Carol Platt Liebau: February 2005

Monday, February 28, 2005

Could it be that a new day is dawning in the Middle East even more quickly than we might have hoped? The Syrian backed Lebanese government has resigned, acceding to public pressure.

Obviously, there is still a long (and perilous) way to go. But as Tom Friedman of The New York Times commented on "Meet the Press" yesterday, we have reached a tipping point.

President Bush is right -- people want to be free. God gave mankind free will because He intended us to be free. And it's glorious to feel the freedom winds beginning to blow in a part of the world that has suffered from tyranny and hatred.
Rarely do I agree with Washington Post television critic Tom Shales -- in fact, I think his assessment of Chris Rock's performance last night as "strangely lame and mean-spirited" is, in fact, a triumph of artistic self-description.

But Shales' column today goes to show that even a broken clock can be right twice a day, because he certainly nailed last night's Oscar self-indulgence fest.

Yes, the event seemed "politically correct" -- and, above all, yes, the reason is that "[t]here can't really be great Oscar shows without great movies." This year's movies were far from great, as I point out in my weekly column.

More than that, last night's shows were further evidence -- as if any were needed -- that actors do best when they stick to the scripts drafted by others. Robin Williams' gratuitously off-color rant was hardly fodder for family hour, and only provoked wistful wishes that he had kept on his mouth the tape that was there when he emerged (a symbol of "protest" of ABC's decision not to broadcast an even more insulting, off-color song). Chris Rock couldn't get around his obsession with race, or with bad taste (the only charming moments he had were his two self-deprecating jokes).

The Oscars are a waste of time -- as are the overwhelming majority of films that they "celebrate." Particularly this year.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Howard Dean is back on a theological kick (HT: Hugh Hewitt). This is dangerous territory for him -- remember all the trouble he got into trying to discuss the Bible during his presidential run?

Here's the most noteworthy remark -- Dean said: "This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good."

If I were a Democrat, I would be profoundly worried. How can you rebuild a political party if you're telling more than half the country that it is -- or supports -- evil? (It's a little bit like Oscar host Chris Rock making fun of the President earlier tonight. They want ratings -- and for Americans to support their movies -- at the same time they tell 51% of voting American's that they're idiots. Ponder that one).

What's equally disturbing is that Dean sees his adversaries as "evil." Many liberals are wrong, and deeply misguided. But evil? I don't think so. That's where political speech stops appealing to the intellect, and starts appealing to raw hate.

Is there a chance that some of the other Democrats realize this? Note in the linked article that the governor had breakfast with Dean, but somehow managed not to appear publicly with him.

What would the press say if some Republican leader had let loose with Dean-style rhetoric? All hell would break loose (pardon the pun).
Here is a fascinating article in The L.A. Times, of all places.

It's about brain-imaging, and the emotional responses triggered by everything from products to celebrities to politicians. Obviously, such technology could be very powerful if harnessed properly by marketers or aspiring presidents, for that matter.

Here's one interesting tidbit:

Shown campaign advertising that touched on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Republicans and Democrats again had different responses.

"The Democrats had a big response in the amygdala — the anxiety threat detector and bell-ringer in the brain," said UCLA psychiatrist Joshua Freedman, who helped organize the experiment. "Republicans did not have a statistically significant response to that, for whatever reason."

You can come up with your own explanation for this one.
Oh, no. The feminist scientists are going to need to take to their fainting couches again -- according to this Associated Press story, Lawrence Summers' remarks about women in the sciences may have some basis in fact.

Not that any of Summers' adversaries are interested in facts . . .
This piece in The New York Times gets it right -- the argument over Lawrence Summers is about left-right politics. And as the author points out, the decisions by Summers that have caused so much heartburn among the Harvard academics have just been efforts to pull the institution back to the center from the far-left fringe -- for example, by allowing ROTC back on campus.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

[T]he fact of political correctness is before us in the refusal of feminist women professors even to consider the possibility that women might be at any natural disadvantage in mathematics as compared with men. No, more than that: They refuse to allow that possibility to be entertained even in a private meeting. And still more: They are not ashamed to be seen as suppressing any inquiry into such a possibility.

Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield says it all in this piece from The Weekly Standard.

Only at an Ivy League university would a mainstream Democrat -- President Clinton's Treasury Secretary, for Heaven's sake! -- be seen as a politically incorrect conservative.

It's funny how the ideological world is divided at Harvard. It's not about liberals vs. conservatives -- it's about the sane (liberal and conservative) vs. the insane (generally off the left deep end). During a controversy that occurred at the law school during my third year, I still remember far-left professor David Kennedy attempting to punish some members of the Harvard Law Review for material in a parody that he deemed offensive (well, some of it was offensive). When some attempted to remind him of the free speech rights of the students, he came right out and stated baldly, "The First Amendment just isn't my thing." (Incidentally, I wondered whether he knew that the First Amendment actually doesn't apply to Harvard, since it's not a government entity).

All this is a sad commentary on America's oldest university. And don't think that the lessons in free speech suppression and intimidation go unnoticed -- or unlearned -- by too many of Harvard's students.
This column was clearly written by a leftist. Who else would remark, in an article about overweight children, that "Cuba would have [KFC] too, if we weren't still punishing Fidel Castro for his kooky belief that his country belongs to Cubans and is not America's brothel"?

But what's interesting is the outraged insistance that emanates from the article:

The government has no business telling us how big our rear ends can get. Or how fat we are. Or that we can't wolf down junk food by the plateful if we want to. No, it's none of the government's business . . ..

Those are fine words. But here's the problem. To the extent that Americans are being required to subsidize other Americans' health care costs -- through Medicaid or through those who choose not to purchase health insurance -- it actually becomes the government's business, if holding down health care costs is truly a goal.

Don't get me wrong. I agree that the government should have no authority whatsoever to tell anyone what to eat. But the price of government involvement in the health care system is government intrusion in peoples' health choices. Writers like the author of the column linked above don't seem to get it. They want to be free; they also, however, seem less than averse to government subsidy of many aspects of Americans' lives.

Again, it's a matter of giving up a little bit of liberty in exchange for a little bit of government "help." Which is, most often, the problem with government being involved in just about anything.

Friday, February 25, 2005

This article on Condoleezza Rice's clothes is a profoundly silly one. The whole breathless 'her clothes speak of sex and power' element to the story is ridiculous -- it sounds like something out of an overheated, pseudo-academic, trying-too-hard literary review of some sort.

Dr. Rice wears great clothes, as the story points out. End of story. If they look different than the usual boxy suit and pumps, well, it may be because Dr. Rice has the figure to be able to branch out a bit. Consider how much better suited she is to these clothes than, say, Madeline Albright would be. Boxy suit and pumps are designed to conceal -- and in some cases, that's a blessing.

In any case, Dr. Rice looks good, and as even the story concedes, she is dressed appropriately. So what's the problem? Why does the Post even run stories like this? It only provides fodder for left wing feminists who can argue -- with some justification here -- that women elected officials receive very different media coverage than men do. Do you recall reading anything about Colin Powell's clothes?

And could we please, please keep sex out of at least something? Dr. Rice isn't dressed "provocatively." So show a little respect.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Many thanks to Hugh Hewitt and Powerline for linking to my post about Judge Luttig. Among other things, the link prompted a friend from law school to get in touch for the first time in almost 15 years!

And I received an interesting tip from an excellent correspondent, Fred. He directed me to a site by Michael Ariens, who notes that the father of liberal darling Earl Warren was -- you guessed it -- a murder victim.

Again, why would the liberals possibly want to go down this road?
Finally back in California after a long day of travel!

Things on the Judiciary Committee don't seem to have changed much . . . As set forth in Human Events, Chuck Schumer has made it clear that he is unwilling to work in good faith with Republicans -- even to give qualified judicial nominees the courtesy of an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. In other words, Schumer knows these nominees have majority support, and he's willing to continue distorting Senate rules and tradition in pursuit of his partisan political goals.

Other news from the hard core: Ralph Nader continues his bizarre conspiracy theories.

