Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Excusing evil

Dennis Prager tackles the fact that, in the West, it's always blame the victim time when it comes to Muslim violence (a view I find surprising from the group that spearheaded the civil notion that a woman cannot automatically be blamed for being raped). He offers some hypotheses to support this fairly obvious fact:

One is that liberals tend to blame outside forces for evil. This emanates from the secular humanistic view of people as basically good -- and therefore human evil must come not from the bad choices and bad values of the evildoer, but from the unfortunate socioeconomic and other circumstances of the person's life. The second explanation is that as you go further left on the political spectrum, it becomes increasingly difficult to blame the "weak" for any atrocities they commit. The Left does not divide the world between good and evil nearly as much as it does between rich and poor, and between strong and weak. Israel is stronger and richer, so Palestinian terror is excused. White America is stronger and richer than black America, so black violence is excused. The West is stronger and richer than the Muslim world, so Muslim violence is explained accordingly. And third, liberals tend to be afraid of the truly evil. That's why the liberal newspapers of America refused to publish the Danish cartoons, probably the most newsworthy cartoons ever drawn, but have never had any hesitance about showing cartoons and photos that mock Jewish and Christian symbols. Christians and Jews don't kill editors.
I'll agree with each of these theories, giving equal credit to all.

The MSM needn't get breathless about a coming Iraqi civil war

A few days ago, the NYT breathlessly announced that civil war was imminent in Iraq. Showing more sense than can be seen in a year in the Grey Lady's editorial room, the Sunnis backed down. The NYT's evident excitement about an incipient Civil War clearly has its roots in the NYT's determined effort to destroy Bush's effectiveness as a President, and to see him replaced in 2008 by a Clinton or Gore. Others who also recognize the possibility of a civil war don't see it as the political disaster the NYT dreams of. For example, John Mendez thinks a civil war would only be disastrous for the Sunnis since they, a minority, no longer have Saddam's military machine to back them up:

What these killers don’t seem to understand is that it is the threat of civil war not the actual initiation of hostilities that is the true bargaining chip. The Sunnis have yet to fully appreciate the monumental shift that has occurred in the Iraqi power structure. Like Saddam before them, the Sunni leadership fails to grasp that they no longer have a monopoly on power. The feared Republican Guard is non-existent and Hussein’s chemicals will not rain down on the villages of the defenseless. Acts of violence will now be met with reciprocal attacks. The Sunnis are outnumbered, likely outgunned, and surrounded by a population that has, for the moment, forgiven but not forgotten yesteryear’s bloodbaths. The Sunnis may find that the today’s hated US “occupier” is tomorrow’s merciful defender. The Shiite and Kurds who make up the overwhelming majority of the population will make concessions in order to avoid bloodshed and to rebuild a nation where they now, for the first time in decades, have a political voice. However, once the general fighting of a true civil war begins, the Sunnis lose the ability to demand any concessions whatsoever and will find that the Shiites and Kurds will indisputably be much more heavy-handed than a US Marine.
Daniel Pipes is equally unperturbed by the threat of civil war:
Iraq’s plight is neither a coalition responsibility nor a particular danger to the West. When Washington and its allies toppled the hideous regime of Saddam Hussein, which endangered the outside world by beginning two wars of expansion, by building a WMD arsenal, and by aspiring to control the trade in oil and gas, they bestowed an historic benefit on Iraqis, a population that had been wantonly oppressed by the Stalinist dictator. *** The eruption of civil war in Iraq would have many implications for the West. It would likely: · Invite Syrian and Iranian participation, hastening the possibility of a U.S. confrontation with those two states, with which tensions are already high. · Terminate the dream of Iraq serving as a model for other Middle Eastern countries, thus delaying the push toward elections. This will have the effect of keeping Islamists from being legitimated by the popular vote, as Hamas was just a month ago. · Reduce coalition casualties in Iraq. As noted by the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Rather than killing American soldiers, the insurgents and foreign fighters are more focused on creating civil strife that could destabilize Iraq’s political process and possibly lead to outright ethnic and religious war.” · Reduce Western casualties outside Iraq. Vali Nasr, a professor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School notes: “Just when it looked as if Muslims across the region were putting aside their differences to unite in protest against the Danish cartoons, the attack showed that Islamic sectarianism remains the greatest challenge to peace.” Put differently, when Sunni terrorists target Shi’ites and vice-versa, non-Muslims are less likely to be hurt. Civil war in Iraq, in short, would be a humanitarian tragedy but not a strategic one.
In other words, while civil war may be a messy tragedy at the local level -- and I sincerely hope it doesn't happen for the sake of the ordinary Iraqis caught in the endless vice of sectarian warfare -- it's not the Armageddon that the NYT desires.

The secret behind Bush Derangement Syndrome

In an impressive article Vasko Kohlmayer, who grew up in Communist Czechoslovakia, details what the left is, what it hates, and why it hates America so much. He includes in the article the "why" behind Bush Derangement Syndrome:

In the light of our thesis, can you now see why the Left hates America so? Being intransigently anti-western, its raging hatred of America is an expression of its implacable hostility toward the West. Many have been likewise shocked and startled by the Left’s virulent hatred of George W. Bush. Seemingly boundless, the Left’s detestation of him is quite obviously out of all proportion to anything this decent and gallant man has done. Even the blind must see that the driving impetus behind his presidency is ultimately the safety and security of our country. Doing all he can to prevent another attack, he is also trying to ensure that Islamic fundamentalists will not emerge victorious from this conflict. This behavior will never commend him to the Left, and is precisely the reason why they hate him so much. George Bush is the West’s leader and champion in the current clash of civilizations. Bent as it is on the West’s destruction, the Left will never forgive him for it. It is most telling that in its loathing of George W. Bush, the Left is in complete agreement with Islamic fundamentalists. So much so, that bin Laden and others even use leftist arguments in their doom-threatening missives to the West. Is it any surprise, given that they both strive for the same goal and share the same enemy?

Science's three card monte

While the MSM has assiduously been keeping America's attention focused on intelligent design, and waving it around as a sign that conservatives are messing with science, the real deal -- the real scientific manipulation -- is happening on the liberal side of the spectrum, says Michael Fumento. They've done so with respect to global warming:

Last September, after Hurricane Katrina, activists in lab coats saw a grand opportunity to tie the exceptionally violent hurricane season to global warming. A study in Science declared, "A large increase was seen in the number and proportion of hurricanes reaching categories 4 and 5." But the researchers simply cut off their data at 1970, though public statistics go back to 1850. Using the full data set would have reversed the conclusion. Why did the editors and peer-reviewers at both JAMA and Science not insist on use of the full data set? Because slicing off inconvenient data is a time-honored tool of advocacy science.
They've done so with respect to the differences between men and women (obvious to every parent of boys and girls):
Yet published studies at least are subject to debunking. Try reading between lines that don't exist because journals refuse to publish them. Such was the case this month when Science killed a paper at the very last minute by respected British scientist Peter Lawrence. It criticized "the cult of political correctness" that insists men and women are born thinking alike. Editor-in-chief Donald Kennedy explained it didn't "lead to a clear strategy about how to deal with the gender issue" — as if Science hasn't published countless papers on global warming with no strategy on how to deal with it.
They've done so with respect to putting a "scientific gloss" on the Iraq War:
Some journal editors are completely unabashed about their chicanery. In 2004, The Lancet released ahead of publication and right before the 2004 U.S. presidential election an outrageous report claiming 100,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed since the U.S. invasion. Yet other calculations showed a range of 15,000 to 24,000 — and even Osama bin Laden claimed just "over 15,000." No matter, the Lancet's editor took the opportunity to blast "democratic imperialism" and said "the evidence we publish today must change heads as well as pierce hearts."
The same thing showed up again just this morning. CBS has released a poll boldly proclaiming that Pres. Bush's approval rating is down to an all time 34% low. Well! That must be true, since we all know that polls are a collection of carefully balanced data with narrow statistical probabilities of error. Not! Turns out that the poll was heavily weighted in favor of Democratic respondents, something CBS conveniently forgot to mention in the body of its article reporting the polling data. Wait -- I'm thinking of a new name for this one. How about "Pollgate"? One used to be able to rely on science as a bastion of objectivity in a subjective world. Indeed, that's the true nature of science -- the ability to use purely factual data to draw a replicatable and reviewable conclusion that doesn't yield to doctrinal persuasion. Once our science is corrupt, we have nothing left. Hat tip: Power Line; Drudge Report Talking to Technorati: ,

Monday, February 27, 2006

Hey, Mom! I'm a fascist

I got a funny backhanded compliment from this blog. Here's how it describes my blog:

The ideas expressed here are as naively neo-con as dozens of other red-state blogs. Still, this blog's authors moderate their comment section and have thus created, unlike many political blogs, a worthwhile place to exchange opinion and dialogue with others.
That's okay. It disagrees with my ideas while respecting the civility that characterizes my blog. The funny part is how this little post about me is tagged: "politics, fascism." Yup -- we're all fascists, my friends.

