Saturday, December 31, 2005

Twin Cities Musings

I’m sitting up in the Marriott City Center hotel facing the Target Center on the 16th floor having my AM coffee and getting moving. Very nice room for $109 AAA rate considering being in the center of a decent sized urban area (of course $15 of state and local taxes added don’t help very much, but that isn’t really the hotels fault). It is one of the ones on the corner of the triangle, for those familiar with the building, so lots of room, and a somewhat unique setup. Unbelievably they thought they would charge $10 for a 24hr internet service. Considering that it is free at Super-8 and that people that are going to use it generally know what it is worth, it seems amazing that they think they are going to make many sales there, and they do little else than mar an otherwise excellent experience.


Yesterday was my wife’s birthday and we celebrated as we have most every year for the past 15 or so by having a 24-hour period away from the kids. The boys are the greatest blessing of our lives, but that one day a year spent away has been a good tradition, and as we see a time when we won’t have them with us on a daily basis, it seems that the tradition may have even been a bit of a good investment as well.


Most of the day was spent at the Mall Of America. I made my usual stop at the Apple store to gaze at the larger monitors. A friend of mine recently got the 31” and went through the hassles of getting it to work with a PC, it looks great, but not yet for me. I dream of going Apple for my “interface machine” and having 1GB LAN machines for Windows and Linux running that would generally only be accessed via virtual screen solutions (VNC) through the big Apple monitor. It was going to be the Apple 21” which is now down to $1,200, but I’m thinking that the 31” is the right solution, so will wait awhile longer on the technology curve or if my current 19” would die or something.


Last night was a great meal at Murray’s, a Minneapolis steak tradition since 1946, and right next to the hotel. They are famous for the “Silver Butter Knife Steak for Two”, and I’d have to say that it took the position of the best steak ever by a reasonable margin. It looks like a roast, and it is carved at your table. I suspect that they send the beef animals on cruises to the Caribbean to get them that tender, but whatever they do, it works. It was the first time we had dined there, and goes down as one of the top picks of a long and storied birthday dining tradition.


I continue to have a great time reading through “The Conservative Mind”, and realize that I’ve allowed my reading to get ahead of my Blog writing a good bit. “The Singularity Is Near” hasn’t even been commented on, I suppose that I will need to consider some 2005 retrospective, and I’d rather just read the current book. Besides all that, a new Polaris Fusion 600 HO sits in the garage ready to head for the Keweenaw next Wednesday. I do need to get back to work for a whole day and one half (officially) and I suspect a decent amount more to get the work that has piled up down to a dull roar.


On top of all that, it is New Years Eve, and there needs to be a party attended tonight. Oh, the difficulties in life! Other than Church tomorrow, work is officially off on Monday, so maybe I’ll get some “excessive writing in. Oh yes, there is the Palm T|X received for Christmas, and the Canon Powershot S2 1S, the “Mom and Dad” Christmas present in prep for a Confirmation, Graduation, and cruise to Alaska upcoming in 2006. I might have been born a little late, and it doesn’t appear that 2006 will be the year that I catch up either! Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Christmas Difference

There is no doubt that I will be writing on for some time about the differences between conservatives and liberals, but I strongly suspect that all the text in the world has less meaning that the state of the individual soul relative to the true Christmas. Those that come to a God of order by the Son freely given and sorely needed by an imperfect mankind will never be able to brook the "liberal" path that believes in the basic goodness of man and cries out for the imposition of a godless totalitarian state by all means possible.

I, as all Americans, have been strongly taught that politics and religion are two solidly separate elements, and those that taught us such had a very strong and ancient reason for doing so. How strong and how ancient is like most of such things, a matter of faith. One’s belief in God, or not, is to be a private matter as is the name one chooses to apply to that God and what means one decides on for worship. All fall under the dogma of “separation of Church and State”, which as become so specific that much of our country finds it fine for a man to hold public office and religious views as long as those religious views have no impact on his actions. (e.g. Kerry, Catholicism, and abortion). Religion that has no impact on actions is as dead as a toy puppy.

The founding fathers never intended any such dogma. They found it important that the US not have a FEDERAL church, meaning only that it not be official and state supported, but a number of the states, including Massachusetts had a State church that was tax supported for a good long while. They had no problems at all with Christian holidays like Christmas being national, and created “Thanksgiving” which was not intended to be “thanks to randomness and a lucky roll of the dice for allowing us to be Americans”.

I’m a couple of books behind on book reports to the blog, but I’ve made a solid start on “The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot” by Russell Kirk, and can tell it will have a fairly significant impact on my knowledge of the roots of today’s ideas. A key item made clear in the book is the explicit connection between conservatism and religious faith. If there is no “Divine Plan”, then ideas ultimately come down to “what works” (utilitarians), or worse “what we hope will work” (romanticism), and “works” ultimately becomes “power”. Apart from a higher power the validity of the ideas ends up completely defined by who has the power to make the ideas real and declare them to be “right”. Might is right.

Christmas Eve at the candlelight service has become one of those spiritual touchstones of each year for me. I was raised with the idea that “Christmas is for family”, and noted a number of the “mega-churches” weren’t holding services on Christmas. The family is important, but it isn’t of prime importance, God comes first. The position and makeup of the family streams like that holy light from heaven above, or it streams not at all. Take away the divine and “family” becomes a bumper sticker, as in the common one I see; “I value ALL families!”. Given the word “all”, one can assume that would include some number mommies and some number of daddies in any possible combination, along with what? One can only begin to guess, certainly eventually whatever other relationship the human imagination can proudly imagine, and announce equally proudly that they "value" it on their bumper.

Standing in a beautiful candlelit church decorated for the holiday singing Silent Night with a wife and two healthy sons makes the peak of the holiday come early, all the rest is just “icing” by comparison. Having one Christmas to do that is a gift beyond measure, having had over ten is wealth of the obscene level. The deep and the important is simple however, and has been handed down over now two thousands of years. God is a God of order, he wants it to work that way, and it often does.

When it doesn’t though, when there is no family, or even no friends, then he is still in the primary position, and always has been and always will be. Not on our terms, but on his terms which require the one thing that is generally impossible for those of the left. The recognition that man is not primary, and the way to God is one person wide and through the person of Jesus; those are the stumbling blocks to those intent on the deity of man.

The basic of our thought is that leap of faith, and if that leap is made, then the universe and values are suddenly no accident. Fall the other way, and the meaning of existence is random, so it may as well be “what feels best” or just “whatever”.

May I never lose my faith and fall into that pit!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Framing the Argument

I managed to get the Lakoff “Don’t even think of an elephant!” book back and I think it is important to dive into in some significant detail. This is a key liberal writing with a foreword by Howard Dean, and is recommended and read by many liberals (oh, excuse me, “progressives”). This is modern liberalism in it's own words, with the complete assumption that no conservative would ever read the book.

The core idea is that human thinking is made up of “frames” which are sets of ideas that fit together and define how we think. Lakoff points to too key ones “The Strict Father Frame (SFF)” where; “the world is a dangerous place, there is evil out there, there are winners and losers, there is absolute right and absolute wrong, children are born bad and have to be parented with discipline in order to create self discipline. If you learn that self-discipline, you learn to be self-reliant, and are likely to be prosperous, and it is “good” to be prosperous. Self interest is “good”, strict father model people believe in the Adam Smith model.

The second major model is what George calls the “Nurturing Parent Frame” (NPF), but what I like to think of as the “Permissive Mommy Frame”. Of course, once George heard that, he may well re-think his ideas on there being evil in the world ;-) Essentially, the NPF is the opposite of the SFF, but George wants to make it sound better than that so he tries very hard. The core NPF values are “empathy and responsibility”, empathy is figuring out what your child wants so you can spoil them, responsibility is teaching them that there ought to be a lot of government rules on smoking, food additives, and protecting the environment. Another key responsibility is to be “happy and fulfilled” as taught by the Dali Lama, being “happy and fulfilled” is your MORAL responsibility, it just doesn’t get much tougher than that. (you may think I am joking, I am not … see pages 12 and 13).

Your “values” are freedom, opportunity, prosperity, FAIRNESS, open two-way communication, community building, cooperation. These are NUTURANT values, and they are the kind held by all progressives. We also learn there are 6 types of progressives:

  1. Socioeconomic – It is all about economic class.
  2. Identity politics – Time for their oppressed group to get their share.
  3. Environmentalists – “Sacredness of the earth, protection of native peoples”.
  4. Civil libertarians – maintain their freedoms.
  5. Spiritual Progressives – liberal Christians, Muslims, Jews, Goddess Worshipers, pagan members of Wicca (witches! … it is HIS list, not mine)
  6. Antiauthoritarians – against all “illegitimate” forms of authority … especially big corporations.

So there you have the “really good guys”. Interestingly, these kind folks just don’t get along, but the darned conservatives do. Why? Because William Buckley told them to. William Simon convinced wealthy people to create "Think Tanks", which provide evil conservative thinkers a place to work, and liberals have no such home (even though he teaches at Berkley, apparently George is unaware that professors at places called "Universities" are often quite liberal).

The BIG reason for the smoothness of the conservative movement though is that Grover Norquist holds a weekly meeting. I kid you not, it is that easy to keep the evil individualist conservative SFF wackos working together, but not even a decent Wiccan spell can get that wonderful NPF family together. It is a mystery that George has some trouble with, but more money, more cognitive scientists (he just happens to be one), a couple more books, and they will be marching to wherever it is that liberals march (the random abyss?) hand in hand singin' kumbaya, but I digress.

