Saturday, July 16, 2005
CHIRAC'S LIGHTBULB: "These terrorists have a mentality, a psychological state that is different from our own. All efforts must be made to fight against terrorism." — Jacques Chirac. All efforts except those involving the United States, that is. Or has the French president had a change of heart there as well?
NOT HOMEGROWN? Boris Johnson of the U.K. is an opponent of fanaticism who wonders why America has no indigenous terrorists:
"We seem to have pulled off the rare feat of breeding suicide bombers determined to attack the very society that incubated them; and the question is why. Why does America import its suicide bombers, while we produce our own?"Look again, Mr. Johnson. Ward Churchill of the U.S. raises the same issue, but with different hopes.
"If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers (than the attack of 9-11), I'd really be interested in hearing about it."
BEGALA GOES BERSERK: Clintonite Paul Begala speaking to college students about the dangers of the GOP:
"They want to kill me and my children if they can. But if they just kill me and not my children, they want my children to be comforted -- that while they didn't protect me because they cut my taxes, my children won't have to pay any money on the money they inherit," Begala said. "That is bulls*** national defense, and we should say that."Is anyone surprised that Begala and his buddies James Carville and Bill Press have been dropped from regular gigs at CNN? Their constant incendiary, furious rhetoric makes them nightmares for programming where ratings require.
Friday, July 15, 2005
WHAT HAPPENS TO ROVE: Depends on Patrick Fitzgerald. After more than two years of investigating, it's safe to infer the independent counsel takes his charge seriously. And precisely because there's got to be far more to the Rove matter than meets the eye — the eye of anybody offering public opinions on possible outcomes — I plan to continue not joining the fray.
ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS: The once estimable New York Times is getting to be overtly laughable in its lack of pretense to anything resembling objectivity on its front page. Unless of course the times has decided to make page one its second editorial section. Today's joke: For an above-the -old story indicating that Novak placed a call to Rove and advised him of Plame's alleged undercover status, here's the headline that seems right to the Times: "Rove Reportedly Held Phone Talk on C.I.A. Officer." This implies Rove initiated the phone call, actively seeking to get media exposure for Valerie Plame's CIA status. The actual facts of the Times' story call that thesis into doubt. Which is to say the facts challenge the Times' editorial spin for more than a year. So is it possible the Times studied what happened to Dan Rather and decided to emulate the CBS model? There's a word for what's happening to CBS's ratings: narrow-casting. There's another word for small-circulation, highly partisan publications: they're called "newsletters." The Times is far from that status, but as circulation declines it's hard to figure out what they're thinking. Then again, one of the most narcissistic left-wing delusions sees losing as evidence that the majority is corrupt. The losers are "above merely winning" and therefore morally pure. Repeat in unison: McGovern for President. (I know. I was there.) But that's not exactly where the left is these days. The contempt for mainstream cultural values is still the driving force, but they also feel entitled to win. But voters keep saying no (in seven of the past ten presidential elections). Hence the left's across the board rage at everything resembling actual success in contemporary America. The number one topic at Franken's Air America: "We're different from Limbaugh and Fox News." Right. They've got ratings.
EVEN SNAKE DANCERS: "It matters not whether the terrorists are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or American Indian snake dancers. It is sufficient that they are an identifiable group dedicated to the destruction of our freedom. Religion is a factor in this war only to the extent that it helps us identify and defeat the enemy." Jed Babbin nails it in Deadly Tolerance.
CAIR VS MOST AMERICANS: William Youmans and most Americans agree on one thing: The world would be a better place without media reports of fanatics who carry out vicious murders in the name of Islam. For most Americans, it would be even better if vicious murders in the name of Islam didn’t take place. Youmans just wishes the murders wouldn’t be reported as taking place in the name of Islam.