Strange bedfellows

If you needed any insight into the reductio ad absurdum of those on the liberal side of things, read this Mark Steyn article about gay marriage in Canada. It turns out that those pushing for gay marriage believe that, by pushing for polygamy, they'll create a wedge that will open space for gay marriage. They freely acknowledge that polygamy will benefit, and attract to Canada, Muslims. Where their logic breaks down is in forgetting that under Sharia law, homosexuality is punished by death. Talk about strange bedfellows! Talking to Technorati: ,

Oh, the places you'll go

In today's Wall Street Opinion Journal John Fund expresses his dismay that Yale crawled all over itself to get Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, the Taliban's former ambassador at large, as a student on its campus. I think Fund does a wonderful job explaining precisely why it is so repugnant that Hashemi is using up space at Yale. What also bothered me, which Fund doesn't touch on, is the fact that Hashemi, a cheerful and unrepentant spokesperson for a murderous, misogynist regime, is going to an institution that will reinforce his anti-Americanism. Keep in mind that Yale is the core institution in the Solomon Amendment litigation that's heading for the Supreme Court. (This is the one where Yale insists it receive federal funds despite refusing to allow American military recruiters on campus.) I'd be much more sanguine if Hashemi were at a more conservative institution (not that I can think of any off hand). But to think of him rolling around in the anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism that passes for education at America's Ivy Leagues is more than just a little disturbing. Talking to Technorati: , , , ,

Bring out your dead

If you're in the mood to be depressed, but informed, you can read this P. David Hornik article about the new anti-Semites' obsession with seeing Jews dead, with insulting the Jewish dead, and with denying Jewish deaths.

How can they tell?

No surprise to hear that the PA, suffering from incompetence, graft, outright theft, and broken promises from Arab nations, is going broke:

International envoy James Wolfensohn said the Palestinian Authority faces financial collapse within two weeks now that Israel has cut off tax transfers in response to Hamas’ election victory. Even if the Palestinian Authority survived with emergency funding, the financial crisis could bring violence and chaos unless the Quartet of major peace mediators developed a long-term funding plan once a Hamas-led government is in place, Wolfensohn said in a letter released on Monday.
What took me aback in this little quotation is that Wolfensohn is worried that less money will bring "violence and chaos." And in this regard, I have to echo Dorothy Parker who, when she heard Calvin Coolidge was dead, said "How can they tell?" Considering that violence and chaos are the norm under Palestinian rule, I'm not seeing any big changes being threatened here. UPDATE: Well, we can all rest easy without the threat of "violence and chaos." The EU has decided to pay protection money to get the PA and its Muslim cohorts off its back. Always a wise move to submit to blackmail, that's what I say. Talking to Technorati: , , ,

Bush lied -- oh, never mind

I'm a few days behind the curve, but I had to bring this to your attention if you haven't already seen it:

Yes, the linchpin of opposition to the Iraq War — never really strong to begin with — has taken some real hits in recent weeks. And "Bush lied" — the anti-war mantra about the president, Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction — looks the most battered. Inconveniently for critics of the war, Saddam made tapes in his version of the Oval Office. These tapes landed in the hands of American intelligence and were recently aired publicly. The first 12 hours of the tapes — there are hundreds more waiting to be translated — are damning, to say the least. They show conclusively that Bush didn't lie when he cited Saddam's WMD plans as one of the big reasons for taking the dictator out. *** In a tape dating to April 1995, Saddam and several aides discuss the fact that U.N. inspectors had found traces of Iraq's biological weapons program. On the tape, Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law, is heard gloating about fooling the inspectors. "We did not reveal all that we have," he says. "Not the type of weapons, not the volume of the materials we imported, not the volume of the production we told them about, not the volume of use. None of this was correct." There's more. Indeed, as late as 2000, Saddam can be heard in his office talking with Iraqi scientists about his ongoing plans to build a nuclear device. At one point, he discusses Iraq's plasma uranium program — something that was missed entirely by U.N. weapons inspectors combing Iraq for WMD. This is particularly troubling, since it indicates an active, ongoing attempt by Saddam to build an Iraqi nuclear bomb. *** Perhaps most chillingly, the tapes record Iraq Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz talking about how easy it would be to set off a WMD in Washington. The comments come shortly after Saddam muses about using "proxies" in a terror attack. 9-11, anyone? In short, let us repeat: President Bush was right. We had to invade to disarm Saddam — otherwise, he would have completely reconstituted his chemical, nuclear and bio-weapons programs when inspectors left. [Emphasis mine.]
Of course, the likelihood of this penetrating the anti-War crowd grouped behind the "Bush lied" mantra is slender to nil. And it matters, because most of the broadcasters have shown themselves to be hostile to the President, and a recent poll shows that most Americans get their news from these same broadcasters.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Blogging from all over

I've been out of the blogging loop for a week, but (fortunately) my blog friends have not. So here, in no particular order, is what's going on in my corner of cyberspace: Curt, at Flopping Aces, gives us the good news follow-up to a sad story. In 2002, Armando Garcia killed Deputy David March. The mills of the law ground slow but sure in the intervening years, and Armando Garcia, who fled to Mexico, is being extradited to the U.S. It's an interesting story, especially since it touches up death penalty issues. And, since this is Curt's blog, there's a whole lot of other interesting stuff. John O, at Brain Droppings, tackles one of my favorite subjects -- getting rid of the U.N. John also keeps us up to date about fairly bizarre Illinois politics, and all the guys throw in some great images (including some clever photoshopping). While I was away (and unaware), the story broke about the horrific way in which French Muslims gleefully, and in a true community spirit, tortured Ilan Halimi to death. Unsurprisingly, Gail, at Crossing the Rubicon, is all over this story, as she is on so many essential matters concerning the Middle East, and way its pathology spills out into other parts of the world. If you want to think about personal growth, not in a self-centered, "it's all about me" California way, but in the meaningful way of being a mature, rational, kind person, you've got to check out the posts at PalmTree Pundit. You'll especially want to read about the staggeringly limited lawyer who opined that stay-at-home Moms lead meaningless, simplistic lives. Okay, I have to admit that there is a lot at CDR Salamander that I simply don't get -- it's military insider stuff, written using military language. However, when I do get it, there's no one better. Phibian's latest postings include ways to get relatively unfiltered news from Iraq; news about the anti-American, anti-Semitic movie that's all the rage in Turkey; and a wonderful attack on NPR's Daniel Schorr, one of those "journalists" who makes my skin crawl. If you go to Out of the Binjo Ditch, you get the most amazing, eclectic information about all kinds of things. My jaw is still gaping from this story about a penis and a microwave. Since Steve is working his way through law school, you'll also get some pure legal principles, expressed with a clarity that bodes very well for Steve's future as a lawyer. (Or maybe I'm wrong. Aren't lawyers supposed to obfuscate? Anyway, I like it.) Here's a Catch-22 -- I learned from Ron, at Ron Down Under, that a mosque in LA has concluded that infidels cannot touch the Koran. Yet I was under the impression that serious Muslims believe the world needs to be converted to Islam. It's unclear how they imagination the conversion taking place without access to the book, but I suspect it probably has something to do with fire and sword.... Ol' Man River has been away from Scott's Conservative News and Commentary for awhile, but he's come back with a bang to blog about ending America's dependence on OPEC oil as a way to deplete terrorism's coffers. Turkeyhead gives us hope with a very funny commercial, and Scott picks up on CNN's sins of omission and South Korea's troubles. At Done With Mirrors, Callimachus shares with us how hybrids will change the road; blogs about how Britain, in its effort to silence loud-mouth idiots, is destroying freedom of speech; and reminds us that there is nothing new about the ongoing war between Sunnis and Shias -- and that's just the first three posts when I checked over tonight. Keep scrolling down and you'll keep learning something new. Using a Brent Bozell article about sex, culture and college, Mike, at The Deep Freeze, yearns for a simpler time, when sexuality didn't dominate all discourse. He also notes the irony in the fact that the same parents who want their kids to enjoy an utterly free sex life, are going to any lengths to control their kids' diets at schools. Go figure. Heather, at From the Word Go, is another one who covers a wonderfully broad range of topics. Visit her site and you can read about Turkish skaters (nice picture, too), prescient cartoonists, and the problems middle-class parents face in picking schools for their children. At the Paragraph Farmer, Patrick delves deeply into matters of faith, popular culture, and politics. He touches on the hypocrisy behind those college professors who attack the church as a rigid, hierarchical instititution, without looking at their own doctrinal Ivory Towers. Patrick has also launched a great running series of posts about aspects of our Western culture that are worth defending, and has started with music. As a musical simpleton myself, I especially appreciate this effort, as it expands my very limited horizons. I truly don't know where Kathryn, at Suitable for Mixed Company, finds the time to track down the wide variety of information she offers at her blog. In just the last two days, she's talked about Alan Dershowitz's new book, Larry Summer's firing (the faculty is thrilled, the students less so), George Washington's heroic refusal to be king (which probably saved this nation from Day One), and the last recovery of an F-14 Tomcat from a combat mission. Wow! Laer, at Cheat-Seeking Missiles, is another one who never seems to sleep, because everything of interest shows up at his blog. As did Callimachus, he talks about British attacks on free speech, the port lease kerfuffle, oil issues, etc. My favorite post from the last few days, though, is the one in which Laer withdraws a post because it contained errors. In an era when the MSM will fight to the last breath to defend articles that are blatantly false (while hiding or distorting actual news), I think this was an incredible graceful act, showing the kind of integrity we used to expect from our media. Jack, at News Snipet 'Blog, aims his intellectual weapons at Hillary's voucher rant; points out the nexus between the NEA and the AFL-CIO; notes that the silly book, Why Mommy is a Democrat, is an important part of the free speech we value, and a good idea; and shares a long post from a friend about how Judeo-Christian doctrines celebrate life. If you wander over to A Rose By Any Other Name, you'll be lucky enough to find a post about a truly American school concert and a long post about having children recognizing that life is not fair and that they need to take responsibility for themselves. I especially liked that last one, since it's been a real struggle for my daughter to take responsibility for herself. Whenever she gets in trouble, it's her brother's fault -- no matter the impossibility of laying the blame on him. I wish she was old enough to read and understand Anna's post. By the way, not all my blogfriends tack to the conservative side. At Out of the Binjo Ditch, which I mentioned above, Steve strikes me as an intriguing Democratic libertarian -- in other words, some might characterize him as an old-fashioned liberal (correct me if I'm wrong there, Steve) . The same is true at The Galactic Patrol and A Place to Talk About War. Both of those blogs defy easy political characterization, which is what makes them such interesting places to visit. Intelligent people who can sidestep a particular doctrine seem to bring true objectivity to analyzing the news of the day.

