Saturday, October 14, 2006

Why things look bad for the GOP

Prof. Reynolds has a list. I think he has a longer memory than most voters. I think mostly there's a lot of disgust with things generally and as the party in the majority, the GOP is the one getting hammered. Most of his reasons aren't that big a deal. I don't consider most of his list too important. His attitude is "a pox on both your houses."

I think that he's right about our political class being pretty lousy, but I doubt that they were ever much better. The problems I've had with Republicans in Congress were: 1. Tone deafness when it came to spending; 2. Lack of discipline, especially from some prima donna Senators, who seem to have be courted on every issue; 3. Tom Delay, which is really the same as no. 1, but his insensitivity to how his associations with lobbyists appeared to conservatives was annoying and irresponsible. He rightly saw his Democrat critics as hypocrites, but that isn't really an answer, is it?

Actually, I think GOP's problem is the media, but that only means the party needs to be more savvy and careful, and it really has been amateurish in that regard.

Laughing at the Caliphate

Newsweek has a mocking report making fun of Bush for taking the return of the Caliphate seriously. I doubt that it will happen, but Bush isn't using that way. He's using it to help explain what the terrorists are about. They are seeking the spread of Islam as a World Government. They're well on the way in Europe, which has been numbed into passivity by multiculturalism, failure to reproduce and the Lotus dreams of liberalism. Terrorism is a tactic which defies our conventional methods. The enemy is hidden in our midst, and operates in secret. His advantage is not in numbers but in stealth and commitment. Our weaknesses are our lack of unity and denial, and both are on display here:
When President George W. Bush starts using fifty-cent words in press conferences, one has to wonder why, and on Wednesday, during his Rose Garden appearance, he used the word “caliphate” four times.
This snotty little bit of superiority is typical of the media these days--insulting, dismissive, condescending and smug.

Miracle Time

Hugh Hewitt acknowledges that things look bleak for Republicans, but he remains optimistic. When the entire news media is so unanimous, you have to be skeptical.

On one hand, I think America is the last best hope for peace in the world, because it seems to be the last power willing to oppose the Muslim floodtide. On the other, I believe in the prophecies that the last days will see war poured out upon the world and the threshing of the nations. Returning Democrat majorities to Congress would be disastrous, but I doubt that the country will be very impressed by the results.

The Big Apple, Apple and Mecca

Apple's black cube store on Fifth Avenue has offended Muslims by reminding some of the Ka'ba, the black stone cube in Mecca which is the ultimate destination of the Haj. Why Muslims take offense to images of the Prophet while worshipping a cube of black rock, is beyond me, but it seems to be a religion full of contradictions. Of course, the Apple Store is a black box full of technology, while the Ka'ba is just a block of stone. It seems symbolic, no?

Counting the Chickens

Bill Clinton at a fundraiser in Las Vegas:
The nation has been "jammed into an ideological corner" by conservative Republicans and is primed for a power shift in the November elections, former President Bill Clinton said Thursday.

"This is an election unlike any other I have ever participated in," Clinton told Democratic supporters at a fundraiser in Las Vegas. "For six years this country has been totally dominated - not by the Republican Party, this is not fair to the Republican Party - by a narrow sliver of the Republican Party, its more right-wing and its most ideological element."

"When the chips are down, this country has been jammed to the right, jammed into an ideological corner, alienated from its allies, and we're in a lot of trouble," he said.. . .

The Democratic Party has become the liberal and conservative party in America. If you want to be fiscally conservative, you've got to be for us. If you want to conserve natural resources, you've got to be for us," he said. "If you want a change of course in Iraq ... you've got to be for us."
Well, that explains why they can't agree on a single agenda, but if he's right, we really are in a lot of trouble!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Who Pays for CableTV?

As near as I can tell, it's this "Try my product" guy, Bob, the man with that hideous Enzyte rictus, and a whole lot of other "adult" products.

Who do you trust?

A word of warning for Democrats and Republicans. When I saw the headline, It's Not About Issues - It's About Earning Trust, I thought, how can you earn trust when the news media are pounding you, accusing you of lying to lead the country into a war in which our national interests aren't really at stake? Then I thought, it's a good thing it isn't about issues, because the Democrats don't have any positions. They're campaigning on how evil Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice all are. It's as though they have a psychological need to convince us and themselves that, as bad as Clinton's behavior was, the Republicans are worse. That doesn't really wash when you ask yourself why Nixon had to resign and Clinton didn't. They may win this round, but if they get back into the majority and go right to work raising taxes, holding inquisitions and leaving our efforts in Iraq unfinished. It won't really matter. I don't think it's the war itself that people are tired of. It's the unending drone of negative news. Most Americans don't even understand that the economy is booming. The late night comics don't joke much about good news.

