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.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness

http://www.amazon.com/Brief-Tour-Human-Consciousness-Impostor/dp/0131872788/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

I need to do a better job of keeping my Blog up to date with my reading. I have a tendency to read a book, be excited about the next book, and rather than taking the time to make a few notes in the Blog, I start reading again. I recently finished the subject book by V. S. Ramachandran. It is a very short book, and quite accessible for books on the subject. The main assertion is that by taking detailed looks at small unusual brain syndromes we can come to a better understanding of standard brain mechanisms, including those that give rise to consciousness.

There is a condition called “Capgras Delusion” where the patient thinks their mother is an imposter. It can also happen with other people or even pets, but the specific initial case involved the mother. What is happened seems to be that the linkage of emotional content to the face has been lost. There is a place in your brain called the Fusiform Gyrus that recognizes “objects” including faces, but this has to be linked to “emotional content” in the Amygdala for you to “feel it is your mother”.

There are a number of examples like this discussed … phantom limbs, and his favorite, synesthesia, a condition where the senses are mingled. A musical note might be perceived as a color, or the number 5 may be seen as red and the number 6 green. It turns out that this kind of cross-wiring is quite common, as much as one in two hundred people, and seven times more common in artists.

He hangs quite a lot on synesthesia, including the development of language, long a mystery to strong materialists and evolutionists. He asserts that there is enough “standard cross wiring” in all of us so that there are “basic connections” that all peoples have built off to create language from grunts, groans, squeals, etc. One has to admire the level of faith that very intelligent people will go to in order to avoid the idea that there is some “intelligent design” in the universe. As Luther said, humans are creatures of worship, so we worship something. Ramachandran has a firm faith in the god of randomness.

There is a fun chapter on art that attempts to create 10 universal laws of art: Peak Shift, Grouping, Contrast, Isolation, Perceptual Problem Solving, Symmetry, Abhorrence of coincidence, Repetition-Rhythm-orderliness, balance and Metaphor. I won’t go into them all, but for someone not very adept at understanding art, it was an interesting set of ideas. The artist is executing “the lie that revels the truth” (Picasso). By causing our brains to fire in ways that a “faithful reproduction” of what the artist is trying to get across, the artist creates a work that is “more faithful than nature” in conveying the information to a HUMAN brain.

The book ends up with a series of discussions of consciousness, this time led off with a condition called Cotard’s syndrome where the patient claims to be dead. In this case the vision centers have been cut off from ALL emotional content, so the patient has no feelings of anything around them. Interestingly such patients are very resistant to intellectual correction. Once such a delusional model has developed the connection (or lack of) to emotion seems to prevent then from seeing the reality that others can see. Somewhat like trying to talk your best friend out of marrying their 3rd alcoholic spouse it would seem.

Maybe the reason that I don’t get around to putting all the books in is because I write too much! All in all a very good little book on the subject, interesting, well written, and highly recommended.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Madison and Time

The last couple of days were spent going down to Madison WI and touring the campus with my oldest son and wife. Lots of memories flood back to my brain as I walk State Street and the campus, as the first time that I was down there was my Sophomore year of HS for state speech tournament. The town seemed unbelievably big to someone coming from a farm near a town of 2K with a HS class of 140, and the University seemed completely beyond conception to a person whose Father had graduated 8th grade and Mother had done a two year teachers college. I was awed.

I made two further trips there in HS, one for speech and one for a few days at a state 4-H event. Both still real adventures. My view of college was “something you do to enable you to get a better job”, something that I never really saw the error in until years after taking my current job. What you believe about life is as least as important as the abilities that you may or may not have. I believed Madison was beyond my capabilities, and therefore it was.

Things are different now. With over a quarter century at a large company with many personal and business trips to many cities and a few other countries, Madison has shrunk quite a bit, but it is still a big school. The college kids have gotten A LOT younger, but it is still a very impressive University and it is high on my son’s list of hopes, along with getting into Naval ROTC. So many bittersweet feelings to see someone you love so deeply on the doorstep of adult life with all the opportunity, challenge, risk, decisions, competition, promise, dreams, unknowns and determination sweeping them onward. It is the way that things are meant to be, and there is so little more that a parent can do beyond love and prayers. There are a lot of special times in parenthood, but this one seems especially poignant.