A lot of time is spent pointing out "faulty Republican frames" … “tax relief”. Much like “What’s the Matter With Kansas”, it is an article of faith for George that there is NO WAY that voting for a Republican could EVER be in the “self interest” of anyone but the top 1 or maybe at MOST 10% of the economic earners. The idea that the economic pie isn’t fixed in size, and growing it is far more important than dividing a dwindling pie if the incentives to grow are removed. Pay no attention to twenty five years of top economic growth after improving the tax rates, there is just no way that anything but taxing the top and giving to the bottom works. The idea "opportunity" is really a cruel myth.

There is a discussion of “Orwellian Language” which means the opposite of what it says. “Clean Skies” bill is “Dirty Skies”, “Kill Public Education Bill” would be anything to do with vouchers. Conservatives hide their “real agenda” and work to be “radical”. Naturally, things like Gay marriage are completely not readical, or even new. They are natural things that any nurturing reasonable American would want if not mislead by the conservatives.

Conservatives "need division", they have "created the culture war" ... things like abortion on demand, removal of religion from the schools and public square and all the gay rights issues are nothing but "wedge issues", completely created by conservatives to cause the conflict they need to get people to vote against their "self interest" (high taxes on the "wealthy").

There is a lot of meandering around on how wrong the SFF is, but finally he gets to the following table.

ProgressivesConservatives
Stronger AmericaStrong Defense
Broad ProsperityFree Markets
Better FutureLower Taxes
Effective GovernmentSmaller Government
Mutual ResponsibilityFamily Values


Is there any “progressive value” that really tells you what it means? They are all “good”, but they are all so fluffy that they defy anyone to explain what it is that they actually are. Essentially, they are are saying "we are for good things", but when it comes to means, they simply haven't declared, other than to say (we assume) that the conservative ideas, which are actually somewhat specific, are "wrong". Although, we have to assume even that. Do free markets create broad prosperity? Apparently not to a liberal, but according to economists and the results of the last 25 years, they do. What IS it that WOULD create that “broad prosperity”? It is undefined, and thus, it can’t be wrong … or unfortunately, right either.

There is a core of the liberal mind here “abstract and wishful thinking with no specifics”. We will leave the analysis here for the night.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Why Hate Bush?

I’ve been busy finishing up things at work in prep for being off for the remainder of the year and also doing a truly senseless thing. The problem began when one of the guys that I ride snowmobile with purchased a 150HP Yamaha Apex sled and let both my wife and I ride it. My 2000 Polaris was no longer acceptable, so tomorrow I pull the trigger on a ’06 Polaris 600 HO Fusion. It is pretty senseless to live in MN with the combination of climate and taxes, so one may as well go do even more senseless things I guess.

I’m going to finally start on what is likely to be a reasonably long slog through understanding of people of the leftward persuasion as I promised a few Blogs ago. I thought I’d start with a man that is a lightning rod to huge segments of the left, George W Bush. They absolutely hate him, and I believe that they have good reason to, since for a person of the left he is as close to the ultimate embodiment of evil as they are likely to see.

Bush claims to have been redeemed by Christ and evidences an actual life change as a result of it. From the left, that is as bad as it gets. While not every person on the left will admit to being an actual atheist, they certainly don’t believe in a God that is “involved”, definitely not one that would be “dying for the sins of man”. They see man as the measure of all things, and human nature as good to begin with. While humans may not always be perfect, they are not really “sinful”. All problems are due to some failing outside the person … parents, society, legitimate angst due to the impoverishment of life caused by the corruption of the Western capitalist system.

The idea that an encounter with a specific higher power, the named higher power of Jesus Christ would change a life is a horror beyond any other. It certainly isn’t privilege that they hate … see Kennedy, Kerry, or even Gore. Obviously it isn’t Southerners … Clinton was at least as Southern. One could go through a long boring litany, but I don’t think there is anything special to for them to hate about Bush over say, Reagan.

It is true that they hated Reagan as well, but it never quite had that blind consuming rage that the Bush hatred has for many of the lefty faithful. It is true that hatred becomes them and tends to come naturally to them, but that will be a subject of later discussion.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

National Secrets

I got to hear most of the Bush speech tonight and I’m thinking that he may need to be investigated for disclosing top secret information. Apparently there was an election in Iraq last week that went somewhat well and there is absolutely no reason that Americans should know about this, it could confuse reasonable Americans about the situation in Iraq.

I took this screen shot off CNN last week Thursday at one point in the PM:



Our MSM is doing a solid job of keeping Americans focused on what is important. The headline on that page showed that Bush had finally reached an agreement with John McCain that foreign terrorists should be treated with the utmost of care, no matter how many American lives that may cost. The media lets us know that terrorists may torture Americans they capture if we are keeping their compatriots awake at night or playing any Brittany Spears around them. I was shocked; I thought they would remain perfectly civil and just behead them with an appropriately humane dull knife.

I was also glad to see that while the double-secret elections were going on it was critical that we be treated to more key information about how good a job the MSM has been doing about making sure Americans have the right answer to Bush’s “lack of a plan” in Iraq. Not to mention the progress that they have been making with getting rid of the Patriot Act. The courageous disclosure that calls were being monitored was an impressive act to help level the playing field for any “insurgents” that may be acting in the US.

We have spent a long time in important analysis of how national security is damaged by the outing of a CIA employee that drives to work at the CIA every day. Disclosure that people that work at CIA headquarters actually work at the CIA has given opposition forces a huge insight into the workings of the US Intelligence services otherwise denied them. Hopefully “Scooter” does some very hard time for this horrible breech.

On the other hand, the media has really aided our security by making it clear to any countries that had mistakenly thought that deals with the US Government on holding foreign “freedom fighters” were somehow “secret”. It is obvious to the casual observer that Scooter’s disclosure of people driving into the CIA as being employed by the CIA was a “leak”, and requires investigation and punishment. Disclosure of information labled “Top Secret” or other bogus classifications relating to “secret prisons” or “monitored calls” is an example of “patriotic whistle blowing”.

While parts of the speech tonight may have been misleading to some, I was fortunate to hear the analysis of the speech on NPR afterward. Bush is again “cherry picking” the information at hand. The Democrats have the right answer as presented by Nancy Pelosi, which is that there is no reason to have a position on Iraq. Many media sources are calling for an investigation of the Wall Street Journal for disclosing that Joe Lieberman has gone insane … actually, they just printed an article that he supported victory in Iraq, when the only sane position is no position, but there is no excuse for that kind of shameless exposure of items that could confuse decent Americans.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Loved Liberal

MPR is in full eulogy mode for Eugene McCarthy. A Minnesotan, a man who ran for president, and one who did much to shape the modern anti military flavor of the Democrat party.

The first point that strikes me is just how much they love and respect the man and what he stood for. There is  nothing at all wrong with that, it is just such a great contrast to how they talked of Reagan during the funeral week in ’04. Their love and respect for McCarthy is palpable, they KNOW he was right, they feel it in their souls, and it is impossible for them to question his legacy … not in a normal “reasonable respect for the dead” way, but because they just don’t have it in them.

For Reagan, they covered the his death because it was a story. They were careful to point out the “things that were claimed” for his legacy, but also wondered about all the time that was spent on remembering him, and felt that it was “important” to dwell just a bit on “deficits”, “Iran Contra”, or maybe that ‘80s had a “darker side”. It was clear that they really didn’t respect him and what they felt in their souls was a return to negative feelings of the era that they really didn’t want to revisit.

It is said that people want to be liked, but I often wonder if it is more true to say that “people want to be liked by the right people”. I suspect that most of us don’t want to be liked by terrorists for example. A good deal of my reading and the events of this past fall have led me back to the thought of the fundamental differences between those that end up on the left and on the right. There exists a vast middle of people to which concerns of world view are of no concern. They have decided to largely ignore politics, and while they may cheer for the winners or follow whatever line is currently popular, they have no real identification with any of the core ideas or values. I’d like to think that one of the objectives of a “good society” would be to have few enough serious problems so it is just fine for a huge majority to be blissfully in that class.

As I re-launch into this mental exercise yet again, I point out what I would assume is the obvious. Any activity like this is a generalization. The set of people that precisely fit any of the labels, thoughts, viewpoints that I assign to “liberal” or “conservative” is probably null. I maintain the thought is still useful though. The average life expectancy for a male may be 78, but the set of males that dies on their 78th birthday at the same time of day they were born is  small … but the generalization still is useful.

A second point that I consider to be equally obvious is that while I may assign some specific thoughts or motives to people of a general class, my guess would be that very very few have such conscious thoughts. Most people don’t think very much of “why they think some way”, the meta-recursion makes their head hurt. One of the books that has driven me to return to this path of thought is “Don’t Even Think of An Elephant” by George Lakoff which I had read last fall, lent out, and have recently been lending around to a number of reading friends.

George is a very intelligent man, and his exact focus is on differences between the ways that liberals think and how conservatives fail to think. He couches it all in “Frames”, and thus the title … the more classic rendition of which would be “don’t even think of a pink elephant”, at which point of course you DO think of a pink elephant. He argues that there are two basic frames in the world, the “stern father frame”, and the “nurturing parent frame”. Dishonesty shows its face immediately. Clearly he means “nurturing MOTHER”, the obvious counterpoint to Father unless you are a lefty I guess.