What worries me is that the end result will be that we don't trust anybody outside of our own cocooned social-religious-political groups. And anybody who brings up the days when we were united as Americans is denounced for questioning others' patriotism which is generally expressed by denouncing America as a blight on mankind. They just love this country too much to allow our irresponsible freedoms escape escape into the world and turn it into another den of uncontrolled prosperity and wasteful consumption.

The Rat That Roared

Government sources confirm that the North Koreans did indeed detonate a nuclear device.

And once again, the U.N. has failed to support its own "principles." It is the single best answer to those who want us to talk with people like Saddam and Kim Jong Il, and even the French. This faith is diplomacy is unfounded except among liberal democracies. The dictators use talks as cover while they arm themselves. I would propose diverting the money we spend on propping up the U.N. to funding Social Security, expanding Gitmo, or anything useful, rather than pouring it down this sinkhole.

Frank Salvato argues, in the famous words of Walt Kelly via his comic strip, Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us." The voters, and even the non-voters, in this country are ultimately responsible for the government. Thomas Jefferson championed public education because democracy requires an informed electorate, but most of us don't bother to think much about politics and the issues beyond the jokes on The Daily Show, Jay Leno and David Letterman. When we pay attention to events in the world, they are generally filtered by the media not just to give us facts, but tell us, more or less subtly, what to think about them. For the past 6 years, however, the MSM has become far more partisan than I remember any time in my 58 years, yet most of its reporters and editors vehemently deny any bias, usually with an expression of disdain for their readers and those who constantly object to their bias and just blundering, the bloggers.

In addition, he notes, many of our beliefs are being shaped by special interest groups who are unabashedly engaged in propaganda and advocacy. The Mark Foley scandal is a good example. Normally when revelations of his behavior appeared, he would have been forced to resign in shame, but today that's not enough. The left wants to use it as a club to drive the Speaker of the House from his job. The fact that this seems to be working, although that may be more spin by the media, is a testament to how little thought goes on in our heads.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Fallacies of the Blame Game.

From the headline, I had hoped that this piece by Joan Vennochi would have some common sense, but it's nothing but another example of selfrighteous liberal whining. Naturally she offers mostly examples of Republicans refusing to take responsibility, but her centerpiece is nothing of the sort. It isn't Republicans who invented the term "Culture of Corruption" and planned their campaign around digging up scandal. She berates Senator McCain right off the bat:
When North Korea claims to have detonated a nuclear device, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona steps right up and blames former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat who left office six years ago.
But she fails to note that he was responding to Hillary Clinton's attack on Bush's policies as to blame for North Korea's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons.

While her piece criticizes people refusing to accept responsibility when things go badly, it is nothing but criticism of Republicans with some dubious claims of buckpassing. Just because the press demands apologies, it doesn't mean that apologies are due. It's a clever but dishonest tactic to make charges and then, when they're denied, to attack your opponent for refusing to accept responsibility. This is a variation on the old "When did you stop beating your wife?" trick, assuming facts not in evidence, or begging the question. Before you cricize someone for refusing to accept responsibility, you have to establish that a. something has gone wrong and b. it must be the fault of your opponent. But, as Bill Clinton points out, some things are just hard to accomplish, and it's not fair to criticize those who tried. The problem with his angry outburst on Fox News Sunday was that he accused Fox of ambushing him and that he had really tried to get bin Laden.

This is the essence of meanspirited politics, when nothing can just be unfortunate or understandable. There are no accidents. Everything has to be blamed on somebody, and every success and positive result must be denied or diminished. As a result, the Democrats are obsessed with criticizing and most of those who report and comment on the news are Democrats. Thus, what have been remarkable successes are constantly dismissed and belittled, while everything that proves to be harder than thought, and every unanticipated problem, is a "failure."

If we treated our children this way, imagine how ambitious they'd be, and how little they'd achieve.

Can we borrow that for our platform?

