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June 26, 2005

Proud to be a Canadian

No, I'm not a Canadian, but I'm referencing someone who is: You've just got to love Mark Steyn:

Banning flag desecration flatters the desecrators and suggests that the flag of this great republic is a wee delicate bloom that has to be protected. It's not. It gets burned because it's strong. I'm a Canadian and one day, during the Kosovo war, I switched on the TV and there were some fellows jumping up and down in Belgrade burning the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack. Big deal, seen it a million times. But then to my astonishment, some of those excitable Serbs produced a Maple Leaf from somewhere and started torching that. Don't ask me why -- we had a small contribution to the Kosovo bombing campaign but evidently it was enough to arouse the ire of Slobo's boys. I've never been so proud to be Canadian in years. I turned the sound up to see if they were yelling ''Death to the Little Satan!'' But you can't have everything.

His column on this ridiculous march to ban flag burning is a worthwhile read.

If you burn the American flag, you burn fabric. If you create a law to prohibit the burning of the American flag, you burn the freedoms for which the flag stands.

Posted by Jeff at 05:46 PM | Comments (1)

June 25, 2005

EVEN LIMEYS ARE OUTRAGED

I found the following letter, written to Mark Steyn, at SteynOnline.com (I've decided not to link directly to the page it is on, because it's a dynamic page; i.e., it's content changes almost daily). We saw a poll in this last week that showed that the leftist disinformation campaign has had negligible effects on the judgments of people at home about Guantanamo. Now we have some indication that it's not been entirely successful across the ocean, either. It's nice to see that, although they don't get the same kind of press as the much louder people of the anti-Bush freakshow, there are people over there who are as sober as those here at home who are underrepresented in the media:

EVEN LIMEYS ARE OUTRAGED
Congratulations on your article in the Chicago Sun Times about the disgraceful comments of Senators Durbin and Leahy re Guantanamo. I am British but this sort of thing makes even my weak-kneed liberal limey blood boil.

I presume these men (they don't fit my definition of gentlemen) think they are being clever and liberal and will be applauded for their vision and understanding by hordes of admirers around the world . Sadly, they might well be right about the applause, but they are morally repugnant.

I believe that true evil comes from looking at a person as having no more value than an animal that can be petted or slaughtered as mood or need dictates. I presume that was how Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and the other barbarians of history could carry out their massacres. To suggest that President Bush and his advisers and the members of the United States military are in any way comparable almost defies belief. Indeed, in his willingness to view abominations such as the Holocaust as being in some way equal to the treatment of the Guantanamo detainees Senator Durbin could be said to be near that path himself. When millions of innocent dead from the recent past are now used as a political tool to attack a President I wonder what moral sense, if any, the Senator has.

Senator Leahy was not quite as egregious in his offensiveness, but his suggestion that the United States was admired before Guantanamo was established was either deluded or dishonest. A large part of the "elite" class from the United States and around the world never have liked and never will like the United States when it does not conform to their assumption of entitlement to treat whole nations as playthings or social experiments. When an American President stands up and says that things are going to have to change in the world and has the courage to back his words with action those people are going to react with fury and hatred. I would wager good money that most of the peoples of the world who have any understanding of the United States are not her enemies if given a choice by their political and religious leaders. But the people in his own country and outside whom Senator Leahy seems to be trying to impress are only ever going to approve of a quiescent United States that lets them have their way unchecked. That was the path that led to the massacres in Rwanda on the sainted President Clinton's watch. Yet I see that he also is now climbing on the Guantanamo bandwagon. If this, plus Howard Dean, is Democratic leadership, that party is heading for political oblivion.

I am not the greatest admirer of President Bush but I judge politicians by their enemies, and on that measure I think the President must be getting a lot of things right. Senators Durbin and Leahy should be ashamed of themselves. Since they almost certainly won't be, well done to you for saying what needed to be said.

Ian Lewis
Northampton, England

I rather like one of the points made by Mark in the article mentioned above:

Last Tuesday, Senator Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, quoted a report of U.S. "atrocities" at Guantanamo and then added:

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings."

Er, well, your average low-wattage senator might. But I wouldn't. The "atrocities" he enumerated -- "Not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room" -- are not characteristic of the Nazis, the Soviets or Pol Pot, and, at the end, the body count in Gitmo was a lot lower. That's to say, it was zero, which would have been counted a poor day's work in Auschwitz or Siberia or the killing fields of Cambodia.

I'm guessing that Mark realizes, though was too polite to point out, that "low wattage" is not an attribute only of some senators. Or, perhaps, because it was a column in an American newspaper, and he'd seen the poll also mentioned above, he decided that the low wattage contingent of America's regular voting population was too inconsiderable to mention. Let's hope it is overseas, as well.