The truth that no matter what the discussions, books, movies, or thoughts we think, we only live a single life is a sense that floods over me at a lot of occasions. We can plan for and envision the future, we can talk or read of how others experience events, but the reality of living them is often quite different. While I might wish that the school for the first to leave the nest was closer still than 3+ hours away, there is nothing else to wish for than the best that gives his life what he desires. There is lots of drama to be worked out in the next year.

In a bigger picture I was struck by the energy and optimism of a major US University in the face of the daily pessimism that the MSM provides. When I first went down there in ’72 the culture was still the radical “tear down the country” view at a university where they had bombed the math building in ’70. We walked by that building and the tour guide mentioned the bombing and pointed to the difference in the bricks on the building, they purposely didn’t match the color.

It is a much quieter place than it was in the ‘70s, and the focus is on academics and sports, and quietly (with parents around) that it is “the #1 party school”. The single reference to politics during all the presentations was to the effect that, yes the school is politically active, and maybe liberal (MAYBE?), but it also has the 2nd largest number of Young Republicans of any US campus. The students doing the talking to prospective students were certainly talking about cooping, interning, and getting job offers from major US corporations … not marching down State Street.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Who Needs Air America?



Found this little gem this evening at http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/10/18/leakprobe.ap/index.html

When Air America was started it’s proponents claimed that something was needed to “answer Fox News and Talk Radio”. Fox news never goes this far.

The level of close-up and the unflattering nature of the picture coupled with the heading tells you all you need to know, but this is SUPPOSED to be “news”, not editorial. I’ve written on this topic before, but this is so completely over the top that it is hard to imagine even talk radio attempting to put out this level of mis-statement, even if they DID label it as “editorial”. It is at the same level of “fact” as the Rather manufactured documents. Some basic points:

• The whole statement of “slash and burn assault” is completely ridiculous. Want to compare it with the Clinton administration and James Carvelle coming out and saying of Paula Jones; “Drag a $100 bill through a trailer park and you never know what you will dredge up”? How about finding out and disclosing a 30 year old affair by Congressman Henry Hyde? The list was constant and endless. The previous administration was completely “slash and burn” and had two guys … Carvelle and Begala dedicated to doing just that. The MSM LOVED it!
• It was well known in Washington that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent, and she hadn’t been undercover for 6 years. There never was anything to leak, and there wasn’t any damage caused. The whole “damage” is press created. Rather than create false documents this is a “create a false story in broad daylight” … since one set of people only follow the MSM we can tell them whatever we want and make it a “real story”.
• The whole “faulty British Intelligence” discussion was investigated by an independent prosecutor in Britain, and the head of the BBC that brought up the “sexed up” claim was the one forced to resign.

It seems there is currently no limit to the level of malfeasance of the MSM. If a Democrat was forced to submit to these sorts of scrutiny, bombing Chinese embassies, making deals with North Korea to give them nuclear reactors and fuel, donor maintenance events, no controlling legal authority, and perjury would all have been nasty problems. For a Republican administration all that is needed is to make up a problem out of whole cloth and keep reporting on it. There is a good reason why reasonable Americans that would rather not waste their time reading information that is less accurate than the National Enquirer have just decided to just ignore the MSM entirely and go elsewhere.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Miers Forces

I’ve read a number of well written articles on the Harriet Miers nomination from the right of all sorts. The forces seem to pretty much stack up like this:

The extreme Bush / WH loyalists – These folks remind me of the MSM and “Standard Democrats” during the Clinton Lewinsky fiasco. The “stand by your man” crowd. Fortunately this is a very small group, since I’d argue that the label “conservative” doesn’t apply here. Consistency IS an issue for conservatives, ideas DO matter, and keeping promises is IMPORTANT. Bush has done a lot of good things, but this isn’t one of them, and supporting him in a gross error is just being a boot licking lackey.

The Paleo-Con opportunists – Bush was never their man. They may have held their nose and voted for him twice, but they don’t like Iraq, they don’t like any of the spending, they don’t like the people in the cabinet, and in general they still smell the county-club bluish blood of Bush Sr and Prescott on W. This is an opportunity to do the “see, we told you so” and they are enjoying it as much as a Paleo over enjoys anything while waiting for the sky to fall.

The Religious Right – They are a confused lot. Their leadership in the form of Dobson and others is saluting this woman because they have blessed her as “one of them”. A lot of the troops aren’t nearly as much the country bumpkins as the media would like to portray them as, but still, they are pretty sure they know what a skunk under the deck smells like when they smell one, no matter that Dobson tells them it is the neighbors nice black and white kitty.