Via Riehl World View, this quote from Christopher Hitchens, who was declared "insane" by Ezra Klein because he disagrees with Klein's view that he is making "threats out of enemies and existential dangers out of garden variety terrorists." What are enemies if not threats? In a discussion about Howard Dean, Hitchens is quoted as telling one of Dean's admirers,
[Y]ou've told me all I need to know. I'm not trying to persuade you. Do you think I care whether you agree with me? No. I'm telling you why I disagree with you. That I do care about. I have no further interest in any of your opinions. There's nothing you wouldn't make an excuse for. You know what? I wouldn't want you on my side.
Rhetoric was developed by the Sophist to be the art of persuasion, without regard to the truth. We are again in thrall to fascination with the means of persuasion while ignoring the whole aim of argument, to discover truth.

Hitchens is profane and cantankerous and I disagree with him on a lot of things, but he is a master of rhetoric who is very interested in what is right and wrong. For that, I admire him.

YouTube blew it.

Robert Cox writes that the Right is losing the internet, citing the fact that Michelle Malkin was booted off YouTube.
Some might note that Malkin can still host her videos elsewhere. Of course she can, but that would fail to understand the powerful forces of “network externalities” at play online. There is no Avis to eBay’s Hertz for good reason: Once an online network is fully catalyzed, there is no reason to join an alternative network. If you want to get the most money for your Beanie Baby collection, you are going to want access to the most potential bidders — and that means eBay.

YouTube is poised to become the eBay of video file sharing. If you want the biggest audience for your video, you want access to the most potential viewers — and that means YouTube.
The problem with this argument is that YouTube's value will be vastly diminished if it becomes know as a partisan website or a voice only for the left. If eBay became known for fraudulent sellers, it would disappear, and it knows it. If YouTube, which presents itself as a vehicle for free speech by "the little guy," continues to label controversial speech as "offensive" and blocks it, it will find itself in a subset of the total market for its services. This move against Malkin is a big mistake. It makes YouTube look hypocritical and ideological rather than a true free speech vehicle.

Duelling Investigations

Republicans has served notice that Democrats won't be the only ones seeking to capitalize on scandals. They're going to investigate what Sandy Berger carried out of the National Archives.

This selective outrage and political gameplaying is disgusting to Americans, but as long as there is power in Washington, there will be corruption on both sides. It makes no sense, but neither party can stop the bickering without the other.

Culture of Corruption or Politics of Personal Destruction?

If you've ever wondered how long time Senators end up millionaires, here's how. I don't know whether this is unethical or not, but I do think he should have disclosed it in filings with the Senate. To me this is just a demonstration that playing scandal politics is a dangerous game. I admit to a little schadenfreude in light of all the faux indignant clips we've seen of Harry Reid denouncing the President and making specious charges. Bush himself has avoided personal attacks, but has been pummeled regularly and unfairly by Democrats and the media. It's nice to see some blowback every now and then. Reid might have made good investments without the help of his political success, but Hastert recently sold some property in his district at a handsome profit too. Washington is one big glass house, yet nobody seems to have learned to put away their slingshots. How about this for a rule: If you want to be in government stick to governing. If you want to wheel and deal, stay home and make money, but don't do the latter while claiming to be a humble public servant.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

WaPo "Logic"

If nobody had mentioned it, would Kim Jong Il still be evil? This seems an odd position for critics of the President to take. Maybe the war wouldn't be such a quagmire if the news media hadn't kept telling us it was, and with a little encouragement Bush might be one of our greatest presidents.

Radley Balko:
The lefty blogs are again jumping all over John Tierney. Actually, not really. They're jumping all over an incarnation of John Tierney they've created that allows them to dismiss him without really considering what he's written.
This is news? That description fits what the left and the media have done for the past 6 years. From arguing that Bush shouldn't have gone to court, after Gore went judge shopping to get an order for recounting and divining the real intent of voters who had ruined their ballots, to denying their own responsibility in North Korea's development of nuclear weapons. the left's only argument tactic is to put words in the mouths of their opponents and then criticize them for saying them.

If violence never solved anything, . . .

it may be because we haven't done it right.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

World Ends - Democrats blame Bush

North Korea announces that it has gone ahead and detonated a nuke. What do the Dems have to say? It's Bush's fault for refusing one-on-one talks. The Iraq war was wrong because it was "unilateral" meaning "without the U.N."

Remember next month, it's a whole lot easier to criticize than it is to actually deal with the issues. When you're a critic, you only have to say the other side should have done something different. The U.S. went to some pains to include all the local stakeholders in these talks, which is probably why Kim demanded unilateral talks. We didn't take him up on that because Clinton tried it that way, and they lied to him, promising to cease their nuclear weapons program.

Why is talking to them now any more likely to produce different results? Nobody in the administration has blamed this on Clinton, who did engage in talks, Hillary was out there loudly blaming Bush for not repeating her husband's folly.