All of this is pretty thin gruel, coming from the left -- the political ideology that styles itself as the home of the "intellectuals." Violating any sense of fair play, throwing around desperate allegations . . . not the marks of an ideological movement on the march back to power.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Is this what the "women's movement" has come to? Now, all of a sudden, Arnold Schwarzenegger is anti-woman because he is taking on unions that represent occupations that tend to be female. If this is the unions' best argument, well, they must be in trouble.

In other news of manufactured feminist controversies, the delicate egos populating the Harvard faculty are still nursing their wounds over President Summers' remarks from a month before. Read about it here. Embarassingly, some faculty still seem to think this will "impact" efforts to attract female scholars -- as though any school would want any "scholar" that could be so easily intimidated.

Taken together, these stories show a "feminist movement" in search of a grievance. Shouldn't these people find more honorable ways to attack their political adversaries -- or else simply devote themselves to more important causes?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Set forth here is one of the most disgraceful arguments to be hurled at any potential Supreme Court Justice (HT: Hugh Hewitt) -- namely, that Judge Michael Luttig would be impermissibly biased in hearing death penalty cases because his own father was, in fact, a crime victim.

Are the liberals really wanting to go down this road? By the same reasoning, every potential female justice should be asked whether she's ever had an abortion -- because abortion cases would come up before the Court. Or minority candidates would have to discuss how/whether they ever felt discriminated against -- because if they had, it might impermissibly color their view of civil rights cases.

It is liberal jurisprudence -- complete with the belief in a "living Constitution" -- that is most influenced by one's own life experiences, because the actual text of the Constitution, natural law, or other non-personal factors are not dispositive. Personal views will have disproportionate influence when there's nothing more substantial to guide a Justice's decision. So if a judge's personal experience should govern whether someone who doesn't adjudicate based on them deserves confirmation, how much more important is it when personal views and history may be incredibly central to the decisions -- as in the case of a liberal Justice?

Judge Luttig is a fine person and a qualified Justice. Left wing garbage hunters may want to step carefully, lest they open a Pandora box that will be disproportionately harmful to their own interests.

Monday, February 21, 2005

This interesting piece by Joel Mowbray points out that CAIR -- the Council on American Islamic Relations -- has spent plenty of time denouncing the television show "24" . . . but refuses to denounce Hamas or Hezbollah. It's indicative of CAIR's priorities.

My husband is a big fan of "24" -- and I watch it, too. Seems that "24" is being targeted for having "committed candor", as when "24" Executive Producer Joel Surnow told Entertainment Weekly, "Muslims are the terrorists right now." Have we gotten to a place where entertainment can't reflect reality?

That's like demanding -- during WWII -- that war movies be made, not with the Germans and Japanese as the adversaries, but with fictional battles being fought against, say, South Americans.
My weekly column is a response to an article about "stressed out mothers" that appeared here in last week's Newsweek magazine.
Newt Gingrich appears to understand the threat that unchecked illegal immigration is posing -- setting aside issues of national policy -- to the Republican Party, or so it seems from this piece.

Skeptics argue that Gingrich didn't explain "what more the administration should do to seal thousands of miles of border to the south and north." Well, surely if we have weapons that are accurate enough to be able to target missiles down a particuar chimney in Iraq, we have the technology to be able to detect unauthorized border crossings. How about simply setting a laser "trip-wire" along the border -- so that with an unauthorized crossing, a message is sent to a headquarters with a satellite map that shows where the crossing occurred?

As I tried to set out in this piece, it is crazy for Republicans to gloss over the illegal immigration issue. No, it doesn't mean that its core constituency would vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008 -- but it does mean that a third party candidate, running solely on an immigration platform, might be able to peel off enough Republicans to allow Senator Clinton to win with, say, 43% of the vote. Like her husband.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

This piece in the LA Times blames bloggers for the untimely resignation of Eason Jordan.

But what's worse, the author reveals a fundamental unfamiliarity with the facts of the case. He appears not to know that Jordan has a history of slandering the military -- having made a comment similar to the one in Davos at a conference in Portugal. Might want to check those facts before writing the story . . .

And here's one of the most amazing passages:

What I don't understand is why they — and he [Jordan] — caved in so quickly. I wish he'd asked — begged, demanded — that the organizers of the Davos forum release the videotape of his panel. I can only assume that he said what he's accused of saying and that he doesn't want those remarks in the public domain, even if they were followed by his quick backtracking.

If Jordan did say American troops target American journalists, he should be ashamed of himself. But he shouldn't have lost his job.

The author's right about one thing -- CNN and Jordan should have sought release of the transcript. Without it, the only rational assumption is that Jordan made the remarks he was accused of (perhaps worse).

But as for the rest, how morally blind can any writer be? Even if the head of a prominent international enws organization slanders the U.S. military (having done so at least once in the past) -- with no evidence to back his accusation -- he shouldn't be fired, according to this piece. Unbelievable.

I couldn't disagree more. If a lawyer lies about the status of a case to a client, he deserves to be fired. If a doctor lies to a patient about the status of his health, that doctor should be fired. And if a journalist lies repeatedly, making inflammatory charges that could be used as propaganda by his country's enemies -- and makes them without any substantiation -- he should, undoubtedly, be fired. Especially when he's near the top of the world's largest, most respected international news organization.

I have heard that Eason Jordan, personally, is a nice man. And he may be. But just as bloggers have no business making overheated charges about him that can't be substantiated by facts, how much more does he have an obligation to be straightforward and honest in his treatment and discussion of his own country's military.
It's true that, as this piece states, "the war on terror still carves deep division in Dems." Obviously, most of the party's liberal base is reflexively anti-war, which certainly didn't serve anyone -- least of all, John Kerry -- well during the last campaign. Now, as this piece makes clear, all the Dems are studying the matter to determine the most politically palatable course.

And that's part of the problem for the Dems. People understand that their position on the war on terror is being driven primarily by politics -- and they don't like it, and they don't trust it.

Hillary Clinton showed signs of developing a new political approach to the issue that is smarter than most -- and that's to complain that "homeland security" is being woefully underfunded. With that, she gets to sound tough about defending the homeland, even as she advocates funneling tons more money to allies in police, firemen's and construction unions, among other entities.

If there is no further attack within our borders (God willing), Hillary's still done herself a lot of good, politically. And if there is another attack (Heaven forbid), she'll be perfectly positioned to break into a shrieking chorus of "I Told You So" emanating from Senator Clinton.
Paul Johnson sets it all out right here, "Why Millions Say, Softly, God Bless America." He's definitely on to something when he writes,

The intellectuals wanted the Iraqi elections to be defeated by terror. But now that the elections have actually taken place, they want the new government to fail. They want democracy to fail in Afghanistan as well so that they can smile smugly and say, "We told you so." For if democracy were to triumph everywhere, what role would there be for the intellectual critic? As Shakespeare put it, "Othello's occupation's gone."

Of course, intellectual critics will always find something to criticize -- even if doing so makes one a charlatan and a fraud, a la Ward Churchill. But one does sense that many of the self-proclaimed "intellectuals" have the same stake in seeing our Iraq mission fail as Jesse Jackson does in insisting that there is never any progress in race relations.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

How proud I am to have clerked for Judge David Sentelle for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit! He is the author of an opinion rejecting claims of a First Amendment privilege protecting journalists from having to testify before a grand jury.

Judge Sentelle did what a capable judge -- not infected by "legislation from the bench" disease -- should do: He relied on Supreme Court precedent that has already spoken to this issue. And now, if Congress disagrees, they can change the law to provide some kind of privilege for journalists.

Here's the thing, though: I'm not sure why journalists are (or should be) immune from the duties that US citizens in virtually every other "walk of life" are subject to: That is, being required to testify before a grand jury when they have knowledge that a crime has been committed.

And the "journalistic community" has picked an incredibly poor case to litigate the issue on. Journalists and liberals (like there's a big difference, most of the time) have spent months decrying the monstrous "crime" of "outing" Valerie Plame. If it's such a terrible crime, then their responsibility to help the prosecution of those responsible is even greater.