Who we are and what we stand for

If you, like me, are a one-time liberal who looks on modern liberalism as an alien construct, you'll appreciate Richard Berry's American Thinker article about modern American liberalism. The whole article is (of course) excellent, but I was especially struck by this language:

In allying with the post-modern Left, American liberalism has broken the national compact. It has stepped outside the 230 year stream of American consensus. It rails shrilly against the American creed, civic and spiritual. It unreasoningly indicts the phenomenally successful American economic system. It heaps scorn upon idealistic American purposes in the world and, indeed, actually impedes as best it can every exercise of American self-defense. While American liberalism has morphed into post-modern Euro-leftism, the rest of America remains American, which is to say, thoroughly and congenitally anti-Left. The American mainstream upholds the American cultural tradition. The liberal-Left shills for multiculturalism. The American mainstream takes pride in America’s soaring historical achievements. The liberal-Left trashes that history and fabricates anti-historical propaganda. The American mainstream has always been and remains believingly and tolerantly Christian. The liberal-Left is aggressively agnostic and demands the de-Christianization of every American reference point, all in the guise of a false tolerance. The American mainstream is self-sacrificing and optimistic. The liberal-Left is almost comically narcissistic and devoured by bleak pessimism. The American mainstream wants to preserve and protect America and take her triumphantly into the future. The liberal-Left wants to overthrow the historical and actually existing America and replace her with the sort of Euro-Lefty utopia presently self-destructing before our very eyes in Old Europe.
This lends credence to my sense that I haven't changed much politically. It's the politics that have reoriented themselves around me.

I'm here . . . sort of

I'm back, but I can't say I'm really back to blogging. After a week without any news whatsoever, I feel as if I was on Mars, not just a mountaintop. It will take me a day or two to reorient myself. I was thrilled to read the posts Don Quixote did in my absence. I knew he'd write things that were interesting, thought-provoking and engaging. My only problem is that he set up mighty big shoes for me to fill. I'm going to read a lot for the rest of the weekend, and try to assemble my thoughts so that, by Monday, I can make at least a pretence of following the quality posts DQ did.

Friday, February 24, 2006

What now for Israel

I have a friend who is very well informed, but fond of Doomsday scenarios. He recently explained to me in great detail why he believes that Israel will soon implode. By his account, the left has essentially declared war on the right by calling in the military to forcibly evict the settlers. The right is arming and organizing armed rebellion. My friend firmly believed this will all end badly. Bookworm's readers are the best informed group of people regarding Israel I know of. Is my friend right? What is the situation in Israel? How do I answer my friend? And, while I'm at it, how should (and how will) Israel react to the threat of Iranian nukes? All those of you who come to the Bookwormroom for insights will have to check the comments, because I have none at all on this topic. But I'll bet Bookworm's readers do. Thanks in advance for your comments.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

How dare H&R Block offer services to people!

Just read a story in the newspaper that protestors are protesting at H&R Block. Block's crime is offering the service of loaning people money against their expected refund amount. People are taking advantage of the service even though the loan is really expensive. How dare Block offer a service that people actually want and are willing to pay dearly for? Seriously, don't these protestors have anything better to do, like maybe work for a living, so they can use Block's services, too? I'm reminded of those who protest Walmarts because, gosh, they offer things people want at low prices. As if this is a bad thing. Sorry to be so cranky, but we have here a willing buyer and a willing seller and a bunch of protestors who want to stick their noses into other people's business and dictate to them what they can and cannot do. Perhaps the biggest ill of our society right now (okay, one among many others; the competition is stiff) is that we've given up on the notion of individual freedom. True, I think taking out a loan from H&R Block is almost certainly a bad idea. But people should be permitted to make their own judgments about such things without having to wade their way through a bunch of protestors to do so. People should even have the right to make mistakes and learn from them. Individual freedom is not primarily about the Patriot Act or wiretapping. It's about allowing people to make their own decisions, even their own mistakes. That's what our country used to stand for, and should stand for again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

We can kill murders, but we can't cause them discomfort?

Terri Winchell suffered beyond imagining before she died. She was choked with a belt, hit on the head with a hammer 23 times, stabbed 4 times and raped before she died. Now, the state, having decided to kill her torturer, murderer and rapist (25 years later, 8 years longer than Terri's entire life), has put off his death for fear it might cause him discomfort as it killed him. Surreal. One is tempted to suggest that if he suffers a tenth as much as Terri suffered before she died, it's all to the good. But that raises an age-old question. Is revenge an appropriate purpose of the legal system? Consider that the whole reason for the legal system (especially the criminal part) to exist is to prevent members of the society from taking matters into their own hands and exacting their own revenge. Shouldn't a system that substitutes itself for personal revenge include an element of revenge itself? It has been fashionable for some time now to insist that the only proper purposes of the criminal justice system are rehabilitation (which the system doesn't seem to do very well) and deterrence (which the system doesn't seem to accomplish either). Before anyone says it, I'll readily grant that more should/could be done to prevent our citizens from becoming criminals. But the society must still deal with those who choose to break its laws. Please share your thoughts on the matter. How can the system be improved, both to more effectively enforce the law and to more effectively deal with those who break it? Personally, I'd start by repealing all "victimless crime" laws and focusing our limited resources on real crimes against society and its members. I look forward to your ideas.

