Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Big Car Safe. Small Car Dangerous. Me Pick Big Car.

Lisa: But mom, I read that sport-utility vehicles are more
likely to be in fatal accidents.
Bart: Fatal to the people in the other car. Let's roll.

The Simpsons. "Marge Simpson in Screaming Yellow Honkers"

Well, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has recently printed an article arguring that if SUV's are forced to more closely adhere to the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, people will die. Yes, people, just like you and me will die. The article argues; "Advocates of higher CAFE standards for sport utility vehicles argue that this would reduce the hazard that SUVs pose in collisions with cars. The evidence for this is far from clear, because assessing the overall safety effects of reducing one vehicle's mass in a multi-car collision is complex."

Oh wait a second, I read the wrong part of the article, here's the part I want, "But in single-vehicle accidents, small SUVs are much less safe than large ones. A higher CAFE standard for SUVs would encourage sales of small SUVs." See Big SUV's are safer. They even quote a 2001 National Academy of Science report to suppor this allegation.

So, to boil it down, Science cannot comment on the effect of a giant SUV crashing into a smaller car (say, a Toyota Camry), because "multi car collision[s] are complex." But Science says that if you own your own SUV and drive it into a tree you will be safer in a bigger SUV.

Looked at a certain way, it almost sounds like the people at the Competitive Enterprise Instutite believe that people who can afford SUV have more valuable lives than those of us in smaller cars.

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Letter Mania

The front page of the Wall Ztreet Journal today haz an article on how "Z" iz the new "S." You all know how dedicated I am to following current trendz. But this zeemz overly annoying to me. I think I may, in luddite-like fazhion, revert to uzing the letter "S."

On the other hand there's zomething wonderfully zatizfying in writing "Wall Ztreet Journal"
The Good Old Days

Once upon a time, Man created Art, Literature, Philosophy and Criticism. These were wonderfully precious gifts and they remained the province of the few with the wit or talent to appreciate them. Most people were born and lived and died without Literature, Philosophy and Criticism. Most people couldn't read, and although they had some crafts and storys they created for their communities, the world of "higher" ideas was forever closed off to them.

Then an inventor and printer named Gutenburg commited an evil travesty. He invented a device that allowed dozens of copies of books to be printed and spread among the peoples of the world. Those noble protectors of literature and "higher" thought, the upper classes, did their best to prevent these words from drifting out into the society at large. Unfortunately, they failed. It turned out that people had a desire for information and ideas and stories that books could fulfill. And with the invention of the Printing Press, and the invisible hand of capitalism, many printers began printing books for the masses to read.

Oh what a hew and cry went up among the "cultured" classes. Reading in The Century, December 1885, one finds this passage, directed to Sunday School Librarians.

"If the books which they find in these libraries are, as a rule, silly and shallow fictions, their intellectual tastes may be so depraved by their reading, that they will become visionary and restless creatures, wholly unfit for the serious business of life. That a book should be hurtful to young readers, it is not necessary that it should teach bad morals; the mischief is done quite as effectually by an overwrought sentimentalism as by a lax morality. . . . The trashy fiction still disseminated through them is sufficient to addle unnumbered brains and injure unnumbered lives."

But America didn't heed this warning or the countless others like it--bringing us down to the present day, a truely deplorably time when there are dozens of "popular" mediums, dedicated to finding as many participants as possible. These include Movies, Music, Books, Television, the Internet, and so on. Unlike in the golden ages of mankind, there isn't a specific class of people who decides what is proper and what is improper for viewing or reading. The critics still exist, but they largely serve no purpose. If only they still served their valuable purpose of telling people what to think. If there was a class of people set aside that could read the literature and news and ideas and tell us what was good and what was bad and what was true and what was false, well think how wonderful life would be.

Norman Solomon, a critic who has had the misfortune to be born in modern times makes a simlar lament in his latest column, a review of the year 2002. He comments, "A culture accustomed to finding substantial meaning in TV commercials and an array of phony prime-time shows is unlikely to rouse itself to human connection and moral action when the nation's powers-that-be decide on yet another war."