Obviously, journalists are getting the vapors over this. One commentator for CBS News (linked above) laments "how little energy both Judge Sentelle and Judge Henderson spent considering what journalists do, why what they do is important, why the First Amendment matters, and why the judiciary is uniquely qualified to evaluate these sorts of problems on a case-by-case basis." Sometimes I suspect that journalists think they are the most important people in the world.

Maybe I'm wrong -- maybe some kind of federal shield law is a good idea. So let Congress (i.e. the legislative branch) pass one -- and stop attacking good judges who are simply refusing to pass legislation from the bench.
This is enough to make anyone lose her appetite!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Here is a cogent reminder of the media's double standard.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

This essay by Martin Peretz is must reading. It's about the dearth of ideas that's afflicting the Democratic Party. Mr. Peretz tells it like it is: The United States has changed significantly over the last 30 years -- but liberals are still trotting out the same old tired playbook. He also has some choice words for his party for having treated Al Sharpton, among others, as a serious presidential contender.

A wise essay, and a brave one.
Obviously, the "talk of the blogosphere" today has been this piece by Peggy Noonan, coming out strongly in favor of the blogs. It's really true -- if you're good enough that people will continue to read you no matter how the blogs proliferate, there's no need to feel threatened by the new media. Ms. Noonan (who's always worth reading) illustrates the point perfectly -- as do those less capable in the MSM, who are throwing invective and temper tantrums at a powerful new force that exposes their shoddiness in logic and expression.

It's interesting -- I've been following the controversy generated by Susan Estrich's condemnation of the LA Times, as reported by Cathy Seipp (HT:Hugh Hewitt). Funny, the letter refers to writer Charlotte Allen thusly: "The article last Sunday was penned by a feminist-hater I have never heard of, nor probably have you, by the name of Charlotte Allen..."

Professor Estrich is a very, very smart and savvy woman; that being said, her attitude reminded me completely of "old media's" attitude toward bloggers -- "who are these people? We don't know them." Well, as Hugh Hewitt's column today suggests, that may say more about the critic than about the bloggers. There may be plenty of people "out there" who are worth getting to know -- at least for the people who aren't frightened by the competition. People like Peggy Noonan.
Here is a report that a transcript of Harvard President Lawrence Summers' "provocative" remarks has been released. Not surprisingly, it turns out that he said the following:

"In the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination."

So he said what every thinking person should realize: Science and engineering is not some unique bastion of phallocentric, hegemonic male domination, where women have been excluded for nothing more than reasons of cultural conditioning . . . in fact, there may be differences in aptitude between men and women on the whole. Just as there are differences in aptitude with regard to speech and writing that favor women -- again, on the whole. And women with small children may not be willing to work 80 hours a week. What a news flash. This passes for "provocative" commentary? Only in the halls of "academia."

And even if he's wrong, isn't he entitled to state a hypothesis without the entire left-wing world succumbing to a nervous breakdown? Sounds to me like a lot of tenured professors have too much time on their hands.

Amazingly, the story quotes Summers adversary Cornell West -- who decamped to Princeton from Harvard when Summers suggested to him that he might want to concentrate a little more on serious scholarship, and a little less on creating rap music records.

And, incidentally, the weight that the "academic community" accords to Cornell West's statements does little to spark my respect. He was my college roommate's thesis advisor (during his first stint at Princeton) -- and was, to put it kindly, somewhat less than engaged . . .

Gotta love "academe"; they vilify provocative ideas with which they disagree, but are perfectly willing to lionize "scholars" who do little more than pander to their preconceived biases.
In typical liberal style, since they can't win elections under the current rules, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry want to change them -- to institute a federal holiday for voting and allow all ex-felons to vote. At least the latter tips us off as to who the Democrats think their constituency is.

When all these schemes surface, it's tempting to invoke the memories of Iraqis, coming out under the threat of death, amid great duress, simply to cast a ballot. Hillary Clinton thinks Americans can't be lured to the polls unless they have a whole day off work? Sure, that's the American way -- Clinton-style.
So it turns out that George Soros' Open Society Institute was helping to subsidize the defense of Lynne Stewart -- the lawyer found guilty of giving aid to Islamic terrorists.

Shouldn't someone be asking Hillary Clinton if she feels that Soros' funding of Stewart was wrong? And how does she feel about using the Soros-subsidized Center for American Progress as her pre-presidential run think tank?

The story matters because, in fact, Lynne Stewart was a traitor. She was found guilty of conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists, defrauding the United States, and making false statements. If that isn't "adhering to [the United States'] enemies, giving them aid and comfort" (U.S. Constitution, Art. III, Section 3), I don't know what is.

The Constitution also says that "No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court." Perhaps that's why she wasn't tried for treason. Even so, apparently prosecutors had Stewart on tape providing cover for an Arab translator as he relayed Islamic [terrorist] Group messages to the group's spirital leader, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. The sheik, of course, is in prison for life, having been convicted in 1995 of conspiracy to bomb bridges, tunnels and other landmark buildings in Manhattan. Please note that his followers were some of the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, in a warm-up exercise for 9/11.

What does it say about any Democrats -- especially Hillary Clinton -- who would cozy up to someone subsidizing the defense of a traitor? Is Soros really a bedpartner that the Democrats want?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

This would be pathetic if it weren't so obnoxious. John Kerry wants to meet with the President to discuss Iraq policy. Right. He also thinks that his plan would have been better. News flash: The American people disagreed.

Kerry could have played an important role in a Democratic Party that's searching for an identity. He could have been a truly disinterested broker -- someone who could counterbalance Howard Dean, and oversee the process of the party finding its voice. Instead, he's clearly decided to run again for President, and so everything he does is (as it's been called throughout his entire career) JFK: Just For Kerry.

You can like Newt Gingrich or hate him -- but he had the integrity to step down when it became clear that he could better serve the causes he believed in by doing so. Kerry, first of all, seems to have no ideas that he cherishes in a comparable way, and, secondly, cares too much about himself ever to take himself out of the running.

It takes a very healthy ego to step up and run for President in the first place. But when you've been defeated -- with all the organization and money and "passion" you could have hoped for on your side -- and still keep striving for the prize, that healthy ego turns into arrogance. And selfishness.

One question for Kerry: Why should President Bush meet with you? And why should anyone believe that such an offer is anything more than a cheap political stunt?
Newly released intelligence indicates that Al Qaeda has thought about trying to penetrate the American border through Mexico. What a jaw-dropping surprise.
Jon Stossel talks about the benefits of "selfishness". One question: Is it always selfishness not to want to share everything that you've worked hard to amass?
Episcopal Church outrage of the week:

The Church of England is to grant partners of homosexual clergy who have registered under the Government's new civil partnership scheme the same pension rights as clergy spouses.

The disclosure . . . could prove an embarrassment to the bishops because sexually active homosexuals are theoretically barred from the priesthood.

Yes, but who in the Church seems actually to be paying attention to doctrine these days? How regressive . . .
Once again, the invaluable Michelle Malkin hits the ball out of the park with this harrowing piece on the rape of young Congolese girls by UN "peacekeepers."

ABC's 20/20 did a piece on the same topic last Friday night -- doubtless reflecting the influence of Jon Stossel, who seems willing to take on the sacred cows of the left. It is a heartbreaking story . . . and if everything is about race for the professional agitators like Maxine Waters, why aren't they a little more interested in the shattered lives of innocent Congolese children, and a little less interested in exploting the shooting of a 13 year old engaged in criminal activity here in LA?
Interesting -- it's not only the blogosphere, but also CBS employee and former "60 Minutes II" producer Josh Howard who's questioning the thoroughness and accuracy of the Thornburgh/Boccardi report.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

For those who say there's no liberal bias in the media, check out this piece from Scripps Howard. It's about President Bush's decision to renominate 12 judges who were denied -- not confirmation -- but even an up-or-down vote on whether they would be confirmed, through an unprecedented use of the filibuster by the Democrats.

That's a message you're hard pressed to get in this piece, which states that "the president's decision [to renominate the judges] could destroy any chance of achieving his stated goal of creating a more bipartisan atmosphere in the nation's capital."

Oh. So the lack of bipartisanship is the President's fault, for having the temerity to renominate 12 candidates who could probably win confirmation if the Democrats would give them the courtesy of a vote.