Posted by Jeff at 08:40 PM | Comments (7)

What Truly Matters

David Gregory, a Hardball guest host, just interviewed Iraq's Prime Minister. Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Here is one very notable comment from that interview:

GREGORY: But the real question was, did you envision that Iraq would be as dangerous as it's become when Saddam was removed from power? Are you not surprised?

AL-JAAFARI: You cannot compare the time now compared with the time of Saddam Hussein. During Saddam Hussein he killed one million people. 300,000 he killed in a few days during the uprising. He used to put people in acid baths and cut people to pieces. He hacked the poor and started many, many wars. So now the situation in Iraq is much, much better than it was in the time of Saddam Hussein. This is a fact and a Reality.

I feel like waving a flag today.

Proud to be an American
Posted by Jeff at 05:32 PM | Comments (1)

June 23, 2005

Rasmussen Reports on Guantanamo

June 22, 2005--A Rasmussen Reports survey found that 20% of Americans believe prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have been treated unfairly. Seven-out-of-ten adults believe the prisoners are being treated "better than they deserve" (36%) or "about right" (34%).
--Rasmussen Reports

In spite of the politically motivated lies of the left which have been invested in a massive disinformation campaign, they've convinced virtually nobody. The only people who are convinced are those who, arguably, will believe anything that slanders America and/or the current administration: the far left contingent. These are people who want us to believe it's true and therefore, as tools of the campaign, are willing to say so in polls like this one.

Nice try guys.

Posted by Jeff at 05:35 AM | Comments (10)

June 21, 2005

Perl Objects, References, and Modules

Perl Objects, References, and Modules Perl Objects, References, and Modules: This is one of the most impressive books I've picked up in a long time. I'd bought a couple of other books, Network Programming with Perl and Graphics Programming with Perl, and I found myself encountering Perl code with which I was not yet familiar. Yes, that's why I bought the books in the first place, but I'm not talking about code particular to the subjects of those books, but instead more formal, basic types of expressions. I didn't really need to investigate this code, because it's just something that can be taken for granted within the context of the books in question, but I'm the kind of person who likes to know every little detail about every little detail of what I'm doing. I knew that the unfamiliar code forms had to do with object oriented programming (OOP) in Perl, so I picked up this book. Man, in such a small book, I really learned a lot of good stuff. I've discovered that very complicated websites which I've developed in the past could have been made much more lean with this type of code. I'm really amazed. This book is written in a very "learn by example" sort of way and I'd recommend it to anyone. In fact, it's the second book in what might be considered a series and, after having experienced this book, if I was just starting out with Perl, I think I'd probably give the first book, Learning Perl, my initial attention.

Posted by Jeff at 01:25 PM | Comments (5)

June 20, 2005

Ivy League Professor

But give Durbin credit. Every third-rate hack on every European newspaper can do the Americans-are-Nazis schtick. Amnesty International has already declared Guantanamo the "gulag of our times." But I do believe the senator is the first to compare the U.S. armed forces with the blood-drenched thugs of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. Way to go, senator! If you had a dime for every crackpot Web site that takes up your thoughtful historical comparison, you'd be able to retire to the Caribbean and spend the rest of your days torturing yourself with hot weather and loud music, as well as inappropriately provocative women and insufficient choice of hors d'oeuvres and all the other shameful atrocities committed at Guantanamo.

Just for the record, some 15 million to 30 million Soviets died in the gulag; some 6 million Jews died in the Nazi camps; some 2 million Cambodians -- one third of the population -- died in the killing fields. Nobody's died in Gitmo, not even from having Christina Aguilera played to them excessively loudly. The comparison is deranged, and deeply insulting not just to the U.S. military but to the millions of relatives of those dead Russians, Jews and Cambodians, who, unlike Durbin, know what real atrocities are. Had Durbin said, "Why, these atrocities are so terrible you would almost believe it was an account of the activities of my distinguished colleague Robert C. Byrd's fellow Klansmen," that would have been a little closer to the ballpark but still way out.

One measure of a civilized society is that words mean something: "Soviet" and "Nazi" and "Pol Pot" cannot equate to Guantanamo unless you've become utterly unmoored from reality. Spot the odd one out: 1) mass starvation; 2) gas chambers; 3) mountains of skulls; 4) lousy infidel pop music turned up to full volume. One of these is not the same as the others, and Durbin doesn't have the excuse that he's some airhead celeb or an Ivy League professor. He's the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Don't they have an insanity clause?
--Mark Steyn

See American Nazi, American Gulag.
Posted by Jeff at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2005

My Letter to Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois

Hello,

My name is Jeff ****** and I live in Salt Lake City, Utah. Contrary to the norms of my fellow Utah citizens, I am not a Republican. Far from it - I oppose, strongly, much of the Republican agenda and I vote for Democrats frequently in local elections. In presidential elections, my votes vary. I did not vote for George Bush in 2000, nor did I vote for his father.