Darn it. Mr. Youmans and most Americans were off to such a good start.Read more »
LEFT COAST LUNACY WATCH: San Francisco City Supervisors this week said No to a plan to bring the battleship Iowa to San Francisco and turn it into a tourist attraction and museum. Why? San Francisco Chronicle writer Cecilia M. Vega celebrates the reasons given for the decision: "the widespread opposition to the war in Iraq, the unequal treatment of gay and lesbian enlisted men and women, and the city's reputation as a home of the peace movement." Anti-war lefty Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll usually goes out of his way to cheerlead for San Francisco's self-marginalizing fringe, but this time he can't keep a straight face. Carroll closes his eyes and imagines what other swell resolutions might be expected from the supervisors in the near future:
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors this week voted to disband itself. "The board is steeped in the culture of sexism, racism and homophobia, " said Supervisor Bevan Dufty. "For a long time, it was just a bunch of old white guys making decisions for the entire city. I feel personally soiled by being a member of this group, and ask that my colleagues to join me in ritual self-mutilation directly after the meeting."
SHE KNOWS IT WHEN SHE SEES IT: She being Hillary and it being sex. Here's the lead sentence of a Reuters story: "Sen. Hillary Clinton pressed Thursday for a government investigation into how simulated sex cropped up in a modified version of the blockbuster criminal adventure video game 'Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.'" "We should all be deeply disturbed that a game which now permits the simulation of lewd sexual acts in an interactive format with highly realistic graphics has fallen into the hands of young people across the country," Clinton wrote in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. I'm racking my mind to remember why the phrase "simulation of lewd sexual acts in an interactive format" seems so familiar. Oh, right: the cigar, the Oval Office, the intern, the former president. Hillary didn't mind that — heck, she didn't have the slightest idea any of it was going on, heavens no! "Not knowing" proved to be politically useful — always easier to run for an open Senate seat as a virtuous woman whose husband acted disrespectfully. Oh, but listen to my early morning cynicism. I salute our former first lady for standing up against video games that young kids have no business seeing. Even so, notice Hillary's first impulse: If you don't like something, use federal legislation to make it illegal.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
MADAME SPEAKER: Sandra Day O'Connor was the first female Supreme Court justice, but not the first former legislator to make it to our highest court. To study her opinions is to get a sense of a skilled political mind used to working toward consensus the way a good speaker of the house does. And that's precisely what made her such a poor Supreme Court justice, says Krauthammer.
HE'S BACK: What is it about Al Gore that leaves so many people thinking: This guy is disturbed. The strange incongruence between what he says and the body stuff: voice booming weirdly, and the strangely manic gestures. When he first got elected to the House and later to the Senate, Gore was respected as a political moderate (strong on national defense) who did his political homework and avoided grandstanding. Prior to the 2000 election, Gore came across as having a coherent personality. Then something happened. In the last few years, it's like his evil twin has been unleashed — not simply the bizarre left-wing assertions but the strange ... emotional tone. Lately Gore reminds me of another politician who always struck me as disconnected in some deep way: Richard M. Nixon. In neither case am I talking about policies or ideology. I'm talking a certain basic human oddness. The thing is: Some human oddness is endearing; neurosis can be charming. Am I the only one whose skin crawls at the thought of Gore returning to the electoral political scene?
GUYS ARE IMPORTANT: Because we know there are times when brave words aren't enough — times when nothing less than the boldest acts of moral courage are called for.
ON THE RADIO: I'll be interviewed by the host of KSFO's Morning Show Friday, July 15 immediately after the news at 8am Pacific time. KSFO 560 AM is the high-ratings conservative station in San Francisco - talk about the belly of the beast. I'll be talking about my Frontpage Magazine article "Reborn on the Fourth of July" which explores the two very different revolutions that inspired the right and the left: the American Revolution and the French Revolution. KSFO has an internet listening option. Go here and click "Listen Here" near the upper right corner.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
NORMAL DEMOCRATS: Bill Clinton wades into one of the central problem areas his party faces. After decades of positioning themselves to the left (a little or a lot) of most Americans on cultural issues, Bill comments that a liberal who has "sort of normal impulses" on a given issue (specifically abortion) is considered to be selling out his or her principles. Except in this case, it's definitely a she. Bill's mad because Hillary has gotten scoldings from the left for saying "abortion is a tragedy for virtually everybody who undergoes it, we ought to do all we can to reduce abortion." Precisely which core principles Hillary does or doesn't hold will be the subject of much debate in months to come; I'll be watching that closely. For the moment, it's simply nice to hear a leading Democrat mourn the left's disdain for what passes as "normal" in the eyes of most Americans. Bill had his famous Sista Souldja moment in 1992. Hillary's no doubt planning her own. Which core Democratic constituency would she seriously consider taking on? Her recent move to the center on abortion doesn't count. However, she could end up showing courage by continuing to sound smart about immigration. Does she dare challenge the sickening certitudes of the open-the-borders multiculturalists within her party, as a means of reaching out to independent voters in red states who want serious immigration reform, no ifs, ands, buts? Stay tuned....