He is writing it to “progressives”. Note the frame, we don’t even want to say liberal, although that term itself is yet another obfuscation picked up when “National SOCIALIST” (or better known as Nazi) developed some poor connotations in the ‘30s. Since he is writing it to the faithful and assumes that no evil, incurious, set in their ways, unable to take in the other side, conservatives would ever read it, he can be "honest".

At some point I’ll get the book back and comment on it more, but at this point I’ll stop for the night and hope to get a few days of writing on this topic without too much intrusion by world or personal events.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Avoiding the Cheer

There has been a significant amount of good news both locally and nationally of late, but one has to pretty much be a news hound to be aware of it. It might show up for a brief instant, but it doesn’t last very long. Here in MN we have a $1 Billion budget surplus. Last summer the Democrats shut down the Government to demand tax increases as the only way to come close to a balanced budget. They accused the Pawlenty administration of “lying” (Democrats are huge on “truth”) in claiming that he had balanced the budget, and that real deficits would be over a Billion for the biennium. Weeks after the agreement, the State and the media stealthily announced a $300Million SURPLUS for the first 6 months of the year. Now they have announced a $700 Million SURPOLUS for the 2nd half of the year. The big tax increase? A .75 a pack cigarette tax, which of course the Democrats chastised the Governor for.

Is this a newsworthy item? Barely. The shutdown was top billing for weeks, the fact that it was all a sham, Pawlenty and the Republicans were right and we are now running a surplus? Barely a whisper. Wonder what the headlines would say if the predictions had gone the Democrats way, let alone gone their way by $1 Billion worse than their projections? No doubt it would be the apocalypse.

Nationally it is much the same. The 3rd quarter growth rate, projected by the media and Democrat prophets as “hopefully doom” was 4.3%, meaning that we have grown faster than 3% for 10 straight quarters, the longest such string of growth over 3% since the 13 quarters which ended in March of 1986. November job growth came in a 215,000 another nice number. Is this all good news? Not really, Bush is in the WH so the media finds nothing but negatives in it, refuses to report it anything but minimally, and then proceeds to see if they can mention low poll numbers again. There can really be no good news at all with a Republican in the WH.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Murtha Lieberman Contrast

This is a time of the year for celebration and joy, not for Blogging and politics in general, so my writing will be slow by design. I have better things to do.

A short follow-up on the Lieberman “stealth column”. A LEADING Democrat, Vice Presidential candidate in 2000, Presidential candidate in 2004, writes a major piece for a major US Newspaper, and one has to be a news junkie to even find it. A relatively obscure Congressman (Murtha) says “bring the troops home now”, and it is headline news all over. The difference? The MSM agrees with Murtha, they want Lieberman dead.

Lieberman is getting exactly what would be expected from the left. They are talking about running someone against him in his primary, raising money for anyone that will oppose him, and calling him “nuts”, “Zell Miller”, “traitor”, and a lot worse. As Howard Dean has pointed out, the Democratic Party is staking their future on the defeat of America and the success of terrorists, and they are out to purge dissents in their ranks.

Murtha is a hero for the MSM. "Truth" (their brand) to power. Murtha is "the brave", Lieberman is the dangerously insane that must be ignored.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Courage is Named Joe (Lieberman)

If such a thing as "the middle" exists in the US today it would be represented by Joe Lieberman from the Democrats and John McCain from the Republicans. Since the media is 80% hard left it takes a giganticly greater level of courage for Lieberman to speak "truth to power" (a favorite lefty phrase) than it does for McCain, but both generally agree on the situation in Iraq.

I've copied Lieberman's WSJ column in total so it doesn't get lost in "link land". If Lieberman would run for President against McCain I suspect I'd be voting for the second Democrat of my lifetime. THIS is what a "profile in courage" is all about. Freedom, the USA, the Iraqi people, and true guts taking precedence over ideological politics and Bush hatred, way to go Joe!


Our Troops Must Stay
America can't abandon 27 million Iraqis to 10,000 terrorists.

BY JOE LIEBERMAN
Tuesday, November 29, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn.

Progress is visible and practical. In the Kurdish North, there is continuing security and growing prosperity. The primarily Shiite South remains largely free of terrorism, receives much more electric power and other public services than it did under Saddam, and is experiencing greater economic activity. The Sunni triangle, geographically defined by Baghdad to the east, Tikrit to the north and Ramadi to the west, is where most of the terrorist enemy attacks occur. And yet here, too, there is progress.

There are many more cars on the streets, satellite television dishes on the roofs, and literally millions more cell phones in Iraqi hands than before. All of that says the Iraqi economy is growing. And Sunni candidates are actively campaigning for seats in the National Assembly. People are working their way toward a functioning society and economy in the midst of a very brutal, inhumane, sustained terrorist war against the civilian population and the Iraqi and American military there to protect it.

It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern. The terrorists are intent on stopping this by instigating a civil war to produce the chaos that will allow Iraq to replace Afghanistan as the base for their fanatical war-making. We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority.

Before going to Iraq last week, I visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israel has been the only genuine democracy in the region, but it is now getting some welcome company from the Iraqis and Palestinians who are in the midst of robust national legislative election campaigns, the Lebanese who have risen up in proud self-determination after the Hariri assassination to eject their Syrian occupiers (the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hezbollah militias should be next), and the Kuwaitis, Egyptians and Saudis who have taken steps to open up their governments more broadly to their people. In my meeting with the thoughtful prime minister of Iraq, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, he declared with justifiable pride that his country now has the most open, democratic political system in the Arab world. He is right.

In the face of terrorist threats and escalating violence, eight million Iraqis voted for their interim national government in January, almost 10 million participated in the referendum on their new constitution in October, and even more than that are expected to vote in the elections for a full-term government on Dec. 15. Every time the 27 million Iraqis have been given the chance since Saddam was overthrown, they have voted for self-government and hope over the violence and hatred the 10,000 terrorists offer them. Most encouraging has been the behavior of the Sunni community, which, when disappointed by the proposed constitution, registered to vote and went to the polls instead of taking up arms and going to the streets. Last week, I was thrilled to see a vigorous political campaign, and a large number of independent television stations and newspapers covering it.

None of these remarkable changes would have happened without the coalition forces led by the U.S. And, I am convinced, almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if those forces are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country.

The leaders of Iraq's duly elected government understand this, and they asked me for reassurance about America's commitment. The question is whether the American people and enough of their representatives in Congress from both parties understand this. I am disappointed by Democrats who are more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq almost three years ago, and by Republicans who are more worried about whether the war will bring them down in next November's elections, than they are concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq in the months and years ahead.

Here is an ironic finding I brought back from Iraq. While U.S. public opinion polls show serious declines in support for the war and increasing pessimism about how it will end, polls conducted by Iraqis for Iraqi universities show increasing optimism. Two-thirds say they are better off than they were under Saddam, and a resounding 82% are confident their lives in Iraq will be better a year from now than they are today. What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory.

The leaders of America's military and diplomatic forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey and Ambassador Zal Khalilzad, have a clear and compelling vision of our mission there. It is to create the environment in which Iraqi democracy, security and prosperity can take hold and the Iraqis themselves can defend their political progress against those 10,000 terrorists who would take it from them.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Unhinged

OK, Some books I DO read very fast. I whimmed out on Amazon after the PowerLine Blog said “buy this book”. So I did. For anyone that reads any Blogs with a Conservative tilt, certainly for anyone that keeps up with say WSJ “Best of the Web”, this is “old news”. The level of profanity, the litany of vandalism, violence, and general incivility perpetrated by the left to the right would no doubt be shocking to many Americans that are pretty much in the middle politically, but get all their news from the MSM. No doubt hardly any of them are going to read this book however, so kind of a moot point.

I’ve seen Michelle Malkin on a number of talking head shows on TV. The case I recall the most is when she was on “Hardball” talking about something relative to the the Swiftboat guys and Chris Mathews went foaming lunatic at her. I was a bit flabbergasted to see it because she is no Ann Coulter … not really a flamethrower at all, and actually a fairly demure Filipino American woman. What I forgot is “that is the point” … she is a WOMAN OF COLOR, and she is taking positions that are not allowed for ANY person of color, let alone a woman. Coulter IS a flamethrower, but part of the reason that the left gets so incensed is that she is female, and even worse, attractive … it is the Clarence Thomas / Condi Rice / Colin Powel, etc syndrome. The left can’t allow such people to exist without demonizing or it would call into question the “white/Christian/stupid/bigot” label that they apply to conservatives.

The book is a litany of quotes from key democrats, media people, and then unfortunately profane and racist internet screeds that she receives on her website. I have a hard time believing that people of the left get nearly as much of this … no doubt they get SOME, and some of it is more the “You degenerate atheist, you will burn in hell” kind of pseudo-Christian hate-mail. I would assume that if you are a confident atheist, “ burn in hell” is more of a joke than a threat.