However, last year, I considered John Kerry to be the sorriest of nearly any possible candidate. He refused to take meaningful positions on any issues, obviously fearing the loss of votes. However, his record speaks for itself and I would never have considered helping to put someone like that into office. In fact, for the first time in my life, I contributed monetary donations to political parties and candidates (President Bush's campaign, and to the Republican party as a whole).

Because of this, I've found myself the target of what seems to be a never ending onslaught of Republican "junk mail" soliciting more donations. Every time I receive one of these, I become more and more annoyed. They're not only a direct detriment to my own personal enjoyment, but they fill up the landfills so very unnecessarily (which is a significant pet-peeve of my environmentalist heart). My thoughts after having received all of this mail have been that I'd never, ever, contribute to a campaign or a party again.

But now my thoughts have changed. The next time I receive one of these mailers from the Republican party, I'm going to answer it with a check. And on that day, I'm going to seek out options for sending a check with a similar amount to whatever organization is in place to oppose Senator Durbin's re-election. Obviously I cannot vote in Illinois, but as he is a United States senator, and I am a United States citizen, I consider it to be as much my duty as it is the duty of the citizens of Illinois to remove this man from office.

In my view, he should immediately apologize for his comments about America regarding Guantanamo Bay this week. The apology should contain not only a complete retraction of his previous statements, but should also be bolstered with statements which are contrary to those he made. He should not merely acknowledge his mistake, she should explicitely detail for the American public, and the world, why his statements were inaccurate. NO CITIZEN OF ANY OTHER COUNTRY SHOULD BE ABLE TO POINT TO SENATOR DURBIN'S PREVIOUS COMMENTS AS ANY KIND OF CORROBORATION FOR THEIR OWN SUSPICIONS ABOUT ALLEGED AMERICAN MISTREATMENT OF PRISONERS. Comparing the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to the treatment of prisoners under Nazi regimes and in the Soviet gulags is beneath contempt, and a sickeningly undeserved slight to America and to Americans. Senator Durbin's comments were reprehensible.

My purpose in writing this is only one: to allow Senator Durbin a glimpse into the effects his statements have. President Bush did not get re-elected last year without the support of people like me. Senator Durbin should know what effect his rhetoric has on America's population.

Sincerely, Jeff ******

Posted by Jeff at 11:59 PM | Comments (7)

Aren't You Embarrassed to be Anti-American?

Coalition, Iraqi Raid Nabs Mosul's Top al Qaeda Operative:

According to former associates, Talha never stayed more than one night at any one residence and always wore a suicide vest, saying he would never surrender. Talha gave up peacefully to coalition forces and supporting Iraqi security forces, and is fully cooperating with coalition and Iraqi officials, according to a release from Multinational Force Iraq.

Posted by Jeff at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2005

Goodbye Europe

Goodbye Europe. (This is not a good thing.)

Europe as we know it is slowly going out of business.... Unless Europe reverses two trends -- low birthrates and meager economic growth -- it faces a bleak future of rising domestic discontent and falling global power. Actually, that future has already arrived.

...

It's hard to be a great power if your population is shriveling. Europe's birthrates have dropped well below the replacement rate of 2.1 children for each woman of childbearing age. For Western Europe as a whole, the rate is 1.5. It's 1.4 in Germany and 1.3 in Italy. In a century -- if these rates continue -- there won't be many Germans in Germany or Italians in Italy. Even assuming some increase in birthrates and continued immigration, Western Europe's population grows dramatically grayer, projects the U.S. Census Bureau. Now about one-sixth of the population is 65 and older. By 2030 that would be one-fourth, and by 2050 almost one-third.

No one knows how well modern economies will perform with so many elderly people, heavily dependent on government benefits (read: higher taxes). But Europe's economy is already faltering. In the 1970s annual growth for the 12 countries now using the euro averaged almost 3 percent; from 2001 to 2004 the annual average was 1.2 percent. In 1974 those countries had unemployment of 2.4 percent; in 2004 the rate was 8.9 percent.

...One way to revive economic growth would be to reduce social benefits, taxes and regulations. But that would imperil Europe's "social model," which supposedly blends capitalism's efficiency and socialism's compassion.

Consider some contrasts with the United States.... With high unemployment benefits, almost half of Western Europe's jobless have been out of work a year or more; the U.S. figure is about 12 percent. Or take early retirement. In 2003 about 60 percent of Americans ages 55 to 64 had jobs. The comparable figures for France, Italy and Germany were 37 percent, 30 percent and 39 percent. The truth is that Europeans like early retirement, high jobless benefits and long vacations.

