Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Last words on a sordid subject

Here is David Gelernter's beautifully worded last word on the subject of the humiliating spectacle Dianne Feinstein made of herself when she repeatedly insisted that Justice Roberts let his deepest emotions all hang out:

For a person in authority to insist that lower-downs reveal their emotions is an abuse of power, a form of emotional groping that can leave the targets feeling violated and mad as hell.

Reflecting on the American folk music scene of the 1960s

I'm just old enough to have grown up on the tail end of the American folk music scene in the 1960s. When I was little, everyone I knew listened to Peter, Paul & Mary, the Limeliters, and the Kingston Trio. Either you liked their music or you didn't. I did as a kid and I still do now. As a kid, I was wondrously ignorant of the politics behind the music, of course. All of this came rushing back to me, this time with the politics included, when watching the new American Masters show about Bob Dylan. I've never liked Dylan myself -- I find his voice tremendously irritating -- but I was rather impressed with how he was used by the Leftist political forces when he first burst on the scene, and how he kept announcing, though nobody was listening, that he was not political. Phibian, of CDR Salamander, has done a couple of interesting posts on the subject. Seeing Pete Seeger in the Bob Dylan show, both in 1960s footage and in recent interviews, got me twitching though. Where had a recently read about him? Then it came to me. City Journal had only just done an article calling him America’s Most Successful Communist. I'd never really been aware of Pete Seeger, so hadn't paid too much attention to the article in the first go round, but I went back and checked it now. Here's the article's central thesis:

The conventional wisdom holds that it was ever so—that American popular musicians have always been leftists, and that music-as-radical-politics has stretched across the decades, expressing the nation’s social conscience. The late New Left chronicler Jack Newfield, for instance, celebrated a “native tradition of an alternative America” that included not just such openly activist musicians as Woody Guthrie but also apparently non-political singers like Hank Williams and Mahalia Jackson. Yet this “native tradition” is a myth. Until quite recently, popular music’s prevailing spirit was apolitical: “It has a good beat, you can dance to it, I give it a 95,” as fifties teens gushed about new records on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. The politicization of American pop dates from the 1960s, but it grew out of a patient leftist political strategy that began in the mid-1930s with the Communist Party’s “Popular Front” effort to use popular culture to advance its cause. One figure stands out in this enterprise: the now-86-year-old singer, songwriter, “folk music legend,” and onetime party stalwart, Pete Seeger. Given his decisive influence on the political direction of popular music, Seeger may have been the most effective American communist ever.
It's a really interesting article and, if you watched the Bob Dylan show, you may want to read this as a companion piece.

Why corporate money flows into Washington

You know me. I like good writing. And here are a couple of beautifully written paragraphs from a Jonah Goldberg article about the fact that corporate interest in Washington is not an issue confined to the Republicans (the Frist and De Lay investigations/indictments notwithstanding):

If you want to know why business takes such an interest in Washington, the answer can be found in your low-flow toilet, in the warning labels adorning your cars, in your 8 zillion page tax returns. It can be found while you wait on hold trying to get a human to answer your questions about your health insurance. And the answer is most certainly somewhere in your box of cereal, made with grains subsidized by Uncle Sam and coated in sugar that has no business being grown in the United States of America. Corporations meddle in Washington because Washington meddles with them. It is simply naive to believe that a businessman will have no interest in politics when politicians have taken a great interest in him. And it is grotesquely unfair to assume that businesspeople are corrupt simply because they want to support politicians less inclined to hurt them.

Asking the right question

Watched a Leno from a couple of nights ago. The central comedy segment that night had Steve Schirripa, of the Sopranos, and "Ross the Intern," a hyper-effeminate gay guy, go to a major fashion show. You can see the segment here. I found the segment unfunny (as did Mr. Bookworm, who is way less conservative than I am), but what really struck me was two things: how horribly ugly the clothes were, and how gay the designers were. And I could not help but think of the question my Dad asked me 25 years ago: "Why would you want to buy clothes designed by someone who hates women?" Now I know, gay men do not "hate" women. But they don't lust after them, they don't desire them, and they often don't admire them. Many of them (and I know this 'cause I know many gay men) view them as competition. And given that they don't cherish and admire women, it is weird that they have been handed the keys to the fashion kingdom.

Sometimes the press gets it right

You know me -- I'm always the first one to pile on for what I perceive as the press's inadequacies. That's why it's only fair that I acknowledge when a member of the press does some great writing, from headline to last word. Enjoy this story, and don't miss linking over to the paper for all the details and the "graphic" photographs:

But the dead deer with an IV made it weird

At first, it was just a guy, dressed like a doctor, driving an ambulance reported stolen

By DANA TREEN , The [Florida] Times-Union Cops in North Carolina thought it was odd enough a Jacksonville man was driving an ambulance reported stolen hours earlier. Odder still was that he was wearing a makeshift doctor's uniform consisting of a stethoscope, a pager-like gadget and latex gloves stuffed in his back pocket. But then things started getting really strange when they saw a dead deer, fully stretched out and wedged in the back. Some said there was an intravenous line attached to the animal and there was evidence a defibrillator had been used. Others were just stunned.
There's more, so don't stop here. Hat tip: Done With Mirrors

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Daddy, where are you?

I've been noticing several commentators point to the fact that the images coming from Katrina revealed a startling absence of fathers. Charles Murray, in a "you have to pay for it" WSJ article puts numbers behind these statistics and explains why the dramatic increase in unwed motherhood is creating a huge societal problem. Here's just a little bit of that article:

Criminality is the most extreme manifestation of the unsocialized young male. Another is the proportion of young males who choose not to work. Among black males ages 20-24, for example, the percentage who were not working or looking for work when the first numbers were gathered in 1954 was 9%. That figure grew during the 1960s and 1970s, stabilizing at around 20% during the 1980s. The proportion rose again, reaching 30% in 1999, a year when employers were frantically seeking workers for every level of job. The dropout rate among young white males is lower, but has been increasing faster than among blacks. These increases are not explained by changes in college enrollment or any other benign cause. Large numbers of healthy young men, at ages when labor force participation used to be close to universal, have dropped out. Remember that these numbers ignore young males already in prison. Include them in the calculation, and the evidence of the deteriorating socialization of young males, concentrated in low income groups, is overwhelming. Why has the proportion of unsocialized young males risen so relentlessly? In large part, I would argue, because the proportion of young males who have grown up without fathers has also risen relentlessly. The indicator here is the illegitimacy ratio -- the percentage of live births that occur to single women. It was a minuscule 4% in the early 1950s, and it has risen substantially in every subsequent decade. The ratio reached the 25% milestone in 1988 and the 33% milestone in 1999. As of 2003, the figure was 35% -- of all births, including whites. The black illegitimacy ratio in 2003 was 68%. By way of comparison: The illegitimacy ratio that caused Daniel Patrick Moynihan to proclaim the breakdown of the black family in the early 1960s was 24%. But illegitimacy is now common throughout the population, right? No, it is heavily concentrated in low-income groups. Perhaps illegitimacy isn't as bad as we used to think it was? No, during the last decade the evidence about the problems caused by illegitimacy has grown stronger. What about all the good news about falling teenage births? About plunging welfare rolls? Both trends are welcome, but neither has anything to do with the proportion of children being born and raised without fathers, and that proportion is the indicator that predicts the size of the underclass in the next generation.

Unconstrained morality

The American Thinker, one of my favorite blogs, has come out with another really powerful article, this one about the coercive morality that characterizes both Islam and the Left:

What merit is there in not stealing because you fear that your hand will be cut off? In not drinking because you have no alcohol? In not being aroused by a woman in a burqa? An Islamofascist walks the streets of America and sees a man enter a massage parlor. "What an immoral society!" he thinks. He does not notice the men who do not go in. He sees the temptations Americans are subject to, but not their resistance to those temptations. He sees their immorality, but not their morality. Americans are free to be either moral or immoral. How immoral would our enemies be if they were free? America is free to be immoral, but when America is moral, its morality is genuine—because it is free to be immoral. No one praises prison inmates for not breaking into houses—or Saudi women for not having automobile accidents. The Islamofascist cannot conceive of morality without coercion. To the Islamofascist, coercion is morality, and freedom is immorality. Freedom is license to him, not the arena in which we choose good or evil. Morality is imposed and external, not free and internal. To the Biblically-grounded Christian or Jew, “the battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man,” in the glorious words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. For too many Muslims, the battle line between good and evil runs between the Islamic world and the world yet to be conquered. *** Unfortunately, many in the West also see only the sins of America. They also confuse license and freedom, repression and self-control, taxation and charity. They also equate good conduct motivated by fear of temporal rulers and good conduct motivated by love of God and man. Above all, they too focus on the sins and alleged sins of others to the exclusion of their own sins and thereby equate changing someone else’s behavior with doing the right thing. The most moral people are, in their view, the people who most vigorously condemn traditional American values. An ordinary person might strive to benefit society by giving to a charity or volunteering; they strive to benefit society by promoting political and social change. They confuse poverty imposed by an economic system and voluntary poverty, destitution and poverty of spirit, backwardness and protection of the environment. They think that Americans are more materialist than people with fewer material goods—as if people in other countries don’t desire the same things. They think that socialism is compatible with Christianity and capitalism is not, forgetting that socialism is as much a system for producing material goods as capitalism is, just a less efficient one. They think that there is something inherently wrong with wanting a car that does not break down or a computer that does not crash, but cars, computers, and other consumer goods are not evil. Making idols of them is evil; putting them to good use is not. They think that because Native Americans were technologically backward, they must have been environmentalists. Again and again, they confuse morality with constraint: the constraint of poverty, the constraint of inefficiency, the constraint of backwardness, ultimately the constraint of tyranny.
Read it all. You won't be sorry you did.