The Dems keep claiming these judges are out of the mainstream. But how "out of the mainstream" can they be, if they would be able to win confirmation from a majority the Senate, if given the opportunity?

On the Blogosphere

Here, Howard Kurtz assembles a wide variety of opinions about the power of the blogosphere -- ranging from those who would attribute everything to their power (for good or ill) to those who tend to dismiss them as noisome pests, and everything in between.

For my part, I tend to come down somewhere in the middle. Blogs do not cause things to happen -- they can't. What they do do -- when the reporting is accurate -- is create the conditions under which the MSM is pressured to make things happen that otherwise wouldn't.

Absent the blogosphere, Dan Rather would still be anchoring the news indefinitely; Eason Jordan would still be holding court in Atlanta. But they are gone (or soon to be) . . . not because anyone in the blogosphere had the power to hold a gun to the heads of execs at CBS and CNN, but because there was finally a place for the public to learn what was actually going on, air its point of view, aggregate its opinion, and disseminate that opinion, without having to somehow gain access to the lofty reaches of large metropolitan daily newspapers or national broadcasting networks.

That's power, true, but of a distinctly derivative type. When the MSM starts vaporing about the "irresponsibility" of the blogs, its practicitioners ought to realize that situations like Rathergate / the Jordan affair can only occur when there are three factors: (1) The blogosphere is reporting the truth; (2) the MSM isn't reporting the truth/story; (3) the story matters to normal Americans if they get to hear it.

If the blogosphere doesn't have "the goods" on someone, nothing's going to happen to him/her. There has to be proof -- something bloggers sometimes seem to understand better than does, say, Mary Mapes or Peter Arnett. If the MSM is all over the story, then the blogs' power to drive a story is sharply reduced. And if the American people don't care about the story, then there will be no pressure on anyone at news organizations like CBS or CNN to make any personnel changes.

In the world of the blogosphere, is the discourse sometimes uncivil? Are the attacks sometimes sharp? Yes. Is that optimal? Probably not.

But now the air is filled with the laments of those who, for so long, have had exclusive powers through their status in the MSM to decide (1) what will be news and (2) what matters. And many of these people -- many of whom are fine people personally -- have taken to deploring the "new" incivility that's supposedly flowering with the birth of the blogosphere.

But what they don't realize that the incivility is only "new" to them. They are those who have enjoyed positions of power within the liberal elite, where they have been able either to level abuse, look away while their colleagues did it, or assume that everyone so fully accepted their own world view that abuse wasn't "incivility" -- it was just received wisdom (e.g. "Everyone knows Reagan's a warmonger").

Perhaps they're discovering now that it feels a little different when you're on the receiving end of the "incivility". But those who carry a torch for (among other things/people) the U.S. military, William Westmoreland, Whittaker Chambers, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Clarence Thomas or George W. Bush could have told them that, because they've been experiencing "incivility" from the press for some time now. And unlike the liberal media bigshots, the difference is that these "ordinary" people in the blogosphere never had a network or newspaper to fight back with as their ideals were trashed or disdained; they've been defenseless to state their claims and clear the names of their heroes -- or their own.

Now, they have the blogosophere. And it's about time.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Here is a very balanced reflection on the whole Eason Jordan affair.
Hillary Clinton has received a German media media prize. Apparently, she "represents in an exemplary way women's rights."

This sort of praise for Hillary Clinton has always amused me. This is a woman who married a rising politician, and then acquired influence and power through him. One could say that she earned her power the old-fashioned way -- she married it.

Of course, she is an intelligent and accomplished woman. But when we're going to talk about exemplifying women's rights, other names come to mind: Condoleezza Rice, for example. Even -- frightening thought -- Barbara Boxer's career does a better job of exemplifying women's rights. She rose from being a Marin County politician to being a US senator on her own political skills . . . not her husband's.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Ah, Sunday commentary in The Los Angeles Times. Here is a predictable piece, seething with outrage over the statements by Lawrence Summers made three weeks ago.

It's typical feminist ranting, full of the usual snide asides:

If that sounds snotty, I mean it to be.

If that sounds like a cheap shot, I mean it to be.

I wonder even now if a few more bellows of rage and a lot less tact might yet be in order, that we need to remind the world also that, yes, we are nice — but not that nice.

And if that sounds angry, I mean it to be.

Earth to this author: Feminists' problem isn't that they're too nice, too often. Trust me on that one.

Feminists' problem is summed up with this statement from the piece:

One gender gained the power position and has been really, really reluctant to share the space. . . . In our civilized times, muscle mass isn't that necessary. Why use physical force when other techniques are so effective: put-downs, dismissals, suggestions that, geez, we'd love to see women advance in those challenging intellectual fields — if only they were up to it.

She goes on to note that not all men are the enemy -- some were as unhappy with Lawrence Summers as she was. But for the most part, they are hostile creatures, ready with the "put-downs" and "dismissals."

That's not even the point though. Underlying her one concession to the fact that not all men are evil is the telltale sign of the typical left-wing feminist: Anger and grievance.

Certainly, unjustified discrimination is always wrong, and the people who perpetuate it must be stopped. But to opine that men have been "really reluctant to share the space" when it comes to power shows her ideological blinders. No, men are "really reluctant" to share the space in, say, the Taliban's Afghanistan.

Here, you have some men who are pigs (not unlike President Clinton) -- but, in general, men treat women in the USA quite well. We are, after all, their wives, daughters, sisters -- and bosses. When women outperform men, they are not only tolerated; they are celebrated.

Too bad people like this author didn't save some of their indignation for people like President Clinton or the Taliban. Guess it's easier to get mad at the "easy" targets like Lawrence Summers -- and it's easier to get mad than to do the work that disproves any hypothesis about differentials between men and women in the sciences. This article is nothing but grievance on the cheap.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

If you are in need of some mindless amusement, check out this piece in The Los Angeles Times -- it's a review of Blog, by Hugh Hewitt.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that Hugh has been a remarkably kind friend and mentor to me. That said, his book is a good one, and deserved more serious treatment than the sloppy condescension emanating from The Los Angeles Times. The review stands yields yet another insight into why Times' circulation is plummeting.

More than anything, it's clear that the reviewer approached his task, not with the idea of critiquing "Blog," but of criticizing it. Aside from the petty slaps directed at Hugh's radio show and political leanings, the biggest criticism this guy can muster is the following: "Hewitt considers the blog revolution in an America-centric fashion that ignores the fact that the Internet is not the sole property of Americans alone."

Whatever. It's a laughably facile criticism to hurl -- he didn't discuss everything; he should have written a different book.

The article is entertaining, however. It's clear that the reviewer's never heard Hugh's show, and has no clue about his personality -- reminiscent of an NPR (I think) clip played on Hugh's show from time to time, identifying the most cerebral (and polite) talk show host on the air as "shock jock Hugh Hewitt."

The best line in the review? The assertion that Hugh's "fanatical fervor leads him down the path of triumphalist bombast." Yep, that's "shock jock" Hugh Hewitt -- a bombastic fanatic. Tee hee.

It only reinforces the message that too many Californians have already: You just can't trust The Los Angeles Times." But it is worth a good laugh.
According to this story, funding for the Episcopal Church has fallen 12% in the past year. It's not hard to understand why -- from some of the loopy statements emanating from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the leftist tilt of too many Episcopal priests, the denomination, sadly, seems increasingly hostile to the norms of traditional Christianity.
You can't make this stuff up. Here's a direct quote of a news item on the crawl at Fox News this morning:

"Reuters: Plan by German zoo to test sexual appetites of a group of suspected homosexual penguins sparks outrage among gay and lesbian groups who fear zookeepers might force penguins to turn straight."

Friday, February 11, 2005

Eason Jordan is gone!

Eason Jordan has resigned. Of course, the story incorrectly states that "no transcript of [Jordan]'s actual remarks has turned up" -- which is incorrect.

There is a transcript, and the organizers of the Davos forum where Jordan made the remarks has it. Interestingly, neither he nor CNN ever called for its release. Coincidence? You decide . . . .