The trouble is that so much benevolence requires a strong economy, while the sources of all this benevolence -- high taxes, stiff regulations -- weaken the economy. With aging populations, the contradictions will only thicken. Indeed, some scholarly research suggests that high old-age benefits partly explain low birthrates. With the state paying for old age, who needs children as caregivers? High taxes may also deter young couples from assuming the added costs of children.

....

A few countries (Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands) have acted, and there are differences between Eastern and Western Europe. But in general Europe is immobilized by its problems. This is the classic dilemma of democracy: Too many people benefit from the status quo to change it; but the status quo isn't sustainable. Even modest efforts in France and Germany to curb social benefits have triggered backlashes. Many Europeans -- maybe most -- live in a state of delusion. Believing things should continue as before, they see almost any change as menacing....

All this is bad for Europe -- and the United States. A weak European economy is one reason that the world economy is shaky and so dependent on American growth. Preoccupied with divisions at home, Europe is history's has-been. It isn't a strong American ally, not simply because it disagrees with some U.S. policies but also because it doesn't want to make the commitments required of a strong ally. Unwilling to address their genuine problems, Europeans become more reflexively critical of America. This gives the impression that they're active on the world stage, even as they're quietly acquiescing in their own decline.

I'm locally optimistic and globally pessimistic. The United States, 4 years ago this coming September, took one hell of a massive slug. Some called it a "bloody nose", but that trivializes just how significant of a hit it was. It practically shut down the economy for a month, and didn't get going again for a couple of years. Many jobs were lost, and the feeling of being safe - a feeling that we really didn't understand we actually had until it was lost - disappeared. No adult in America has completely recovered from 9/11.

Still, the United States has been fighting a long hard battle since then, and we're way back up. I see the United States as being a brilliant star which just keeps getting brighter every day. However, much of the rest of the world doesn't seem to be doing all that well. "Bleak" is the word that I'd use. It's anyone's guess which way its going to go.

The middle east, at least, looks like it's going to go through some positive changes. It's already started. Democracy seems to be catching fire with little sparks here and there. Eventually, enough sparks will fly from Afghanistan and Iraq to catch the rest ablaze. It's difficult to imagine it not happening. But, even as a democracy they could self destruct.

I rarely see bad news from Australia. John Howard's near landslide is definitely a good sign. But other countries just seem to be going in the wrong direction.

I'm glad that I'm not raising children and having to wonder about their futures.

"What had once been an alleged ideal is now a ragged skeleton rattling like a scarecrow in the wind over the whole world, but men lack the courage to glance up and discover the grinning skull under the bloody rags. That skeleton is socialism."
--Ayn Rand, from The Virtue of Selfishness

Crossing my fingers for Europe....

Posted by Jeff at 06:07 AM | Comments (5)

June 15, 2005

American "Nazi"?! American "Gulag"?

I'm trying to wrap my head around some comments made by a United States senator, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin. I found the comments on the Opinion Journal's Best of the Web Today. They concern prisoner treatment at Guantanamo Bay:

When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here [at Guantanamo Bay]--I almost hesitate to put them in the [Congressional] Record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. . . . On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

Now, if you're willing to think critically about what the FBI agent reported, you might come to different conclusions than the senator in question. Let's go through bit by bit:

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water.

So far we have a person whose movement is restricted and who, at that particular moment in time, does not have access to a glass of water or food. This is torture?

Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more.

Now we've added a loss of dignity.

On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. . . . On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night.

Now we're pushing the physical discomfort. Many people in the world live with these temperature conditions, especially the heat, day in and day out. It's not torture, it's the norm where they live. And the middle east is one such area where this is commonplace - and not just the heat there, but the cold also. For you and I, assuming you're reading from the United States, this may sound bad, considering our air conditioned and heated homes, but even many of us don't have air conditioning because we can't afford it or choose not to have it. It gets well over 100 degrees where I live, and I just got air conditioning 2 years ago! To a pansy-assed American, accustomed to comforts that much (most?) of the rest of the world considers luxurious, what he's describing here doesn't seem all that bad. It should seem hardly an affront at all to someone who lives in a less economically lush environment.

Next: pulling his hair out through the night? Why? The senator is counting on your assumptions. Perhaps he's terrifically nervous because he's familiar with regimes which actually do use torture, such as Saddam's old regime, and the propaganda he's been fed all of his life about America has left him thinking that he's going to have his hands chopped off any day now. Who knows?