The MSM – The feeding frenzy is wide open. They opened a wound with Katrina, Bush started floundering around, and now an unforced error. Delay, the Plame affair, falling poll numbers, things couldn’t be better. True, the voting in Iraq looked positive and the deficit is down by 23%, but those stories have been solidly buried. They feel they finally have the evil Bush on the ropes and they want him DOWN. Things haven’t been this good since Abu Grab. They have the House and Senate already in the “D column”. They may have forgotten the Republicans greatest asset. They get to run against Democrats.

The White House – The bunker mentality is operative. Peggy Noonan had a great column last week http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/ “Fasten Your Beltway, It’s Going to be a Bumpy Ride”. When you start calling your own people sexist and elitist, you are driving in the ditch. I remain convinced that “something is up” at the WH, but other than my “drinking metaphor” I have no clue. The political ears suddenly all went tone deaf and we have a sudden administration personality change. Beats me, but they have lost it for the moment.

The Lefties – They are happy about fighting on the Right and anything that is bad for Bush is hard to not be a little happy about. There is some confusion here too however. The term “evangelical Christian” is not a term they like to see associated with someone wearing black robes. They are enjoying the fireworks, but realize that when the party is over they likely have to get this woman voted down, and after that they wonder what they will get.

Me and all the reasonable, intelligent people that agree with me ;-) – The shock is wearing off. Bush decided to shoot himself and he is bleeding, so where do we go from here? What is the best way out from this point? My feeling that the worst thing is to get her confirmed, therefore I am in huge agreement with Noonan … Meyers withdrawing is best, not getting her out of committee is next, and if need be, she has to be voted down in the Senate. One hates to be in a coalition with Teddy Kennedy, but Politics is a messy game. If the WH doesn’t come to this could get even messier, thank God this is ’05 and not ’06, or it would be real trouble. There is LONG time to go until the off-years, plenty of time for recovery, but so far no signs of that.

Not an enjoyable time for most conservatives, but there is still the possibility that it could turn out OK. Having a little honest squabble in the ranks from time to time can help people of principle sort out what is really important and come together stronger when the dust clears. It could also fracture the Reagan coalition and begin the rise of the Democrats too, but while the MSM is hopeful of that, so far they show now signs of having anything to run on other than “we are not Bush” at this point. Winning an off-year with no platform isn’t going to be that easy a task even if Bush keeps trying to screw up the pudding.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Quiet Please

It appears that there are a couple of pieces of good news well buried in the MSM. First the most secret, the deficit dropped $93 Billion in one year, a reduction of 23% with no increase in taxes and complete lack of control on the spending side. If anyone could see their way clear to reduce THE RATE OF GROWTH in spending to something like the inflation rate we would be back to surpluses in no time … or at least just prior to 2008 when Social Security can no longer fund itself from the payroll tax.

An article off CNN will be available for awhile at http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/10/14/federaldeficit.ap/

The article even included the following now little reported fact: “The White House and most economists say the truest measure of the deficit is relative to the size of the economy. In those terms, the deficit measured 2.6 percent of gross domestic product. The 2004 deficit, by contrast, equaled 3.6 percent of GDP. That is well below the post-World War II worst-ever record, a 6 percent figure set in 1983 under President Reagan.”

I love that paragraph. First of all “The White House and …”. Why wouldn’t one simply say that economists, mathematicians, news people without bias, and in fact anyone that understands numbers in any way realizes that numbers must be compared in a context? Absolute dollar figures unadjusted for inflation are very misleading. Quoting deficits as anything OTHER than either a percentage of GDP or adjusting for inflation is more a statement of political bias than it is an attempt to convey information. Well, even though that is true, I guess the MSM couldn’t very well state it could they? It is also interesting how they combine “post-WWII” and “worst-ever”. Wouldn’t “post-WWII” pretty much cover it? “Worst-ever” would seem to make one think of something else. Why wouldn’t one say something like “The worst figure since FDR’s record deficits was in 1983 during the Reagan administration? Oh, that’s right, FDR was a Democrat, those are the good guys.

If there were an unbiased media it might be useful for people in a democracy to know that a growing economy has reduced the deficit 23% in one year and that the current deficit numbers are well off historical highs. People might be able to make rational choices with information like that, but a headline of “Deficit Drops Below Last Years Record” with an immediate promise it will rise again next year and they bury the story should be good enough to make sure nobody much gets the news.