My guess is that the MSM -- or at least some in it -- are going to try to spin the Jordan affair as an example of blog martyrdom, that is, someone being brought down unfairly by bloggers. The argument has no merit. The overwhelming majority of bloggers weren't calling for Jordan to resign -- they were calling for the transcript of his remarks. If the transcript read consistently with the reports, then we were all going to call on him to resign.
I have a piece in The Washington Times today, and welcome your reactions to it. To me, the topic of illegal immigration - if not handled properly by the GOP - has the potential to split our party, and I'm not sure that eastern Republicans understand that. I certainly didn't until I moved to California six years ago.

Of course, discontent with the status quo won't drive Republicans to vote for Hillary in 2008. But it could elicit support for some Ross Perot-like third-party candidate that would be sufficient to allow a Democrat to slide into office with only a plurality (remember the first election of the first Clinton?).

So it's a problem of which the national Republicans need to be aware.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Check this out. "An audiotape purportedly of Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri hit out at the US concept of freedom . . . " What else do you need to hear to know the President is doing the right thing? The bad doctor must be feeling a little threatened somewhere in his spider hole.

Al-Zawahiri reportedly said that the kind of liberty he believes in is "not the liberty of homosexual marriages and the abuse of women as a commodity to gain clients, win deals or attract tourists." Well, isn't it interesting that, in American politics, Republicans are the ones more opposed to both gay marriage and the immodest displays that can be found in popular culture?

And why, then, do the Dems leave the Republicans to lead the fight against Islamofascism? Maybe they should devote a little of the energy they spend on attacking the Republicans who oppose gay marriage to fighting the people who aren't just opposed to gay marriage -- they want to kill gay people. And maybe the feminists should spend a little less time worrying about George W's stand on abortion and worry a little more about people who want to subjugate them and deny them not only their "reproductive rights" (as they are wont to call abortion) but any rights, at all.
Here is a column contrasting the treatment of Armonstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus to that of Eason Jordan.

Its title -- "Columnists' Errors, CNN's Treason" -- is a bit over the top, I think. Treason is one of the most serious charges that can be levelled against anyone, and shouldn't be made lightly. And as much as I despise what Jordan said (and his less-than-forthright way of dealing with it now), it's not clear to me that Eason Jordan intended to give aid and comfort to the enemy, even if his words had that practical effect.

That being said, had an interesting dinner last night with someone who used to work quite closely with Eason Jordan (not the same person who provided me with his quote last week). According to this person, the explanation that Jordan gave (the "I didn't mean they were targeting journalists knowing they were journalists") doesn't even seem consistent with his character. This person stated that Jordan is always deliberate and careful in what he says -- not the type of guy to let his mouth get out ahead of him. The person's opinion was that Jordan might have seen himself as simply a champion for "journalists" in general, and that his comments were probably motivated by his zeal to play that role.

Perhaps. But one can stand up for journalists without slandering the entire U.S. Army. I still believe that Jordan believed what he said -- and it's not getting bigger because there's not a critical mass of people who know who Jordan is, why he's important, and why these remarks matter.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Interesting. For years, the conventional wisdom has been that any discussion of abortion hurts Republicans. Now, the Democrats have figured out that the abortion issue is actually hurting them. Check out this piece by former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, who was competing with Howard Dean to become chairman of the DNC. He's pro-life, and it wasn't pretty for him to experience the full weight of the abortion lobby's fury.
Senator Mark Dayton of Minnesota has backed out of running for re-election.

This is disappointing news -- as Dayton would have been one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the country (as he doubtless knew, or was told). For one thing, he's downright weird -- recently, he was the only person in the Congress to close his office during the recess running up to the November 2 election. He said he didn't want his staffers to be "human shields" -- and incidentally raised fears that there was some "inside" knowledge about terrorist threats that wasn't being generally disseminated.

Even before that, during the Abu Ghraib hearings, he attacked General Richard Myers outrageously -- becoming hysterical at the thought that the military had at one point asked CBS to hold off temporarily on reporting the story because of the potential danger to the troops. (Transcript here.)

Given all this, no wonder the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported on Jan. 31 (sorry, can't get the link to work) that his approval ratings had fallen 15 points in just one year to 43% (which is dangerous territory for any incumbent besides Barbara Boxer, apparently -- her ratings have hung around there from time to time, too).

Other than that, Dayton's accomplishments have been incredibly skimpy, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to learn someday that he is not entirely "well."

What a shame. I hate to see him go -- before January of 2007, that is. Oh, well, the Republicans will just have to beat the candidate that the Dems send up in Dayton's place.
Good. Bill Moyers has formally apologized to James Watt for passing along a fabricated quote that conveniently makes Secretary Watt look like a fundamentalist wacko.

But as the news story points out, Moyers' letter of apology is not entirely conciliatory -- as, frankly, would become someone who made such an egregious mistake. The letter's text reads,in part, "I found it baffling, when in our conversation of today, you were unaware of how some fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible influence political attitudes toward the environment."

Allow me to posit a theory that might eradicate Mr. Moyers' confusion. Could it be that the "fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible" that have him so frightened have been largely conceived, discussed and disseminated as scare tactics by the same sort of people who convinced him that the fabricated Watt quote was the Gospel truth???

Eason Jordan update

The Eason Jordan episode goes on. Excellent analysis at TKS; Hugh Hewitt has been doggedly on the story; La Shawn Barber is a repository of all things Jordan.

Certainly the MSM is trying to kill this story, as witnessed by the Kurtz piece linked here yesterday. TKS thinks that to the extent the story has failed to get traction, it is because there are no visuals and because few Americans know who Eason Jordan really is (in contrast to, say, Dan Rather). And to some extent, that may be true. But it's really not that hard to run b-roll (file footage) of some part of the Davos meeting on TV while the story is being discussed, and it's not that hard to make it clear that Eason Jordan is the CNN counterpart to Dan Rather's journalistic boss.

No, I suspect that the reason there isn't more shock and outrage about the incident among "normal people" is the fact that many of them actually expect this kind of talk from someone like Eason Jordan. Unfairly or not, many Americans believe the press (and CNN in particular) is reflexively anti-military. Just look at the record: CNN's former reporter Peter Arnett broadcasting pro-Saddam propaganda about the alleged baby milk factories that were bombed during Gulf War I; the subsequently retracted Operation TailWind story (alleging without proof that the Air Force used sarin gas in Vietnam).

So I truly believe there is a ho-hum factor at work here -- a higher up at CNN is anti-military? Tell us something we don't know. Now, this perception may or may not be accurate (I know at least one former CNN "high up" who couldn't be a more patriotic, responsible journalist) -- but it is out there. And if there is anything that the Jordan coverage hasn't achieved, it's not helped people understand the ramifications of the remarks. On some level, it looks like one left-wing blowhard said something admittedly outrageous to a bunch of predominantly left-wing blowhards at a hoity-toity conference of "intellectuals" in Switzerland. In fact, to be honest, many people outside the "chattering classes" don't even know what "Davos" is, what it does, why it matters.

If anything's missing, it's a discussion about how such statements (made at such conferences) become propaganda tools for our enemies, and appear to confirm anti-American stereotypes throughout the world, and why that matters.

Incidentally,Hugh Hewitt opines that Jordan is the type of guy used to tailoring his message to appeal to his audience. I don't know about that -- actually, I think Jordan really believes what he said (originally). And at Davos, he thought he was in a "safe" place to say it.

Was he wrong? Can he get away with it? The jury's still out. We need to provide more context if we expect normal people to be outraged.

Remember this piece, where I criticized Harvard Law School for excluding military recruiters from campus?

Well, it looks like there's at least one federal judge at least as angry as I've been -- but he's directing his wrath at Yale Law School, refusing to hire law clerks from that school until the policy changes.

This should really get the ball rolling. Federal clerkships are prestigious, and being excluded out of hand -- especially if the trend spreads -- should upset students (and law school administrators) pretty significantly; this is especially true if judges who are known as "feeders" (because they feed their clerks on to clerk for the Supreme Court) join in.

It is, of course, terribly unjust to current students who themselves oppose the policy . . . but it may be the only way to get the attention of the smug liberals who head up many of the "prestigious" law schools.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

A dear friend sent Bill Moyers' outrageous op/ed in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for my reaction. The piece is one long secularist shriekd of fear against the rise of fundamentalist Christians to alleged national and cultural centrality.