We have met the enemy, and it is not us

One of the Left's greatest failings is its belief -- all evidence to the contrary -- that the Arabs are just like us and that, if we treat them as we would like to be treated, they'll respond as we wish them to respond. In this regard, members of the Left shows a surprisingly Christian attitude, since they evidence an unswerving belief in the Golden Rule. They also show an amazingly insular, self-serving attitude, at odds with their much vaunted multiculturalism, in so blithely and blindly denying cultural differences. The fact is that Arab culture is not like ours. For lengthy detail, check out books by famous Arabists, such as Bernard Lewis or Raphael Patai. For the short version, you need go no further than this Fouad Ajami article in the WSJ Opinion Journal. The introduction sets the tone for rest of an article that is truly a worthwhile read:

The remarkable thing about the terror in Iraq is the silence with which it is greeted in other Arab lands. Grant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi his due: He has been skilled at exposing the pitilessness on the loose in that fabled Arab street and the moral emptiness of so much of official Arab life. The extremist is never just a man of the fringe: He always works at the outer edges of mainstream life, playing out the hidden yearnings and defects of the dominant culture. Zarqawi is a bigot and a killer, but he did not descend from the sky. He emerged out of the Arab world's sins of omission and commission; in the way he rails against the Shiites (and the Kurds) he expresses that fatal Arab inability to take in "the other." A terrible condition afflicts the Arabs, and Zarqawi puts it on lethal display: an addiction to failure, and a desire to see this American project in Iraq come to a bloody end. Zarqawi's war, it has to be conceded, is not his alone; he kills and maims, he labels the Shiites rafida (rejecters of Islam), he charges them with treason as "collaborators of the occupiers and the crusaders," but he can be forgiven the sense that he is a holy warrior on behalf of a wider Arab world that has averted its gaze from his crimes, that has given him its silent approval. He and the band of killers arrayed around him must know the meaning of this great Arab silence.

What reporting is all about

In a very good article about the media's failure during Katrina, Hugh Hewitt makes this great point:

Discussing the meltdown on MSNBC on September 27, reporter Heath Allen defended the hysterical reporting, arguing that, '[I]t's the responsibility of the photojournalist to capture that and put it on television because those people at that point needed help no matter what was true, what was false, what was exaggerated.' Thus is established the 'fake but necessary' corollary to the Rathergate doctrine of 'fake but true.'
I'd only add "and to the NY Times doctrine of 'fake but accurate.' All of which can be summed up as the global media doctrine of 'fake but acceptable because it harms George Bush.'"

A little more on the lighter side

One of my all time favorite humorists is Tom Lehrer, who composed and performed satirical songs during the 1950s and 1960s. This website has published the lyrics from all of his songs. If you know Tom Lehrer already, these lyrics will be a good reminder of what a brilliant thinker and writer he was. If you don't know Tom Lehrer, don't wait -- check it out. And once you've satisfied yourself that his lyrics are wildly entertaining (I think Mark Steyn would write like this if he went into songwriting), get hold of the actual albums. You'll discover then that he was as gifted at writing the music and performing the songs, as he was at writing the words. By the way, if you have only a few minutes to dabble, the most cutting political songs are on his "That was the year that was" album.

More birthdays

It's sort of like being part of a graduating class, since I've discovered that two of my favorite blog friends are celebrating blogiversaries at precisely same time as mine. Anne, at PalmTree Pundit, who was my very first "blog friend," celebrated her first blog-birthday a couple of days ago. Anne's posts are consistently smart, funny, thoughtful, and imbued with deep faith and kindness. If you haven't met her yet, you should do so now. Patrick, of Paragraph Farmer, is someone I met through Anne's blog and I'm so glad I did. Coincidentally, today is also his first birthday. Of Patrick, I'll say precisely what I said about Anne: smart, funny, thoughtful, imbued with deep faith and kindess, and someone you definitely should meet. Happy blogiversary to both of you!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Campus news -- and it's so depressing

Victor Davis Hanson turns his gimlet eye on four presidents at major American universities, all of whom have made headlines this year. It's not a pretty story, since he reports on a disgusting mixture of arrogance, obsession with Leftist dogma (especially multiculturalism), hypocrisy, and moral weakness. What's really sad about this is the fact that three of the four profiled university presidents work for public universities, so it's the taxpayers who not only pay these buffoons' salaries, but who are also responsibility for footing the incredibly high bill their misguided policies create. It's an especial hardship for the poor California taxpayers (and I am one), since two of these universities suck up funds from the public coffers in our state. Hat tip: PalmTree Pundit

On the lighter side

Ann Coulter ranks right up there with Mark Steyn as one of my favorite columnists, since both use their language so beautifully. It's not just the good ideas that flow from their computers, it's their wit. If you'd like to see a lovely display of the Best of Ann Coulter (2005), check out this post at Right Wing News.

Huh! A year? Really?

Yup, tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of my blog. I started the blog because I realized that I was abusing certain friendships by inundating my friends' email with news articles that interested me. It simply made more sense to find a forum where I could publicize and comment upon the news without being a pest. I swiftly discovered that I loved the ability to take all the things that interest me and put them in one place -- the books, the politics, the non-PC thoughts that bubble in my brain. Many of these things would mark me as a pariah in my community; others (such as the periodic book reviews) would simply bore even those near and dear to me. I decided I was born to blog. Blogging has also been fun because of all the wonderful blog friends I've made in a year. It's quite amazing the sense of community I've developed with people I've never met face to face, and whom I probably never will meet. The meeting of minds is such a powerful force. Needless to say, thanks to each and every one of you who has joined with me in these wonderful cyberspace discussions (you know who you are). Looking back on this year has also made me aware of how powerful my conservatism has become. I was about to write "newfound" conservatism, but stopped myself. It has occurred to me over the past year that 9/11 was probably the final step in a long journey towards conservatism, rather than a pivotal moment when I turned my back on a lifetime of beliefs. In fact, what I did on that day was turn my back on a lifetime of self misidentification. In no particular order, I can see in my mind vignettes stretching over years when I espoused conservative beliefs but nevertheless called myself a democrat:

  • Back in about 1974, I remember vividly an argument I had with my father, who'd been raised as a Communist in post-WWI Germany, but who had become quite a good Democrat by then. I insisted that Communism had to fail because it tried to turn people into what they weren't, while Capitalism was bound to be successful, because it harnessed what people really are. I was 13 at the time.
  • I used to give money to NOW, believe it or not. I stopped about a decade ago, when I saw a news report about the fact that New Jersey was trying to limit the number of illegitimate children either by decreasing benefits if a teenager had more than one child or by increasing benefits for not having another child (I don't remember which). NOW objected, and I went ballistic.
  • PC bothered me from the git-go. In many ways, I saw PC as a pathetic response to a simple failure in manners, which was one of the little niceities of life that got jettisoned in the 1960s. In the old days, you didn't need PC rules about sexual comments in the workplace, because it was considered ill-bred to make such comments. Ladies and gentlemen didn't do that.
  • Diversity is another thing that's always irked me. I've always described myself as a class-ist, not a racist. I don't care what color you, as long as you share my value system, which is intensely middle class, in an old-fashioned way. When I read Bill Whittle's long pink and grey post it was like having someone make amusing, coherent and intelligent my own long-standing belief system.
  • I've always been hostile to the Left's encroachment on education. Every few years, I'd read, and become angry about, an article about the retreat from the traditional body of knowledge used in the West, with touchy-feely, I hate America multiculturalism put in its place. I especially hated the War on American history. The Pilgrims were no longer people escaping from brutal religious oppression, they were "people looking for a better life" who just coincidentally happened to brutalize the Indians. Everything was bleached of content, and simply placed in an "America, the oppressor" mode. There are things Americans have done that are nothing to be proud of, but there are things Americans have done that are unique, wonderful extraordinary -- that should be celebrated -- and that are leeched out of our education system in an Orwellian effort to erase the past.
  • The Left, aside from bastardizing knowledge, has also destroyed teaching techniques. I remember back in the 1980s, long before I even imagined having children, declaiming from the rooftops about the insanity that was the "whole word" approach to teaching children to read. The theory then was that it was just too much to expect children to master phonics and that children should just be allowed to muddle through to some sort of "repeat exposure" understanding of words. The geniuses who came up with this idea pointed to the fact that Chinese children essentially learn a whole language system, because they don't have a phonic alphabet -- and look how well they do. These same geniuses ignored the fact that, to offset the absence of a phonic based alphabet, the Chinese students spend many more hours each week memorizing their pictograms. It was ludicrous to take our phonics-based alphabet, jettison a phonics approach, and have those poor little guinea pig students spend a few hours a week trying to memorize what various words look like.
I could go on and on, but I won't (showing that I have some compassion in my conservatism). Clearly, by the time the Twin Towers fell, my belief system was strongly aligned with conservative values. I just needed an external event and a manifest enemy to enable me to make the leap to what I once would have characterized as the "Dark Side." Anyway, thanks for joining me during this wonderful blog year, and especially thanks to all of you who helped make it such a wonderful year.