The second piece is the VERY quiet voting on the constitution in Iraq. Apparently the MSM realized that they were too shocked the last time around and actually reported the story for a couple of days, so this time they are gong to be even more silent in hopes that the good news will be unnoticed, hopelessness on Iraq will be maintained, and the Bush poll numbers can continue to suffer.

It appears that turnout was larger than in January. In January there were 347 violent attacks during the election, this time there were 13. Sunnis turned out in significant numbers and two heavily Sunni provinces voted against the Constitution as expected, but unexpectedly, two Sunni provinces appear to have voted in favor. To anyone but a Terrorist or liberal these would be very positive signs that would deserve strong reporting at a minimum. Determining what side the MSM isn’t very hard to do.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fighting the Last War

The following is stolen from The Best of the Web, I couldn’t see how to write the sentiment any better.
"In a letter to his top deputy in Iraq, al-Qaeda's No. 2 leader said the United States 'ran and left their agents' in Vietnam and the jihadists must have a plan ready to fill the void if the Americans suddenly leave Iraq," the Associated Press reports from Washington: 
"Things may develop faster than we imagine," Ayman al-Zawahri wrote in a letter to his top deputy in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. "The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam--and how they ran and left their agents--is noteworthy. . . . We must be ready starting now." . . .
"More than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media," he wrote.

Is Iraq another Vietnam? Zarqawi thinks so, as do "antiwar" politicians here in America and many in the media. And in this respect, at least, Iraq does resemble Vietnam: America's enemies and domestic opponents of the war, acting in sync if not in concert, are attempting to defeat the war effort "in the battlefield of the media."

But there the similarity ends. For one thing, the media are nowhere near as monolithic, or as powerful, as they were during the Vietnam era. Arguably the war in Vietnam was lost when Walter Cronkite declared as much after the Tet Offensive. Cronkite's lapse into advocacy was, as Newsweek's Howard Fineman argued in January, the beginning of the end of "the notion of a neutral, non-partisan mainstream press." Cronkite and his successors squandered the public trust they had earned, with the result that no journalist today--no, not even your humble Moose Blogger!--comes anywhere close to wearing the mantle of "most trusted man in America."
For another, there is no serious antiwar movement today. Antiwar protests in 2005 consist of the same crackpot rent-a-mobs who long before 9/11 were disrupting meetings of groups like the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund. Cindy Sheehan is a case in point: Sold by the media as a grieving Everymom, she turned out to be an America-hating lunatic. Thus, as we noted Monday, there is no move among American politicians, outside the Angry Left fringe, to withdraw from Iraq or defund the effort there.( The Senate voted last Friday to give President Bush $50 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. military efforts against terrorism, money that would push total spending for the operations beyond $350 billion. The vote was 97-0)

But what about those public opinion polls that show a majority of Americans think liberating Iraq was "a mistake"? The same polls show a majority opposing a precipitous pullout. This seems to be a contradiction, but it really isn't. The idea that Iraq was a "mistake" reflects anxiety about another Vietnam-like defeat; the opposition to withdrawal reflects a determination not to let that happen.

In short, those who hope for another Vietnam appear to have succeeded, for the moment, in persuading most Americans to fear another Vietnam. But that is a far cry from persuading them to accept another Vietnam.
One of the many things I never understand about the left is if it gives them any pause to be in agreement with the people that one would assume are their enemies as well as the enemies of all civilized people. Guys that like to set up roadside bombs, cut off peoples heads with glee, and unquestionably took credit for 9-11 are matter of factly saying that they are thinking that the anti-war folks and the MSM in the US might be “winning” soon, which would bring the troops out of Iraq, so al-Qaeda should “be ready”.

Since I eschew the “left is stupid” idea, I’m left with thoughts like the following:

• They are incompetent or deluded on this. They either don’t care to follow the news well enough, or have decided that there is some conspiracy making things like this note up and the terrorists are really living in fear of the US leaving Iraq.
• They simply don’t care. 9-11, or “9-11x1000” they feel the US deserves it, and it doesn’t matter what happens in Iraq or Afghanistan. Each US soldiers life is just too precious and it doesn’t matter how many future civilians may be lost.
• What is important is that Bush proves to be a failure. In some ways, the higher the cost, the better. This US system, and especially any US with Republicans in charge needs to be changed by any means possible. If that takes a US loss in Iraq and massive terrorist attacks on US soil, it is a small price to pay for “a decent government in Washington”.