The piece is an outrageous one, dripping with contempt and the kind of petty name-calling (fundamentalist Christians are "delusional") that should be beneath someone of Moyers' stature. That being said, there are some points about the piece that are worth making -- so here goes. Moyers' quotes are in ital, with response below.

(1) Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of the interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever-engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."

Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious.

Mr. Moyers should have checked his sources more carefully. Grist has now corrected its assertion about Secretary Watt (see this, right at the end, and Secretary Watt himself has talked to Powerline (see here) to set the record straight. Moyers is simply wrong -- Watt wasn't "serious" about a remark that he never made.

(Note: As of 8:22 a.m. on 2/9: according to Powerline, Bill Moyers has contacted Secretary Watt to apologize for the misstatement -- and has offered to try to find a way to make his retraction as public as the original allegation.)

(2) The best-selling books in America today are the 12 volumes of the "Left Behind" series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious-right warrior Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.

Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre . . .: Once Israel has occupied the rest of its "biblical lands," legions of the antichrist will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon.

. . .

I'm not making this up. . .. I've read the literature. I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank.

I myself have not read any of the "Left Behind" series -- but I know several of "these people" (as Moyers condescendingly calls them) who have. They realize it is FICTION; they don't take it any more seriously than adult readers of Harry Potter take the idea that there are witches running around in England being educated at a secret school called Hogwarts.

(3) They [fundamentalists] are sincere, serious and polite as they tell you they feel called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. . .. It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelations where four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man." A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed -- an essential conflagration on the road to redemption.

. . .

Go to Grist to read a remarkable work of reporting by the journalist Glenn Scherer -- "The Road to Environmental Apocalypse." Read it and you will see how millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed -- even hastened -- as a sign of the coming apocalypse.

I have known many very conservative Republicans, and fundamentalists, and known them well. I have never heard any of this sort of "lust for the rapture" that seems to have Mr. Moyers so enthralled. In fact, many of those who contributed most generously to the tsunami have done so through fairly fundamentalist Christian groups like World Vision. If fundamentalists were hanging around slavering for rapture, what would be the point in helping anyone suffering anywhere? It would , instead, be logical to conclude that perhaps the flood would lead to the famine which would lead to the other disasters enumerated in Revelations and would be happy to have it occur.

As for the Iraq War being a "warm-up act,"frankly, the quickest way for all of us to have gotten Armageddon would have been for Saddam Hussein to have given the WMD that everyone believed he had to Al Qaeda to use against the United States. The fact that anyone was advocating the use of force against Saddam Hussein was the expression of a preference that Armageddon come later, not sooner.

(4) Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups.

This statistic is misleading. The groups -- one of which, I would assume, is the Christian Coalition -- do not "grade" people on adherence to specific beliefs. They take several of the most important issues and go from there. Probably in the last Congress, three of them had to do with gay marriage, partial birth abortion and leaving "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The fact that almost the entire Republican leadership would agree on such matters doesn't mean that they are one-eyed, six toed fire breathing mutants that people Moyers' fevered imagination . . . it means that there are not that many votes in the Congress to be graded that would actually separate, say, Jerry Falwell from Bill Frist.

(5)A 2002 Time-CNN poll found that 59% of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true.

As any non-propagandizing journalist or thinker would realize, that number cannot be true. It implies that an overwhelming majority of Americans are familiar with all the prophecies in the Book of Revelation -- the figure would have to exceed something like 70%, if even a lowly 11% disagreed with a literal interpretation of the Bible's most apocalyptic book.

It's more likely that the poll asked, "Do you believe the book of Revelations is true?" and numerous people who don't even know the book's contents said "yes" -- being understandably reluctant to allow the Bible to be characterized as a lie.

(5) [T]hese people believe that until Christ does return, the Lord will provide. One of their texts is a high school history book, "America's Providential History." You'll find there these words: "The secular or socialist has a limited-resource mentality and views the world as a pie ... that needs to be cut up so everyone can get a piece." However, "[t]he Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God's earth ... while many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that God has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people."

What in this quoted statement is so bizarrely frightening to Bill Moyers? (Granted, the book shouldn't have the editorial characterization of the secular mindset, but that's small potatoes compared to the left wing editorializing in textbooks like, for example, Howard Zinn's). The statement is actually true -- socialists do tend to see societal organization as a zero-sum game; if the "rich" have more, the "poor" have less; we are destroying the environment; there is going to be a population explosion and we must conserve. Those on the other side note the earth's power to regenerate itself, and have fairly effectively rebutted all the claims of peril resulting from a population explosion -- from Thomas Malthus on. And, in fact, our society is now threatened primarily by underpopulation.

Bill Moyers intended this article to serve as a warning against the danger of compounding ideology with theology -- and I believe he succeeded better than he intended, for he has provided an abject example of the ignorance that can result from that combustible combination. After all, all "theology" need not be secular; some environmentalists, feminists, and yes, secularists hold to their creeds with a stubbornness and intolerance that would do the most unkind and militant fundamentalist proud. Bill Moyers is a prime example.

The Godfather of the Blogosphere (otherwise known as Hugh Hewitt), was on Kudlow & Cramer today discussing the Eason Jordan story and the pitifully scant coverage of it in mainstream media (for a transcript, check out RadioBlogger).

It's taking time, but the story is slowly pushing its way out of the blogosphere and into the maintream press. The days are over when MSM could simply bury a story. Eason Jordan, take note: The peasants have surrounded the castle with pitchforks and fire.
Here is the way the Eason Jordan/CNN story should be covered. In contrast, this is the way that Washington Post media critic (and CNN show host) Howard Kurtz reported it. A talented journalist and skilful reporter, Mr. Kurtz hasn't covered himself in glory on this one.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Eason Jordan in trouble?

According to National Review's TKS, David Gergen and Sen. Chris Dodd both have corroborated initial accounts of Eason Jordan accusing the American military of "targeting" journalists.

This is crazy talk -- absolutely unacceptable for someone heading a worldwide news organization.

And what's disappointing is to read Gergen's statement that The Washington Post considered doing a story last week, but did not. The Post's media critic is Howard Kurtz -- a capable man, but also the anchor of "Reliable Sources", on CNN. So he has a conflict of interest which -- if anything -- should have made him more diligent about reporting the story . . ..

What few people have discussed is the fact that Jordan noted in his February 2 statement on this site that "NBC, Reuters, and Al Jazeera have all complained to the U.S. military that their journalists have been wrongly detained, imprisoned, and abused by U.S. military forces." Where and when? I'd like to see those complaints.

Oh, and please note that no one else has accused the military of murdering journalists. That's a pretty important distinction.
For those who are even willing to acknowledge the existence of evil, it's certainly hard to define. Now, some forensic scientists have shown the willingness to introduce the term into their analysis of the characters of the most depraved among us.

It's an interesting question, the existence of evil. And it's a chilling possibility that some of the worst are known not by the deeds they commit themselves, but by the emotional, moral and spiritual wreckage that they leave in their wake.
Looks like Howard Dean is really going to be the Chairman of the DNC! Goody! The only downside? He has said that if he wins the DNC post, he won't run again in 2008.

Shameless Self-Promotion Moment

Here's my weekly column -- it's about Ward Churchill and the intellectually and morally bankrupt academic tenure system that rewards cretins like him. For a look at any of my other pieces, here's the index for all my online columns from April of 2003 forward.
Here is a fascinating analysis by The American Thinker that puts the death toll in Iraq -- as heartbreaking as it is -- in proper perspective. Apparently, the military death has often been higher than it is now, and peaked during the Jimmy Carter years, when the nation wasn't even at war. One other nugget: Military suicides peaked during the Clinton years, specifically in 1995.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Check out this interesting piece by Patrick O'Hannigan -- proprietor of The Paragraph Farmer.
This piece has it just right. In the wink of an eye, conventional wisdom has changed -- finally it's being acknowledged that it's the Democrats, not the Republicans, who are being hurt by their position in the abortion debate.