On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

Okay, now they've hit on something: forcing them to listen to rap "music" (misnomer)?! Granted, that is absolutely despicable and should be stopped right away. There is just no excuse for this kind of inhumane treatment to occur anywhere in the modern world. I'm ashamed to be an American if this is what they're doing. And it's not the first I've heard of this terrible injustice:

That's it. Shut down Guantanamo. Torturing detainees with Christina Aguilera music? What a sick, twisted society we've become. We truly are no better than the "terrorists" we're fighting.
--Evan Coyne Maloney

But humor aside for a second. Take note of what it is that the anti-Bush crowd are selling as torture. There's no severing of limbs, nobody is being put on a rack and having their spines stretched, no one is forced to watch as their compatriots are chopped up with chainsaws. What is happening is that people are being treated to cold and warm temperatures for extended periods of time, they're being tied up - no, not even tied up, since that would cause blood flow problems - but handcuffed and foot cuffed up so that their mobility is restricted. They're left, essentially, lying down; no energy expended, no chain-gang. The point is not to hurt them, but to make them uncomfortable. "Torture"? You've got to be kidding.

Now as for that senator: What image of America is he selling to the rest of the world when he makes these kinds of accusations? Is it a good image? Is it pro-American? Does it say, "Wow, America is a wonderful country!"? I don't think so.

But the reality is, if you look at critically at what he actually used to shed a negative light on America, you'll find that it sheds a very good light on America. "These benign techniques," it says, "are the extent to which Americans are willing to create discomfort in their worst and most destructive enemies.

I feel like waving a flag today.

Proud to be an American

Update: I just saw this on today's Day by Day cartoon:

Torture

Timing is everything.

Update II: Now this is worth linking. Give it a read.

Update III: Another from Day by Day Cartoon

Durbin Representative of Terrorists
Posted by Jeff at 10:37 PM | Comments (7)

June 12, 2005

(Some) Americans are Idiots

Okay anti-Americans, I'm going to give you a little bit of help, here. I'm going to demonstrate to you just how stupid some - many - Americans are. Follow along....

1) Some statements are anti-American (Captain Obvious)
2) All anti-American statements are dissent against America (Captain Obvious rides again)
3) Therefore, all dissent is not pro-America or neutral

But people, like Shrillery...I mean Hillary Clinton make statements such as the following:

"I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration you're not patriotic. We should stand up and say, 'We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!'"

Duh.

There is plenty of room - a universe, in fact - for dissent, debate, and disagreement within the walls of the pro-American point of view. Dissent IS American in the same sense as having fur is feline. But a statement, simply by virtue of being dissent, isn't automatically spared from being anti-American, any more than having fur automatically spares an animal from being a dog.

Yet, blatant and incontrovertibly anti-American statements from the likes of people such as Michael Moore will be cloaked under the guise of patriotic American by wrapping the statements within the concept of dissent. And some people are stupid enough to go along with that.

Just ask yourself how often, when pointing out anti-American statements made by someone, someone else will rise to their defense by saying that it's dissent. This argument happens every day, yet it's completely without merit; it has none, zip, zero, zilch. A legitimate argument about the patriotism of the statement wouldn't reference the concept of dissent at all (except in the special case where the statement being debated is a statement about dissent). Interestingly, those who in defiance of logic do go along with such rhetoric tend to be on the Democratic, the American political left, and/or the American liberal side of population.

I wonder why that is....

Posted by Jeff at 05:32 PM | Comments (27)

Divider, Not Uniter

Has my memory failed, or is Howard Dean THE single most divisive politician in history?

"I hate Republicans and everything they stand for."
--Howard Dean, January 2005

"This is a struggle between good and evil and we're the good."
--Howard Dean, February 2005

"[Bush voters] haven't worked an honest day in their lives."
--Howard Dean, June 2005

"The Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people. They're a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It's pretty much a white Christian party."
--Howard Dean, June 2005

Republicans love Dean because they know that he's the best player on their team, to put it facetiously. This is a guy who is driving a huge wedge between the Democrats and the rest of the world. He's making certain that as few Republicans as possible will vote for any Democrat in any election, and he's driving independents away from the Democratic party. Who, after all, wants to be affiliated with someone like Dean? Well, not the independents, but there is one group: far left Democrats. One Liz Polson put it this way:

"The fact is Dean's rants are exactly what the majority of Democratic leaders in this country are thinking. Dean says in public what Democrats say to other Democrats behind closed doors. Dean is an insightful look into the inner workings of your local liberal's brain. And this is a huge plus for the GOP. When your opposition is exposed and especially when your opposition clearly has rocks for brains and can't learn from his mistakes, it makes it easier for you to continue handing defeats to him. Howard Dean is making the job of Republican strategist[s] almost unnecessary."
--Liz Polson

I've noticed that some liberals consider Dean to be the Democratic party's answer to George W. Bush. They seem to think that Bush is at the far right, while Dean expresses the point of view of the far left. I suppose that might be true. But you don't ever hear George W. Bush making statements which offend people like Dean makes. Bush is an effective politician. You may not feel that Bush sides with your positions, but you never feel insulted by him. Dean, on the other hand, should have his picture in the dictionary next to the term "abrasive".