It's 1933 all over again -- and Jews should be scared

I don't usually print an article in its entirety, because I think it takes traffic away from the website that had the intelligence to write and publish the article. I'm making an exception for this James Lewis article, though, because I think it's so incredibly important. I'd appreciate it if you'd link over to it at The American Thinker, because that website truly deserves lots of traffic for having published this article:

I never thought I would see an open anti-Semitic political campaign in my lifetime. But after fifty years of skulking in the shadows, the old hatreds are rising like Count Dracula from his mouldy grave. According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, The London Guardian is reporting that the academic boycott against Israel's universities is being revived in Britain. It is all part of the tireless campaign against the existence of Israel, presumably financed by the Saudis behind the scenes, with the collusion of the United Nations, and driven most of all by the ideological Left. In spite of all denials, it is beginning to look like the old, discredited race hatred, barely disguised. The new anti-Zionist campaign calls for the abolition of Israel as a nation, but its supporters on the Left assure us it has nothing to do with racism. It was George Orwell who once wrote that the first obligation of decent people is to say the obvious. Well, here is my obvious thought for the day: in spite of what the Left says, anti-Zionism equals racism, pure and simple. In fact, anti-Zionism, now spreading like wildfire among leftist churches, shows a particularly despicable kind of racism. The Left tells us that it is not anti-Semitic. But consider the source. These are the folks who lied about Soviet imperialism for seventy years --- and still do. Today, they are convinced that the world appeal of Coca Cola is proof of American imperialism. As Orwell knew so well, manipulating the meaning of words like "imperialism" and "anti-Semitism" is a standard gambit of the Left. I used to think that some Jews were much too sensitive about anti-Semitism. For decades after World War II it seemed that the old kind of anti-Jewish hatred was a thing of the past, at least in America and Western Europe. Who would be stupid enough to believe the Czarist Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Some people might harbor racist feelings in secret, but no civilized person would say so in public. That is no longer true, not in Europe, and certainly not on the hard Left, even in the United States. Today we can see a New Anti-Semitism rising without shame, spilling out in university campuses all over the Western world. Even Cindy Sheehan, as she fades from sight, managed to blame the Jews. Leftwing anti-Semitism has been building for a long time, but it is now coming to a boil. The flames are being whipped up by Islamist propaganda, in open alliance with fascists like George Galloway. In perhaps the most shocking display of the new anti-Semitism, the Anglican Church is leading a disinvestment campaign against Israel. We know about Winston Churchill's "bloody-minded professors," who supported Hitler and Stalin even while they were killing milions of people. But today, to their shame, we can even see bloody-minded bishops leading the campaign against Israel. One of the biggest lies on the Left these days is that there is a difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism means advocating the genocide of Jews. Anti-Zionism means advocating the genocide of Jews who live in Israel. I'm puzzled. What's the difference supposed to be? When the Anglican Church calls for delegitimizing the State of Israel it doesn't use words like "mass murder" or "ethnic cleansing" --- but that is clearly implied. No sane person believes that five million Israeli Jews will simply hop a plane to Argentina or Germany, leaving the land of Israel to the tender mercies of Hamas and Hizbullah. Israeli society is deeply rooted in the love of its land. It can only be driven out with overwhelming force, like the nuclear weapons the Mullahs of Tehran are telling us they are building just for that purpose. What the Anglican Church is therefore demanding is the abolition of an entire people in their land. That is the political program of Pol Pot, Stalin and Hitler. It is simply monstrous coming from Christian church leaders. No sane person objects to reasonable criticism of Israel. Every society is imperfect. Every country needs open debate to stay healthy. But that is hardly the same as open hatred, or the obsessive, day-after-day propaganda attack that is now carried on by major media in Britain, France and yes, even Germany itself. Anti-Zionism is a call to destroy a nation. That is without parallel in contemporary politics. No other country is targeted for extinction by the enlightened Left --- not the genocidal regime of Sudan, nor Stalinist North Korea, nor China, which kills tens of millions of newborn girls every year. To call for the elimination of homosexuals or African Americans is morally hideous. But somehow, on the Left it is a sign of high moral sensitivity to call for the elimination of five million Jews in Israel. The question "Should Israel exist?"is asked over and over again. The Left has a consistent track record of promoting genocide around the world, so we can guess what they have in mind. The New Anti-Semitism has all the earmarks of a coordinated campaign, financed, probably, by Saudi money. It is traceable to our friends at the United Nations. The campaign routinely uses Jewish spokespeople, presumably because Jews cannot be anti-Semites. But that is nonsense. If that were true, Benedict Arnold could not be an American, and Lord Haw Haw could not be English. If Noam Chomsky calls for the abolition of Israel he is logically an anti-Semite, in spite of the fact that his parents were devoutly religious Jews. Chomsky's real models are not his own parents, but people like Marx and Engels, both viciously anti-Semitic. To be a racist, all you need to is to call for the persecution of a people. The Left today is therefore unmistakably anti-Semitic and racist. The history of the Jewish people is filled with the poetry of Zion, going back to Psalm 137, written 25 centuries ago. Modern Zionism stems from the conviction that the Jews needed a nation of their own. In 1948, when Israel achieved independence, the Holocaust was just becoming known around the world. It was clear to all that Jews could never again feel safe in Europe. The current wave of anti-Semitism of the Left, especially in Europe, makes it tragically clear how little has changed.
Some previous posts I've done about the Left and anti-Semitism and about the UN and anti-Semitism: Anti-Semitism rears up again on the Left A sickening view from the Left The U.N., Europe, the Holocaust and the Jews Meaningless posturing at the UN Read it! Read it! Read it! Reason #3,895,958 to get rid of the U.N. Reason No. 53,878 to get rid of the UN Know your enemies

All the news that no one wants to print

Zombie has an incredibly interesting post about how the media, intentionally or not, reframes the often ugly face of the anti-War movement when presenting it in mainstream publications. I'd rank this as a must-read. Hat tip: Little Green Footballs

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hey, NOW! Are you listening?

NOW's hysteria about abortion is preventing it from realizing that President Bush is the best friend that women have ever had, or so says Ralph Peters in a compelling argument regarding the battle over women's rights shaping up in the Islamic world:

The Washington establishment would shrink from any such claim, but the Global War on Terror is a fight over the social, economic and cultural roles of women. The core issues for the terrorists are the interpretation of God's will and the continued oppression of women. Nothing so threatens Islamic extremists as the freedom Western women enjoy. *** The true symbols of the War on Terror are the Islamic veil and the two-piece woman's business suit. The math is basic. No civilization that excludes half its population from full participation in society and the economy can compete with the United States and its key allies. Yet Middle Eastern societies, especially, have dug in their heels to resist change. Some, such as Turkey, Pakistan and Iran, have tumbled backward. Islamist terrorists have formed the last, great boy's club, meeting in caves and warning girls to stay out — or, in the case of the 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, demanding that women be kept from his grave to avoid polluting it. Their vision offers women fewer rights by far than those enjoyed by the wives of the prophet Mohammed. They are women-hating sadists for whom faith is an excuse. Their fears are primal.
Read the whole thing, and then think about it really hard the next time you hear some "feminist" shriek about how the Bush administration is attempting to send women back to the 1950s. I'd rather think about this when I think about the Bush administration and women: Iraqi women on election day Afghani women on election day Afghani woman on election day They may be swathed in burkhas, but they're participating in the democratic process, and that's the beginning of true freedom. Hat tip: Independent Women's Forum Inkwell

Is this what Hamas means by a ceasefire?