Final thoughts on the ID discussion

I am humbled by the depth of intelligence and breadth of insight in the comments on ID. When she returns, Bookworm will be very proud to see the quality of the dialogue and of her readership. I invite you to continue the discussion for as long as you find it productive, but in the interest of not becoming a one-note blog I'm going to move on to posts on other topics. Thank you all so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and especially for the constructive way you have all expressed yourselves.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Continuing the dialogue regarding intelligent design

I've read so many wonderfully thoughtful comments to my last post that I'm going to post some of my responses and additional thoughts in the hopes of keeping the dialogue going. Thank you all for keeping the discussion positive and insightful. Earl, thanks for your many good comments, but I want to discuss your earliest question as to what theory is testable. The theory that life developed by chance (I'm intentionally shying away for Neo-Darwinist, and such labels) is likely not testable. But, assuming the intelligent designer still exists, ID should be testable. As I noted in the previous post, if the designer is no longer present, the whole discussion hardly matters, since it makes no practical difference to our lives that life came about by chance or by the design of an intelligence that is no longer present. But if the designer is still present, we should be able to detect the designer through scientific means. Proof of the designer would be powerful proof of the ID theory. I suppose that an intelligence great enough to create life would also be intelligent enough to avoid detection if it (I use "it" because it seems likely to me that the designer would be genderless) so desired, but why would it want to hide? Patrick, I liked your comment that you believe the designer is present and can be detected. Why not try scientific means to detect it? Joe, good to see you doing your homework, but I'm not sure I agree with your conclusion. For example, if the question is why not teach ID in a religion class, it is a perfectly acceptable answer to say that religion classes don't exist in the vast majority of public high schools, so the question is pointless. You can't teach any theory, religious or not, in a class that doesn't exist. To Steve and Tatterdermalian, I share some of your skepticism, but I'm willing to accept the representations of the ID proponents at face value. Certainly, it is a logically consistent and defensible view that intelligent design is at least as likely as random design, and that view can be held with or without an accompanying religious belief that there was, in fact, a designer and that designer still exists. Mike, your last paragraph was inspiring and I'm so glad you find joy in your religion. I envy believers that joy, even though I don't share it. DRaftervoi, why would an intelligent creation leave behind no evidence? Presumably, the designer would continue to exist and could give us all the evidence we wanted if it chose to communicate. Conversely, the lack of evidence for a designer today suggests, though it by no means proves, that no such designer exists and, perhaps, no such designer ever existed. Exp, yes, the scientific method assume a "faith" in our own ability to observe. The difference is that sound scientific observations are replicable and not dependent on subjective experience or observations of a single person. That is why theories as to the origin of life are scientifically suspect, since they are difficult, if not impossible, to test and replicate. Kathryn, loved your comment and found it helpful as always. However, I think most honest scientists admit they don't know how life originated, and many scientists believe in an intelligent designer (see John Hetman's comment). I hope we can agree to view those who insist on either theory (chance or ID) as a matter of dogma with some doubt. The much more interesting question, at least to me, is whether a creator can be scientifically detected in the here and now. In this, I must admit to my personal bias. I was raised to believe in God and at one time fully intended to become a minister. What eventually stopped me in my tracks was the realization that there was not the slightest bit of empirical evidence that God exists in the here and now. Why would our "Father" play hide-and-seek with us -- appearing in some hearts but not others, appearing in vastly different ways to members of the different religions of the world, and never appearing in any objectively measurable way? No caring, loving human father would act this way and I cannot imagine a Godly Father acting in this way. I don't want to derail the delightful discussion we've been having so far, but if an intelligent designer exists (whether the Christian God or something else entirely) we should be able to detect it. Indeed, it's hard to imagine that such a designer would not be delighted to sit down with us (figuratively, of course) and discuss how it created life. On the one hand, the lack of evidence of a designer leads me to doubt one exists. On the other hand, the prospect of finding emperical evidence of a designer excites me beyond words. Someone suggested that looking for the designer put the cart before the horse. On the contrary, the search for the cart is the search for the horse. If the designer is no longer present (or if no designer ever existed), the origin of life can very likely never be proven. But if the designer is present, the only way to prove intelligent design is to find the designer. Sorry to ramble on so, and I eagerly look forward to your comments.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Where is the designer behind intelligent design?

In response to my last post, some people I respect suggested that intelligent design accepts the scientific method and cannot be dismissed as unscientific. This caused me to look for more information on the subject which led me to the Intelligent Design Network. I spent a fair amount of time there but saw nothing that changed my opinion that intelligent design is inherently unscientific. True, the site is filled with the language of science, not unlike the ACLU's site being filled with the language of free speech. But the argument for intelligent design itself appears to boil down to the notion that life is so complicated that it could not have emerged unless there was an intelligence guiding its design. The parts of the site that I read (admittedly only a small portion of the entire contents of the site) involved no science beyond this simple observation. This is not, to my way of thinking, a scientific theory because it is not testable by the scientific method. One cannot propose a test for the cause of the complexity of life in the same way that one can test for the relationship between time and speed or the existence of black holes. There is, of course, no question that life is extraordinarily complicated and the chances of life arising by chance are exceedingly slim. But one could logically argue that the chances that an intelligence capable of creating life exists are even more remote. Intelligent design simply replaces one unlikely event with another, far more unlikely, event. How did such an intelligence come to exist? Where did it come from and, perhaps more importantly, where did it go? To my surprise, I did not find any effort by the ID supporters to detect the intelligence, itself. The closest was the comment that when we see the Stonehenge we assume it was intelligently designed even though we do not see the designers. But this is an odd analogy since we fully understand that the designers of Stonehenge are human and therefore long since dead. What do we understand about the intelligence behind intelligent design? It seems to me that if there was an intelligence guiding creation there are only four possibilities: (1) the intellignce has gone elsewhere, and is no longer here to be detected; (2) the intelligence has died, and is no longer here to be detected; (3) the intelligence is still present, but cannot be detected; or (4) the intelligence is still present and can be detected. If the intelligence is no longer here or cannot be detected there is no practical reason for caring whether life started by design or chance. That life was created by an intelligence is only important if the intelligence still exists and can be detected. So where is the intelligent designer now? If the supports of intelligent design were serious about an intelligent designer (and about science) shouldn't they be looking for proof of such a designer? All of this leaves me with many questions for Bookworm's readers. What is the science (as opposed to the mere observation of complexity) behind ID? Why is the existence of an intelligent designer more statistically likely than the existence of life arising by chance? Where did the intelligence come from? Where did it go? Can we devise a scientific test to detect the intelligence now? What would such a test look like? I look forward to your comments.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Reader Sammy describes the ACLU as "an ennobling American institution" leading me to seek out the ACLU web site. It contains lovely platitudes about free speech (the topic of the day, I guess) and even a rationale for supporting the right to speech we disagree with. They give the game away, though, by seeking to ban speech in support of intelligent design. I must admit I'm not a fan of intelligent design myself. It works hard to put a scientific gloss on a decidedly unscientific theory. But the ACLU's demand that a school district "cease allowing staff to teach intelligent design in science classrooms throughout the district" is nothing short of suppression of speech. Apparently, the ACLU's right to free speech doesn't extend to speech in favor of religious theories. Ennobling, indeed.

Bill Clinton proves the point of the political correctness comment below

Bill Clinton has come down squarely against free speech. Indeed, he would prosecute those who exercise it, thus demonstrating the point of the last entry in this blog. It's not surprising, I suppose, but it is a shame that a former leader of the "free world" would stand so firm against freedom. Hat tip to the American Thinker.

Political correctness in religious garb

No one should be surprised that the American MSM has rolled over and played dead over the cartoon controversy. After all, censorship of religious images is nothing more or less than political correctness in religious garb. Political correctness is all about deciding who is privileged and who is not. The privileged are free to attack the unprivileged, but the unprivileged may not attack the privileged. Thus, women (privileged) may denigrate men (unprivileged) but men may not denigrate women. Blacks (privileged) may insult whites (see Bryant Gumbal's recent comments, which have gone practically uncriticized) but whites (unprivileged) may not insult blacks (see Rush Limbaugh, forced to resign from a football pregame show for comments that actually attacked the sports press but could be twisted into a criticism of black quarterbacks). Not surprisingly, Muslims may criticize Christians and Jews (call for their destruction, suicide bomb them, whatever) but Christians and Jews may not criticize Muslims. Just as it is quite all right to surpress any speech which might offend blacks and women, it is quite all right to surpress anything which might offend Muslims. It makes perfect sense in the PC world of American liberals controlling the MSM to use a picture of a dung covered Virgin Mary (which only offends Christians) to illustrate a Muslim cartoon controversy, rather than the cartoons themselves (which would offend Muslims). I used to think that the double standard inherent in political correctness was hypocritical, but I've realized that is incorrect. Liberal proponents of political correctness (who, of course, dominate the MSM) don't believe in equality in the first place, so they do not view identity politics, and inequality of treatment of people based on which groups they belong to, as anything unusual or improper. Political correctness is simply affirmative action applied to speech. Suppressing religious cartoons is simply political correctness applied to religion. Those of us who believe in equality must understand that we are dealing with an opposition that, at a fundamental level, disagrees with even the most basic principals upon which American was founded. The cartoon controversy is merely the latest illustration of this fact.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Wow, is this a hostile AP story about the VP