Recall this report -- posted on this site back in September -- that noted in a poll taken in Spring 2003, pro-life women constituted the majority.

And here is more interesting news that confirms that Hillary Clinton is up to something as she's trying to moderate her hard-left pro-choice record.

What's beneath the shift in abortion attitudes? Two things: (1) The rise of technology (remember this piece posted here last week about the use of ulstrasound by pro-lifers?): It's hard to subscribe to the radical pro-choice line that an unborn child is just a "fetus" or a hunk of protoplasm when you've seen him/her on film; and (2) A sort of religious reawakening in this country -- and what seems like a new willingness to reexamine the "truths" that were almost universally accepted in the heat of the feminist movement of the '70's.

Happy Birthday, President Reagan

Today marks what would have been the 94th birthday of President Reagan. In glad and grateful rememberance, here is my piece paying tribute to him, written upon his death last June.

And below is one of his most memorable quotes -- it's also on my web site:

America has already succeeded where so many historic attempts at freedom have failed. Already, we've made this cherished land the last best hope of mankind. It's up to us, in our generation, to carry on the hallowed task. It is up to us, however we may disagree on policies, to work together for progress and humanity so that our grandchildren, when they look back on us, can truly say that we not only preserved the flame of freedom, but cast its warmth and light further than those who came before us.

How blessed America was to have a leader of such vision.
How proud we can be of our wonderful military. If you want to help, don't forget Soldier's Angels. I was interested to read last week that French terrorists who came to Iraq for jihad are being held at Camp Bucca -- where our Soldiers' Angels soldier is stationed.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Here is a very sobering piece on declining population rates and the ramifications for the future.

There is one potential beneficial outcome -- the increasing conservatization (yes, I know it's a created word) of society, because socially conservative women are more likely to have more children than liberal ones. The phenomenon is like the "Roe effect," where young people may be trending pro-life because, obviously, they are living proof that their mothers were pro-life.

At the heart of the problem, in a sense, is the upward trend of lifestyles for women, with contraception, advanced education, opportunities beyond marrying and reproducing very young. And that's a difficult one to solve -- as a 37 year old childless female, it's not terribly fair for me to insist that others should choose a different path against their will.

Cultural changes could help -- in "What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us" (available on Amazon; can't be linked, though) Danielle Crittendon suggested that society foster a system under which women marry and have children young, and then go to to fulfill their intellectual/other aspirations later. And that's a possibility. It just doesn't address the issue of how people change and grow as they're educated; in many important ways, I'm a very different person now than I was as a 22 year old off to Harvard Law School. And if I had married young and had several children, it's far from clear to me that I would ever have gotten around to having some of the wonderful experiences that I've subsequently enjoyed.

It's a tough problem, fighting biology.
Here is a journalist I would trust -- someone who wasn't afraid to say she was wrong to "misunderestimate" both President Bush and the Iraqi people.

Friday, February 04, 2005

In this interesting piece, David Brooks subscribes to Mickey Kaus' theory that the Democratic Party is trending toward Deanism because that's where the money is.

There's an element of truth to that theory, but I'm not sure that money alone is the major force that has put a core of affluent, very left-wing activists in charge of the party.

The Deanyboppers have taken over the Democratic Party because their wing is where the activism and the passion is. They're the ones taking names and willing to exact retribution. That's why Harold Ickes and Simon Rosenberg -- neither of whom can be thrilled at the prospect of a Dean chairmanship -- have nonetheless endorsed him.

Yes, passion = money in politics, but it's not money alone. Activists on the left have a disproportionate voice in Democratic politics, particularly right now. Why? (1)Because they were mobilized to "get involved" by their irrational hatred for George Bush; (2)Because they're the only Democrats with a vision -- albeit a wrong and deeply damaging one.

What does moderate Simon Rosenberg stand for, for example? Very little except some tactical victories over the Republicans. And for many of the true believers, that's not enough. They want wholesale ideological warfare -- and Dean's the only guy who will give it to them.

Anyone who's ever worked in a senator's office knows that most of the phone calls will be complaints -- because the angriest people are the most motivated. Among Democrats, the Deanyboppers are the angriest, they are the most involved, and they can barely believe that Bush beat them fair and square (and so they are taking out their rage on their party). It's a little like a convict who's released from prison and who's angriest not at the prosecutor -- because, after all, he knew the prosecutor was out to get him -- but at his defense attorney, who let him down. A lot of these leftists, I believe, feel that the "insiders" in the Democratic party let them down (and, not coincidentally, turned on candidate Dean) . . . and they are angry.
This piece is the first op/ed against Eason Jordan that I've seen. Incidentally, it quotes the statement that was provided to this web site day before yesterday.

One of the comments on that post remarked that, by Eason Jordan's definition, Army Ranger Pat Tillman was murdered, not killed in a friendly fire tragedy. And that's absolutely true. After all, if a woman shoots what she thinks is an intruder in her house -- and it turns out to be her husband, returning unexpectedly from a business trip -- that doesn't make her a "murderer" like Pamela Smart, who cajoled two of her high school students into murdering her spouse.

Mr. Jordan is an intelligent man, and surely he is capable of grasping this distinction. But the nectar of anti-Americanism is apparently an intoxicating one for him.
How incredibly embarassing for an Episcopalian. Now it appears that the Archbishop of Canterbury -- remember the one who said it would be "wrong" not to doubt the existence of God in the wake of the tsunami? -- is on to yet another flaky project. He intends to set out his vision of environmentalist utopia at the General Synod meeting next week. Chief among his objectives is ensuring that Episcopal churches serve only organic bread and wine, and that parishes commit to selling only "fair trade" items at their functions.

With the Church still reeling from the whole issue of ordaining homosexuals, and a certain dearth of actual theology becoming ever more characteristic of many Episcopal parishes, is this really the best use of his time? The question answers itself. Rowan Williams and people like him are killing the Episcopal Church. Well, at least its adherents will die laughing -- at the ridiculous Archbishop who's supposed to be the Church's earthly leader.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Here's a sad little headline: "Crimes Among Girls Show Increase in Violence" (HT: Best of the Web).

Once again, this suggests that some of the after effects of feminism may not be all that everyone had hoped. Could it be that when left wing feminists talked so much about "empowerment," they only defined it in men's terms? And could that tendency come from many feminists' utter refusal to concede that there are, indeed, innate differences between the sexes -- and those differences are not to be despised, but respected as some of the greatest sources of women's strengths?
Debra Saunders points out the absurdity of celebrities insisting that illegals be granted drivers licenses here.

For a hilarious post taking Ed Begley Jr. to task -- after all, as a dedicated environmentalist, shouldn't he be happy that more people are taking mass transit, rather than driving? -- check out this.

And finally, a word to Republicans: This illegal mess has to be cleaned up. For politicians unwilling to think of anything but their own futures, look at it this way: Latinos will never get the economic breathing room that's necessary to get a foot onto the ladder of opportunity (and thereby become a 21st century equivalent of a Reagan Democrat) if their wages are held down by a "reserve army of the unemployed" constantly and illegally streaming north.
CNN is going to try to convince Americans that no one should be upset about the UN Oil-for-Food scandal because the United States knew that some illicit transactions were occurring. Read about it here.

But there is an important distinction that the CNN story fails to make -- in fact, tries to hide. The only "condoning" that came from the US was its policy to allow Jordan and Turkey -- key allies -- to buy Iraqi oil. That doesn't delegitimize any objection to the widespread corruption that is becoming ever more evident at the UN. There's a big difference in permitting Saddam to sell oil for our strategic purposes and Saddam giving bribes and kickbacks in the form of oil vouchers to secret allies at the UN and on the Security Council in order to change UN policy.

Amusingly, the story focuses on how much money Saddam Hussein made from the transactions -- more, relatively, from those with Jordan and Turkey (and Egypt and Syria, of which we did not approve), than from the U.N.-approved oil exports and illegal kickbacks on subsequent Iraqi purchases of food, medicine, and supplies. But that's not the point.