Sickening story in the Israeli press about Hamas' kidnapping and murder of an Israeli citizen. What's even worse than Hamas' engaging in such disgusting, inhuman and inhumane acts, is the member's tremendous sense of pride, and the fact that Palestinians have a culture that doesn't bemoan these as necessary acts of war (an attitude I could understand, even though disagreeing profoundly with the Palestinian position in the war), but instead celebrates them as high watermarks in Palestinian cultural development. You have to think long and hard about the validity of a culture that praises itself for being bathed in the blood of women, children, and the elderly, and that sees itself as strong for being able to torture and murder people who have been reduced to helplessness.

[The picture of Sasson Nuriel, the murder victim, as proudly displayed on Hamas' own website.]

DiFi -- a mind is a terrible thing to waste, Part II

I commented before on how the Roberts' hearings revealed that Dianne Feinstein, who was once a tough, pragmatic policitican, has devolved into a squirmy little mass of liberal feel-goodism. Although George Will does not comment on the strength she once possessed, he does an incredibly good job of showcasing everything that's ignorant and wrong with her (and by extension, the Democrats') approach to John Roberts and the Supreme Court. You'll want to read the whole thing, but I leave you this George Will prose to enjoy for now:

Exploring Roberts' "temperament and values," Feinstein asked him about "end of life" decisions, urging him to talk to her "as a son, a husband, a father." Instead, she says disapprovingly, he "gave a very detached response." Now, some people might think that detachment is a good thing in a judge -- that it might be the virtue called judiciousness. Never mind. Feinstein's real worry is, she said, Roberts' failure to explain how he planned to be "in touch" with "the problems real people have out there." She was dismayed by the inadequacy of his discussion of "the importance of reaching out to communities that he normally would not be in contact with, and spending time to understand the problems that average people face, in my communities of Hunters Point, of East L.A., of some of the agriculture areas of our state." Feinstein said, "His answer failed to recognize the point of the question and the concern about staying in touch with people who have different life experiences." Well, what was the point of the question? At the risk of revealing a serious empathy deficit, one might ask: What is the importance of a Supreme Court justice understanding the problems of lettuce farmers in California's Central Valley? How, in the course of performing his judicial duties, does a justice reach out to, and stay in touch with, those farmers? Perhaps justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, two of Feinstein's pin-ups, routinely do the empathetic things that Roberts, Feinstein has decided, does not know how to do, or is too emotionally impoverished to do. But how does any of what Feinstein was talking about pertain to judging?
In other words, Will makes us realize that judges are not politicians, preachers or therapists, a distinction lost on the Left.

A sickening view from the Left

San Francisco, which can always be relied upon to show the vipers lurking beneath the Left's effort to appear bland and peaceful, hosted an anti-War rally over the weekend, that quickly devolved into a showplace for the worst types of anti-Semitism and Bush Derangement Syndrome. I didn't see the protest, but I was riding public transportation that evening, and got to see the A.N.S.W.E.R. posters left all over the subway system, as well as the last straggles of excited, young, dirty protestors heading for their homes. If you'd like a glimpse into this Leftist hell, you need to go no further than this Cinnamon Stillwell/Lee Kaplan report on the event. Funnily enough, the NY Times, which is still in the throes of its love affair with Cindy Sheehan, doesn't mention these circuses, nor the fact that Cindy is A.N.S.W.E.R.'s public face.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Nervous breakdowns among the middle class

I really do wonder, sometimes, if life for the middle class in America isn't a little bit too good. It's so easy that there is nothing to toughen us. The reason I'm mentioning this today is that I was sitting near two parents in my community, listening to their conversation. (And yes, they knew I was there listening, so this was not covert listening on a private conversation.) Both of them were very unhappy, and their conversation was not leavened by any humor at all. Things just weren't going right for the two of them: a nanny was leaving, a business that was given to one as a "gift" just wasn't engaging enough, a cool restaurant was under construction, a big upcoming party was too much effort to plan, school volunteer work was too exhausting. I was actually saddened listening to these unhappy, beautiful, intelligent women. There's so much to envy in their lives and it all seems too much for them. As my friends will tell you, I'm a huge complainer, but I like to think of myself as being in the Joan Rivers/Phyllis Diller mode -- complaints with jokes intermixed. I enjoy complaining, but I also want to entertain my audience. (If you're wondering, I'm better looking, though not by much, than both of those ladies.) Basically, I'm pretty happy with my life, despite the imperfections that naturally mar it. I've got a lovely family, and we live in a lovely home, in a lovely community, in a beautiful part of the world. I enjoy my work and my friends. I have all the petty annoyances of a working mother but, while they wear me out, they don't wear me down. Frankly, I don't think I have a better temperament than those poor ladies I listened too. As I mentioned, and as my friends will confirm (especially poor Don Quixote, who gets the brunt of my complaints), there's a lot I feel impelled and compelled to whine about. But I never lose track of the good things, and I never let the whining slow me down. I suspect that I, more than those ladies, appreciate that life is not perfect and that, while it may be enjoyable to kvetch, one should never lose sight of the basic goodness inherent in being middle class in America.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


I've been a bit weary lately. I find the news depressing, not because it's so depressing (bad things always happen and they always find their way into the press) but because of the media's relentless hostility to the Government. I mean, to read the newspaper, everything from dog poop on the front lawn, to ingrown toenails, to weather phenomena, to car accidents is George Bush's fault. It's as if reasoned discourse and criticism have ended, and insanity has filled in the blanks. Fighting this, as I noted in my earlier post about the lack of outrage over the Palestinian's upcoming desecration of a synogogue by turning it into a museum celebrating Jewish murders, seems like sweeping at the tide with a mop, which is ultimately a frustrating and fruitless task. And today in The Anchoress, I read that I'm not the only one feeling this kind of fatigue. The Anchoress is feeling it herself, as are Jonah Goldberg and LaShawn Barber. Politics lately is so ugly, and so reflexive, and so devisive, it just seems pointless to keep trying to counter this environment with facts and reasoned argument. The Anchoress, though, is not giving up, remembering that George Bush is actually doing quite a decent job. I'm not giving up either. Because if we give up, those on the Left really have won -- they've won simply by exhausting our weapons of intelligence, reason, clear-sightedness and compassion, and that's a victory as surely as if this were a war with guns and they fought us to the point where we lost all bullets and missiles. The fact is, the blogosphere really is a very effective counterweight to the seemingly inexorable MSM. Without us gathering tidbits of news, analyzing available information that hasn't been filtered through the MSM, pooling information, and generally talking about stuff, the only one left out there fighting is Rush Limbaugh, and even he can't do it all by himself. Keep in mind, it was the blogosphere that destroyed the attack on George Bush's military service and it was the blogosphere that refused to let the MSM bury questions about John Kerry's military service. If we get tired, the war is over and we've lost. So here's a message to all the weary ones, the ones who open the newspaper or turn on the TV and think, "Oh, no. Not another attack on a George Bush portrayed simultaneously as the village idiot and the evil genius. Oh, no. Not another relentlessly grim report about Iraq, without any stories about the good things that are happening. Oh, no. Not another hagiographic story about some Palestinian villager, with a counter story about some crazed Jewish extremist." Well, I say to you, hang in there, since you are the ultimate WMD against these "oh no" stories.

"You realize, this means war." (Daffy Duck)

When Israel withdrew from Gaza, I remarked (and cited to brighter minds than mine for authority) that it would give the Israeli army greater military room, since it would finally be able to wage war state to state. That is, Israel could no longer be publicly castigated as an occupier waging war on a helpless population. That seems, in fact, to be precisely what is happening. The Palestinians, having launched a massive rocket attack on Israel, are shocked, shocked, that Israel has responded with an aggressive military attack and, by doing so, say the Palestinians, "force[d] a ceasefire to collapse." Captain Ed has the appropriate take on the increasing room to act that Israel has, now that Gaza is on its own:

As I wrote yesterday, the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza brought an entirely new set of circumstances to the use of military force. The abandonment of the settlements and the removal of Israeli troops took away the excuse of a 'legitimate fight against an unjust occupation' that the UN allowed the murderers and terrorists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to spew for killing women and children in pizzerias and buses. It makes such rocket attacks open acts of war, for which the government nominally in control of the territory must take responsibility. That means that the Israelis have every right to respond to an attack on their country when presented with such a casus belli, and they have done so. The Palestinians appealed to the US, which has all too often yanked a diplomatic leash on Israel, but not this time. The BBC reports that the American response, translated from Diplomatese, says, "Don't expect us to pull your bacon from the fire this time." The EU and UN, useless as ever, appealed to "both sides" for "restraint", instead of forcing the Palestinians to take responsibility for security in Gaza. Had the Palestinians not fired 40 rockets at Israeli cities, then this reponse would not have happened.
Regarding the bizarre Palestinian world view, that allows them to say that a ceasefire is in place despite their rocket attacks against Israel, but that it is broken only when Israel retaliates, have I got a book for you. It's not a new book, so it doesn't have a bone to pick in the current world struggle between the West and radical Islam, but it's certainly a prescient book. It's called The Arab Mind and was written thirty years ago by Raphael Patai, a famed Arabist. The book is definitely dated in in its dependence on Freudian analysis, but it's also fascinating in that it attempts to dissect characteristics of Arab culture -- and to do so by relying in large part on writings from Arab intellectuals examining their own culture. What was striking was how much of what Patai said about traditional Arab culture (and he says it with a fair amount of affection and respect) explains what we see today: the mob violence, the "Arab Street," the misogyny, and the weirdly delusional thinking. This last was was best illustrated in Patai's book by King Hussein's own story of how an Egyptian general, in 1967, prevented the Jordanians from responding appropriately to Israeli military action during the Six Day War, because he could not bring himself to acknowledge the fact that Israel had almost immediately decimated the Egyptian airforce. Modern Americans may have a better grasp of the nexus between pride, honor and delusion when they think of the Iraqi spokesman in the initial days of the war who amused the West tremendously by speaking of Iraq's total victory over the Americans, even as American tanks rolled down the streets behind him. The book makes clear that this man's approach was not one man's insanity, or even the delusional thinking that results from living in a totalitarian state but was, rather, a byproduct of an ancient culture that often values words over deeds (hence the prevalence of the extreme verbal threat) and that loves words so much that the statement of victory is often tantamount to victory itself.

Friday, September 23, 2005

To any readers I may have who live near D.C.

This from Power Line:

This is Support the Troops Weekend. If you live anywhere near Washington, D.C., we would strongly encourage you to participate if you can. As you know, Cindy Sheehan and her Stalinist friends will be out in force tomorrow, trying to make headlines with an anti-war, anti-American demonstration that will probably be quite small, if history is any guide. Nevertheless, the press will promote it relentlessly -- unless we can turn out a pro-American, pro-troops demonstration that so obviously dwarfs the Sheehan Circus that it can't be ignored. So: from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow, there will be a counter-demonstration along the antiwar parade route, beginning, as I understand it, at the United States Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets NW. If you go and take pictures, email them to us and we'll put some up. Then, on Sunday, there will be a big rally in support of our troops from 12 to 3 on the Mall at 4th Street NW, which is near the Air and Space Museum. Again, please send photos and we will post as many as we can.

Benefits and burdens; and the fear of weak-minded youngsters

People who live in America get lots of benefts. For all that the Left loves to point to Europe, with its economic stagnation and huge racial problems, as a role model, and to point out that poverty still exists in America, the fact is that life here is about as good as it gets. As I've often pointed out to my kids, never in the history of human kind have so many lived so well. We have safe roads, safe cars, safe homes, safe food (and an abundance of this last one), good medicine, and on and on. And we get these benefits because we have a contract, as citizens, with our government. We pay taxes, they provide the blanket of government protection (although I personally would settle for less taxes and less government mothering). Parents at most American schools get the benefit of federal intervention in the form of lots of money. That is, they're not just paying for the school districts with local tax dollars and community fund raising, they're looking to that government teat again. Nevertheless, at least in the Bay Area, schools are desperately trying to figure out how to keep their innocent little teenagers from even having to see a recruiter, even if that means losing government funding:

Sequoia [Union High School District] is asking parents this month whether they want to withhold their children's names and addresses from anyone who asks, from the military to the PTA. The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires that military recruiters have the same access to student information as educational recruiters. Schools that do not grant such access risk losing federal funds. *** To boost the numbers, the military joins recruiters from colleges and vocational schools who swarm high schools every fall looking for prospects. Anti-war activists are trying to fan skepticism with counter-recruiting efforts, including applying pressure to school administrators to make it easier for parents and students to withhold information from military recruiters -- a process known as "opting out." *** The national PTA recently announced its support for an opt-in policy proposed by Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, under which school districts wouldn't give student information to military recruiters unless parents requested it. The Berkeley Unified School District is among the few that allow parents to opt in now, a policy that could put its federal funding at risk. "It's our interpretation of the law that the opt-in proposal is not legal," said Jim Bradshaw, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education.
Even these often illegal patchwork solutions don't appease the looney left, who want to have things both ways:
Susan Fitzgerald doesn't want military recruiters contacting her two teenage daughters. But she wants the teens to hear about college scholarships and job opportunities from other organizations. *** "It's really inequitable," Fitzgerald said. "Why should I not be able to hear about scholarships just because I don't want my daughter to be recruited by the military?"
I have a message for Fitzgerald and other parents like her: her children are not being dragooned into the military. The military -- which comes from the same government that provides her with a good lifestyle and helps fund her child's school -- simply wants a chance to pitch itself, the same as any other potential employer. Is Fitzgerald concerned that the recruiters are going to kidnap children from campus and force them into the Army? Or is she concerned that, despite her best efforts to teach the youth of America to be stupid and ungrateful, some of them might look to the military as a good employer (despite the downside risks of death) or may believe in a simple patriotism that urges them to enlist. It's so typical for the Left, rather than facing things honestly and openly, to try to censor things it doesn't like. If Fitzgerald raised her daughters with her values, she needn't worry. And if she didn't succeed (as, apparently, Cindy Sheehan didn't succeed when she surprisingly produced a decent, honorable, brave young son), she shouldn't compensate for her deficits as a parent by taking the government's benefits (as all American citizens do) while trying to prevent government access to its own citizens.

Deconstructing news for those who don't think

Curt, at Flopping Aces, has brought to my attention a powerful comparison between standard MSM reporting and actual source reporting regarding events in Iraq. You can find the whole thing at The Adventures of Chester, but this should whet your appetite:

First, let's examine the overall tone of both sets of documents just through some of the descriptive phrases in each. In the TIME article, here are representative words, reflecting, and shaping, the overall tenor of the piece: "elusive and inexhaustible enemy" "success" is "elusive" "inexhaustible enemy emboldened by the US presence" "gradual . . . erosion" in public support "millions of Iraqis will vote on a constitution that threatens to further split the country" "beleaguered US mission in Iraq" "unwinnable military fight" "series of failures" "hardened local fighters" "politically compromised outcome" "dangers, dilemmas, and frustrations that still haunt the US in Iraq" "temporary tactical gains" "doubts about whether anything resembling victory can still be achieved" "powerless to do anything" about atrocities "intelligence suggests insurgents are displaying their mettle" "This enemy is not a rabble." "fierce resistance" "shaken US officer" "troops . . . embittered" "momentum lost" "insurgents proving so resiliant" Do you really even have to read the article to know what it says? When I was a child, my father told me that Life magazine was for people who don't like to read, and TIME for people who don't like to think. Seems an accurate characterization.
Anyone who can do this kind of careful, breakdown analysis, followed by a pithy, dead-on comment, is one smart cookie in my book. If you don't emerge from contact with this article convinced that the MSM is pursuing an agenda in its reporting -- and that this agenda often makes only minimal contact with reality -- well, maybe you should apply to TIME or Newsweak for a job, 'cause they're looking for people like you.

Never missing the opportunity to twist the anti-Bush knife

Here I am, happily reading a New York Times movie review about the new Oliver Twist movie, when suddenly I stumble onto a completely unrelated, yet nevertheless extremely mean-spirited political attack:

In the landscape of "Oliver Twist," as in "The Pianist," goodness is so rare and inexplicable as to seem almost absurd. Oliver is played by Barney Clark, who was 11 when the film was made and whose slight frame and delicate features emphasize his character's vulnerability. An orphan, Oliver lands first in a workhouse (its resemblance to a concentration camp is hardly accidental), and before long finds himself apprenticed to a weak-willed coffin maker. At every turn he is menaced by adults whose grotesqueness, while comical, is also a measure of their moral deformity, and of the ugliness of the society that makes them possible. The worst thing about these villains, who tend to occupy positions of at least relative power, is that they believe their sadism and lack of compassion to be the highest expressions of benevolence. Like Barbara Bush after seeing the "underprivileged" citizens of New Orleans exiled to the Astrodome, they insist on telling Oliver that things are working out pretty well for him.
Never mind that this has absolutely nothing to do with a movie review and is just a gratuitous political insult. There it is. The other day, I noted that an New York Times movie reviewer included a completely gratuitous anti-clerical dig into an otherwise innocuous review about Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. I've finally decided that the problem isn't these movie reviewers, who are simply producing the material that would logical flow from liberal zealots sheltered within the New York Times walls. The problem is me, because I keep stupidly believing that, if the New York Times is no longer capable of reporting about politics or any type of real news, it might still have some capabilities in other errors. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

An intelligent rebuttal to an extraordinarily selfish argument

Remember a couple of weeks ago when British Muslims urged Tony Blair to cancel Britain's Holocaust Day because it fairly highlighted the suffering of dead Jews (apparently Britian should have been celebrating the dead Jews). I found this so disgusting, I couldn't muster the will-power to attack it intellectually. And now I don't have to. At Neo-Neocon, there is a brilliant post about why the Holocaust is indeed different from all other murderous wars or genocidal attacks. Neo begins with a post by Norman Geras examining precisely that question, and then adds her own thoughts. Both posts are, in my estimation, must reads.