Isaiah prophesied a time when people would cry, "Peace!" but there is no peace. You can talk with people like the North Korean regime forever, and they will view your willingness as weakness. Why do we not understand that? If we had negotiated longer with Hitler, would he have seen reason and given back Poland? Yet, the left continue to think that pacifying aggressors will work, even when they've demonstrated that they can't be trusted. The whole U.N. is based on this belief. It was a nice idea, but it wasn't realistic then and it has failed too many times now to waste more money on it.

Update: Michael Rubin agrees.

Kolbe's "Bomb" is of the North Korean variety.

After claiming that he knew Foley was a predator in 2000.
Rep. Jim Kolbe says he was never shown the exact content of Mark Foley's e-mails six years ago to a male congressional page he had appointed, and did not realize those messages were sexually explicit.

"I was not shown the content of the messages and was not told they were sexually explicit," said Kolbe, who is Congress' only openly gay Republican.
I'm getting confused. Were they explicit or not? Has he seen them now? I suspect that this is a case where the reporter jumped to conclusions and failed to get the story straight. So now the water is muddier than before, and that's what the Democrats want.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Amazing North Korean Nuke Fluke.

Can it be confirmed?

If they were really trying, we're not impressed. If they are hoaxing us, we are not amused. If they were testing a suitcase bomb or a dirty bomb, we are not aware of it.

Oh, those inscrutable sadists.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Not That Endless

Evan Thomas lets slip the Democrats' game plan:
The secret world of Mark Foley—and the denial and bumbling of the House leaders who possibly did not want to know too much about that world—is beginning to emerge in bits and pieces of lurid detail. What actually happened—from the moment that Hill staffers first became aware of Congressman Foley's unusual interest in teenage congressional pages—is the source of intrigue, finger-pointing, shock, fear and loathing on Capitol Hill and of endless fascination around the country.
They hope.

It's been--what, a week?--and I'm really bored with it. I can't imagine that the rest of the country is breathlessly waiting for All The Representatives' Men to appear in installments. We're tired of the dreary reporting from Iraq. Why would we want to trade quagmire for tawdry? Our media have become European in their relentless world-weary ennui. They're really buzzkills now.

At least the blogsphere you get attitude and variety. With the MSM, it's like that famous Apple ad for the Macintosh. Nothing new, nothing interesting, nothing enlightening or worth watching, unless you get your jollies reading people's dirty instant messages.

Just in Case

The NY Hearsay is reporting on the plight of Republican gays caused by the Foley scandal. If the air comes out of the "Hastert Knew!" balloon, they can pump up the "Republicans Hostile to Gays" balloon and never miss a beat.

A word against freedom of speech

I'm so tired of the vulgarization of television. I just heard the phrase "out of your ass" in the space of 2 minutes. "It'll be your ass," "kick your ass," "up to my ass, "stick it up your ass." I know there are a lot of crude people in the world and this is the closest most of them will ever come to synedoche. I know people go the the bathroom and have sex, too, but that doesn't mean I want to watch it. Somehow, the writers of this dreck seem to thing vulgar=real life=good writing. It used to have a sense of drama, but now it only has a sense of inching toward unwatchable.

The love than bores us with its name

Mark Steyn:
I'm a foreigner, so I might not be up to speed on how things work around here. But, insofar as I understand it after the last week, American politics is divided between: teenage pages; guys who are hot for teenage pages; guys who are enablers for guys who are hot for teenage pages; guys who devote inordinate time and effort to entrapping guys who are hot for teenage pages; guys who are rattled by guys accusing them of having devoted insufficient time and effort to nailing the guys who are hot for teenage pages and get panicked into holding press conferences where they announce the following:

"As the speaker I take responsibility for everything in the building. The buck stops here. ... That is why I directed the clerk of the House to establish a hotline for reporting any information concerning pages or the page program. As of this morning, the clerk of the House has activated the tip-line. . . . The page program tip line is 866-348-0481."

(If the clerk's not there, you can have him paged.)
The subtext of the scandal is this isn't just any scandal; it's a Republican Sex Scandal! (Cue the fireworks.) "Hypocrites! A gay Republican member of the House! The House leadership knew that Foley was gay! They didn't tar and feather him! Why Hastert is practically a procurer of pages for his pedophile friends! We're back in the saddle! Yippi-ki-yay!"