THE PAPER MADE ME DO IT: Behaviorism is back. B.F. Skinner's idea that humans are biologically "wired" so that a certain stimulus will produce a specific response was once viewed as a breakthrough in the understanding of human psychology. Not satisfied to say humans are merely influenced by their environments, hardcore behaviorists claimed we're nothing but stimulus-response machines. Behaviorism eventually fell out of favor because it disregards the mind's capacity to learn. For instance, a rat can shift its behavior to respond to changes in the layout of a maze it had previously mastered through reinforcements. This suggests there may be hope for Sen. Harry Reid. You see, at the moment Reid is very concerned about the power of newspapers to provoke uncontrollable responses ... in Democrat U.S. senators. He has been pushing for President Bush to consult closely with Democrats in selecting a replacement for Justice O'Connor. Reid says he's very pleased Bush invited him to the White House to offer advice, but that's only a first step. The president must come up with specific names, and run those potential candidates past the Democrats. Not to do so will create problems for the president. "I don't want to wake up in the morning and see a name in the paper," Reid said. Clear implication: Reid wouldn't be responsible for his actions. Stimulus = reading a name in the paper. Response = probably a filibuster. Don't make us do it, Reid says. "As to whether or not there's a knockdown, drag-out fight on this is up to the president," he implores. The choice is yours, Mr. President, and yours alone. Act wisely, consult the Democrats, select a nominee they can support. Above all else: To provoke them by waiving the newspaper in their eyes would be an act of war. An alternative may be within reach. Behaviorism has shown real promise in reconditioning troubled patients. Proposed therapy: Let Reid begin the practice of simply considering the remote, hypothetical possibility that the framers of the Constitution may have been serious when they granted 1) the president the power to nominate and 2) the Senate the power to confirm. Reid doesn't have to actually believe this now; not at first. He only need consider this far-out notion for, say, ten seconds. In future therapy sessions, let the practice period be extended to 20, 30, and up to 60 seconds. Based on behavioral research, there's reason to think a day should come when Harry Reid will be able to assume full responsibility for his own actions. For almost certainly a day will come when Reid does read in the paper the name of the president's choice. If his therapy is successful, Reid will recognize that it is up to him to decide whether to launch a "knock-down, drag-out fight" against the president's constitutional prerogatives. Harry Reid will be able to look in the mirror and say: "Free agency! I am a free agent! I can choose which lever to push in the maze of my own mind." Well — maybe that's what Harry Reid will recognize. It's always risky to extrapolate from rodents to Senate obstructionists. But there's always reason to hope. Today's question for discussion: In this behavioral political model, who are the real "reactionaries"?
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
BBC WORD PLAY: In the immediate aftermath of the explosions, the BBC's Web site reported "the worst terrorist atrocity Britain has seen." Shortly thereafter, the BBC had gone online and changed that phrase to "the worst peacetime bomb attacks Britain has seen." (Major kudos to Tom Gross for an unflinching expose.) Don't get us wrong, the BBC confides; we did our late night rewrite only to ensure that our credibility isn't undermined by the "careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgments." A sophisticated person might wonder: Is not a desire to avoid emotional or value judgments itself the expression of an emotional or value judgment? But since we're just ordinary folks, we'll not go there; we don't want to rile fascist killers by calling them fascist killers. Today in London, freedom fighters issued a compelling dynamite-based non-verbal communique as a means of expressing their explosive dismay at Mr. Blair's shameless defiling of Holy Iraq, acting as consort to the notorious American cowboy draft-dodger, Mr. Bush..." "The word terrorist is not banned from the BBC," assures the BBC. Phew, now we feel better. But only a little, because this clarification (swell though it is) comes from people who clearly play cricket with words, whole phrases, complete thoughts. People who make a point of going back to revise their reports with the aim of lending the benefit of the doubt to other people who, equipment willing, would happily decimate every square inch of Britain and the United States, including every Muslim living therein. These are people — the BBC word fresheners — whose very existence would make Winston Churchill want to extract his own teeth with slip-joint pliers. Of course we mean that in the positive sense. Tea, anyone?