My gut tells me it is some version of “all of the above” with a lot of Bush anger and wishful or avoidance thinking about the future to drive the not caring or not looking at who their bedfellows are. This is a problem that goes way back though. The Jane Fonda’s, and even the John Kerry’s of the Vietnam era really didn’t seem to mind being associated with Ho Chi Minn or other North Vietnamese leaders that turned out to be responsible for the massacre of millions. In an even bigger picture others had no problem with being on the side of the USSR or agents of the USSR in Nicaragua, Cuba, or other places. This isn’t a new phenomenon for the left.

One can only hope that the BOW is right about the polls and Americans are able to see beyond the MSM into what needs to be done, even (especially) when it is hard.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Ending Age of Anxiety

I suffered through to the end of “The Age of Anxiety”. Sometimes I REALLY wonder why I go to all the trouble of reading both sides when it is obvious that at least the left is proud to completely ignore any view but their own. This book is one of those “serious intellectual works” where it seems the author would be embarrassed to ignore the idea that there are AT LEAST two sides to most issues, and we are all in danger of doing exactly the same thing as our “sworn enemies” (McCarthy in the case of this book) if we fail to be aware of that.

I hadn’t realized the connection between Kennedy and McCarthy in that old Joe K made a deal with Joe M so that he wouldn’t come into the state to campaign for Henry Cabot Lodge who JFK defeated. JFK neglected to vote on the McCarthy censure vote. That was interesting and something that had escaped mention in any of the previous anti-McCarthy indoctrination I had received in my education or other reading.

The attempts to complete the link from Hitler through McCarthy to Bush were very weak. Not even any “amazing quote material”. It was obvious that Haynes got “a little emotional” about the 2004 election. Virtually everything that the Republicans and their minions did was a “McCarthy like dirty trick”, but the Democrats were just pure and incompetent. MoveOn.org, Michael Moore, Howard Dean and others making accusations about Bush knowing about 9-11 in advance got no mention at all. I though he was going to completely avoid Rathergate, but he finally DID mention it as simply an example of “incompetence”, not bias of course. He naturally hates Fox … “The years since 9-11 have produced some of the best reporting in my lifetime – and some of the worst, mostly on ideological cable outlets such as Fox News”. The left had a monopoly in the news and they have a very hard time letting go of it.

The Swifties get mentioned as especially egregious, and all their claims are “false”. There is no attempt to indicate that John Kerry never releasing his war records which would either prove or disprove their claims is needed. He simply knows they are lying based on how he sees the universe … much like McCarthy, but in reverse, “facts optional”. He talks of Max Cleland being taken down by a “McCarthyistic smear” and then says that he lost “three limbs in combat in Vietnam”. That is a proveably false … he doesn’t have a purple heart because the limbs were lost in an accident at a US base, NOT in combat. The Democrats and the MSM made up the “smear” … Max Cleland lost his seat the old fashioned way, by voting on the department of homeland security in a manner out of step with his constituency.

Haynes proves that “McCarthyism” is a term that needs to be expanded to include gentlemen from the left like himself, but the fact is that “normal” doesn’t require a name. In just the last couple weeks alone only my feeble reading has Bill Bennett being “McCarthy like smeared” in being called a racist and Al Gore bringing out the Nazi smear with “Digital Brownshirts” for bloggers that support the president. The only odd thing about “McCarthyism” is that for a breif period a demagogue of the right stooped to use the technique that for the left is a part of every day fare.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Gore Sighting

The former VP and inventor of the internet has surfaced yet again to warn us that our Democracy is at grave risk. Why? For starters since people are watching too much Television, a point that I’d tend to agree with him on, but mostly, because there are media out there now that report both (or many) sides of issues. In Al Gore’s America, “Democracy” is imperiled by views other than Al’s being presented.

The speech is long and ill-formed as a lot of Al’s ideas, I pulled some excerpts and will provide some comment.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there was - at least for a short time - a quality of vividness and clarity of focus in our public discourse that reminded some Americans - including some journalists - that vividness and clarity used to be more common in the way we talk with one another about the problems and choices that we face. But then, like a passing summer storm, the moment faded.”
Yes Al, when only one side of an issue is covered things are MUCH more “clear”, but “clarity” is no substitute for “truth, information, knowledge, facts” or a whole host of other good terms.