If this were a legal brief, any good lawyer would be all over it, like a fly on honey. This AP story purporting to show discrepancies in the VP's hunting accident is one of the shoddiest bits of work I've ever seen. It begins with an extraordinarily biased opening, which hunts at dark, nefarious doings, and lies akin to "I did not have sex with that woman":

Vice President Dick Cheney said he didn't immediately disclose his hunting accident because he wanted the confusing details to come out right. Instead, authorized accounts came out slowly — and often still wrong. The result: a week of shifting blame, belatedly acknowledged beer consumption (not "zero" drinking after all) and evolving discrepancies in how the shooting happened, its aftermath and the way it was told to the nation. "There's a reason they call this crisis management," said corporate damage-control specialist Eric Dezenhall, "and that's because it's a mess."
That's harsh. Let's see where this article goes after this opening statement. First, it says that everyone lied about where blame belonged:
In the first days after the vice president wounded attorney Harry Whittington while shooting at quail last Saturday in Texas, blame was placed on the victim for not announcing his presence to fellow hunter Cheney.
You'd think after this opening sentence, that the article would go on to introdcue evidence that Whittington was hooting and hollering his whereabouts, and that eye witnesses saw Cheney deliberately aim at his friend and shoot. Well, not quite:
The about-face came Wednesday when Cheney made his first public comment on the accident. "It was not Harry's fault," he said. "You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend."
In other words, because the VP, in an old-fashioned way, took ultimate responsibility for what occurred -- since he was not injured and his friend was -- that's tantamount to an about-face on the unchanged story that Mr. Whittington failed to announce himself. As the Professor in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe keeps tutting, they are not teaching people logic nowadays. The reporters are also all a'twitter about their claim that the VP lied about not having consumed any alcohol during the hunt. In fact, he didn't. They admit that there was no alcohol during the hunt, corroborating Armstrong's contention that, as to alcohol, it was "No, zero, zippo." This statement is absolutely unrebutted by the VP's admission that, hours before, at lunch, not on the hunt, he had a single beer. I don't know what kind of rarified world the reporters live in, but in the real world, when a grown man has a single beer five to six hours before an event, he is not even marginally near being under the influence of alcohol. Regarding the victim's condition, the same reporters appear to think that the following two sentences are inconsistent:
Initial reports had him treated at the scene, then taken by ambulance to the hospital, where in no time he was cracking jokes with the nurses. It turned out that after being taken to the emergency room of a local, small hospital, he was flown by helicopter to the intensive care unit of the larger hospital in Corpus Christi.
I seem to remember Ronald Reagan, who was truly severely injured, cracking a joke too. Again, perhaps only those of us who know brave, old school gentleman, rather than whiney, effete reporters, can accept that someone can crack jokes and still be injured. The same illogical, warped view continues with regard to the license issue. The article makes it sound as if the VP was doing the hunting equivalent of driving without a license. As the reporters themselves are forced to admit, "Cheney was legally hunting with a license he bought in November." The problem was a minor one, in that he hadn't gotten a stamp from the local game department (and the reporters conveniently neglect to inform their audience that this is a $7.00 stamp, akin to the fee hikers pay to go on a nature trail). There's also the usual whine about "how dare they not tell us sooner," but the reporters, unsurprisingly, are unable to raise even the semblance of dirt with regard to this one. All they do is report that the VP's office worked slowly, and that Armstrong eventually took it upon herself to tell the hometown paper -- something that she told the Veep. In other words, despite the opening paragraph about discrepancies and falsehoods, the reporters don't introduce evidence of a single falsehood or even a shading of the truth. This is a smear article, plain and simple. It has nothing to do with anything but defaming the VP and casting unwarranted doubt in people's minds. If this were a trial, I'd be pointing out to the jury that the prosecution utterly failed to prove the facts asserted in the opening statement -- and I'd win. Talking to Technorati: , , , , , ,

Recognizing the UN for the really bad thing it is

Here's Burt Prelutsky on precisely why Kerry and his kind are crazy to try to hand U.S. sovereignty over to the UN:

[W]hat nation in its right mind would surrender even a scintilla of its sovereignty to a group as loathsome as the member states of the U.N.? I would sooner trust the Mafia to call the shots. You think I’m indulging in hyperbole? At least I have no reason to think that, for all their faults, the Costa Nostra hates America. I mean, consider that among the regimes having votes are the likes of Cuba, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea to you), Laos, Cambodia, Rwanda, Myanmar, Sudan, Uganda, and two dozen Muslim-dominated dictatorships running the gamut from Bahrain to Yemen. And that’s not even counting France. Understand, the U.N., while going ballistic over America’s rescuing Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s iron grip, did nothing about genocide in Rwanda and the Sudan. The U.N., while taking every opportunity to chastise Israel, treated Yasir Arafat as if he were another Mother Teresa and his gang of suicide bombers were just so many good Samaritans going about their business. But even aside from all that, I counted 33 member nations with populations under 1,000,000. In fact, there are a baker’s dozen with populations under 100,000! We don’t call places that size countries, we call them counties or neighborhoods. The total population of those 33 countries, ranging alphabetically from Andorra (67,509) to San Marino (24,521), is slightly in excess of 10 million, the same as Seoul, Korea, for crying- out-loud! If you can believe it, there are only 16,952 people in Palau. Palau has a seat in the United Nations, and, what’s more, their ambassador can park anywhere he damn well pleases! You really want Palau having a say in matters of American foreign policy? On top of all that, the U.S. not only pays most of the freight for the U.N., but we don’t even charge them rent. Can you imagine what someone like Trump would pay for that piece of real estate? So, give me one good reason why these good-for-nothing freeloaders shouldn’t be sent packing. Let them set up camp in the Hague or Geneva or Fallujah, for that matter.
I guess when you're an anti-American francophile, little details like this just don't bother you.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Fearing fear, and fearing evil

Sophie Scholl : The Final Days, which is a true story about student dissenters in Nazi Germany (all of whom were executed), sounds like a good movie. Indeed, Stephen Holden of the New York Times certainly thinks it is:

"Sophie Scholl: The Final Days" conveys what it must have been like to be a young, smart, idealistic dissenter in Nazi Germany, where no dissent was tolerated. This gripping true story, directed in a cool, semi-documentary style by the German filmmaker Marc Rothemund from a screenplay by Fred Breinersdorfer, challenges you to gauge your own courage and strength of character should you find yourself in similar circumstances. Would you risk your life the way Sophie Scholl (Julia Jentsch) and a tiny group of fellow students at Munich University did to spread antigovernment leaflets? How would you behave during the kind of relentless interrogations that Sophie endures? If sentenced to death for your activities, would you still consider your resistance to have been worth it?
Now, at this moment, I'm thinking about the threats made and murders committed by vocal Islamofacists all over the world, aimed at stifling publication of a handful of cartoons that take on the fact that radical Muslims commit incredible violence in Mohammad's name, and the fact that Muslims who are silent are complicit. To me, that's a no brainer comparison. I'm also assuming at this point in the review that Holden is blushing that he works for a media outlet that, at the first sign of a threat, started appeasing so hard you could see the flop sweat pouring of the Times' windows. (Of course, that appeasement didn't stop the Times from publishing a dung- and pornography-covered picture of the Virgin Mary to show that, one it comes to religion, it's willing to hit hard. But I digress.) Strangely, though, that's not at all what Holden thought of. Rather than focusing on the Times' real cowardice, in the face real threats, he found an entirely different analogy:
In a climate of national debate in the United States about the overriding of certain civil liberties to fight terrorism, the movie looks back on a worst possible scenario in which such liberties were taken away. It raises an unspoken question: could it happen here?
Yes, folks, Holden is worrying about a completely hypothetical fear (and one that falls a lot closer to Bush Derangement Syndrome than to reality). He ignores entirely the fact that it has happened here, and the fact that the NY Times and all of its employees failed that test. Well, even though Holden isn't embarrassed, I'm embarrassed for him. Talking to Technorati: , , , , , , , ,

Yet another entry in the "for this parents pay $40,000 a year" category

This time it's Yale engaging in shenanigans that should have parents wondering about whether an Ivy League education is worth their hard-earned money:

In a lecture hall on Yale's storied Old Campus, not long after an afternoon astronomy class has cleared out, a middle-aged sex toy saleswoman demonstrates her technique and hands out free products to an eager crowd. *** Welcome to Sex Week at Yale, a biennial celebration that has become one of the most provocative campus events in the country. Organizers say Sex Week gets students talking about sex in a way that's more relevant than middle-school film strips, more honest than movies and television, and more fun than requisite college health lectures. *** Yale's event, which ends Saturday, includes lectures from dating specialists, a sex therapist and a discussion of homosexuality with a former Roman Catholic priest. More provocative sessions include a panel of porn stars and stripping lessons from a Playboy Channel hostess. Critics say Sex Week is just the latest act of debauchery at colleges in recent years: Students started sex columns. Vassar and others created erotica journals. Harvard launched H-Bomb, a magazine featuring suggestive pictures of undergraduates. Washington University in St. Louis offered a sex-themed week with orgasm seminars and condom telegrams. "I don't see how bringing a Playboy stripper to campus is helping anything," said Travis Kavulla, editor of the Harvard Salient, which joined other conservative newspapers in giving Sex Week the Collegiant Network 2004 Outrage Award. "How are universities trying to educate students in sponsoring activities like this?" Sex Week is a recognized student organization but Brisben's company,, sponsors the events, not Yale. Advertising helps pay for marketing and for Sex Week at Yale, the Magazine.
Frankly, it seems to me that, in America's sex saturated culture, it's overkill for Yale, one of the most expensive campuses in America, to be using parent moneys (as well, I'm sure, as Federal dollars, since money is essentially fungible) to teach Ivy League girls how to undress like strippers. I always end one of these posts with the same plea: Please, please, please, let all these excesses have vanished by the time my kids are college age. Talking to Technorati: , , , ,

Uh oh!

Here's something more for a very cautious person to worry about:

Specific personality traits might boost the risk for Parkinson's disease, British researchers report. A more cautious, risk-averse approach to life may be linked to increased odds for the motor neuron disease, says a team reporting in the February issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. 'This study raises the possibility that there is a neurobiological link between low sensation-seeking traits which might underlie the parkinsonism personality,' the researchers wrote. And because more reserved types are less likely to smoke, the finding could throw water on the notion that smoking somehow protects against Parkinson's disease, the researchers added.
And there I always thought my risk averse behavior was increasing my chances of a long, healthy life. Bummer.

Lighter blogging

I'm heading into a week long vacation, so blogging over the next couple of days will be light, very light. However, once I'm gone, Don Quixote will be blogging in my stead. He's not as prolific as I am, but he exemplifies the principle that quality trumps quantity every time. You'll be missing some good stuff if you don't stop in to find out what he's done.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Winners of the Great Conservative Slogan Contest

Thanks to all who voted in the first Great Conservative Slogan Contest. The voting is closed and I've gathered the results. And without further ado, here are the winning slogans: Best NSA slogan [by Laer]:

Bush spied, terrorists died.
Best slogan about Democrats [by Kevin]:
Democrats -- a 40 year war on poverty and still no exit strategy
Best slogan about education [by Dennis Travis]:
Help stamp out literacy -- support the teachers' union.
Best slogan about life and death issues [by Patrick O'Hannigan]:
Aren't you glad your mother was pro-life?
Best anti-terrorism slogan [by Laer]:
Give peace a chance. Kill a terrorist.
Best "I support Bush" slogan [by Lissa]:
I stubbed my toe. Impeach Bush!
Best "I support the war and our troops" slogan [by Anonymous]:
Peace through victory.
Best "money and responsibility" slogan [by Quadko]:
Keep your socialism out of my paycheck!
Best "this is liberalism" slogan [by Unknown, so it's probably not original to my readers, but it really is a good one]:
Liberals: so open-minded, their brains fell out.
Best original "this is liberalism" slogan [by Quadko]:
It takes a conservative to feed a liberal.
Best "free speech/ACLU" slogan [by Sammy]:
ACLU: Aiding and Abetting America's Enemies.
Best MSM slogan [by The Good Lt]:
Reporters aren't liberal -- and the 9/11 hijackers weren't Muslims.
Best "the USA is a great place" slogan [by our own Don Quixote]:
I will not be intimidated. I will not be silenced. I am an American.
Best "election 2008" slogan [by Bilgeman]:
Vote for a REAL strong woman . . . Condoleeza!
Best religion slogan [by Quadko]:
Free to be religious.
Best of the rest [by Lissa]:
Casey Sheehan deserves a better spokesperson.
I will be scanning every bumpersticker I see from now on in the hopes of finding these clever, interesting and insightful slogans cropping up on America's cars. Thanks again to all of you who participated, both by submitting all those wonderful ideas, and by voting. [If you want to see all of the slogans in the contest, check here. You're also still welcome to vote, although I will no longer be counting votes.]

It's all about me, me, me...dia

The first snit was about the fact that a local Texas paper got the scoop. The second snit is about the fact that Cheney went to Fox and not to another news outlet that would have elicited the same story, but with incredible aggression and disrespect:

On CNN, commentator Jack Cafferty called the interview "a little bit like Bonnie interviewing Clyde. ... I mean, running over there to the Fox network -- talk about seeking a safe haven."
I mean, running your mouth off when you don't get to savage the VP -- talk about showing your biases. Talking to Technorati: , , ,

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Winning every battle, but losing the War

Okay, this seems to be my day to point the finger over and over at the media: for its cowardly handling of the Kartoonistan situation, for its silly posturing with regard to Cheney-gate, and always, always for its inability to find the true moral ground with regard to Israel. It turns out that, in this last regard, it's more than just bias. According to a Claremont Institute review of Stephanie Gutmann's The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy, Israel has some huge handicaps, including a cowardly, misdirected media:

In the media war, Israel has three disadvantages. The first is an open society, which allows reporters (and filmmakers and activists and human-rights observers) the freedom to roam, record, and interview in first-world comfort. This has saddled Israel with what may be the world's highest per capita concentration of reporters. Jerusalem is host to 350 permanent foreign news bureaus, as many as New York, London, or Moscow; the volume of reportage on Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank is 75 times greater than on any other area of comparable population. This obsessive attention necessarily distorts, by casting the Israel-Palestinian war in a theatric, world-historical light. In the last decade, around 4,500 Israeli and Palestinian lives have been lost to the fighting. The Russo-Chechen war has killed 50,000 (11 times as many), the Darfur crisis has killed 180,000 (40 times as many), and the Congolese civil war has killed 3.5 million (778 times as many). But very few Americans can call to mind images of the ghastly violence in Chechnya, Sudan, or Congo—or even identify the warring parties—because these are places so dangerous that the New York Times simply cannot responsibly send a reporter there, much less a bureau. *** If freedom is disadvantageous, this goes double when you happen to abut a shameless, propagandizing Arab dictatorship. According to Gutmann, the Palestinian Authority under Arafat used "the combat theatre (the West Bank, Gaza, and inside Israel) as a kind of soundstage." Those famous scenes of Palestinian boys with rocks confronting soldiers, for example, are usually choreographed. Palestinian youths, exhorted by parents, teachers, and their televisions to pelt Israeli soldiers, are so conscious of the media presence themselves that they often don't start in with the stones until photographers arrive. Israeli soldiers are actually forewarned of clashes when film crews suddenly materialize. (Coalition forces have experienced the same phenomenon in Iraq.) How do these reporters or photographers, on a quest for dramatic stories and footage, know where the "spontaneous" violence is to "erupt"? One or another foot soldier in their "small army of Palestinian fixers" is tipped off by the attackers. The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Press (which together supply 80% of news images to the world media) require the assistance of natives who speak the local language, know who's who, and can get things done. These hired locals, in turn, make decisions about where to drive and what to translate (or leave un-translated). *** Israel's third disadvantage is media convention itself. Gutmann reminds us that all news is constructed: "Behind every picture there is a long story and a regiment of people who brought that particular picture, of all possible pictures, to you." And construction is rarely better than its architects: "producers sitting in carpeted, climate-controlled studios in New York and London are making war their subject…. [A]nd journalists, dumped on the ground with little prior knowledge, are forced to condense and 'package' terribly complex and crucial events." The general leftism in the news media gives reporters and producers many ways of introducing their bias into the simplified narrative: "David and Goliath, Poor versus Rich, the Third World versus Western Colonialism, Man versus Machine, even you-in-third-grade versus those-guys-who-always-beat-you-up after school." With Israel and the Palestinians, the overall result is "Large Mechanized Brutes versus Small Vulnerable Brown People."
No matter how you slice it, whether because of danger, misdirection, or political bias, the undeniable truth is that a septic spot in the world has remained septic because those who have taken upon themselves the responsibility of conveying information about that spot have failed in their job. A very big tip of the hat to Gail, at Crossing the Rubicon. Talking to Technorati: , , , , , [Please scroll down, or click here, to vote in the Conservative Slogan Contest. Your votes matter.]