Update:

I have just found that Peggy Noonan has made my point two days earlier, and much more colorfully:

Knowing that, let's do a thought experiment. Close your eyes and imagine this.

President Bush is introduced at a great gathering in Topeka, Kan. It is the evening of June 9, 2005. Ruffles and flourishes, "Hail to the Chief," hearty applause from a packed ballroom. Mr. Bush walks to the podium and delivers the following address.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I want to speak this evening about how I see the political landscape. Let me jump right in. The struggle between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is a struggle between good and evil--and we're the good. I hate Democrats. Let's face it, they have never made an honest living in their lives. Who are they, really, but people who are intent on abusing power, destroying the United States Senate and undermining our Constitution? They have no shame.

But why would they? They have never been acquainted with the truth. You ever been to a Democratic fundraiser? They all look the same. They all behave the same. They have a dictatorship, and suffer from zeal so extreme they think they have a direct line to heaven. But what would you expect when you have a far left extremist base? We cannot afford more of their leadership. I call on you to help me defeat them!" [My emphasis slightly different from Noonan's.]

Imagine Mr. Bush saying those things, and the crowd roaring with lusty delight. Imagine John McCain saying them for that matter, or any other likely Republican candidate for president, or Ken Mehlman, the head of the Republican National Committee.

Can you imagine them talking this way? Me neither. Because they wouldn't.

Messrs. Bush, McCain, et al., would find talk like that to be extreme, damaging, desperate. They would understand it would tend to add a new level of hysteria to political discourse, and that's not good for the country. I think they would know such talk is unworthy in a leader, or potential leader, of a great democracy. I think they would understand that talk like that is destructive to the ties that bind--and to the speaker's political prospects.

Posted by Jeff at 05:51 AM | Comments (2)

June 10, 2005

Justice Thomas, Libertarian

From George F. Will's column on the Feds trumping the States last week:

Monson, and another woman using homegrown marijuana recommended by her doctors, sought an injunction against enforcement of the federal Controlled Substances Act. Both said they had a right to their plants under California's Compassionate Use Act. Passed overwhelmingly by referendum in 1996, that act allows marijuana use by individuals whose doctors recommend it for the relief of pain or nausea. But this law -- 10 other states have similar ones -- runs contrary to the federal statute.

The two women argued against enforcement of that law, saying that the private use of homegrown marijuana has nothing to do with interstate commerce; hence Congress has no constitutional power to regulate it. On Monday the Supreme Court disagreed. In a 6 to 3 ruling, the court held that Congress's claim to exclusive regulatory authority over drugs, legal and illegal, fell well within its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce. This was predictable, given what the court said 63 years ago about an Ohio farmer's 239 bushels of homegrown wheat.

[The grain]...was raised and used entirely on Roscoe Filburn's farm. None of it entered intrastate, let alone interstate, commerce. So Filburn argued that although the 239 bushels exceeded his production quotas under the federal Agricultural Adjustment Act, they were none of the federal government's business, and he refused to pay the stipulated penalty.

A unanimous Supreme Court disagreed, arguing that the cumulative effect of even minor and local economic activities can have interstate consequences. The court said even a small quantity of grain "supplies a need of the man who grew it which would otherwise be reflected by purchases in the open market. Homegrown wheat in this sense competes with wheat in commerce." That said, clearly Congress's power under the Commerce Clause is vast enough to permit Congress to decide that the use of even homegrown marijuana can affect the interstate market.

...

Writing for Monday's majority, Justice John Paul Stevens, perhaps the most liberal justice, was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy. Scalia concurred separately.

...

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a former Arizona state legislator, dissented, echoing Justice Louis Brandeis's judgment that federalism is supposed to allow a single state to be a "laboratory" to "try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country." Her dissent was joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist....

[Clarence] Thomas, the justice least respectful of precedents, joined O'Connor's dissent and also dissented separately, disregarding many precedents giving almost infinite elasticity to the Commerce Clause. He said that the women's marijuana was never bought or sold, never crossed state lines and had no "demonstrable" effect on the national market for marijuana: "If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything," including "quilting bees, clothes drives and potluck suppers." Thus "the federal government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers."

It's pretty sad, it seems to me, that out of 9 judges, only 1 manages to recognize as valid and support the libertarian perspective.

