business to signatories to those treaties have making rules for al Qaeda? And are we obligated to honor the treaty as to enemies who treat our nationals they capture as hostages and then behead them on camera?

It seems that our Supreme Court is engaged in some asymmetrical warfare of its own, by disarming the U.S. unilaterally. This is what happens when one makes a fetish of civil liberties, and ignores the rest of the Constitution, particularly the Preamble. They have resorted to legal squirmery to avoid the plain, common sense meaning of the Constitution. Kennedy, and his predilections for laws and rulings by foreign jurisdictions, strikes again.

THE HAMDAN OPINION begs the question whether one can really commit "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment" against people who plot in flying airliners full of unsuspecting passengers into buildings, such as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Anything you do to such people is cannot be degrading, since they have already degraded themselves beyond anything Americans would conceive of.


Is this the same Britney Spears who wept about the cruel coverage of her and her baby?

Get a clue, Babe. You let it all hang out like this, and people are going to figure you don't care what they think of you. I think pregnant women are beautiful, but not in nude magazine photos. This is, of course, an update of Demi Moore's covers in the same state of undress while pregnant, but Demi played it as a bold confrontation of the standard ideas about sexuality. She was taking the position that pregancy is as legitimate a part of sex life as the seduction. Britney doesn't seem to know what she's doing this for, except someone has offered her money, and that's really sad. She's a teenaged unmarried mother in an adult's body. The entire project is a reminder that she has no loving, mature, caring husband who understands the private nature of love. It appears that she only has a manager.

She needs someone like John Astin, who understands that marriage and parenthood are not career moves.


Reading Claudia Rosett's blog, most recently covering the Oil-for-Food revelations from the court hearings on Tongsun Park's activities, I thought about how the same people who regularly dismiss the ability of Arabs to maintain a democracy are so loyal to the U.N. which is basically run by Third-Worlders and EU types who have about as much loyalty to real democracy as al Qaeda. Both have a basic belief that they and their technocrat associates are the ones who should be running the world, not the rabble we allow to vote and run for office in this country. They'd much prefer people like John Kerry, who will be true to their own class.

Hear! Hear!

Deroy Murdock dissects the NYTimes' moral obtuseness in putting questionable privacy concerns and its own vindictiveness toward George W. Bush ahead of the life and safety of Americans.

THERE'S NO AMENDMENT YET that prohibits burning copies of The New York Times.

If they can burn the flag, can we do any less?

Another Perfidious Reporter

Eric Lichtblau has reached star status by publishing classifed information given to him in violation of law. Steal a hundred and they put you in jail. Steal national secrets and they give you a Pulitzer. Walter Duranty must be smiling through his pain. He now has one more scoundrel to share his guilt.

The excuse that he is exposing scandals won't bear scrutiny and defies common sense. The left's opposition to this war, and worse, it's increasing attempts in the media and in the courts to render us unable to defend ourselves or take the fight to the terrorists without revealing our sources and methods, are hurting us.

The solution? Elect more conservatives, and make it clear that Republicans who refuse to focus on the main requirements, winning the war, confirming Bush's judicial nominations, cutting taxes and controlling spending, will not get support from the base either financially or in electoral support. It will be a slow process, but unless we do it, the Democrats will cease to be a serious party which will be bad for our two-party system. Only continued losses will shock them into rejecting the extreme Neo-Hippie wing who have taken over the party and returning to sane candidates and policies. Even if this fails, we'll be better off with a new system emerging where the debates are across lines that leave politics at the water's edge and support judges who understand the proper role of the judiciary in upholding democratic laws and refusing to substitute their own policy judgments for those of the people we elect to make such decisions. There need to be new ground rules for political debate, the first of which is that policies and platforms that will weaken our democracy and endanger our national sovereignty are off the table.

Brain Freeze

Michael Medved hosted Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream this afternoon, promoting a "common sense" budget on behalf of Businsess Leaders for Sensible Priorities. Normally, I don't care for Medved's shtick of inviting leftie cranks to come on and make their cases for thinks like reparations for slavery. It's basically a form of the strawman argument with real, living strawmen, who come on and make arguments that demonstrate by their own fatuousness how harebrained thier positions are. It's usually contentious and degenerates into shouting, namecalling and in the end nobody is persuaded of anything.