Chenygate and Kartoonistan

I just wanted to give you a heads up that Michelle Malkin has, I think, one of the better articles juxtaposing the media's frenzy about Dick Cheney's hunting accident, and its extraordinary "restraint" regarding Kartoonistan. Tony Blankley's take on the matter isn't so bad either. Indeed, while is sarcasm in the first part of the article is a bit strained, I think he has a great summary:

But the Washington press corp, and particularly the White House press corp, has developed, as an institution, a grossly dilated view of itself. Most of us can tolerate arrogance if it is accompanied by extraordinary capacity and virtuosity. The brilliant scientist, the war-winning general, the great artists are entitled to their pride. But the hallmark of the Washington Press corp these days is mediocrity, groupthink, a lack of curiosity and rampant careerism. These attributes were all on show in the shooting party incident. But this is just a trivial incident — except for the poor, shot gentleman who suffered a heart attack, may he recover fully and quickly. We live at a moment of revolutionary change in the international order. The rise and violence of radical, possibly caliphate-forming Islam and the huge, culture-changing, unexamined consequences of rampant globalization make the present one of the least predictable moments to be alive. Both government officials and citizens are in desperate need of a national press corp that is alive to the change and digging to find factual hints of the near future. We need the kind of future-oriented intellectual vigor, curiosity and genuine iconoclasm that typified American reporters in the first half of the last century. Instead, as the shooting party incident exemplified, we have in the White House at the most elite level of American journalism, self-absorbed, self-important men and women who stand on their prerogatives even over marginal and inconsequential matters.
In other words, the Press is making way too much of Cheney's problem, and way too little of real problems in the world. By saying this, I don't mean to excuse Cheney's conduct. He clearly violated a hunting rule (I teach my kids to look before pointing anything, and they're not even handling guns), and he was an idiot not to take it to the Press first. For a VP who is consistently accused of keeping secrets in a manner that is sneaky and possibly illegal, his silence here, while kind of explainable on its face, could only add fuel to the fire. But I'm trying to keep wheat and chaff separate, and Kartoonistan, Iran, Hugo Chavez, etc., are all wheaty stories, while Cheney-gate is chaff. Talking to Technorati: , [Please scroll down, or click here, to vote in the Conservative Slogan Contest. Your votes matter.]

We are winning

At American Thinker, Jeff Hale has written about the fact that we are winning, no matter the Press obsessions. A liberal I know is especially taken with war reporting at the micro level -- that is, each soldier fatality means we've lost the war -- and I can't seem to convince him that war is a big picture, replete with personal tragedies. The tragedies are personally important, but they are not the story nor the outcome. Jeff Hale says it better:

The most troubling aspect to me is how the American public – in fact, our culture as a whole in this day and age – view battlefield casualties. The United States of America – its citizenry, mind you, definitely not its warriors – cannot effectively fight another major war if the deaths of brave warriors are turned into an argument against pressing on to victory. Iraq has been a three year operation resulting in 2000 battlefield fatalities, liberating 26 million people from the clutches of a tyrant. If 2000 deaths can send the public into hysteria, how will we fare if we face a determined enemy willing to sacrifice on the scale we saw in World War II, when battlefield casualties ran into the millions?
[Please scroll down, or click here, to vote in the Conservative Slogan Contest. Your votes matter.]

Sometimes you have to know when to shut up

I wouldn't have believed it, but she did it! Here's Hillary:

Asked at a press conference for her reaction about how the White House has handled the incident, US Senator Hillary Clinton called the Bush administration's failure to be more forthcoming "troubling." "A tendency of this administration -- from the top all the way to the bottom -- is to withhold information ... to refuse to be forthcoming about information that is of significance and relevance to the jobs that all of you do, and the interests of the American people," Clinton said. "Putting it all together, going back years now, there's a pattern and it's a pattern that should be troubling," she said at a press conference calling for a more robust federal response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The former first lady continued: "The refusal of this administration to level with the American people on matters large and small is very disturbing, because it goes counter to the way our constitutional democracy ... is supposed to work."
Just to clarify things, is this the same Hillary who conspired to withhold information about Vince Foster's suicide for 30 hours? The same Hillary who secretly collected files on people? The same Hillary embroiled in Travelgate? The Hillary who held dozens of secret hearings as a prelude to her much vaunted health plan? That Hillary? You gotta love it. Dick Morris is correct that Hillary is always at her best when she keeps her mouth shut. Interestingly, AFP, which published the story from which I quoted, is silent about Hillary's own history of -- how shall I put it? -- reticence. Talking to Technorati: [Please scroll down, or click here, to vote in the Conservative Slogan Contest. Your votes matter.]

Making a spectacle of itself

The MSM's outrage about Cheney's hunting accident highlights something that has become increasingly obvious in the past few years: more and more often, the news that most excites the Press involves the Press. That is, the Press is no longer merely the conduit for bringing information to the public, it is an actor. There's no doubt that this can be traced to Watergate, of course, but it's now gone from the magnificent (in its own way) to the petty. I'm on my way out to a meeting, so won't take time to hyperlink here, but just think of the palpitating Press coverage about Rathergate (or, if you prefer, Memogate), the Valerie Plame affair (which had the NY Times arguing both sides of the law), the NY Times' Jayson Blair scandal, the New Republic's Stephen Glass scandal, the excitement about that poor reporter who was hit by a bomb (as if that defined the status of the war itself), and now the Press' unmitigated rage at the VP's decision to let a local paper get the scoop about the hunting incident (and I concede the incident was news; I just think the press has turned itself into the real news of the story). Talking to Technorati: [Please scroll down, or click here, to vote in the Conservative Slogan Contest. Your votes matter.]

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Newsitorials and their audience

[Please scroll down, or click here, to vote in the Conservative Slogan Contest. Your votes matter.] This showed up on the internet version of the front page of today's San Francisco Chronicle:

The accidental shooting of a fellow hunter by Vice President Dick Cheney, along with the White House's mishandling of the news this past weekend, underscore the secrecy under which the VP operates.
To me, this squiblet reads like an editorial, since both the bit about "mishandling of the news" and "secrecy" seem to be more the opinions of an insulted press corp than actual fact. Nevertheless, there it is, front and center on the news page. It's no surprise to read this kind of partisan "news" in the SF Chron, which has always been known for its liberal viewpoint. However, I'm wondering if it's audience is quite as extreme as its editorial board. The other day, its "Two Cents Column" (which asks topical questions of a regular group of Bay Area readers) asked who is worse -- Bin Laden or Bush? Interestingly, most of the question's responders had the sense to give the morally correct answer. For example, Karen Gerbosi, of ultra-liberal Marin, answered
Undoubtedly bin Laden is more dangerous. It is sad and disappointing that some people are willing to forget the carnage of Sept. 11 that bin Laden sponsored for the sake of their obsession with bashing President Bush.
At least two people were disgusted by the question. Thus, Robert Hallstrom, of slightly more conservative Pittsburg, said:
My jaw dropped in disbelief at this question. Everyone has their own reality. We see things differently. Some wear aluminum foil hats so others cannot listen in to their thoughts. Some converse with spirits. You guys have been reading your own newspaper for too long.
Likewise, Iren Jenny, of conservative Orinda, said:
You have got to be kidding! Has the Chronicle staff lost their mind, or is liberalism choking your brains? How can an American newspaper ask such a stupid question? Have you forgotten Sept. 11?
Even Barry Hirsch, who doesn't like Bush, took umbrage at the fact that someone would ask the question:
Easy there. I'm no Bush fan, and am an ACLU member -- maybe not prudent with our present government -- but the Bush presidency will pass without enduring damage to our republic. Bin Laden and Muslim extremism is a real danger to the United States and the world. Muslim extremists victimize innocent people like Jill Carroll, making this world very dangerous. Hopefully, in three years we have a better president who can find more effective ways to deal with this threat.
Sam Guiterrez, who lives in a more conservative pocket of the Bay Area (San Leandro) gave an appropriately hawkish answer, considering that we're at war:
I hope Bush is now feared as more dangerous than bin Laden, who declared full-scale jihad against us in 1998, three years before Bush even took office. If Bill Clinton had been as "dangerous" as Bush, perhaps we wouldn't have lost 3,000 innocent lives to Islamic extremists on Sept. 11.
But this is the Bay Area, so you also got Nida Khalil, who resides in affluent San Mateo, stating:
Well, who has killed more people? You have it: George W. Bush.
Score one for moral relativism. Likewise, Nancy Davis, of Albany (right next door to Bezerkley) knows real evil when she sees it:
I think George W. Bush is the most dangerous man on earth. He is powerful. He has no integrity. He has no respect for the citizens' right to privacy. He values only the lives of those with whom he agrees. He has the atomic bomb.
So does Carl Allen, out there in Ukiah:
It's a toss-up, tough to pick. Both are trying to destroy the America I know and love.
Anne Spanier, in Oakland (another Bezerkeley neighbor) also has no doubts about how evil George Bush is:
They are both dangerous for different reasons. Osama because he uses tribal religious fervor to stir up hatred and violence toward Americans, who are pretty clueless about his positions. Bush is dangerous because as the leader of the world's strongest military power, he uses it to dominate America's strategic oil interests. They are both short-sighted ways to run the world.
Although the majority of respondents -- even those who disagree with Bush -- are able to give common-sensical answers, the Chron relentlessly panders to those who hail from the furthest Left corner of the political sphere. It is true that the press is still effective in getting its message across (I think its relentlessly negative reporting about the War is showing in the poll numbers), but it seems to me that those bubble news rooms are more and more floating away from real people. I mean, it says something when the major paper in the most liberal pocket of America finds legitimate a question that its readers find preposterous even to contemplate. Hat tip re the Two Cents: Opinion Journal's Best of the Web Today Talking to Technorati: , , , , , ,