Federal Marijuana Denials Trump State Permissions

Cox and Forkum Political Cartoons

Charles Krauthammer chimes in:

Justice Thomas: "Dope is cool."

Justice Scalia: "Let the cancer patients suffer."

If the headline writers characterized Supreme Court decisions the way many senators and most activists and lobbying groups do, that is how they would have characterized the Supreme Court decision this week on the use of medical marijuana in California. It was ruled illegal because the federal law prohibiting it supersedes the state law permitting it. Scalia agreed with the decision. Thomas dissented.

In our current, corrupted debates about the judges, you hear only about results. Priscilla Owen, we were told (by the Alliance for Justice), "routinely backs corporations against worker and consumer protections." Well, in what circumstances? In adjudicating what claims? Under what constitutional doctrine?

The real question is never what judges decide but how they decide it. The Scalia-Thomas argument was not about concern for cancer patients, the utility of medical marijuana or the latitude individuals should have regarding what they ingest.

It was about what the Constitution's commerce clause permits and, even more abstractly, who decides what the commerce clause permits. To simplify only slightly, Antonin Scalia says: Supreme Court precedent. Clarence Thomas says: the Founders, as best we can interpret their original intent.

The Scalia opinion (concurring with the majority opinion) appeals to dozens of precedents over the past 70 years under which the commerce clause was vastly expanded to allow the federal government to regulate what had, by the time of the New Deal, become a highly industrialized country with a highly nationalized economy.

Thomas's dissent refuses to bow to such 20th-century innovations. While Scalia's opinion is studded with precedents, Thomas pulls out founding-era dictionaries (plus Madison's notes from the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers and the ratification debates) to understand what the word commerce meant then. And it meant only "trade or exchange" (as distinct from manufacture) and not, as we use the term today, economic activity in general. By this understanding, the federal government had no business whatsoever regulating privately and medicinally grown marijuana.

This is constitutional "originalism" in pure form. Its attractiveness is that it imposes discipline on the courts. It gives them a clear and empirically verifiable understanding of constitutional text -- a finite boundary beyond which even judges with airs must not go.

Rock on, Justice Thomas.

Update: When I posted this, I took for granted that NO ONE would possibly consider Clarence Thomas to be a libertarian. I've seen no evidence, outside of this incident, of any libertarian thought in Thomas. But I'm noticing that people are finding this post through search engines using the keywords, "Clarence Thomas Libertarian", or something like that. Interesting.
Posted by Jeff at 07:46 AM | Comments (3)

June 09, 2005

The Great White Party

"Well, you know, in a decade as Governor of Vermont, Howard Dean did not appoint a single minority, single African-American, to his administration. I mean that's not his problem. It's a 98.5% white state. But a guy in that position isn't perhaps the best man to go around bemoaning the lack of diversity. Today, for example, a Republican judge was confirmed, who's the daughter of Alabama sharecroppers. And we have to say, why, if the Democratic Party is supposedly so diverse, why is the Democratic Party leadership apparently homogenously white? I mean the Democratic Party looks like an antebellum plantation from 150 years ago. You got the big, white owner and the white family in the big house, and thousands of black workers in the fields. Whereas the Republican Party...where's the Democrats' answer to a figure like Condoleezza Rice?"
--Mark Steyn

It's amazing that the Democrats manage to fool anyone (even the "downtrodden", uneducated people at the bottom of the economic pyramid whose ignorance they exploit for votes).

Posted by Jeff at 09:55 PM | Comments (1)

The Religion of Journalism (and the Conservative Revolution)

There's an excellent post by one Jay Rosen about The Watergate Myth and it's influence on the religion of journalism. It's a somewhat lengthy read, but it's entertaining, bordering on fascinating, and an easy read (your eyes will glide along the words like a train down mountain rails). The Watergate Myth is that reporters brought down a president, while the reality is that it was "the agencies of government itself" which explosed the truth (--Edward J. Epstein, 1974).

The Religion of Journalism preaches the faith that the role of "the free press" is to be an essential check on government:

In his excellent book, Watergate and American Memory (1992, Basic) Michael Schudson distinguishes between the scandal, which didn't change the world very much, and the myth of Watergate in journalism. By giving the warrant of history, and the mandate of heaven, to the adversarial press, and the Fourth Estate model (where the press is an essential check on government, a modern addition to the balance of powers); by telling each new crop of journalists how to be heroes and how do good; by glamorizing the underworld of confidential sources, the mythos of Watergate had very definite effects in journalism.