Today's show was different. Mr. Cohen was civil, as was Michael Medved and most of his callers. What was great was that when Cohen proposed to cut spending on the missile defense technology, a technician for Lockeed called up and refuted his contention that they system doesn't work. When he spoke of people going to bed hungry in the U.S., Medved showed him statistics about the high rates of obesity among "poor" pepople and the 50% increase in the cost of the food stamp program under the Bush administration. One caller pinned Mr. Cohen with information and proposals for nuclear power that blew away his call for spending $100 billion to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by promoting hybrid vehicles.

Cohen was reduced to stubbornly restating his talking points which were being shredded as he spoke. It was the classic case of a leftie citing statistics that don't make sense or hold up on analysis, and refusing to accept anything to the contrary. Nuclear technology makes far more sense than increased dependence on fossil fuels, without any air pollution, but opponents show that they aren't serious by maintaining that it's just too dangerous.

John Podesta bemoans the lack of new ideas and intellectual support coming from the Democrat side for their positions, but the problem isn't that they don't have enough think tanks. It's that they and their "intellectuals" refuse to accept rationality, and cling to their old socialist faith and environmental myths, no matter how much fact and research you pile up in front of them. Until they show a willingness to accept reality, their prospects will not improve. The major stories of this past week, the NYTimes publication of classified information and the decision of the Supreme Court to grant terrorists a full panoply of due process rights, can't help but boost the shift to conservatism. Of course, it's possible that the liberal media combine will slow the trend by refusing to report truth, but, short of mass insanity of the American electorate, which is certainly possible, it's inexorable that rational voters will be more and more conservative.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

What does it mean to win an election?

Not what it used to, apparently. The Democratic position and that of the New York Times seem to be that if the Democrats aren't given control of at least one part of the government, the press should step in to obstruct government operations.

How this will affect the Democrats' fortunes, I can't say, but it makes one wonder why we need to bother with elections any more. Our media overlords have spoken, so shut up and eat your Soylent Green.

A WRY SMILE for Mr. Blair.

Prosecute the bastards!

Patterico demonstrates by example how superior bloggers can be to professional editorialists. He rips the NYTimes a new one with his reaction to their latest butt-covering editorial, particularly their reliance on the Pentagon Papers case as precedent that newspapers can't be prosecuted. The case wasn't about prosecuting violations of national security. It was an attempt to enjoin publication of documents which had been illegally obtained.

As the Kenneth Mars character says in Young Frankenstein, "A riot is a terrible thing. And I think it's about time we had one!"

I'm not as worked up as most about the failure of the House resolution to name names in condemning publication of classified information. What did you expect from politicians? Instead of attacking our wimpy representatives, we should be marching in the streets. I wish I were a lefty just for a moment, so I could advocate destroying their vending boxes and papers. This is a job for people who care about the government's ability to defend us. We're the ones who'll be killed the next time they attack.

Go spread rumors at your local mosque, that the NYTimes is a supporter of Israel. It couldn't hurt.

Who elected these creeps?

The statements of Bill Keller and Dean Baquet addressing their decisions to publish details of classified anti-terrorism programs, both contain one of my pet peeves about "journalists:" their arrogation to themselves of Constitutional powers which they infer from the grant of freedom of the press.

[T]he people who invented this country saw an aggressive, independent press as a protective measure against the abuse of power in a democracy, and an essential ingredient for self-government. They rejected the idea that it is wise, or patriotic, to always take the President at his word, or to surrender to the government important decisions about what to publish.. . .

The power that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly. The responsibility of it weighs most heavily on us when an issue involves national security, and especially national security in times of war.
Note how "freedom of the press" has transmogrified into "power of the press" as if the press were a fourth branch of the Constitutional scheme of government, albeit one not chosen or sustained by any democratic means. This claim of a quasi-constitutional status has become today an assertion that the press is beyond the reach of the laws that everybody else is bound to respect.

While these people claim to be protecting our rights, they are really claiming powers for themselves that supercede those of elected government. This is dangerously close to an end run around democracy, which is the most fundamental property of a republic.
The fact that such powerful men can make such assertions without blushing or serious challenge is more frightening than any threat I can think of short of civil war or war of conquest by a foreign power.

This needs to be smashed right now. It won't be by the government, but it must be by public reaction more powerful and clear than any judicial decision, statute or regulation could ever be. Americans are generally a passive and peaceful people, but they are capable of upheavals when their rights and safety are threatened.

I'm not advocating violence, but I am advocating anger, outrage, outcry and resort to whatever economic and legal power we may have to stop this nonsense in its tracks.