Where's the outrage?

Charles of Little Green Footballs, who is a mensch, reported on the latest Palestinian outrage (turning a synagogue into a museum commemorating weapons used to murder Israelis), and then asked a very important question:

I’m reading this again, and wondering where the hell is the world’s outrage about this? Newsweek prints a false rumor that a Koran was dunked in a toilet, and the entire planet goes nuts. Hamas announces that they’re going to turn a Jewish house of worship into a memorial to mass murder ... and the silence is absolutely deafening. [Emphasis in original.]
I thought about that question for a large part of the night, and think I came up with one answer: the tide against Israel is so strong that it simply has swept away intelligence, compassion and awareness. In a minute, I'll give a laundry list of just some of the more recent government/media/Leftist outrages committed against Israel which have left even Israel's staunchest supporters simply exhausted. Before I do, let me lead with a quotation from the Rev. Sydney Smith, a famous figure of the British Enlightenment (a time when the Brits still had beliefs about right and wrong, and a really impressive amount of moral fibre). At a speech in 1813, Rev. Smith related this anecdote:
In the midst of this sublime and terrible storm [at Sidmouth], Dame Partington, who lived upon the beach, was seen at the door of her house with mop and pattens, trundling her mop, squeezing out the sea-water, and vigorously pushing away the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic was roused; Mrs. Partington’s spirit was up. But I need not tell you that the contest was unequal; the Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington.
Keep in mind the image of the valiant Dame Partington as you reflect on these attacks and canards:
  1. French journalists conspire with Palestinians to release a false snuff film that gives rise to the Second Intifadah.
  2. European journalists abandon reality to support a completely false story about massacres in Jenin.
  3. American Churches boycott Israel
  4. British Universities attempt to blackball all Israeli academics (something I blogged about extensively here, here, here, here, and here).
  5. George Bush, with Condi Rice's encouragement, appointed a staunch Arabist as ambassador to Israel.
  6. Europeans select Israel, the only Democracy in the Middle East, as the most dangerous country in the world.
I could go on and on (this is a very short list from a chillingly large number of choices), but I have work to do and I'm depressing myself. I am, as readers of this blog know, a staunch supporter of Israel. Indeed, much of my Jewish identity is tied up with Israel. However, the unrelenting, false, vicious attacks against Israel are so prevalent, and so overwhelming, even I don't bother to post about each of them anymore. It just seems pointless. Unless something changes dramatically, both within Israel and in the larger world, I have the horrible suspicion that my parents will have seen the birth of Israel, and I its death. All the mops in the world seem incapable of stopping the inrush of this anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli Atlantic.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hillary Clinton finally explains the Supreme Court's role

You know, it's kind of ridiculous for a junior senator to be accorded this much press attention, but that's the world we live in, and it does mean that we finally get a clear insight into the Left's view about the very limited role the Supreme Court is supposed to play (and now we know for sure which base Hillary has decided to pander to). First bit of bad reasoning:

I have an obligation to my constituents to make sure that I cast my vote for Chief Justice of the United States for someone I am convinced will be steadfast in protecting fundamental women's rights, civil rights, privacy rights, and who will respect the appropriate separation of powers among the three branches.
Please note that Hillary, a lawyer, doesn't even pretend that the Supreme court has a non-legislative role. Instead, the Supreme Court now sits to protect women's rights, civil rights and privacy rights (read "women's right to abortion"). Last time I read Justice Marshall's seminal 1803 case, Marbury v. Madison (5 U.S. 137), that was not the Supreme Court's role. Marshall, of course, stated the long-standing rule that the Supreme Court's role was to review law under Constitutional guidelines. Apparently Hillary doesn't think we even need to pretend anymore to follow this 200+ year old rule. For Hillary to follow this perversion of the Court's role -- a perversion that arrogates to the Court the powers of an unelected legislature -- by saying that a judge must "respect the appropriate separation of powers among the three branches" is scary doublespeak. The doublespeak continues. Get this one:
In one memo, for example, Judge Roberts argued that Congress has the power to deny the Supreme Court the right to hear appeals from lower courts of constitutional claims involving flag burning, abortion, and other matters. He wrote that the United States would be far better off with fifty different interpretations on the right to choose than with what he called the "judicial excesses embodied in Roe v. Wade." The idea that the Supreme Court could be denied the right to rule on constitutional claims had been so long decided that even the most conservative of Judge Roberts's Justice Department colleagues strongly disagreed with him.
Thus, Hillary uses one case -- Roe v. Wade -- to make it sound as if Roberts, rather than insisting that the Court engage only in true judicial review on Constitutional issues, wants to remove the Court entirely from such review. Of course, even Roe's staunchest critics -- if they're honest -- concede that Roe has no constitutional basis whatsoever. To criticize Roe, therefore, is not the same as announcing that the Supreme Court will henceforth no longer rule on Constitutional matters. This is a specially dishonest argument, by the way, coming as it does on the heels of Hillary's opening principle that the Court exists, not to pass statutes under judicial review, but solely to preserve minority and women's rights. Here's yet another disingenuous statement:
Adding to testimony that clouded more than clarified is that we in the Senate have been denied the full record of Judge Roberts's writings despite our repeated requests.
Again, Hillary's background as a lawyer means that she knows that the attorney-client relationship is one of the most sacred in the legal canon. The fact that this administration wants to put Roberts forward for the Supreme Court does not make it incumbent on the administration to waive the Government's attorney-client privilege for the last 20 years. For her to hide that argument under a bland sentence is, simply, dishonest. And, to finish up, Hillary again makes clear the limited role she envisions for her desired Supreme Court:
My desire to maintain the already fragile Supreme Court majority for civil rights, voting rights and women's rights outweigh the respect I have for Judge Roberts's intellect, character, and legal skills.
Well, at least the charade is over. The Supreme Court does not exist to review the laws of the State and Federal Legislatures to make sure that they do not violate the United States Constitition -- the document that is the bedrock of our society. Instead, it has one narrow function (to make sure women can get abortion on demand) and a few peripheral voting rights obligations (read -- support laws that will increase the number of Democratic voters). And because a brilliant jurist stubbornly clings to the belief that his role is to be a guardian of the Constitution, Hillary has assured her base that she thinks he is not a fitting person for our Supreme Court. UPDATE: For a really great analysis about how Roe has operated to corrupt the role our society (or at least the Left side of it) assigns to the Constitution and the Supreme Court, check out this classy post at Paragraph Farmer.

DiFi -- a mind is a terrible thing to waste

I was very disappointed to read that Sen. Feinstein will vote against Justice Roberts on the girlie ground that she just doesn't really feel she knows him. This is not the usual disappointment that a Democratic Senator is again making a foolish decision. This is personal. I've known DiFi all my life. I grew up in the City, and knew her children and stepchildren. As a very young child, I'd periodically see her at birthday parties (although my mother always claimed that, even then, she was too much of a politico just to make nice with the other, ordinary moms). I will never forget the day in 1978, when Dan White assassinated Mayor Moscone. DiFi acted with extraordinary grace, strength and dignity, both on the day of the Mayor's death, and in the months afterwards when she became acting mayor. DiFi ran for Senator on solid liberal Democratic credentials, but also by presenting herself as a hardworking pragmatist. While I've come to disagree with her politics, I've always liked her style (right down to the 1950s Barbi doll hair and the suits with bows). That's all over now. By turning on a brilliant candidate (who I so much hope is a solid conservative and not a stealth liberal), and by doing so for such an icky, touchy-feely girlie reason, Feinstein has lost all credibility. She's no longer a smart, strong woman who is still on the wrong side of the political divide -- she's a hack in thrall to some of the worst elements of the Left. I am so sorry.

Significant silence

Great Hugh Hewitt article about the media's most recent decision to protect the big Democratic players. How? By refraining from asking them any questions about the California Legislature's attempt -- despite overwhelming voter objection -- to legalize gay marriage. Previous posts: Arnold does the right thing, for the right reasons Who the H*ll cares about the voters?

San Francisco politics as usual?