But the world is getting better. One Darryl McGrath wrote early this year the following:

I would tell the dean that this business does not know what to do with career reporters, the people in their 40s who realized years ago they were never going to make it to the New York Times or win a Pulitzer, but nevertheless loved chasing stories and exposing public corruption and giving a voice to the downtrodden. (Yes, I'm still that idealistic.) We are the journalists who never wanted to move into the higher-paying jobs, like editing and management or newsroom Internet technology, because we absolutely loved being reporters. But as we got older, we realized that very few newspapers wanted to pay a salary that would allow us to continue doing what we do best: report. The journalism school did little to prepare me for this reality.

A respondent, Hugh Hewitt, responded to her in his own piece about her complaint of poor pay:

In other words, it doesn't pay enough to be a professional lefty activist, er, reporter. People get bitter as a result.

Why doesn't it pay enough? Because the marketplace doesn't want that product. Will MSM's rank and file ever figure it out that their own vision of themselves is delusional? Sure, they can tell each other how noble are their efforts, how invaluable their "exposes," but the only reliable measure is the marketplace, and "professional journalism" of the MSM variety is on the ropes. The customer isn't interested. The reality is that journalists don't matter all that much --and consequently aren't paid all that much-- because ordinary Americans aren't waiting with rapt attention in anticipation of being told what to think.... [All emphasis mine. --VC]

And that's the beauty of the world today. The "lefties" lock on the media grows less and less every day, while the marketplace (that's you and me) grow less and less lefty every day. Just as heads of Marxism and Leninism were relegated to the ash heap of history nearly two decades ago, the rest of communism and its ideology is dying, like the dying bodies of headless chickens, and being forgotten.

This is new.

And FOX News is new.

And the breadth of the conservative voice in American government is new (it hasn't been seen since the 1920s).

And democracies in the middle east are new.

It truly is getting better, a little better, all the time.

Posted by Jeff at 06:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2005

Love America, Hate America, and Michael Moore - the "True Patriot"

Here's an interesting exercise which I happened upon completely by accident: The next time you read an "I hate America" rant, or hear it on the radio, or see it on a video - or however it comes to you - and the ranter is a Canadian, or a European, or some other non-American, take note of the reasons that the America hater gives for hating America.

Then the next time you encounter a liberal-American ranting about America, take note of what the liberal rants about. Chances are very good that the items on his list are the same as the items on the non-American's list. If you pay as much attention as I pay, you'll probably find that these reasons pretty much make a standard boiler plate.

Now, if you can, accuse the liberal-American of being anti-American (maybe you'll be lucky enough to find that someone already has). While the non-American unabashedly and unashamedly proclaims loudly his hatred for America (that's how you chose him, remember?), the liberal-American rantor, whose rants are cut from the same boiler plate as the non-American, will claim to love America - and claim that the passion behind his rant comes from his love of America. And he'll do it defensively. And usually hysterically.

And both of them will tend to claim that Michael Moore is a "true patriot".

There ain't no doubt about it: Michael Moore Hates America.

People like Michael Moore don't love America. They hate it. What they love is their vision of America, an America reshaped in their image. But they can't just come out and say, "I hate America," because they know that'd be bad strategy. Americans would shut them out. Strategy. Ends justifying the means.

Posted by Jeff at 06:25 PM | Comments (4)

June 03, 2005

Michael Moore Hates America

Michael Moore Hates America

Okay, I just watched Michael Moore Hates America. It was quite worthwhile. Penn Jillette, from "Penn and Teller Bullshit" (a show I've never actually seen) made some rather long winded and very very good points about morality and right and wrong. He supported, strongly, my contention that the left is about about abandoning what's right in order to accomplish "the good" - according to their own subjective values of what's good. Consider these admonitions:

It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.

The ends don't justify the means.

Those themes come up a lot in this movie.

And what a difference the movie paints, as well, between the optimistic, self-responsible, realism of the people on the "right", as compared to the pessimistic vitriol which we've come to expect from the people on the left. The movie starts out with this very theme, with the director pointing out that his parents had instilled in him the idea that he could make of himself and be anything that he wanted to be in America, and that he wants to pass that on to his daughter. But he's angry at Michael Moore...because Michael Moore has come along and told his daughter that she can't be anything she wants to be, because there are some evil, sinister people running corporations who prevent her from doing so. He then points out that Moore does the same with black skinned people, and that every black skinned person who buys into Moore's pessimism has been handicapped by Moore. And that's true.

Anyway, if you're interested, you can buy the movie from Amazon, or you can rent it from Netflix, as two options to getting the movie. It's worthwhile.

Posted by Jeff at 11:12 PM | Comments (5)

Deep Throat, Nixon, W. Mark Felt, Watergate.

Who cares.

Next....

Posted by Jeff at 04:25 AM | Comments (1)

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