The inverse of victory?

Brit Hume noted yesterday that the Democrats in Congress are claiming that they won a victory in Iraq because General Casey's plans for phased withdrawal are the same as their proposals calling for withdrawal on a specified date or schedule. Bush's policy has been from the beginning that we would stand down as the Iraqi government and forces stand up, yet the Democrats have complained that he had no plan, no exit strategy, etc.

How dumb do they think we are? This is a parasitical political strategy: wait and watch your opponent's actions, then, before they are complete, demand a very similar program and declare victory when they follow through with their original statements and accomplish their goals.

You've got to give the Dems credit for creativity and chutzpah, but where would they be without Republicans to supply the ideas and actions? They certainly are far ahead in coming up with novel rhetorical devices and sophistries, but their current mental confusion suggests the perils of such argument. Do it enough, and you lose the ability to perceive truth.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Speaking of Best of the Web,

Today's first item is a verification of Byron York's excellent book, The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy, which shows how the lurking anti-war radicals on the left have taken over the Democrat Party. Howard Dean apparently remembers the 1960s and 1970s as a time of great victory for that crowd, forgetting that they handed Richard Nixon two terms as president. His downfall wasn't due to them but to his own inept and paranoid handling of their antics and attacks on him.

I don't think they've ever figured out the effect they have on normal people. It's kind of ironic that their claims that Bush & Co. want to establish an Old Testament style theocracy have gained such currency, because they make the left resemble nothing so much as Jehovah's Witnesses.

Speaking of Best of the Web,

Today's first item is a verification of Byron York's excellent book, The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy, which shows how the lurking anti-war radicals on the left have taken over the Democrat Party. Howard Dean apparently remembers the 1960s and 1970s as a time of great victory for that crowd, forgetting that they handed Richard Nixon two terms as president. His downfall wasn't due to them but to his own inept and paranoid handling of their antics and attacks on him.

I don't think they've ever figured out the effect they have on normal people. It's kind of ironic that their claims that Bush & Co. want to establish an Old Testament style theocracy have gained such currency, because they make the left resemble nothing so much as Jehovah's Witnesses.

POLITICAL VENTRILOQUISM has been around for a long time, but this new class of dummies are definitely not as smart as they used to be. I don't support Joe Lieberman, but he's certainly preferable to a sock puppet like Ned Lamont. For all their ickiness political parties serve a function of filtering and softening the the political rhetoric in order to reach as many sane people as possible. Unfortunately, that function is being undermined by well-intentioned but stupid moves to regulate campaign funding, which have empowered people like those behind and George Soros at the expense of experienced politicians who at least understand how things work in the real world.

How about "niggler?"

An item on Best of the Web about a website in which the word "cocktail" is rendered as "*censored*tail," has made me think about changing the name of this blog. Could it be that my blog is being blocked by people's screening programs because of it's name?

Cockalorum is a reference to the behavior of roosters who strut and crow as if they ran the world. It has no obscene or sexual connotations, but how many software packages understand that? I thought about changing the name to something more acceptable, like "Bantam," but found that everything I could think of is already in use, although looks more like a splog than a genuine blog.
Of course, I'm not exactly a real crowing rooster. Maybe, I should choose "BassetHound" since that's more how I feel these days. Or I could resurrect the Young Apathetics which I sort of founded in college. It's the kind of group that if it accepted you, you wouldn't want to be part of it. Just writing about it, shows you're not a serious Apathetic.

I tried one of these "safe browsing" products a while back, and ran it on the LDS Church conference reports, which feature talks by all of the church's general authorities. It blocked a whole bunch of them because they mentioned sin.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

MICHAEL GOVE has a clear-eyed evaluation of Islamism. In its invocation of the glorious past of Islam, it seems to see thuggish brutality and barbaric behavior as the way the Caliphate will be restored, ignoring the fact that it failed when Arabs came up against enemies they couldn't conquer. While Islam, in turn, converted the Mongols and Turks, it was not necessarily because it was better for the people, but for the conquerors, who found adopting it an expedient way to pacify their new subjects. A true religion of peace doesn't need a conquering host, an empire or even a band of Assassins.

If God is truly the Greatest of All, he can kill without henchmen like al-Zarqawi.

REQUIRED READING from Jim Pinkerton and Edmund Burke. In all of our thinking about our rights, we need to contemplate our duties and the sacrifices upon which our lives are built.