“Americans now watch television an average of four hours and 28 minutes every day -- 90 minutes more than the world average.” I completely agree, far too much,  and a very bad choice. He doesn’t indicate how he might change that … potentially if those that select TV have less worthwhile lives in terms of accomplishment, happiness and standard of living, they might learn to make other choices? Usually liberals like Al don’t believe that people should live with the consequences of their choices, so other than “lament”. His point here is unclear.
“And here is my point: it is the destruction of that marketplace of ideas that accounts for the "strangeness" that now continually haunts our efforts to reason together about the choices we must make as a nation.” 
 The “strangeness” seems to be that people voted for Bush and Republicans for office in the face of all manner of thing that Al sees as completely their fault and “unpardonable”. Apparently an “Al marketplace” is a lot like the old USSR where there was one kind of soap and they either had it or they didn’t. Al sees the US “idea marketplace” as having been “destroyed” by the introduction of ideas and people that don’t agree with Al.
“As recently stated by Dan Rather - who was, of course, forced out of his anchor job after angering the White House - television news has been "dumbed down and tarted up."” 
Somehow Al seems to have forgotten that Dan ran a news story trying to effect an election with fake documents and lost his job because of that. In the “good old days” of course CBS would have “protected their sources” and kept the “documents” under lock and key so nobody would have been the wiser. Ah yes, the world with a “marketplace” of all the same ideas … “fake but true”, and EFFECTIVE at least in the past from Al’s view. Pity. It is easy to understand why Al and Dan lament the passing of the infallibility of the MSM.
“As a result of these fears, safeguards were enacted in the U.S. -- including the Public Interest Standard, the Equal Time Provision, and the Fairness Doctrine - though a half century later, in 1987, they were effectively repealed. And then immediately afterwards, Rush Limbaugh and other hate-mongers began to fill the airwaves.” 
 He gets a bit more clear here I think. Opinions that don’t agree with Al have no place in the “marketplace of ideas”. The proper way for a good liberal intellectual to deal with such ideas is to call them names. Liberal intellectuals and playground bullies have a lot of the same sensibilities and apparent level of maturity. If you can’t defend your beliefs, try to pass a law that limits speech so you don’t have to. What a great way to defend “democracy”.
“…And every day they unleash squadrons of digital brownshirts to harass and hector any journalist who is critical of the President.” 
We persist in the name calling only we go for the Nazi theme now. If the media isn’t 100% in “Goose Step” against a Republican president 100% of the time, the most rational thing to do is to play that Nazi card. That McCarthy was SO terrible calling people commies. Nice intelligent people call others Nazis! It makes it all clear how the left is so far superior to the right when it comes to name calling. The left has a name for the phenomenon when the finger points their way “McCarthyism”, when the finger points the other way there is no name. “Normal” doesn’t require a name.
“It is television delivered over cable and satellite that will continue for the remainder of this decade and probably the next to be the dominant medium of communication in America's democracy. And so long as that is the case, I truly believe that America's democracy is at grave risk.” 
 Ah, the “summation”. I found it amazing he never mentioned Fox directly … perhaps he just forgot. There is some evidence that an Al Gore "Democracy” CAN’T actually survive the conservative position being presented, so since one has to assume from this speech that it is HIS view of “Democracy” that we need to preserve, he is probably right. If people are allowed to see more than one side then ideologues from the left like Al will be labeled as such and most people will reject their views.

A grave risk indeed.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Broken Promises

The left has been crowing about “the end of the Bush Administration” at least since Katrina, but it appears that today was the day. I wrote before about Bush the elder’s attempt to appease the left by breaking his no new taxes pledge earlier. Bush the Jr breaking his campaign promise to appoint in the mold of Thomas and Scalia TWICE is impossible to even understand.

There are those that say that we don’t KNOW how either Roberts or Miers will turn out in the future, but that is the point. Neither does Bush! The promise was to appoint in the mold of Thomas and Scalia was made clearly during the election, and it was well known what mold they were of at the TIME THEY WERE APPOINTED! It makes little difference at this point if they turn out to the most conservative judges in the history of the court. There is nothing in their records that would lead one to believe they would so turn out, and since liberalism is a far wider and easier path to travel, those that aren’t specifically and clearly identifiable as conservatives by the time they are middle aged almost never are.