I’d only really recommend this book to folks that are slaves to the MSM that somehow believe that the “problem of incivility” is a problem of the right, but I can’t imagine anybody that out of touch being willing to read, let alone believe it even though it is rigorously footnoted.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Hard America, Soft America

I really don’t read books quite this fast, although “Hard America, Soft America” by Michael Barone is a short and easy read. I tend to have more than one book going at a time, and when I hit some vacation a number of them tend to go to completion. I managed to head to the family homestead in NW Wisconsin and eat too much Cheese and Raisin Ravioli at the incomparable Bona Casa just South of Cumberland WI, and follow that up with way too much good turkey, stuffing, wild rice, yams, lefse, pumpkin pie, etc on Thanksgiving itself.

Barone is a bonafide genius, and the book shows it in it’s scope and it’s brevity. It mixes some ficitional novel quotes with a whole lot of statistics and insights to point out what is to many Americans “obvious”. Without “hard” standards like specific deadlines, profit targets, grade requirements for entrance, consequences like lower standards of living for those that don’t attain certain levels of education, etc, humans tend to “get lazy”. Most of us realize that intrinsically as we jump back on the exercise equipment after T-Day and have granola rather than Perkins 2-egg omelets to attempt to maintain some level of truce with the waistline after a holiday of indulgence.

We would all love “softness that works”, but unfortunately it doesn’t. That doesn’t mean that there doesn’t need to be a balance, and Barone argues that at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century it was “too hard”. The New Deal started us on a path toward too soft … WWII pulled us back to hard for a bit, then Sputnick did a get for a very brief time. Like any observer with eyes, he points out the horror of the 60’s for shabby thinking that the laws of economics could be repealed … along with moral propriety, common sense, and a lot of other things. The disaster of the ‘70s, followed by the Reagan Restoration … of hope, competitiveness with the world, military strength, and “ basic decency” … in NYC and a lot of other places.

One little example quote; “ Elite opinion in the years around 1980 was that the US was in economic decline and that the decline could not be reversed. People just had to get used to living in an era of limits. This turned out to be a good prediction – for some countries in western Europe.” He then goes on to show how relatively slight hardening of the private sector economy in the US has allowed us to enjoy economic growth far in advance or Western Europe for 25 years.

He does it all with wit, a lot of statistics, and recognition of what the side of “softness” thinks and why they think that way, and a level of genuine respect for difference of opinion. Barone is WAY easier to read then Buckley, but one gets that same sense of “it is easier to be a nice guy if you are a genius” kind of feeling that can almost give those of us lesser humans a twang of jealousy. I highly recommend the book, concise, excellent, and a joy to read.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Witness

I have finally made it through “Witness”, the book by Whittaker Chambers of his life, conversion to and from Communism, and the trial where Alger Hiss was eventually convicted of espionage. The book is perennially listed as a “must read” on conservative book lists, and the case was one of the touchstones of liberal / conservative disagreement until the declassified Verona tapes talked of an American with the codename “Ales” who had been with Roosevelt at Yalta, worked in the State Department, and otherwise fits the description of Hiss. Where the case was once an example of the “horrors of McCarthyism”, when it turns out that the guy was a communist, it is a case best forgotten.

The biggest message of the book to me was the direct, well written, and easy to understand connection between Communism, Socialism, and Liberalism, and the connection of atheism and the worship of man with all. Chambers does an exceptional job of pointing out the Christian Witness in relation to his witness against communism. While the media focused on his witness against Hiss, and tried to mold the story to be some sort of a vendetta by one misfit farmer against a Harvard trained lifetime public servant, the book gives the lie to that very well.

Chambers had left Communism 10 years before the trial. He was farming, and over the 10 year period had worked his way up the ladder at Time to be one of the seven Senior editors … making $30K a year in the late 40s, which was really good cabbage at that time. Even though he had what would be seen as a high salary, he was farming as a dairy farmer because he thought that was a better and more secure life for his family.

Hiss claimed that he didn’t know Chambers at all. He later relented and indicated he may have known him under an alias. Chambers testimony makes it very hard to believe that they did not know each other due to the details about Hiss that Chambers was able to testify to. To believe the Hiss story, one would have to decide that Chambers just “happened” to decide to try to destroy Hiss, randomly picked him, studied his life, and then decided to come out and accuse him of being a communist for no other reason than to destroy his life. Such things are “possible”, but it is a testament to the power of liberals in the media and government to have such a proposal taken seriously for 50 years when such at idea stretches the boundaries of credulity even without actual documentation.

Of course, there was documentation produced, the infamous “Pumpkin Papers”, which were a huge part of the case from the press and public viewpoint, but a small part of the case in actuality. Chambers produced a set of microfilms, typewritten, and handwritten papers of or related to secret State Department documents. Some of the microfilm was hidden in a hollowed pumpkin by Chambers for one day to prevent it being found by pro-Hiss investigators.

Part of the reason the story is so famous is of course the connection with Nixon, one of the people that the left loves to hate. Nixon worked hard to get a conviction of Hiss, and of course Hiss was a Roosevelt, pro-UN, lefty, and even if he WAS a “Communist”, most of the folks in the liberal establishment really had no problem with that. Some of them MAY have some problems with actual transfer of secret documents to the USSR, but even there, many folks on the left felt that better relations with “our friends the Soviets” probably required a little “friendly espionage”. It is easy to see how a guy like Nixon who no doubt felt that consignment of the evil empire to the ash heap of history was a better idea (even if he couldn’t say it as well as Reagan) seemed like an awful Neanderthal to the sophisticated liberals of the day.

I recommend the book, but it is a REAL tug … not hard to follow, just way too detailed and way too long. The sadness of Chambers youth is palpable; he is not some “privileged Republican”. He came to his Communism naturally, and he came to his “Grace and Conversion” by super-natural (hand of God) means. He felt he was leaving the winning side for the losing, but it was better to die serving the side that was right than to live serving the side of evil. Although he came to faith, it seems that he never came to the understanding of the real power of God. He may well have been correct in his prognostication of what side would win in human terms, but God can always decide which side wins, no matter what we might think the odds are.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Green Berets

I’d of course heard about the John Wayne movie “The Green Berets” many times, but had never watched it, thanks to Netflix, I finally took a look. There certainly ARE a lot of parallels in how the left and the media is dealing with war. Early on in the film a couple of Green Berets are facing a gaggle of reporters, with one especially hostile one in the front on the “Why are we there”? “What business is it of ours?”, and “Why is South Vietnam so slow in establishing our style of democracy”.

One of the soliders make the the point that the US took from 1776 – 1789 to ratify our own Constitution and even the articles of confederation were not ratified until 1781. The American press and the left seem to have a higher standard for speed on such thing for foreign governments than the good old USA was able to accomplish.

The other points were handled by dumping a series of weapons and ammunition on the reporter’s desk from China, Russia and Cuba indicating that the Communists thought Vietnam important enough to be involved. The other key point was the level of disruption of society created in the South by the killing of many thousands of the leaders, and the use of terror against the civilian population by the Communists to keep them in control.

How little the forced of darkness in either foreign lands, the media, or the US Congress have changed in 40 years.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cheney on Iraq

I’ve excerpted some of a speech by Dick Cheney given this week below. In general, the speech, or comments about the speech appeared nearly nowhere, and at least in the NPR context that I heard about it the MSM was careful to tell the good sheep what to think by prefacing it with “Dick Cheney ATTEMPTS to defend the administrations EMBATTLED Iraq policy” or words to such affect. Unlike French car burning, no confusion in what the faithful are to think about this story.

While I’ll be the last to say that the Bush administration has been nearly as aggressive as they ought to be in defense of hardly any policy, but it does point up the difficulty that Republicans face. The MSM decries the spending on campaigns, but unless Republicans purchase airtime they have no way to get their story out at all to the public that doesn’t seek out alternative news sources. There have been good efforts by Bush, Cheney, and even “often weasel but generally not on Iraq”, John McCain, but outside people that care about picking up something beyond single-sided news coverage, it would be difficult to even be aware.

The punch line to me is; “The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone – but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history.” Pretty fair line, and a great thought. It is generally impossible though … I’m reading “Witness”, most of that history has been re-written, Vietnam has been re-written to “Nixon’s War”, the cold war has been re-written to “everyone knew the USSR was going to collapse, Reagan just happened to be there when it did” and of the past few weeks, even though no indictments were returned on “outing” or “retribution” in the Wilson / Plame case, the technique of stating the same lies as fact seems to have worked for the vast majority of the sheep already.

More defense of sound policy is always good, but the following is a pretty good effort. With the MSM though, it is impossible to get this message to the general public without buying the airtime.

As most of you know, I have spent a lot of years in public service, and first came to work in Washington, D.C. back in the late 1960s. I know what it's like to operate in a highly charged political environment, in which the players on all sides of an issue feel passionately and speak forcefully. In such an environment people sometimes lose their cool, and yet in Washington you can ordinarily rely on some basic measure of truthfulness and good faith in the conduct of political debate. But in the last several weeks we have seen a wild departure from that tradition. And the suggestion that's been made by some U.S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of this Administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.

Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing force against Saddam Hussein. These are elected officials who had access to the intelligence, and were free to draw their own conclusions. They arrived at the same judgment about Iraq's capabilities and intentions that was made by this Administration and by the previous Administration. There was broad-based, bipartisan agreement that Saddam Hussein was a threat … that he had violated U.N. Security Council Resolutions … and that, in a post-9/11 world, we couldn't afford to take the word of a dictator who had a history of WMD programs, who had excluded weapons inspectors, who had defied the demands of the international community, who had been designated an official state sponsor of terror, and who had committed mass murder. Those are facts.