The point is that the former sales were for strategic goals (including keeping Saddam encircled, and obtaining intelligence). The latter was corrupt -- funding a greedy network at the UN and elsewhere. And so the issue isn't how much Saddam made relatively from each (after all, he already had more than he could possibly spend). The point is that Saddam gave enough to the corrupt to be able to influence their approach to dealing with his country. And that, my friends, is the scandal.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

After seeing Sgt. Norwood's brave mother embrace the courageous Iraqi democracy advocate and patriot Safia Taleb al-Suhail, it was jarring to watch "Scarborough and Reagan After Hours" and hear Willie Brown say the following: "With the number of women who end up being the major beneficiary of the social security system, I think the President is on very dangerous ground toying around with this system."

Help me understand, Mayor Brown. Are women too stupid to be able to understand the changes, or too stupid to be able to manage their own money? (Good thing Harvard President Larry Summers didn't let forth with this gem.)

Frankly, after what they've confronted, I would trust women like Mrs. Norwood or Safia Taleb al-Suhail to be able to deal with the prospect of change in our retirement system -- and, if it came right down to it, I'd trust them a thousand times more to manage their own money (or mine, for that matter) than I'd trust bureaucrat types like Willie Brown. And the same goes for the millions of American women to whom Mayor Brown mindlessly condescended.

State of the Union

Just a very short post on the State of the Union. President Bush clearly has the Big Mo and plans to use it -- and if I were either (1) a Democrat or (2) part of the Iranian government, I'd be pretty depressed and worried.

The President did some important work in trying to regain the initiative for what seems like a somewhat-stalled Social Security reform effort. To me, it was very effective to analogize the personal accounts to the federal employees' Thrift Savings Plan. For many people, the analogy is a reassuring one: If the government employees have a similar system, how "dangerous" can it be? And most of all, it has a delightful populist edge: Why shouldn't all of us get to take advantage of the same type of system that our "rulers" and those who serve them directly get to enjoy? (Although it still doesn't guarantee a slam-dunk: Remember when the Clintonites tried to compare their health care plan to the federal employees' system?). And we should all be remarking that, just because the Democrats don't want control over their money, well, they don't necessarily speak for the rest of America!

Of course, the most stirring part of the speech dealt with the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq -- and the President's stirring call to the people of Iran. If the Iranian people even were permitted to see the speech, they heard everything short of a call to arms; it was, truly, a guarantee of American support in their struggle against their oppressive government.

And finally, let's not forget the sacrifice of heroes like Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood. Touching to see his parents at the speech.

Response from Eason Jordan

Our friend, formerly of CNN, passed along this statement from Eason Jordan. It seems that he is making a semantic argument, i.e., that when he said that the journalists had been "targeted", he didn't mean to imply that the U.S. military realized that they were journalists. (That is, soldiers intended to shoot the people who were killed -- they just didn't know they were journalists.) Perhaps that's true. Perhaps. But why wouldn't he have made the point about mistaken identity clear in the original remarks?

Here is the statement:

"To be clear, I do not believe the U.S. military is trying to kill journalists in Iraq. I said so during the forum panel discussion. But, nonetheless, the U.S. military has killed several journalists in Iraq in cases of mistaken identity. The reason the word "targeted" came up at all is because I was responding to a comment by Congressman Franks, who said he believed the 63 journalists killed in Iraq were the victims of "collateral damage." Since three of my CNN colleagues and many other journalists have been killed on purpose in Iraq, I disputed the "collateral damage" statement, saying, unfortunately, many journalists -- not all -- killed in Iraq were indeed targeted. When someone aims a gun at someone and pulls the trigger and then learns later the person fired at was actually a journalist, an apology is ppropriate and is accepted, and I believe those apologies to be genuine. But such a killing is a tragic case of mistaken identity, not a case of "collateral damage." That is the distinction I was trying to make even if I did not make it clearly at the time. Further, I have worked closely with the U.S. military for months in an effort to achieve a mutual goal: keeping journalists in Iraq safe and alive."


When our friend checked with Jordan in response to my inquiry about whether these remarks were for attribution, he received the following response:

"NBC, Reuters, and Al Jazeera have all complained to the U.S. military that their journalists have been wrongly detained, imprisoned, and abused by U.S. military forces. I am unaware of any transcript of the Davos panel discussion. My comments were part of a conversation, not scripted. It's fine with me if my comments here are posted on a blog."
Eason Jordan -- executive vice president and chief
news executive of CNN -- in remarks made at the Davos conference last week, accused American soldiers of deliberately targeting and killing foreign journalists in Iraq, including Western journalists. Leading the charge against Jordan are Hugh Hewitt and Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters.

I have sought the opinion on this matter of a family friend who formerly worked in a very responsible capacity at CNN. If and when he responds, and gives permission, I will post with his thoughts.
Jimmy Carter continues his unbroken string of predictions both idiotic and wrong. Apparently he predicted some time ago that the Iraq elections wouldn't be able to take place in January, no way, no how. Check out the piece for the non-reactions of Carter, Moore and Soros. How amazing that they're more sorry that George Bush was right than that Iraqis are free.
Andy Borowitz is a funny guy (he appeared on "The Dennis Miller Show" the same day that I did). Here is a column about John Kerry's Sunday appearance on "Meet the Press" that perfectly meets the CBS News journalism standard -- not true but nonetheless accurate.
Gotta love this headline: "Castro Says Bush Appeared 'Deranged'." What next? "Boxer Says Rice Appears 'Unintelligent, Obnoxious'"?
Here is all you need to know about the horrific capture of a GI Joe doll by the terrorists in Iraq. Seriously -- how desperate must these evildoers be if the only way they can get publicity is by perpetrating an enormous hoax?

Oh, and one more thing: Just because they might not know if one of their compatriots were captured, that doesn't mean we all operate at the same level of disorganization. We have what's called an Army, and those participating are generally known to their fellows and to their officers . . ..

Growing up, I wasn't a big "doll" person, so I had stuffed animals instead. From time to time, my brothers would take them and tell me they were going on "safari" (much to my chagrin). The only difference: They were six and seven years old -- not grown men . . . and certainly not terrorists.

I hope the GI Joe-nappers know the world is laughing at them.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Technology may do more than anything to make abortion rare. As this piece points out, certain clinics, often with a pro-life bent, have remarkable success persuading women not to abort simply by providing them with an ultrasound that allows them to understand exactly what is going on inside them.

The president of NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League)/Pro Choice America has this to say: "With or without ultrasound, women understand the moral dimensions of their choices."

So one side is providing women with more information than they've ever had before. The other can't even use the word "abortion" -- again, it's women's "choices." Who do you think is being more honest? And wouldn't you say that it's the organizations providing women with more -- not less -- information that actually do respect the "moral dimensions of [women's] choices"?

Seems to me that if you've nothing to hide, there's no harm in providing as many facts as possible to women who find themselves in the sad and difficult position of confronting an unwanted pregnancy.

What a relief. The spelling bee is back on in Lincoln, R.I., where it had been cancelled because the competition "left some children behind" in what the school deemed a violation -- in spirit, presumably -- of No Child Left Behind legislation. (HT: Best of the Web).

And here it is the liberal problem in a nutshell: "No Child Left Behind" doesn't mean that no child may ever excel more than some others. It means that we, as a society, have made a collective commitment to ensure that no children are abandoned without the opportunity and the means to excel -- if they can. That is -- it's "no child left behind," not "no child allowed forward", and politically correct types would do well to grasp the distinction.

Here's a truly scary piece on the threats being faced by Geert Wilders, a politician in the Netherlands. Yes, some of his rhetoric and proposed policies are overheated and over-the-top about the threat of Islamofascism (and it's unfair to say that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with democracy -- look at Turkey, for example).

But what's worse is to have had Islamocfascist terrorists make death threats against him as a result. As Wilders points out in the story, the terrorists are walking around free, while he lives in a virtual prision of armed guards.

What's happened in the Netherlands is the object lesson in the wages of mindless multiculturalism. The Dutch lacked the conviction to require Muslim immigrants to integrate into the country, and as a result, it turns out that they may be harboring a significant hostile population within its own borders.

As Americans, that's something to think about every time those on the left resist efforts to insist that immigrants are welcome -- so long as they are wanting to become Americans, not just live in the United States.