Post Katrina there is a shift and loss of control in the Bush administration. It has come on many fronts; the excessive response to Katrina in dollar figures, the apology for slow response to Katrina where none was needed, the out of control press interactions and flying around the country in advance of Rita, and even the very odd distancing from Bill Bennett on the “aborting blacks” non-comment. If Blacks don’t like Bennett being AGAINST their babies (and all others) being aborted, maybe it explains why they are FOR the liberals wanting to see a higher percentage of their babies aborted.

This shift seems too out of character and too sudden for it to be “accidental” to me. The rumor was jokingly raised in a conversation today that “Bush is drinking again”. I have no reason to believe that is true, but it would be as good a metaphor as any for the behavior.

Appointment of a 60-year old Harriett Miers to the Court is a move that simply defies logic. Republicans have waited for over 20 years to have what is supposedly a conservative president and a 55 seat majority in the Senate after millions of dollars and hours of contributions to elect all of the above. This kind of slap in the face to the faithful that have raised the money and done the work is extremely likely to result in the loss of both houses of Congress in next years elections, followed no doubt by the loss of Iraq. It has the makings of a debacle of epic proportions and there is simply no reason to be seen. This is a decision that has a huge chance of kicking off a slide back to the hopelessness of the Democrat 70’s as the heart of the Republican party throws up it’s hands and decides there simply never was any use in the dedication to the cause of preservation of the Constitution of the US.

Potentially the reason for the slide will become clear in the next few months, or maybe it is simply that the Bush genetics can’t handle poll numbers below some minimal threshold and lose contact with reality. I don’t believe in “giving up hope”, but this is a “tester”. The thought occurs to me that although Bush has failed to use a veto, it may be time for the Republican controlled Senate to take the bull by the horns and vote this nomination down. This nasty racist Republican was DREAMING of Janice Rogers Brown. What a sad substitute this is!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Freak O Bennett

Reading a book on McCarthyism and having the Bill Bennett deal come up while reading it is almost too weird. Last week on his radio show, in the process of REJECTING an argument that abortion is economically to blame for there not being enough young around the pay the social security bills of the old, Bill Bennett said:

“It's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could--if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.”

It turns out that he later credited the discussion to the book “Freakonomics” by Steven D Levitt (Economist) covered in this Blog under “The Criminal Roe Effect”. Levitt is an economist and points out that since abortion disproportionately takes the lives of black, single parent, and poor children, and those groups have higher crime rates, abortion reduces the crime rate. The book was published earlier this year and is a NYT best seller … not a complaint has been heard about IT or it’s authors as being “racists”.

The comments from Bennett of course immediately elicited the charge of “racist” and the expected set of calls for his radio program to be removed from the airwaves by the FCC, including from Harry Reid and John Conyers.

The closest name we have for this “McCarthyism of the left” is “Political Correctness”, but that is a term that is far from chilling enough. “Racism” and “Sexism” are used as one way bludgeons by the MSM and Democrats to enforce their own form of thought control whenever the opportunity arises. Robert Byrd gets a pass but Bill Bennett is jumped on and every attempt is made to silence his speech entirely. Haynes Johnson recoils in horror when CONSUMERS decide to boycott the Dixie Chicks after their claim on foreign soil that they were “embarrassed that the President was from Texas”, but elected Congressmen trying to take Bill Bennett off the radio for making a comment that is technically irrefutable and previously published in a best selling book is completely acceptable.

Clarence Thomas is submitted to a high tech lynching over a 10 year old claim that he MENTIONED an X rated movie and a potential pubic hair on a can of Coke. NOW and all other women’s organizations remain completely silent when Bill Clinton is accused of dropping his pants in front of a female employee.

What the left wants, and has had for most of the past 50 years is “one-way McCarthyism”. They define the term, and make the term to mean “from the right”, and never acknowledge that they do the exact same thing only using a much wider set of levers than just “Communism”. They carry it out with a broad set of groups from the NAACP, NAARL, NOW, Sierra Club, ACLU as well as the MoveOn.orgs and others. Those that fail to follow the proscribed “correct thinking and speech” are subjected to any means of censure possible by the powers of the left. They hated McCarthy because he provided them a taste of their own medicine. They continue to hate all else but the bleating of their own voices in unison.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Living With McCarthy

I seem to be in a liberal book reading mode lately and am about half way through “The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism” by Haynes Johnson. The book has received some lefty accolades and it looks as if it’s intent is to tie the idea that “Terrorism” isn’t really a threat, just like the left found “Communism” to not be a threat, so attempts to stop terror are a lot like McCarthyism.