MULTICULTURALISM & TERROR: "The time has come to acknowledge that unwise immigration policies driven by proponents of multiculturalism and adopted by the Western democracies — policies that encourage newly arrived peoples to live in their nations without adopting Western civic values — have become a decisive factor in creating cultural breeding grounds for terror." More on this theme in my latest piece: The Real Meaning of "America First."
TANCREDO'S NEXT CAMPAIGN: Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo is making serious noises about entering the GOP presidential primaries in 2008 in order to put immigration issues front and center. Tancredo has been willing to target not only the left's multiculturalist advocates of open borders but also American companies who hire illegals. The guy's got credibility when he argues for his three-point program: • "A secure border, including the application of military assets until the time when the border patrol can be brought up to speed on it." • "Aggressively go after all employers who are illegally hiring people who are undocumented because (employers) are the demand side of the problem." • "No amnesty of any kind, shape or variety." Tancredo's goal is to get these issues into the campaign, just as Ross Perot put the budget deficit on the political radar screen in 1992. Numerous voter surveys say the country's ready for action. Tancredo could change the dynamics of the entire race, especially with post-London concern about the open border to our south.
TEST OF FAITH: "I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion," 27-year-old Dutch-Moroccan national Mohammed Bouyeri told the court in Amsterdam on the final day of his trial. The man accused of killing Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh is a member of: A. The Church of Ted Bundy B. The Manson Family C. Pol Pot's Army D. Fanatical Islam E. Please clarify how these are different, then ask again We'll accept either "D" or "E" as correct.
A GREAT TRADITION: A reader writes: "Speaking of Arianna Huffington, maybe you can settle a bet. My sister says Arianna is the niece of Zsa Zsa and Eva Gabor. I say the resemblance goes no further than their shared level of talent. Can you clear this up?" Great question. Arianna is from Greece, and the Gabor sisters are Hungarian. I don't think they're related, but they do sound alike. All three women married quite well. Talent? As always, it's in the eye of the beholder. For my money, Arianna lacks the dramatic range of the Gabors, especially given the high standard set by Eva's Hooterville years. That said, Arianna is funnier — particularly her politics.