What we're hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war. The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out. American soldiers and Marines are out there every day in dangerous conditions and desert temperatures – conducting raids, training Iraqi forces, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers – and back home a few opportunists are suggesting they were sent into battle for a lie.

The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone – but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history. We're going to continue throwing their own words back at them. And far more important, we're going to continue sending a consistent message to the men and women who are fighting the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other fronts. We can never say enough how much we appreciate them, and how proud they make us. They and their families can be certain: That this cause is right … and the performance of our military has been brave and honorable … and this nation will stand behind our fighting forces with pride and without wavering until the day of victory.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sharing Secrets

Bill Bennett over at NRO has a great short article on Jay Rockefeller talking on Fox News Sunday this past weekend to Chris Wallace. Here is the key part of the transcript.

WALLACE: Now, the President never said that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat. As you saw, you did say that. If anyone hyped the intelligence, isn't it Jay Rockefeller?

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No. The — I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I'll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq — that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11.

Bennett does a good job of discussing how very odd it is to have a Senator admitting that he shared information with heads of state that he had no right to be sharing under any circumstance. Probably not wanting to sound like a “black helicopter person”, he avoids saying what I would think is obvious. If the then head of the US Senate Intelligence committee is stating that war may be unavoidable, might that not have some impact on what Saddam and even worse neighbors like Syria might do relative to WMD? That doesn’t seem like a very big leap to me.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Turth and Iraq

The Democrats and the MSM keep up their drumbeat in hopes of making Iraq a second Vietnam or worse. Post Vietnam only gave us Jimmuh Carter, Soviets on the march in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Africa, and the Mid-East, and hostages in Iran. What could the “defeat of Bush and America in Iraq” give us? Well certainly another terrorist base worse then Afghanistan for starters, the loss of a “front-line” against the terrorists with an opportunity for them to pick the next one, and no doubt an invigorated al-Qaeda around the globe. It likely only gets worse from there.

Does any of this bother anyone on the left? I sincerely doubt it, since their hatred of Bush knows no bounds, and in their mind they will be blaming him for Iraq for 40 years just like they blame Nixon for Vietnam. With that view, dead Americans will be a political plus for as long as they can be dropped at the Republican doorstep. Reality has never been a strong issue with the left.

Case in point, anyone that cares at all about “truth” really ought to take the time to read through at least one of the litanies of what Democrats had to say about Iraq, Saddam, and WMD prior to 2003. One of the best is by Norman Podhoretz written for Commentary Magazine this month.
Podhoretz Commentary


There are just too many strong quotes from just too many Democrats to include here, but here are some key ones that would seem to make charges of “Bush Lied” so completely laughable that one uttering them would lose all credibility forever. To have such thoughts though is to forget the power of the MSM. Were Republicans to attempt such a re-write of history, the MSM on all fronts … radio, TV, print, and internet would (validly) be throwing their own words in their faces 24x7 and they would be quickly stopped. Other than spotty coverage on Fox and the Internet, most people are hard pressed to even know ANY of the quotes from the very people now saying “Bush Lied”.

Here is Hillary Clinton in 2002:

“In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical- and biological-weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members.”

Gee, she points to a tie between Iraq and al-Qaeda AND the whole bunch of WMD. Is she lying? She is looking at the same intelligence that Bush is and drawing the same conclusions.

Here is John Kerry in 2002:
“I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force—if necessary—to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”

Here is Jay Rockefeller, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence committee that same year:

“There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. . . . We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction.”

Why are these people not “liars”? Is it simply because they are Democrats? How can the MSM carry out a constant drumbeat of “Bush manufactured intelligence”, “Bush led us to war under false pretenses” and completely ignore these quotes that are freely available in the Congressional record? Most all of these are on tape. It takes Republicans buying commercial time before people even see things like John Kerry saying “I voted for the $80 Billion before I voted against it”. There is no MSM interest in either truth OR consequences when it comes to defeat of Bush.

The terrorists, the Democrats, and the MSM all realize that they are in a race. Demonstrations against al-Qaeda in the streets of Jordan have to give them some pause, as do of course each new Iraqi solider trained, and each election and strengthening of the government in Iraq. They have firmly cast their lot with the goal of chaos in Iraq, terrorists on the march around the world, and “blame Bush” for as many deaths as people will stand that result, before they finally ask “what now”?

The re-write of recent history is in full swing in the MSM. Those of us that look at both sides can only watch and marvel at the power that the MSM still holds over most of the sheep in this country.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

High End Outing

On what has to have been one of the nicest Veteran’s Days in MN history a group of four intrepid dabblers and hangers-on to the world of high-end stereo and video journeyed out and about the Twin Cities to sample the wares of the elite of home entertainment.

After a good deal of searching, AudioVideo Dimensions at 1695 Hwy 169 N was located. A new location with potential, but not a lot of interesting gear at this point. Next Stop, Halsten Entertainment, just north of Hwy 395 at the Louisiana Blvd exit. This was also a new stop for us, but not a new store. Excellent selection of video, with all the latest Sony products including their answer to LCOS called SXRD, which seems to bring rear projection sets one step closer to being “as good as plasma”. Of course plasma keeps dropping price, so the plasma sets that used to be $20K are now $5K, which since the LCOS/SXRD of similar sizes are only $3-4K is a lot closer to being within reach. Most likely we will eventually get to flat wall panels in whatever size desired, but the trail will not be straight.

The video market continues to be completely wild with “generations” of technologies going by in a year or less and the drive to lower and lower price points at ever increasing screen sizes, resolutions, brightness, screen types, and picture quality is stunning. The other “find” of the day in video was also a Sony, the Bravia 32” XBR LCD flat panel. A stunning set, amazing to think that when I purchased a 31” Phillips set in ’90 it was a HUGE picture … and of course that tube set weighed over 100 lbs.

A stop at High-Fi Sound is always an important part of the trip. It was the site of our groups “original experience of sound stage”, a seminal point in life for anyone who has enjoyed the (costly) pleasure. Ah yes, mid 80s, Dalquist DQ-10s, Jennifer Warnes, Famous Blue Raincoat, but I digress. This trip was one of those “rare find” trips where a new piece of audio gear in the price range and “WAF” (Wife Acceptance Factor) parameters of mortal men could consider purchasing. We were treated to the sound of a set of B&W XT4s being played through about $15K of Macintosh tube gear. How they sound through more pedestrian electronics remains to be seen, but what we heard was stunning in soundstage, midrange, highs, and even surprising in bass. Being relatively small speakers, they “Kanna change the laws of physics” as Scotty would say, but they give it a good run.

A rare find … Speakers that I can dream of, at a “mere” $2500 for the pair, and they can fit well in virtually any setting at least visually … and it seems with a good chance at being very rewarding sonically as well.
B&W XT Speakers


As is our custom, we were also able to make a stop at Audio Perfections, which we fondly know as “Audio Perversions” since it has that kind of “darkened and off the beaten path” look about it that makes it appear that it could be vaguely illicit in some sense. Significant gear has been purchased there by the group however, and we were given a listen to a set of Wilson Maxx Series 2’s. Something like $45K for the pair, not looking particularly “unobtrusive”, and weighing in at something like 500lbs each, they push the WAF beyond any sense of reason. No doubt they were being driven by gear and cables that more than matched their cost factor, so a mere $100 grand “boom box”. Fortunately, the material selected for listening in this case, some set of drums from the 50’s did not even make us pine away for the unattainable.

We moved on to “the big box store” of Best Buy just down the road to finish out the day looking at some things eminently more affordable, and closed the evening with the standardly excellent meal at Buca di Beppo that we somehow managed to push to the territory of $50 a head. Extremely cheap next to $45K speakers at least!

I’d have to rank it very close to the top of these stereo junkets that have been happening once or twice most every year for the past 20 years. A most enjoyable way to spend a Friday afternoon away from work.

Monday, November 07, 2005

We Report, You Decide

I’ve always thought that Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch must have enjoyed a huge joke on the MSM as they came up with some of the key tag lines of Fox news. The two most prevalent of those lines are; “Fair and Balanced” and “We Report, You Decide”. Both of them are a spoof on the MSM, a spoof which Rush Limbaugh began back in the ‘80s.

For anyone who has marginally removed the scales from their eyes by looking at the news from beyond the MSM they realize that it is VERY rare for the MSM to give you EITHER a “fair and balanced” view, or to report the news as the news and not try to tell you what to think about it. There is no easier time to see that than when they are faced with a story like the riots in France that they have no idea what to make of it. Suddenly you see the MSM acting like a NEWS (as opposed to opinion) source should act all the time.

We have been told for years what to think of France. They are “sophisticated, secular, socially responsible, peace loving, solid supporters of or even the very definition of “international” … all in all, a country that the US could and should learn a great deal from. Now they have a violent “Muslim Problem” (although most of the MSM is a bit anxious of even pointing that out) on their hands. From most of the reports however it is very difficult to understand “why”?

Anyone that reads more than the MSM understands that Europe in general and France in particular have a number of structural problems that exceed the structural problems that the US has with high deficits, unemployment challenges, including minorities into their culture, social programs that have created a sense of entitlement without individual responsibility, and a lack of values that removes the moral strictures to criminal behavior. We saw some of those problems on a local scale kicked off by Katrina, in France we see them apparently ignited by a couple of youths being electrocuted running away from authorities.