The book begins with a long discrediting of McCarthyism as if such a think would ever be needed to be done for the millionth time, it is already an “ism” after all. The book however does a boringly complete recounting of the minutia of the giant edifice of “accepted thought” or “what we all know” in this country as presented by the union left educational system and the left media. To be a Christian on the right in this country is to live with “institutional McCarthyism” every day of your life. McCarthy provided the left with a brief period of “going too far” in the early ‘50s and they still will never forget the “horror” of it, and will make sure we don’t either.

The simplest little example in a nutshell is on page 31 of the book: “He was not interested in ideas, except in appropriating the thoughts of opinions of others if they helped him exploit an issue like Communism. His law degree and native intelligence notwithstanding he was ill-educated, had no sense of history, and was incurious and carelessly ill-informed about the great public questions-again, like Communism-that he addressed with such assurance. He did not read books, with one fascinating exception: Hitler’s Mein Kampf”.

Let’s substitute “Facism”, “Like Hitler”, or “Nazi” for “Communist” and think of how the left regularly deals with the right. For this discussion we will forgo the fact that the Nazis were against ALL religion, and the party was the National SOCIALIST Party of Germany less like Republicans and more like another party we know about, but facts have never been very interesting to the left anyway. How often does the left try to demonize people with a conservative view with comparison to Hitler? Constantly. I especially enjoyed Al Gore talking about “Digital Brownshirts” during the 2004 campaign.

There is very little evidence that McCarthy had any Nazi leanings, and making a case that a lawyer read only one book would seem to require more evidence than Mr Johnson provides, but there it is, and in quite sophisticated form. McCarthy is “stupid” … although couched in terms of being “poorly educated” and “incurious”, and he is tied to that “ism” that is constantly used by the left in exactly the way that McCarthy used Communism, only far more powerfully since it is used by the MSM and the educational system, not just a Senator with hearings. Of course, it would be much easier if it was only a SINGLE “ism”.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, references to religion, criminalization of various forms of business behavior and environmentalism, the list could go on. The party of Jim Crow is the Democrats, and Bob Byrd is an actual ex-Clan member who ON CAMERA on Fox News Sunday referred to “White niggers”. However, an off-hand comment by a Republican that can be CONSTRUED to be “racist” is cause for a firestorm as was the case with Trent Lott, and now with Bill Bennett. (I hope to write a Blog on that later, but one point. In the best selling book “Freakonimics” by famous economist Steven Levitt, the abortion/crime link is discussed at length). Charges of “racism” as regularly leveled against the right and virtually never against the left. It is a far more natural human tendency, we ALL are good at “same/different”, to be “racist”, or “to prefer like”, which makes it very much easier to destroy someone for an “inappropriate comment”. It correct and important for humans to rise above our natural tendencies, we just need to realize that is what we are all doing.

The sections in the book on “McCarthy book burning” would make one laugh if they didn’t make you cry as our nation moves to expunge any horrible reference to God from any connection with school at the public square that we can. To a lefty, the charge of “Communist” is a completely foolish charge … and the idea that a book espousing some overthrow of the US or another would not be appropriate is a horror. Of course making a claim that a lawyer read only one book, it was Mein Kampf, and thus tie him to having Nazi sympathies is only reasonable. How does a lefty make a complaint like that, and not recall the current complaints about your “library card” being sought by investigators.

The litany of ills of that horrible “McCarthy era” … how people had to testify, how they could lose their jobs, how books were removed, is somehow less terrible to a conservative Christian in the 21st Century. The wrong statement about Gay Marriage can jeopardize jobs today. Even protesting Abortion in certain areas is heavily restricted. Mention of God in public education can cost your job, and books and documents that contain it are removed every day. If you are not a Democratic Politician, one female that “feels harassed” … whatever the reason, it is her “feeling” that counts, is good enough for loss of a job. All manner of business behavior is constantly criminalized … from record keeping, projections, who is told about business/profit information, and new items are added to the list all the time. “Selling a stock and making money”, an action that one would hope is at the core of the American economy, becomes “suspicious” as the anti-business fervor of the left and MSM ever rises.

Is some of this “paranoid”? Of course, but then why isn’t “McCarthyism” 50 years after the fact a discussion of “paranoia”? The giant danger of the leftness of the MSM and the US educational system remains that balance is completely lost and only one side of the story is even realized. Knowing that one is blind allows one to take action to compensate. Huge swaths of the American electorate are as blind to a conservative view as humans are to x-rays.