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the Secretary of State tells the Iragi that they have to get this sectarian violence under control NOW! The President continues his speaking tour encouraging us to keep up the fight against terrorism. Nobody hears him, because the Scandal and the demise of the Republicans occupies everybody's (in the media, anyway) attention. "The Dems are coming back and there'll be payback! Happy days are here again!"
And, with every press conference designed to get himself out of the hole he'd dug at the previous press conference, the 50 percent of Americans who pay minimal attention to politics (which, if there's any justice, will be up to 93 percent by now) caught Hastert floundering on the evening news and thought, "So that's the gay pedophile, eh? Disgusting. There oughtta be a law against it."

Well, there is. Many laws, in fact. And it's not clear any of them were broken. It's a good basic rule of thumb that no matter how bad a scandal is, the political class' response will be worse, largely hysterical and lacking any sense of proportion. But, even by those minimal expectations, this last week has been unbecoming for a serious nation.. . .

A few quirks of timing and the parties' respective roles might have been entirely reversed. Scandalwise, the Republicans always play the submissive masochists but the Dems are bi-swingers, happy to flay the GOP as either (a) uptight prudes or (b) pedophile enablers, according to what suits. What would have been consistent in both narratives is the assumption by the Democrats, the media and the Gay Page Tip-Line end of the Republican Party is that the electorate is stupid. In the sense that there's any "child abuse" going on here, the American people are being treated like children and abused by the politico-media class.
Will Washington be a fit environment for anybody by the next presidential election?

Maybe that's the problem

What's wrong with criticizing the court?
Justice Stephen Breyer stated several years ago, "We run no risk of returning to the days when a president (responding to [the Supreme] Court's efforts to protect the Cherokee Indians) might have said, 'John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!' "
The Federal Courts have been assuming legislative powers for some time now. The exclusionary rule, the Miranda warning, detailed plans for busing students to achive integrated schools are a few examples. Sometimes, they've been encouraged by Congress's passage of vague legislation on the understanding that the courts would clarify it by repeated litigation. Then they started using trends in international jurisprudence to support changing common law in this country. All without any explicit authority in the Constitution.

Most of the time, such expansions of judicial power don't hurt us too much, but when the court further clipped the president's inherent war powers in the Hamdan decision, including the ruling that terrorists as illegal non-combatants are covered by the Geneva Convention's Common Article Three. I've never really seen any basis for all this guff about Bush making himself a tyrant, or, as Garrison Keilor claimed this week, that he could or would pick up anybody he wanted off the street and throw them in jail. He's ignorant of the actual procedures, but stupid remarks like that go unchallenged in the media every day, and mislead public opinion. I'd be interested to see how many Americans now believe that we routinely torture prisoners as official policy.

The Jackson threat has always served as a check on overreaching by the courts. It's about time it was reinvigorated. Don't expect that any time soon.

BTW, read Judge Pryor's piece. It's excellent.

Overplaying their hand.

Does Evan Thomas get credit from the Democrats for in-kind contributions? "Bring down the GOP? That claim was debunked within hours, but why would we expect the news media to issue corrections, given their scrupulous fair play in the past?

What if they were Republicans?

Local reaction in the Bronx to the shakeout of Air America receiving funds from the government-funded Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club. Two people charged, neither will go to jail.

Well, we pretty well knew this was coming.

Foley had gay sex with a former page. The ex-page was 21 years old at the time. So is Foley still a predator is the other party is a consenting adult. Have the Democrats painted themselves into a corner with this? Does Nancy Pelosi use the same rhetoric in San Francisco that she does in Washington. If homosexuality is an acceptable alternative, and Foley was just trying to find others like himself, what's wrong with that? These kids are well past puberty. They have the right to discover their own sexuality, right? Right? A sixteen year old can have an abortion without notifying her parents, so what makes a 16 year old boy not able to be gay?

Of course, if we took that point of view, we'd be killing the page program. It's pretty hard to be indignant that Foley wasn't investigated for being gay. If he asks them when they'll turn 18, is that too much like a "predator?" We've been teaching these kids about sex, including the facts about gay sex, so why should anybody be shocked that a gay politician chats them up? I'm sure you can split legal hairs, but once you validate one kind of non-sex sexual relations, what is there to say that other variants are improper. You can bring up the age of consent, but aren't gays born, not made? We don't want to raise homophobes, do we? Do we?

I would prefer that children never have to hear about sex of any kind until they're 12 years old, and that they never be exposed to homosexuality. It's hard enough getting through adolescence as it is without adding another emotion laden issue. Call me a homophobe if you like, but I can't imagine any normal person watching a typical gay pride parade without feeling repelled by the behavior on display.