Apparently, in San Francisco, doing your job well and working to do it better are not enough. San Francisco's Director of Emergency Services, Annemarie Conroy, is in the hot seat for having the temerity to attend a homeland security class:

Annemarie Conroy, the director of San Francisco's Office of Emergency Services, was in the political hot seat Tuesday with one member of the Board of Supervisors calling for an inquiry into her management of the office and another urging her to resign. Several supervisors said that learning over the past week that Conroy was attending homeland security classes at the prestigious Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey raised old concerns that she lacked enough training to lead San Francisco's disaster agency. And though Conroy by some accounts has improved the emergency office since taking over, the debacle of hurricane relief efforts in New Orleans has spurred officials here to ensure that San Francisco is prepared.
You'll note that language about Conroy having "by some accounts" improve the City's emergency services. Buried at the bottom of the article is what Conroy has actually done, which sounds pretty damn impressive:
Although she came under initial fire for stepping into her job without disaster experience, she drew up the city's first new emergency operations plan in a decade, conducted monthly disaster drills since last spring and quadrupled the emergency office's staff to 20 with experts in the fields of terrorism, rescue and other skills. Supervisor Fiona Ma said Tuesday that criticism of Conroy was outdated, adding that her office was "doing the right thing." On Tuesday, Conroy unveiled the latest of two dozen "annexes," or detailed additions, to the city emergency plan -- this one a 66-page guideline for providing food and shelter in a disaster. The annex lays out a chain of command for placing as many as 50,000 people throughout the city in shelters, largely run by the Red Cross, and breaks down how much staffing, food and supplies would be needed. "I know when I took this job some people had their doubts, but I think we've done quite a lot since I got here," Conroy said. Newsom said last week that Conroy had made the city "very well prepared." He also noted that she was studying for a master's degree in homeland security at the Naval Postgraduate School, an 18-month program that accepts only about 30 students out of 900 applicants nationwide. Rich Eisner, coast region administrator for the state Office of Emergency Services, said he had been impressed by Conroy's leadership in assembling a Bay Area-wide disaster plan, which is due by January, and would be the first in the nation to coordinate three major urban areas (San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose). "I really appreciate what she's doing and her commitment to us, because we don't have the money to do this effort ourselves," Eisner said. "I think she takes her job seriously. I wish other jurisdictions all took their jobs as seriously." Conroy's deputy director, who would take command if she were unavailable, is Rich Shortall, a 27-year veteran of the Fire Department who has commanded rescue and emergency medical squads. Conroy has also brought on a retired Fire Department arson specialist, a former police bomb squad supervisor, the former head of the FBI's joint terrorism task force and the former emergency services director at the Bay Area Red Cross chapter -- Lisa Bennett, who helped coordinate responses at the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks and last year's Florida hurricanes. "We've got a bad-ass team," Conroy said. "I've put together the best and brightest, and these people wouldn't be working here unless they had confidence in the leadership at the top."
What the article doesn't mention, and what I suspect is the real subtext, is that Conroy is a conservative who has somehow managed to remain active in San Francisco politics for almost 20 years. If I remember correctly, she was appointed to the Board of Supervisors in the late 1980s by her uncle, then-mayor Frank Jordan. She couldn't possibly have gotten the position without that political connection, because San Franciscans do not vote for conservatives. Truly, that was a boondoggle. She's hung doggedly in SF politics since then, without any more handouts (the ultra liberal Willie Brown was mayor after Jordan). My impression, gleaned from periodic news stories about Conroy over the past almost 20 years is that she is a foe of government waste, intelligent, mentally well-oganized, and able to carry out a plan. That's probably why Mayor Newsome, who is no fool, appointed her. With regard to her emergency services role, it sounds as if she is serving in a purely management capacity, but surrounding herself with a powerful team. Perhaps I'm stupid, but it seems to me that she can't be expected to be a one person emergency services entity in any event, and what's really important is that she's putting systems (and people) in place and is on top of things. I'd trust her a whole lot more than I'd trust the media's darling, Mayor Nagin. It may well be that Conroy is grossly unqualified to run the city's disaster management plan, but I can't escape a sneaking suspicion that Conroy's real sin is her political orientation. She's a long-standing conservative in a liberal city, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if that makes her a target. Indeed, an S.F. blogger who has picked up on this story (and does raise legitimate points about using taxpayer money to fund Conroy's emergency services education) feels that her Republicanism is worth mentioning -- and he doesn't give that mention a positive spin.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A big thank you

As you may recall, my blog suffered from some technical problems (aided by my own ineptitude) for the past few days. I think those days are over. Thanks to some very generous help from Gina at Gee Dubya, I seem to have been able to rid myself of some troublesome code. My blog looks a little prettier in the sidebar, and long posts should now appear in their entirety. Thank you, Gina!

More UN stuff

If you'd like to see an excellent post about my favorite target, the U.N., stop by Brain Droppings. It manages both to take on the UN itself, and to expose the reasoning fallacies routinely used by the UN's supporters.

Running down the God squad again

"Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" is opening soon at a nearby theater, so I thought I'd check out the reviews, since I had no idea what the movie is about. Out of habit, I started with the NY Times review. The review is favorable, describing a wacky movie in which a depressive nonentity discovers the meaning in life through a journey amongst the joyous dead. What I found interesting was in the review's last paragraph:

It all ends happily ever after, of course, though not before Mr. Burton and company have gathered the dead with the undead, and given a kick in the pants to a pinched-faced pastor even more shriveled than the bride herself. The anticlerical bit gives the story a piquant touch, while the reunion between the corpses and the ostensibly living further swells the numbers of zombies that have lately run amok in the movies. [Emphasis mine.]
My understanding of the word "piquant" has always been that it means rather charmingly spicy -- and that seems to be consistent with the definition:
adj. 1: having an agreeably pungent taste [syn: savory, savoury, spicy, zesty] 2: engagingly stimulating or provocative; "a piquant wit"; "salty language" [syn: salty] 3: attracting or delighting; "an engaging frankness"; "a piquant face with large appealing eyes" [syn: engaging]
Clearly, piqaunt is a good thing (as Martha would say). And what I rather wondered is why a movie reviewer would say it is a charmingly good thing, in an engaging sort of way, to portray "a pinched-faced pastor even more shriveled than the [corpse] bride herself." Did the reviewer really mean to make such a savage swipe at religion? Did the reviewer actually mean provocative, which would be slightly more accurate and certainly less laudatory? Did the reviewer even mean anything or just have a word count? Anything's possible but, given the review's provenance (it is in the NY Times, after all), I suspect it was meant to be what it appears -- gratuitous anticlericalism.

Yessss!!! (Visual: Fist pumps in air)

That green tea I like keeps getting better and better:

An ingredient in green tea has prevented Alzheimer's disease-like brain damage in mice, researchers report. The compound, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), decreased production of the protein beta-amyloid, which accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and causes nerve damage and memory loss. 'The findings suggest that a concentrated component of green tea can decrease brain beta-amyloid plaque formation,' senior researcher Dr. Jun Tan, director of the Neuroimmunology Laboratory at the the University of South Florida's Silver Child Development Center, said in a prepared statement."

Penguins and God

Once again, a weird disconnect between a headline and opening paragraphs, and a story's actual message. The AFP has headlined a story "Penguin wars: French wildlife film sparks US religious skirmish". Then you get the story's set-up, which is American religious strife, hugely successful movie about incredibly noble penguins, and a hot religious war:

From the Pledge of Allegiance to abortion and the siting of stones inscribed with the Ten Commandments, secularists and the religious right have fought bruising battles for the American soul in recent years. To this lengthening list, another can be added: the penguin. The cause is a French wildlife documentary, "March of the Penguins", which has been the surprise blockbuster of the American movie summer. The feature-length film by Luc Jacquet recounts the heroic life of the Emperor penguin, a species that battles against extraordinary conditions in Antarctica. Blizzards, gales and a chill reaching to -40 degrees C (-40 degrees F) are only a few of the obstacles thrown in the penguins' way. After laying their single eggs, the females trudge in single file to feeding grounds 110 kilometers (70 miles) from their breeding site. For two months, the male sits on the egg to keep it warm and let the chick hatch, awaiting the return of the female bringing food for their offspring. Only when the mother returns does the father then make his own trek to the distant coast to ease his own hunger. Like audiences elsewhere, Americans have applauded this film, entranced by its photography and stunned by the flightless birds' epic fight. But "March of the Penguins" has become more than a wildlife hit -- it is on track for becoming the most politically-contested movie in America since "Fahrenheit 9/11," Michael Moore's take on President George W. Bush's war on terror.
With a set-up like this, who needs to read further? It's obvious that the evil religious people in America have had the temerity to attack those penguins, despite all that the penguins have already suffered, right? Well, no. In fact, Christians have embraced the movie, and think it's just wonderful:
Little do they know it, but the penguins have been seized upon by conservative Christians as a parable of family virtues, a role model for men, an argument against abortion and convincing proof that Darwin was wrong. The movie is "the motion picture this summer that most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child-rearing," film critic Michael Medved told The New York Times last week. For devout Christians, he suggested, "This is the first movie they've enjoyed since 'The Passion of the Christ'. This is 'The Passion of the Penguins.'" "March of the Penguins" has taken at least 37 million dollars, making it the most successful French film in America after the 66 million dollars reaped by Luc Besson's English-language sci-fi movie "The Fifth Element" in 1997. One Christian organisation, the 153 House Churches Network, raves over the film as proof of the glory of God. It is organising workshops in which families are invited to homes and cinemas to see the film. Christians can be inspired by exemplary "dedication, cooperation and affection" between the mating penguins and the loyalty and perseverance of the father, says Mari Helms, reviewing the movie on Rich Lowry, editor of the right-wing publication the National Review, urged young conservatives to check out the documentary. "It is an amazing movie. And I have to say, penguins are the really ideal example of monogamy," he said last month. Anti-abortionist campaigner Jill Stanek says the nurturing penguins were a stinging lesson to women who contemplated a pregnancy termination. "I remembered last year's March for Women's Lives in Washington, DC, when pro-aborts gathered to bolster their right to kill babies," says Stanek, in a column on "I thought maybe a penguin movie analogy would help people understand."
So, where's the religious debate? It turns out that, what the movie doesn't show, is that penguins can be sexual players:
Secularists point out that emperor penguins have a freewheeling sexual life and that homosexuality among penguin species is quite common. "These penguins get around. They switch mates with each new mating season, which makes for some pretty slutty birds -- and change the operative question from 'What Would Jesus Do?' to 'Who Would Jesus Do?'" notes Sheerly Avni on
And there you have it -- there you have the whole religious war heating up in America: Christians have discerned an overpoweringly strong family-friendly message in a movie, despite the fact that some penguins are known homosexuals! Clearly, it's time to get out your guns. The fanatics are coming over the hills -- and they've got their background facts wrong. You know, with reporting like this, I'm once again forced to ask myself why I even waste my time reading what comes out of the MSM, especially the French MSM (this is an AFP story).