Were the MSM to have any interest in Americans being better informed on the real state of the world and the problems facing our and many nations, it would be good to spend some time on the real problems rather than the “Bush bash de jour”.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Carter on Intelligent Design

I heard old Jimmy Carter, hero of the left, out on NPR the other day. He has a new book out that naturally discusses how Democrats are better on “values” than Republicans, but just aren’t marketing things right. Apparently he DOES have some issues with abortion however, although he isn’t very clear on what Democrats out to do about the fact that they have to be for abortion in any form there is in order to survive with their party’s base.

He was asked about the teaching of Intelligent Design in public schools, and he answered; “I’m a Christian and I believe that God is creator of the entire universe, but I’m a scientist as well, a nuclear engineer, the mistake is to try to mix the two topics. Intelligent Design is religion and should not be taught in schools.”.

I’m thinking there must be some breakthrough in the “consistency is not an issue” brain operation that lets the liberal mind work that way. Some humorous thoughts flash by. Maybe he thinks God created it all but God is stupid, so it really isn’t ID? Maybe he just thinks that God was fed up with intelligence and created randomness and it finally all “just happened” so it was “the randomness that done it”? Who can say, but my guess is that to Carter there is no problem with compartmentalizing the “belief in God as creator” from a scientific view that “asserts no connection to any creator”. That is the way he likes to think about it, and such “consistency is not an issue” he just goes on thinking that way.

I personally think that the “creation mechanism” issue is actually one of the more interesting problems that educated modern Christians face. I suppose a declaration that “they aren’t related” is one way to handle it, but it seems a bit shallow. I’ll have to remember to write down my thoughts on the topic in the Blog at some future point

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Week of Consistency

The MSM and Democrats seemed to have a lot of trouble gaining much traction with the “all Scooter all the time” media deluge. On Tuesday the Democrats used a rules trick to put the Senate into closed session to try to switch the media focus back to “Scooter-Wilson-Plame-Iraq” and had some success, but only shortly. Imagine the MSM howl of “partisan politics”, “how coarse the dialogue has become in Washington”, and “the opposition party trying to overturn the will of the people” if the shoe was on the other foot.

Even though I have full intellectual understanding that the liberal mind has no interest in consistency, sometimes it is especially breathtaking. Right in the midst of the mass finger pointing on the importance of “secrecy” and the horror of “leaks”, we have the Washington Post breaking the story of “covert CIA prisons” where terrorists may be held. So how did they find out about these “secret prisons”? Well obviously through “leaks”, but we aren’t calling for any investigation on THOSE are we? It is easy to understand at least, leaks that might hurt Republicans or America in general are “good”, those that might help a Republican or America are “bad”.

On a related topic, a set of emails from Michael Brown, then head of FEMA was leaked to the press during the week with resounding glee. We see glee from the same people who are constantly yammering about “privacy”, the horrors of Homeland security and claimed to live in fear of John Ashcroft. I personally think that you should assume that any email you write may show up anywhere, but apparently this is another lefty issue where the answer they believe in is something like; “If you are of a Republican stripe, then any communication that you have should be open for publishing at any time and in any partial viewing that we want to provide. We should also be able to create our own documents and attribute them to you as in the case of CBS and the Bush National Guard Documents”. Democrat or lefty of any sort? Well, of course all personal or even vaguely personal information should be completely private and maintained as such independent of whatever suspicion of crime exists, up to and including conspiracy to kill US citizens or overthrow the Government. Again, at least it is simple!

The riots in France are a rare case where the MSM hasn’t told us what to think yet, which I suspect means that they don’t know what to think. They have talked up France, Germany, and much of Europe for a long time without pointing out that fact that there are a lot of structural economic problems there, as well as racial/social tensions. My guess is that the MSM will continue to try to ignore the fact that the very systems that they have held up as the models for the US to follow have deeper problems to deal with than the US, but much in the same flavor. Aging populations to which more has been promised than can be delivered, young educated in state sponsored education systems that are increasingly unionized and weak, work forces and companies hampered by regulation and union contracts that make then non-competitive in a global market, and deficits of many forms out as far as the eye can see. Hey, but at least they have the undying admiration of the US Media and lefties.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Naming Evil

Watching the Democrats and MSM thrash about after the combination of their indictment that fell short of their desired target Karl Rove followed by a solid court nominee in Sam Alito has made me realize that they need a little friendly assistance.

These are all smart media savvy people, but they seem to have somehow failed to realize that names (like ideas) matter. Had they done even a tiny bit of advance planning they could have done a far better job of demonizing LEWIS Libby. There needed to be a huge buildup of his evil role in justification and strategy of the war in Iraq, along with some slime ops related to big business, military connections and anything else that might look bad.

None of it was done, but even worse for the liberals was the fact that the nickname “Scooter” was allowed to be the carried along as they prepared to celebrate a “Merry Fitzmas”. Perhaps they forgot a little tidbit about packaging evil. Give these names a try:

“Scooter Hitler”
“Scooter Bin Ladin”
“Scooter Manson”
“Scooter Vader”

Get the trend here? “Scooter” is not one of those labels that is easily attached to evil. When the music turns tense, the lights dark, the floors creaky, and the audience is muttering “don’t go in there”, unless this is a spoof, you can bet the heroine won’t scream “SCOOTER !!!!” when “it” pops out.

Aside from all the media and Democrat efforts to create a scandal out of thin air, one has to suspect that God is sitting upstairs laughing uproariously over the prospect of a bunch of folks that generally don’t believe in either him or the concept of “evil” working to tie it to the name “Scooter”.

Letterman and Leno tend to ignore the best stuff.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Thumbs Up!

It looks like Halloween came early this year at the Bush WH with the scary trick nomination of Harriett Miers. Today the people that supported Bush got a real treat with the nomination of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court. The WSJ “Best of the Web” had a great night tonight with a number of past and present quotes on this topic as well as the Libby indictment.

First this one from Frank Lautenberg of NJ;
“… even Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a very liberal Democrat, described his fellow New Jerseyite as "the kind of judge the public deserves--one who is impartial, thoughtful, and fair," and added, "I urge the Senate to confirm his nomination." Lautenberg was prescient; he said this on the floor of the Senate in April 1990, more than 15 years ago.” ;-)
The next few weeks are going to be one of those times where the liberal maxim of “consistency is not an issue” is going to get a major workout. Alito was confirmed by the Senate to the appeals court by the Senate 15 years ago. As I’ve pointed out before, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a very left wing Judge was approved by the Senate 96-3 in 1993 with 56 Dems and 44 Republicans, very close to the exact reverse of the current 55 R, 45 D balance. It would be hard to get to the left of good old Ruth, but nobody had any discussions about her being “divisive”, or of “filibuster”, but don’t expect the Democrats to be nearly as “fair minded” (stupid?) as the Republicans were in ’93. Also, be sure to note how interested the MSM is in reporting this historical comparison so that citizens can be aware.

On the topic of the indictment of poor old Scooter, they had this from John Kerry:

Scooter Libby picked up some support from an unlikely source: John Kerry**. In a speech on the Senate floor, Kerry said:
Is there no one finding a countervailing proportionality in this case when confronted by our own congressionally created Javert who is not just pursuing a crime but who is at the center of creating the crime which we are deliberating on now?

"Think about it," Kerry continued. "When Mr. Starr was appointed, when we authorized an independent counsel, when the grand jury was convened, the crime on trial before us now had not even been committed, let alone contemplated."

Well, c'mon, you don't really think Kerry would ever choose principle over partisanship, do you? The above comments, of course, were from 1999; here's what he said Friday):
"Today's indictment of the vice president's top aide and the continuing investigation of Karl Rove are evidence of White House corruption at the very highest levels, far from the 'honor and dignity' the president pledged to restore to Washington just five years ago."
Not too surprising to see sentiments change from Senator Straddle, but of course the MSM is just as fickle on this one. When the charge is perjury against a Democrat, the original charge is VERY important. When the charge is perjury against a Republican, there doesn’t have to be any original charge that anyone wants to talk about at all.

The following is on MoveOn.org, very cute:

The Bush administration outted CIA operative Valerie Plame as punishment for her husband's revelations about the Administration's Iraq lies. Today, a top White House official was indicted for obstructing the investigation into that cover-up. The White House will try to pretend that this is not a big deal. With a strong letter to the editor campaign, we can defeat the Republican spin machine and let the American people know the truth: that today's indictment was about the cover-up of Bush's Iraq lies and we demand that Bush clean house of all the liars.
This seems to run counter to the spirit of MoveOn's founding:

MoveOn.org Civic Action was started by Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Although neither had experience in politics, they shared deep frustration with the partisan warfare in Washington D.C. and the ridiculous waste of our nation's focus at the time of the impeachment mess. On September 18th 1998, they launched an online petition to "Censure President Clinton and Move On to Pressing Issues Facing the Nation."
As a matter of truth in advertising, shouldn't they change their name to DwellOn.org?