HUGGING TERRORISTS TO THEIR SENSES: New Age teacher Deepak Chopra on the London bombings: "It would be naive to take the simple way out and call this an example of pure evil and depravity." Chopra has a better way to think about people who indiscriminately kill civilians. They're simply trapped by life circumstances. And not just the bombers and their networks of jihadists: "In a very real way we are all part of the London tragedy. Everyone is caught in the tangled web of social injustice, economic disparities, ecological disaster, war, and terrorism." The real problem: "The human species has become the most dangerous predator on our planet." Here's the question that matters to the Chopra-Oprah axis: "Will we ever see through our blindness and create a global community of connected humanity?" Chopra is hopeful: "Millions of people are ready to join in harmonious interaction with Nature -- and with our own complex inner nature -- to create a world of peace, harmony, laughter and love." So if you find yourself upset by the London massacre, remember: "Every tear can be a drop of nourishment for the new world that wants to be born and is making itself known little by little, every day. Each one of us can help create this critical mass by becoming the embodiment of peace conciousness through peace practices: "Being Peace Thinking Peace Feeling Peace Speaking Peace Acting Peace Creating Peace Sharing Peace Celebrating Peace." Put that in your grenade launcher and smoke it, Mister Zarqawi! If Chopra's sedative wears off and your anxiety about the real world begins to return, you can find the Deepster on a regular basis at the ever-entertaining Hollywood blogsite of Arianna Huffington.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "A Democratic senator compares our interrogators to the Nazis and Communist torturers; the head of Amnesty International in America defends likening Guantanamo Bay to the Gulag; and liberals routinely speak of troops as coming from the lowest socio-economic rungs of society (maybe that's one reason they oppose recruiters on campuses, lest the best educated actually join the military). But, hey, the Left supports the troops." — Dennis Prager
THE NAACP'S EXTORTION ATTEMPT: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a once-prestigious civil rights organization, has embarked on a mission to extort money from corporations that the NAACP believes can be tied, in some manner, to slavery. From the Washington Times story: "The group's strategy will include a lobbying effort to encourage cities to enact laws requiring businesses to complete an extensive slavery study and submit it to the city before they can get a city contract." Powerline Blog's Paul Mirengoff cuts to the chase:
The money will benefit individuals who were never slaves and whose parents and grandparents weren't either. These individuals cannot show that they are worse off today than they would have been if, for example, a southern bank had not owned 100 slaves for a time as collateral on a loan. Nor can these individuals show that they are worse off today than they would been if the institution of slavery as a whole had not existed. Moreover, these individuals presently are the potential beneficiaries of racial discrimination through public and private race-based preferences in college admission, employment, government contracting, etc. For all of the talk of "diversity," these preferences are best viewed as a form of reparation. The case for demanding that corporations chip in money on top of this is non-existent.
FIRST KELO, NOW CONGRESS: The Supreme Court's Kelo vs. City of New London decision makes a mockery of the Fifth Amendment's provision that the government shall not take private land for public use without just compensation. Kelo authorized the taking of 15 residences for the "greater good," namely the interests of a private corporation. Thanks to our federal system of checks and balances, there's hope to redress the Kelo injustice. "Congress must create legislation that centers on restoring the right to autonomous use of one's property," says Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Cal.), one of the most ardent congressional proponents of Jefferson's view that "The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property, and in their management." Go, Pombo!
Monday, July 11, 2005
YES, AT TIMES: "The Democrats at times have lost their way," says Illinois Sen. Barak Obama. "We are trying to decide what our core values are." Kudos for honesty. Rising star Obama is saying Democrats aren't certain about how best to express their values; they're trying to figure out what values they actually hold. Suggestion: Why not begin by saying, openly and proudly: "We are liberals. As liberals, these are our principles...." Instead we find MoveOn.org giving their activists acting lessons: “We don't want to come across as leftist, liberal activists." Hey, guys: You are leftist, liberal activists — and when you pretend not to be, the ham-handed deception is comes across. For better or for worse, Rush Limbaugh declares his conservative views on a daily basis. The left says it doesn't have this option — they can't use the word "liberal" because the right has "poisoned" the word. That's the same as saying the American people are simply sheep who've been brainwashed by the so-called Right-wing Spin Machine. Recall Mario Cuomo's self-serving blather when his talk radio show tanked — We liberals are too fair, too objective, too nuanced for talk radio. Here's what Cuomo meant: Talk radio is a listener-driven medium. Listeners heard Cuomo's sanctimonious sermons; they tuned out. The voters of New York made a similar assessment a few years earlier. Wait a minute — that word "nuanced" sure sounds familiar. Oh, right: that was also John Kerry's self-description during the campaign. Being sophisticated is very hard work. But enough already with the jokes — I truly want to help the Democrats get their values together. My idea for a new Air America program format: "Values Search," a show where contestants vie to find out what they believe. It'll be modeled after the successful "Star Search," hosted by Berkeley linguistics maven George Lakoff, the Democrats' advocate of describing tax increases as "investments" and forced single-payer government medicine as "wellness enhancement."