"You are carrying the message, okay."

In a marvelous clash of somewhat shakey style and overwhelming substance Lt. Gen. Russel Honore took on some members of the MSM. The setting was a press conference during which Mayor Nagin was attempting to communicate emergency plans in the face of Hurricane Rita. He couldn't get the message through, so Lt. Gen. Honore took over. To the latter's surprise, the press didn't want to listen to the emergency relief plans, they wanted to discuss Katrina again, and to argue with him. It was that scenario that resulted in some incredible one-liners:

Male reporter: But General, that [the evacuation plan Honore had just announced] didn't work the first time... Honore: Wait a minute. It didn't work the first time. This ain't the first time. Okay? If...we don't control Rita, you understand? So there are a lot of pieces of it that's going to be worked out. You got good public servants working through it. Let's get a little trust here, because you're starting to act like this is your problem. You are carrying the message, okay? *** Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time... Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.
There's more, and you can find it on Radio Blogger, but those quotations give you the magic of clear thought and forthright speech. To be honest, I think it's rude to say to someone that they're "stuck on stupid," but the fact was that this reporter was impairing Honore's ability to communicate important information to a community that's facing down another Hurricane that's just be reclassified as a Class 4 (according to the Weather Channel's latest report). For Honore to face that kind of interruption must have been beyond frustrating. Hat tip: Power Line

Alfred Hitchcock and Daphne Du Maurier were on to something

The birds are getting their revenge:

Indonesia called an outbreak of bird flu in its teeming capital an epidemic on Wednesday as health and agricultural experts from around the world converged on Jakarta to help control the virus. Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari said the emergence of sporadic human cases of bird flu in recent months in and around different parts of Jakarta, home to 12 million people, warranted the epidemic tag. She was speaking before announcing that an initial local test on a five-year-old girl who died on Wednesday after suffering from bird flu symptoms was negative for the virus. 'This can be described as an epidemic. These (cases) will happen again as long as we cannot determine the source,' Supari told reporters, but she insisted it would be wrong to label it a 'frightening epidemic.' Four Indonesians are already confirmed to have died since July from the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has killed a total of 64 people in four Asian countries since late 2003 and has been found in birds in Russia and Europe.
The 14th Century had its rats; the 21st Century will have birds. I'm really hoping that the UN's only useful arm, WHO, is doing something, along with Western governments worldwide.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

No one will ever confuse me with Albert Schweitzer

Okay, here's the post where I leave everyone convinced (probably rightly) that I'm a hardhearted, unempathetic person utterly devoid of the milk of human kindness. Why? Because I was not that moved by an NPR story about the stress the New Orleans police officers are facing. And before you ask, yes, I know that two committed suicide shortly after the levies broke; and, yes, I know that there were dead bodies floating in the water; and, yes, I know that there was an intense burst of criminal activity; and, yes, I know that most of the police themselves had homes that were flooded out. But knowing all that, I still find it peculiar when people facing things that are to be expected in their jobs (crime, violent death, civil unrest) and have losses that are to be expected living in a flood plain (floods), become dysfunctionally depressed -- which is kind of how NPR pitches the story. I'll be the first to acknowledge that I've been exceptionally blessed in that I've never faced a big crisis of any sort, so I have no idea how I'd behave. However, I have grown up around a lot of people who've faced pretty dreadful things, and faced them down. I've blogged before about my mother (who went from a life of privilege to years in a Japanese concentration camp) and my father (who escaped abysmal poverty in Nazi Germany, only to spend WWII fighting in some of the worst battles in North Africa and Southern Europe). I've also blogged about family friends who were refugees, who lost their families, and who themselves experienced the worst death camps. Growing up in the Bay Area, the kids I went to school with were refugees from Saigon and Pol Pot's killing fields. What bound all of these people together in my mind was that they kept going. They didn't fall apart. Their drive to resume normal life trumped everything that had been done to them. And I just kind of wondered about the fact that five days of pretty damn bad stuff in the Big Easy could apparently completely destroy the psyche of New Orleans' finest. So I ask: Am I being unconscionably cruel, sitting in my ordered, clean, dry home? Or are New Orlean's police officers unusually fragile? Or is the MSM creating a new victim for George Bush's Hurricane by putting a spin on the police officers' stories that is ultimately false and disrespectful to them?

Our enemies and our friends

At Flopping Aces, Curt has posted a lengthy interview with Col. Brown, the Commander of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. The Colonel's take on the subject is fascinating. As you know, the MSM has been going haywire about the fact that Iraq is becoming an "insurgent" magnet (I think they mean "paramilitary deathsquad" magnet), describing hordes of blood-thirsty, hardened fighters pouring in from all over. Brown points out the truth: these incoming fighters are sad sacks from other countries, brainwashed into thinking they'll be fighting some gilded Islamic crusade. They're almost grateful to be captured and removed from real fighting. While the MSM has painted these sad sacks as warriors, they've been equally assiduous in painting the legitimate Iraqi troops, who are working with American forces, as pathetic bums, desperate for a few dinars. In Colonel Brown's estimation, while the quality of the Iraqi troops does run the gamut, many of them are in fact superb fighters, and all the troops are showing improvement. Anyway, don't take my word for it. Read the interview for yourself.

Back to basics

No, you're not hallucinating. After a brief flirtation with a new template, I'm back to my old one. I couldn't view the new template on either my Internet Explorer or on Firefox. I did learn, though, that if you're having problems viewing my blog in its current incarnation on your Internet Explorer, you should try viewing it on the generally wonderful Firefox.

Fighting our own demons

Dennis Prager has a thought-provoking post about a fundamental difference in liberal and conservative (religious-based) ideologies: the former's belief that people aren't bad; it's just that political and social systems are unfair:

The first [difference between the secular Left and the religious Right] is that the Left frequently defines 'social justice' differently than Judeo-Christian values do. For most on the Left, 'social justice' means social equality and social fairness. It is not fair that some people have more than others. This is why the Left believes that courts should be far more than umpires when adjudicating justice: they should be promoting fairness and equality. The other difference, the focus of this column, is that leftist ideologies are so preoccupied with 'social justice' that they generally ignore personal character development. Judeo-Christian values believe the road to a just society is paved by individual character development; the Left believes it is paved with action on a macro level. That is one reason the Left is far more interested than the Right, i.e., religious Jews and Christians and secular conservatives, in passing laws, whether through legislation or through the actions of judges. That is how the Left believes you make a better society. There is, incidentally, a second reason the Left passes so many laws: As the Left breaks down the self-discipline of Judeo-Christian religions, more and more laws are needed simply to keep people from devouring each other.
Please note that Prager is not saying that conservatives are so selfishly focused on themselves that they care nothing about the world around them. Instead, he's saying this:
There are, of course, religious Jews and Christians who do not lead decent lives and there are leftists who do. But leftist ideals, being overwhelmingly macro, will always be more appealing to the less decent who want to feel good about themselves. That helps explain those Hollywood celebrities who lead narcissistic, hedonistic personal lives but nevertheless feel very good about themselves by raising money for "peace" or by demonstrating against global warming.
It's nice that something explains those silly Hollywood types.