A new use for Darth Vader's helmet

[Please scroll down, or click here, to vote in the Conservative Slogan Contest. Your votes matter.] I don't know why, but I found this story incredibly funny:

A shiny black toilet is the centerpiece of a San Anselmo couple's guest bathroom that features lava rock walls, gaudy orange floor tiles and a nude woman emblazoned on a frosted glass shower door. The interior decor of Bruce and Suzanne Stein's home is more reminiscent of the popular 1960s television cartoon featuring Fred and Wilma Flintstone than a photo layout one sees in Architectural Digest or Modern Homes. But it's a good thing the Steins resisted the temptation to remodel when they purchased the two-bedroom, two-bath home in 1997. Instead, they focused on a new roof and flooring and figured the time would come for a new downstairs bathroom. The time has come. The Steins won American Standard's 2005 "Ugliest Bathroom" contest and will be awarded $25,000 toward a remodeling job. "We always considered it a cave," said Bruce Stein, 47, a procurement manager for an East Bay firm. "It was a project that we were going to get to. A friend of ours described it best when he said, 'it was like going to the bathroom in Darth Vader's helmet.' Some of our guests have been too scared to use it."
It's just such a nice $25,000 piece of luck for an ordinary Joe and Jane who were willing to put up with really ugly.

Using your rights to defend your rights

[Please scroll down, or click here, to vote in the Conservative Slogan Contest. Your votes matter.] Believe it or not, there was once a time when the New York press, threatened with mob violence, responded, not with silence and appeasement, but with an armed defense. That is, the Press used its Second Amendment rights to protect its First Amendment rights. The same article I've linked to also references the appalling cowardice of today's MSM, and makes sure to mention the only two examples of American Press courage in the face of today's mob outrage. Talking to Technorati: , , , , , , ,

More in my "for this parents spend $40,000 a year" series

[Please scroll down, or click here, to vote in the Conservative Slogan Contest. Your votes matter.] Mike Adams, who keeps a gimlet eye on American campuses, joins with Jon Sanders to point out some of the insane excesses at American colleges and universities. Be warned that, because this column is about your average campus feminists' obsession with female sexuality, it has some graphic language. The article makes me realize how foolish I was growing up thinking that feminism was all about earning the same money for the same work, and having reasonably equal access to societal benefits. (I say "reasonably" because I really don't want to to share a restroom with you guys. Sorry.) I was so wrong. It's all about sex, sex, sex. The funny thing, though, is that I suspect that sexual obsession is infinitely more beneficial to your average college male, who gets it cheap and easy, than to your college female, who just gets to feel cheap and easy. UPDATE: Carrie Lukas, at the Independent Women's Forum, writes a timely article about the feminist's hijacking of Valentine's Day (warning, despite her civility, the source material makes the article somewhat graphic), and addresses my point about the fact that this little bit of "feminism" is, in fact, harmful to women. Talking to Technorati: , , ,

Dennis Prager exposes the media's cowardice and hypocrisy

[Please scroll down, or click here, to vote in the Conservative Slogan Contest. Your votes matter.] Dennis Prager decimates the media's excuses for not publishing the cartoons. Here's is list of why every one of their excuses about not giving offense is false:

First, major papers in virtually every European country have published the cartoons. It is inconceivable that European papers are less concerned with Muslim sensibilities than American media are. If anything, in Europe they are more pro-Muslim given their anti-Israel and anti-American views and given that they live in countries with far greater numbers of Muslims than live in America. Second, the reason to publish the cartoons is not to offend Muslims; it is to explain the most significant current news event in the world. How can anyone understand the Islamic riots without having seen the cartoons that triggered them? If millions of Christians rioted after cartoons were published in the Muslim world, does anyone doubt that the Western press would publish them, or that it had the obligation to do so? The argument that people can see the cartoons on the Internet is specious. Anyone could see the photos of the abuse of Arab prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison on the Internet, yet the news media presented these photos day after day for weeks. Third, the American press has routinely published cartoons and pictures that insult Christians and Jews. The Los Angeles Times published a cartoon depicting the stones of the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple, the holiest site to Jews, as spelling out the word 'HATE' and showing a religious Jew bowing down before it. And what newspaper did not publish a photo of 'Piss Christ,' the Andres Serrano work of 'art' depicting a crucifix in the artist's urine? American newspapers 'insult' every group whenever they feel like it, but no one riots, burns and kills because of it. Fourth, the ban on depicting Mohammed applies to Muslims, not to non-Muslims. It is remarkable that American newspapers, so frightened of any breakdown between church and state, are suddenly guided by Muslim religious prohibitions. Fifth, the argument that publishing the images would inflame Muslims' passions is another coverup for cowardice. No American newspaper or TV news show exhibited the slightest concern with inflaming Muslim passions when they endlessly published and depicted Abu Ghraib abuse photos. If the liberal news media in America -- conservative Fox News and The Weekly Standard have shown the cartoons -- admitted they feared being hurt if they showed the cartoons, one would have respect for their honesty, if not their courage. But the liberal news media's lack of courage coupled with their dishonest justifications make for a devastating commentary on American news media.

The truth comes out

[Please scroll down, or click here, to vote in the Conservative Slogan Contest. Your votes matter.] The Press Corps is getting fussed, and inadvertently revealing the MSM's priorities. Here's what happened:

NBCNEWS chief White House correspondent David Gregory warned President Bush's spokesman on Monday not to be a 'jerk!' The heated exchange came during a press gathering at the White House. Gregory asked White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan about the Cheney hunting accident. 'David, hold on, the cameras aren't on right now,' McClellan replied. 'You can do this later.' 'Don't accuse me of trying to pose to the cameras,' Gregory said, voice rising. 'Don't be a jerk to me personally when I'm asking you a serious question.' 'You don't have to yell,' McClellan said. 'I will yell,'' said Gregory, pointing a finger at McCellan at his dais. 'If you want to use that podium to try to take shots at me personally, which I don't appreciate, then I will raise my voice, because that's wrong.' 'Calm down, Dave, calm down,' said McClellan. 'I'll calm down when I feel like calming down,' Gregory said. 'You answer the question.' 'I have answered the question,' said McClellan, who had maintained that the vice president's office was in charge of getting the information out and worked with the ranch owner to do that. 'I'm sorry you're getting all riled up about.' 'I am riled up,' Gregory said, 'because you're not answering the question.'' [Emphasis mine.]
Let's ignore entirely the puerile nature of Gregory's conduct. I'm fascinated by the language I highlighted. The VP, in what even his meanest critics know was an accident, inadvertently shot a hunting companion. A few things are obvious: VP Cheney must be devastated; this type of accident is part and parcel of the risks inherent in hunting; and the MSM collectively feels incredibly slighted that the first phone call was to Cheney's 911 squad, and not to the Press. It's this last point that has the press in a frenzy, and allows a reporter to characterize his questions about this non-event as "serious." This once again explains why the American media, which is, after all, a business concern, is in free fall. Americans know what is serious: terrorism, freedom of speech, the economy, etc. And the MSM knows what is serious: its ego, and its effort to derail the Bush presidency. That's a Venn diagram with no overlap. Talking to Technorati: , , , ,