They do seem to have moved to the “DwellOn” view the past couple of years, and their reaction to this case would seem to complete the cycle. Like most Democrats, they have a completely different view of the world depending on which party is involved.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Liberal Mind

I finished up “The Liberal Mind” by Kenneth Minogue published in 1963 in England. I started the book with very high hopes, and in general I think it is a solid work, the case is that the reader isn’t as much up to the task as he should be. It is a strong academic work, and if one doesn’t have the background to follow all the references to Locke, Hobbes, Bentham, and many more it can become a bit of a thicket. As I have said in the past, if I had a few years to devote to study I would start out with a work like “Closing of the American Mind”, this book, or others and try to work my way back to the underlying supporting material. That task won’t be undertaken this year.

One great quote early on “…but with the liberal mind, we encounter something even more portentous: namely, a civilization busy cutting it’s links with the past and falling into a sentimental daydream.” That is certainly one way of summing it up. A bit later, “Liberalism is a vague term … it used to signify individual liberty, and now means rather state paternalism. But this is not quite accurate. It now means both.” One might add that the two concepts are at odds with each other, as he does in the book in much deeper and harder to follow logic than simply that the very act of state paternalism is going to infringe on the economic liberty of one set of people in order to provide for the receivers of the state paternalism.

In a very academic way he pretty much says “consistency is not an issue” in a number of places. A lot of time is spent understanding the liberal tendency to want to deal with “suffering”. “Liberalism develops from a sensibility which is dissatisfied with the world, …, but because it contains suffering. The theme that progress is civilization is bound up with a growing distaste for suffering in all it’s forms is a common one in liberal histories …”. “The sufferings of any class of individuals is for liberals a political problem, and politics has been taken as an activity not so much for maximizing happiness as for minimizing suffering.” “For liberalism is goodwill turned doctrinaire”.

A lot of intelligent discussion is carried out on what does “suffering” really mean, what does “politics” really mean, with the bottom line being that the liberal is going to be able to define things so that since there is bound to be SOMEONE at the bottom of any economic scale, they will “by definition” suffer, so the work of the liberal will never be done. What is more; “The point of suffering situations is that they convert politics into a crudely conceived moral battleground. On one side we find oppressors, and on the other, a class of victims”. It is great to see that someone had figured out liberals already when I was only seven.

Even more fun, “…for the ideal suffering situation is one in which the victims can be painted as virtuous and preferably heroic-noble savages, innocent children, uncorrupted proletarians …” “Those who fit the stereotype as oppressors, however, are not seen as the products of their environment, for that would incapacitate the indignation which partly fuels the impulse of reform.” He figured out that the poor, the criminal, the terrorist and all manner of other “downtrodden” elements will always have some justifiable excuse for whatever they do. The conservative however has no excuse, apparently their evil springs from a dark soul where they COULD have made te right decisions and selected the correct liberal thought, but for some unknown reason they simply chose the dark side. There can be no excuse for conservative thought!

The book covers a lot of other good ground, the liberal need for man to be the measure of all things and the need to remove all tradition, including religion in order to succeed. The idea of The conversion of everything in a society to “political purposes”, institutions in general, but education in specific. A good deal of time is spent on how quickly “education on national duty, civics, and politics” becomes simple indoctrination on liberal thought, with a natural bent to propagandize the other side, as well as the natural effect of making alternate types of thought costly to hold in the institutions that are tools for the liberal political purpose … and to a liberal, ALL problems are political.

As I said, an excellent book, but a struggle at times. Worth the effort, and one to look forward to bringing out in the future and tying together with the historical underpinnings

Friday, October 28, 2005

Perjury is a Crime Again!

Hey, perjury is back as a crime again! All it takes is for the charge to be against someone with an R next to their name. It seems like time to change our legal system so that you automatically walk with a D and are guilty with an R, it only stands to reason. We know Republicans are evil, we may as well quantify it in law to make the system more “fair”.

The media and the lefties around work were in heaven today. The world is GREAT! The vaunted 2K soldiers dead in Iraq, low poll numbers for Bush, a nomination withdrawn that was a clear mistake by Bush, and now an indictment! One could have seen a couple of clouds on their horizon in that the original charge of the investigation, “conspiracy to out a CIA agent” was nowhere to be found, there were no charges against their favorite demon Karl Rove, and if you really dug in the back of the paper one might notice that the economic numbers for July-September were great and the market shot up 170 points. No matter, there is enough bad news around for the left to enjoy the week and the day very much, they need to have their fun too I suppose.

The contrast with the Clinton years interesting to look at, and it is amazing to see how much it is ignored. In two years of the Fitzgerald special prosecutor investigation and grand-jury there has been no attack by either the administration or the media on any of the witnesses or the prosecutor. Contrast that to the demonization of Ken Starr, Linda Tripp, Kathleen Wiley, and anyone else involved with the investigations of Clinton. The special prosecutor was harangued at every turn by both the president’s people and the media, and every witness who stood up to the Clintonistas and was trashed.

In Clinton’s deposition of January 17th, his memory failed him 267 times with “I can’t recall”, “I don’t remember”, “I don’t think so”, etc. Scooter Libby is charged with perjury for not correctly remembering specifically who told him about some obscure CIA worker (at the time), and when they told him. Clinton couldn't remember oral sex at the office. If Libby said he recalled and he is proved wrong, then that is perjury, and reasonable people believe it is always a crime even if the left and the press do not if the person charged is Bill Clinton. Our system requires that decent people tell the truth under oath and be prosecuted when they don’t. We at least proved that Clinton isn’t a decent person, and that the left and the MSM has no interest in justice if one of their own is involved. Their interest is a lot greater now.

We have returned to the game of “it isn’t the crime, it is the cover-up” that we have discovered is a game that only works one way. It was the source of Watergate, Iran Contra, and now the Plame affair. No charges presented on the original charge, so no crime, but the prosecutor hopes that he has enough evidence to catch Libby in “perjury and obstruction of justice”. The sad part of being a conservative is that consistency DOES matter, perjury is always wrong, so even though the other side doesn’t play by the same rules we aren’t allowed to follow suit. Hats off to the Bush Administration for no attacks on either the special prosecutor or the damaging witnesses, a class act and a VERY easy comparison to Slick Willie and the gang for those that want to make it.

The media actually handled the special prosecutor investigation and even the indictment correctly as well. The problem is that they don’t handle it the same if a Democrat is being investigated. They also somehow lose their “investigative edge” when it comes to charges against a Republican, and somehow fail to dig for “little factors”, like; Why can Joe Wilson write an article for the NY Times and not be bound by an NDA from the CIA? Why would the CIA tell Joe Wilson who asked for the information, hasn’t our top spy agency every heard of “compartmentalization”, or “need to know”? If Valerie Plame/Wilson was really undercover, why was she driving into CIA headquarters every day? If your wife is an undercover agent, is it really wise to write an article for the NY Times under your own name and expect nobody to notice you or potentially inquire about your wife? Somehow a charge against a Republican is so "obviously correct" that the MSM has no curiosity, a charge against a Democrat means that all factors, no matter how far "out there" that could exonerate "their guy" have to be followed with extreme alacrity.

We have to give credit where credit is due. The left has an indictment on the Bush Administration, may their joy be full. Searching the web a bit, it sounds like there were 61 indictments or other criminal charges of Clinton and his Administration and 47 convictions or guilty pleas. We all know that none of those were deserved of course, but just for comparison it is worthy to consider.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Dissing Peggy

I generally love what Peggy Noonan has to say. Her column in the WSJ is one of the things I look forward to every Thursday, partially because she writes well, but mostly because I generally find her ideas well thought out. I read her book “What I Saw At the Revolution” about her years in the Reagan WH, and while I thought the perspective to be a bit “female” (I guess a woman can be forgiven for that), I enjoyed it a lot and learned the key point that she wrote the “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” speech. So it is with some thought that I disagree with here.

In her column today Link to Column she takes a tack that I completely understand emotionally, but expect that even she would turn away from if she thought about it at a deeper level. Her thesis is that “the wheels have come off the trolley and the trolley off the tracks, and things are broken at a fundamental level that can’t or won’t be fixed for some time”. She goes on to lament the unpaid entitlements, the elite deciding to get theirs and ignore everyone else, the technology, and complexity … and oh, why don’t we just eat worms and die.

Which is I think where she misses the point. There is ALWAYS malaise around. Carter talked of it in the ‘70s, but it was very real emotionally to a lot of Americans. I was young then and I felt it strongly. I’m thankful for it, it made me turn to conservatism, religion, self-reliance, hard work and a lot of other good things. I suspect that while she likely wouldn’t admit it, the Harriet Miers nomination (still on when she wrote the piece) was a big part of what was weighing her soul. She took time away from her job to help Bush, she believed in him, seeing a mistake like Miers would have to be a disappointment.

I see the “despondent factor” in a lot of folks, usually those my age and older, and Peggy is in that group. No matter how much we may want to understand the world in a “bigger picture”, or keep our hope alive for a world beyond the grave, age and decline are part of all our lives. It has a very real tendency to make us want to believe that things are getting worse, the future is scary, uncertain, and fragile and the way things are going we are really better off to have less time ahead of us than behind us. Tell that malarkey to an 18year old or even a 20 or 30 year old. All those negative things are true for **US**, OUR FUTURE is “getting worse”, “scary”, “uncertain”, etc … but THEIR future is “bright, unlimited, full of possibility, exciting, wonderful, etc”.

There is an even bigger problem though. More than any other, the Boomers are a generation where even the “elite” chose to ignore thousands of years of western civilization with 100s of very intelligent men that lived lives that at the fundamental level were not really so different from ours … birth, youth, bodies, limited brains, love, families, pain, pleasure, age, infirmity, infinite souls, death. Plato, Descartes, Bacon, Hume, Hegel, Hobbes, Shakesphere, Kant, Locke, Russle … and on for a lot of different and wonderful lists.