THE DEMOGRAPHICS of the Daily Kos readership confirm something I had dimly suspected. The current crowd whipsawing the Democratic Party between money and the need to appeal to the swing voters, are largely old McGovernites, for who the current war is Vietnam and George Bush is Richard Nixon but seen through a golden mist where they conquered by ending the war, while causing the party to lose two elections in a row. The party remembers, but seems unable to keep them from repeating the damage they did to it in 1968 and 1972. They need to lose more elections to bring them to their senses.

ANOTHER GOOD SUGGESTION for disciplining the NYTimes.

Flag burners safe, for now.

I've gone back and forth on this issue. I think that I'd prefer not to amend the Constitution, but it may be the only way to get the message to the courts that the people are the ultimate authority for the government. I'm in favor of free speech, but I fail to see how that allows every kind of expression for positions that can be fully explored without renouncing loyalty to the nation. The people who burned the flag during the old anti-war demonstrations were fully capable of denouncing the war and the policy of the government without engaging in behavior that insults the loyalty and patriotism of those who have served the country. Does free speech include the right to spit on other people? To throw feces? There are lots of forms of expression that go beyond debate and strong protest and devolve into indecency and debasement of freedom.

Freedom is made possible by sacrifice on the part of citizens, but I see no reason to claim that without the right to express oneself in the most offensive ways one can think of, the First Amendment is violated. The Constitution is supposed to be interpreted reasonably, not in absolute terms that grant some rights more value than others, such as the right to live in domestic tranquility. A man's right to swing his fist stops where another's nose begins. It technically stops sooner than that, since assault, which consists of putting another in fear of battery or any offensive touching, was a common law tort at the time the Constitution was adopted.

I hold that the values stated in the Preamble, a more perfect union, justice, domestic tranquility, the common defense, the general Welfare and the "Blessings of Liberty," are at least as important as the rights listed in the Bill of Rights and that neither group should be given absolute preeminence over the other. The Preamble states the rights citizens have a right to expect from living under the Constitution. The Bill of Rights specifies personal rights that are to be protected, but obviously neither set can be absolute and outweigh the other absolutely. There must be a reasonable balance defined and recognized. Laws against desecrating the flag are a reasonable limitation on the right to criticize the government

Monday, June 26, 2006

Glenn Reynolds:
The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn't give freedom to the press. Keller positions himself as some sort of Constitutional High Priest, when in fact the "freedom of the press" the Framers described was also called "freedom in the use of the press." It's the freedom to publish, a freedom that belongs to everyone in equal portions, not a special privilege for the media industry.
This, as I've said before, is the result of the rise of "professional" journalism schools, who have created a mythos in the minds of journalists that places them somewhere above the legislative and executive branches, but just short of the the judicial branch, encouraged by a line of First Amendment cases that have given them a sense of invulnerability. They have forgotten that the press is, after all, still a business, and its basic job is to report news, not to create it, or ignore the law in pursuit of their own political scalps.

Unfortunately, the only ones who can correct this situation is the press itself, but it's like watching a stellar collision. It goes so slowly that you wonder if your grandchildren will have a responsible press.

A friend who's a civil engineer told me about studying an area of the Netherlands which had been unwittingly built on sediments which, after the sea salt was leached out, were composed mostly of an unstable clay that could liquify with only a slight shock. A witness described seeing an entire valley of farms begin to flow down toward the sea carrying houses and barns with it. He watched in wonder for a while, and filmed the event, until he realized that he was in the path of the oncoming surge and had to run for his life.

The MSM these days is built on the same kind of quicksand. This latest outrage may be the shock that liquifies its entire foundation. And, if the adults among the Democrats don't regain control, that whole party will be caught in the slide into oblivion.

THE HORNET'S NEST stirred up by the NYTimes' disclosure of antiterrorism programs shows no sign of subsiding.

Just a few weeks ago, the buzz was that the Democrats would be retaking at least one house of Congress, based on the "culture of corruption" meme. How quickly they have turned prospective victory into another humiliation! And the party's elected officials, already at a loss for a coherent agenda, are now put in a position of defending outrageous behavior by the press, for fear of losing financial support from the groups who now seem to control all the soft money for the left. The Republicans have been given issues to run on.

Congress may have been unable to deal with the illegal immigration crisis, but it's pretty clear that the problem is not that conservative officials have failed so much as that there aren't enough of them to kick in the door and get things done.