BALANCE GRAB: Surely White House strategists have taken note of Senator Schumer's innovative balancing-act test:
The President should take care to preserve balance on the court. I have often said that a Supreme Court with one William Brennan and one Antonin Scalia would be an interesting and vibrant court. But a Supreme Court with five of either would not.Dear Senator Schumer: It's not your job (or that of the Senate at large) to "balance" the court. That's the talk of a legislator about legislatures. The Supreme Court exists not to legislate but to interpret the Constitution. Still, thanks for being so open about your agenda. When you proceed down that line of attack on the judiciary committee, be ready with answers of your own for Senate colleagues who may want to know a lot more about your quest to correctly balance America's court of last resort. Meanwhile: for a textbook illustration of liberals coming up with bogus "constitutional" pretexts, take heed of Schumer's warning that he expects Supreme Court justices to uphold "environmental rights." Hello? Can anyone refer me to the relevant article or section of the United States Constitution? Surely not even "privacy rights" are in play on this one, given that most of the environment is ... outside. And even the current Supreme Court has yet to overrule municipal prohibitions against public sex, regardless of partner gender preference. On the other hand, if Holland's Supreme Court has already so held, it's a safe guess that Justice Kennedy will cite that ruling in one of his future opinions. Bets, anyone?
SCHUMER'S CHARADE: The White House war room in charge of Supreme Court confirmation strategy must dance for joy each time Sen. Chuck Schumer proclaims about what kind of justices President Bush must pick. Schumer's main talking point: America needs a "consensus nominee ... to unite rather than divide the nation." My dictionary defines "consenus" as "a group decision in which everyone has equal power and responsibility." Sorry Senator: the Constitution grants to the president the sole power of nominating Supreme Court justice. The Senate's task is to vote on that nominee. I haven't been able to find a single instance during a Democrat presidency when the GOP Senate minority demanded a co-equal role in Supreme Court nominations. Looks like this form of consensus was born with the Democrats under Bush. Let's hope that's where it dies.
AS THE HARD LEFT ROTS: It was only a matter of time. It's not clear why it took this long. Naturally: the Chomsky left has declared that Blair set off London's bombs for the same reason Bush-Cheney set 9/11 in motion:
SURREAL DIVERSITY: Just when you thought multiculturalism had already reached the outer limits of the ridiculous, along comes the L.A. Times to celebrate all the marvelous ways in which the "differences" that characterize the individuals still missing in London mirror the "differences" of London's population: "List of Missing Is as Diverse as London Itself." One reads this article with the faint hope that the writer is attempting satire, but no: We are to use this solemn occasion to further divide democracy into demographic subgroups that reflect the limitless narcissism of multiculturalist activists. At the risk of sounding completely irrelevant, here's a passing suggestion. Suppose we agree to think about the London missing in terms of what they had in common: Good and decent people were going about their lives when brutally assaulted by irredeemable cowards and sadistic criminals. If this is a time to celebrate how we're "different," let this be the distinction we bear in mind.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
IMAGINE THE ENEMY -- CLEARLY, NO FLINCHING: "Here the nation is almost four years later, still unwilling to see what we don't wish to see. The thrilling War of the Worlds is a symptom of our condition. That Hollywood's first 9-11 movie is a science-fiction allegory about alien sleeper cells that arise to destroy our civilization is a sign of how deeply in denial we are as a culture." Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News saw the Twin Towers crumble with his own eyes. This gives special credibility to his strong words of counsel:
"It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you. And the Islamist terrorists most definitely are out to get us."Step one: open eyes. Step two: see.
Are Reporters Above the Law?
The courts have spoken in the Plame case. Why does the New York Times think it doesn't have to listen? Michael Kinsley does a very good job with this question. Money quote:
For all the grand talk about the 1st Amendment, this isn't about the right of the press to publish information. It is about a right to keep information secret. The government has secrets too. Even the New York Times acknowledges that sometimes the government's right to secrecy is more important (wartime troop movements is its single, melodramatic example). And even the federal government recognizes the social utility of a vigorous press. That's why it goes out of its way to avoid demanding trial evidence from journalists in most circumstances. From this, it is easy enough to imagine a compromise, ideally reflected in a federal journalistic shield law that defines the situations in which journalists can and cannot protect the sources.