Other than the Bible, my favorite book, “The Closing of the American Mind”, a book that I have read twice and still don’t claim to fully understand, at least opens the door to the fact that there is a HUGE reservoir of culture and thought that has an immense amount of perspective and meaning to add to our lives if we would only avail ourselves of it. Bloom (and Buckley for that matter) realized that starting in the 50’s American Universities turned their backs on that cultural heritage because the effect of understanding it, and to some degree even being exposed to it is “conservative”. Conservative to the extent that there exists a culture with ideas and patterns that have stood the test of time and are “worthy” at a level that this afternoon’s whim or pop song can never duplicate. In their haste to be “free” of morality, convention and restraint, the generation that came of age in the 50’s and 60’s abandoned the greater meaning of the life of western man, and along with it religion. Their version of “liberalism” ended up being a “flight from the worthy to the worthless”, and the left elite, the media and the Democratic party still lives there.

The very tiny exposure that I have had to that storehouse has much the same effect on the soul as worship or a starry night away from city lights. It shows our smallness, but also positions us as “a part”. Man not being “the measure of all things”, but being a part of the big picture if we are willing to accept that standing of “having a place” rather than trying to kill both God and Culture so it can be “all about me”. The Republican party is home to most of the religious people that are connected to the best part of that storehouse, but the human part of that cultural storehouse is also of great value. Sadly, even those of us that call ourselves “conservative” did not receive the proper exposure to that storehouse in our youth, so now a few of us muddle around the edges as we plunge on in years hoping to grasp some small pieces.

It is a worthy endeavor. At the very least it humbles us and inoculates against the smugness of the left, and the pessimism of the paleocons. So tonight I’ll say a little prayer for Peggy, and think that maybe with the withdrawal of Miers the worst spot in the Bush years is over and the wind is at our back.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Obvious

I hardly ever listen to Sean Hannity on the radio, nor even watch him on TV, but I happened to this evening and was rewarded with having to give myself a dope-slap. Sean had a woman on that claimed to be original author of the legislation under which any indictments for “outing a CIA agent” would be made. As anyone who listens to more than the stock MSM understands, she reported there couldn’t be a crime here since Plame wasn’t undercover, and hadn’t been for a very long time. Reasonable people already knew that, BUT she went on to mention the OBVIOUS, and I was forced to smack myself.

Anyone that works in technology in the US, and no doubt a lot of other fields is very familiar with a document called the “NDA” or “Non Disclosure Agreement”. There is a long list of things that one isn’t supposed to disclose unless explicitly allowed by lawyers … unannounced products, proprietary technology, information about customers and on and on. NDAs are common and well understood. The point was made that it is obvious that something was very odd about the Joe Wilson / CIA deal, since he NEVER SIGNED AN NDA.

If there was such a thing as “right wing reporting”, this would have to have been reported 2 years ago, and the fact that it wasn’t shows how credulous the MSM is to fables that can damage a sitting Republican President, and what utter boobs those of us on the right including our media people are. It ought to have been IMPOSSIBLE for Joe Wilson to do the piece in the New York Times that he did http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0706-02.htm without going to jail if he was under an NDA.

Nobody collects garbage at the CIA without an NDA, it is impossible that they would send someone to gather information and not require one. It is also interesting to note that the article written by Wilson mentions Cheney by name twice and the office of VP once. Was it really important WHO in the Bush administration had “asked the question”? It seems odd that an agency that is supposed to be “all about secrets” would need to divulge to a sub-contractor who in government asked for the information in the first place, since organizations like the CIA are very familiar with the idea of “need to know” … unless one wanted to point a finger later that is.

So “somehow”, the CIA manages to hire a sub-contractor that happened to have worked in the Clinton administration and has a long history of being associated with liberal clauses. In 2004 he would work on the Kerry campaign for a short time until they decided that didn’t “look good”. They further fail to put him under any restriction to report to whomever he wanted on the information that he might find as he carried out his task “for the Vice President”.

Those aspects are facts, when one gets into the “whys”, it is easy to slip into conspiracy theories. Very gross incompetence on the part of the CIA is of course possible, but it isn’t very hard to read the NYT article and understand why folks would start calling the VPs office and asking “Why did you send Joe Wilson to Niger”? When of course the VPs office did nothing of the sort. It seems pretty reasonable to believe that they may not be very happy with the CIA for selecting someone from the Clinton Administration for a task that they requested who later publishes his view of things in the NYT and points prominently to Dick Cheney. All it takes is the word dropped that “well, his wife works at CIA and suggested him”, and we are on our way to a “scandal”, at least for the MSM if there is a Republican in the WH.

Conservatives find it hard to imagine that “Bush’s own CIA” would somehow be “out to get him”, but people familiar with government understand very well. Almost everyone that works at the CIA is a career government worker and member of the AFSCME union. The AFSCME union is just as liberal as the rest of the unions, so unsurprisingly most of the CIA has about as much time for the Bush Administration as the New York Times or your average Democrat.

Does not having a subcontractor sign an NDA “prove anything”? Of course not, no more than there is any “proof” that if information about Valerie Plame really did come from Karl Rove or “Scooter” Libby that it was somehow “retaliation”, both are just stories. The difference is when the MSM takes a story and keeps repeating it over and over some folks get confused about the difference.

The biggest message that anyone on the right needs to get out of this is WE DON’T HAVE ANY REPORTERS! To speak of at least. Most of our “right wing media” has so much left wing media to respond to, they have gotten lazy. They don’t go out and find the story and make the story. They follow the lead of the NYT just like everyone else. That needs to stop and we need to “make our own stories”, they can’t be any bigger fantasies than the ones from the left.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Not News, W On What We Are Fighting

I ran into this Bush speech given to a group of military wives out on Powerline. It isn’t very different from a lot of his speeches on Iraq, but while the MSM focuses entirely on the manufactured Plame scandal and the artificial milestone of two thousand servicemen in Iraq it is interesting to think about what the debate would be about if both sides were actually covered in the MSM. As it is, only people that seek out alternative news sources get very much exposure to there being any other side to the topic beyond “Iraq is a horrible mistake, a complete mess, we were lied to, we need to get out immediately … etc”.

“Some have argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions of our coalition in Iraq, claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals. I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September 11th, 2001, and al Qaeda attacked us anyway. The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse. (Applause.)

The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet the militants killed more than 150 Russian schoolchildren in Beslan. Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence -- the Israeli presence on the West Bank, or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, or the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. 
No acts of ours involves the rage of killers. And no concessions, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans of murder. On the contrary; they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory. (Applause.) 
The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims -- and I quote -- "what is good for them and what is not." And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride. (Laughter.)When 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing, or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school, or hospital workers are killed caring for the wounded, this is murder, pure and simple -- the total rejection of justice and honor and morality and religion. These militants are not just enemies of America or enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and enemies of humanity. (Applause.) 
We have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before -- in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags, the Cultural Revolution, and the killing fields. Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth, they have endless ambitions of imperial domination; they wish to make everyone powerless, except themselves.***Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples, claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent. Zarqawi has said that Americans are, "the most cowardly of God's creatures." But let us be clear: It is cowardice that seeks to kill children and the elderly with car bombs. It's cowardice that cuts the throat of a bound captive. It is cowardice that targets worshipers leaving a mosque. It is courage that liberated more than 50 million people; it is courage that keeps an untiring vigil against the enemies of a rising democracy. It is courage in the cause of freedom that will once again destroy the enemies of freedom. (Applause.) 
Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It's not justified. With every random bombing and every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots or resistance fighters -- they are murderers at war with the Iraqi people, themselves. In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress -- from tyranny to liberation, to national elections, to the ratification of a constitution -- in the space of two and a half years. (Applause.) 
There's always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. That would be a pleasant world -- but it isn't the world in which we live. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday's brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory -- and we will keep our nerve and we will win that victory. (Applause.) 
Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision -- and they end up alienating decent people across the globe. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure -- until those societies collapse in corruption and decay. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that free men and women are weak and decadent -- until the day that free men and women defeat them.” 

I’m always struck by the cynicism of the left position. While somehow certain of the wrongness of the current situation, there is never a bit of thought as to what alternative they would be in support of. Saddam still in power and Zarqawi operating from a safe base of power? Usually met with a blank stare, but for the most sophisticated lefties, potentially a response that “Zarqawi wouldn’t be there if Saddam was in power”… but of course he WAS there with Saddam in power after he fled there from Afghanistan after we attacked there.

The bottom line though is that it makes no difference. People of the left are never concerned by arguing against a current position with the vague idea of the alternative just being “better” or even just “different”, with no thought of method or reason to get to the different state of affairs. Even when a conservative is faced with a Clinton or a Carter in office their very nature requires them to suggest another course of action that has some consistency of position before they argue against what even an opposition President is doing. What is more, they tend to “support the country”, so view even a president of the other party as “their president”, and are willing to support them in positions that are reasonable for the country. In Clinton’s case, this meant NAFTA and welfare reform as examples. In Carter’s case it was pretty much we strongly supported his self defense in the face of a swimming rabbit, the highlight of his forgettable administration.