All joking aside, Solomon does make the standard and correct point that it's troubling to have so much of our media controlled by large corporate oligarchies--but I still remain convinced that the truth is available to all who want to see it. And that in a free society, you are going to find people who look at exactly the same information as you do and come up with different conclusions.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Change is A Foot

Slowly learning a little about html--so have improved the look and hopefully readability of the site--also changed the quote at the top. Enjoy.
Your Weekly Rush

Well Rush took the week off, which is understandable. So his website is apparently running a best of Rush 2002. It's insightful as to what Rush thinks his best work is. At the top is this quote.

"Human being three hundred years from now will be able to look at Rushlimbaugh.com and see income tax data as it was today, updated for the times as it occured."

Three hundred years, eh? It's going to take you that long to eliminate liberals?

The first article is an interview between Rush and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfield, from May 2002--not much to comment on there, except that Rush apparently did find time to ask Rumsfield about his status as a sex symbol.

The second article deals with President Bush's intentions to build Star Wars, and its one of the rare good points Rush makes. If SDI is possible (and how do you prove it isn't), why not build it? But it's marred by his regular sniping at Democrats for wanting to be judged on their intentions. And of course it ignores the fact that the companies building it certainly have something to gain by pushing for it, and I suspect they do have political connections.

The third is an absolutely hilarious animated cartoon. Mark Fiore over at Salon.com or Home Star Runner have nothing on this. It shows a clunky old women in a wheel chair. Suddenly Al Gore and Tom Daschele and some other democrat pop out in front of her and say boo--then she falls down the stairs. Oh my. And it has a message too. Democrats hate old people and like to push them down stairs.

Down the bottom of the page there is proof that Al-Queda is recieving support from Iraq. Although Rush doesn't need it (he's bloodthirsty enough without it), he does provide it. Oh wait--this is just another retread of the story that Iraqi intelligence met with the hi-jackers in Chzechoslovokia--that's been denied dozens of times. Plus apparently Saddam has a 747 fuselage which he uses to train Al-Queda terrorists. Of course, when you don't need the evidence i suppose any flicker of light works--for me however, this isn't really sufficient to prove anything.

Finally, Rush hates Europeons. He really hates them. He hates the way they have culture and the way they look down on us. He hates that they think they should have a say in world events. He hates that they don't mindlessly go along with everything our wise and just President suggests. He makes sure to remind us that Germany, who has decided that they don't want to invade Iraq, are the Children of Hitler. He states, "Hitler was a member of the National Socialist Party. He has an intellectual kinship with Schroeder's socialists and the communists. That stuff is not right-wing. Somebody has to say this stuff, and I'm in a position to do it." Now, i'll admit this venom came after Schoeder compared Bush to Hitler, which was clearly uncalled for. And I'm not sure there is a foreign country that Rush likes.

But this is clearly over the top nonsense. The Nazi Party name was designed to appeal to as many people as possible without really saying to much about long term goals. No serious student of Nazi Germany would describe them as anything but an aberation of the right. After all large corporations suffered not one whit under Hitler. And he persucuted the Communists almost as much as the Jewish people.

I was going to go on and analyze each article in turn--but instead I'm going to the movies--have a nice day. Maybe I'll get back to it later.

Friday, December 27, 2002

Change is a Foot

Hope you enjoy the new look and are having a happy holiday season. Also brand new cheery quote up at the top.
The Virtue of a Straight Line

Reading the National Review online today--lots of good articles, but two in particular stood out. One by Victor Davis Hanson, prosaicly named, "We Mustn't Forget Why We are Fighting this War.," and a second by Rod Dreher, entitled "A Mighty Fortress is our God."

Hanson writes;

"Lest we forget why we have been fighting the al Qaeda terrorists and are now ready to invade Iraq, we should remember some basic facts about the present war.

What is its immediate cause?

About a year and a half ago, Middle Eastern terrorists — at a time of peace and without provocation — simply murdered 3,000 Americans."

Dreher writes;

"Here we are 12 years later, another Christmas upon us, another war with Iraq looming. This time, the peril is graver. Saddam Hussein has had 12 years to build more weapons of mass destruction — and he knows now that we are coming to kill him. The world is not allied against the dictator as it once was. Our cities — my city — now know what terrorists fighting in the name of Islam, Christendom's ancient foe, are capable of doing to us, without warning.

There was nothing abstract about September 11."

Before making my main point, let me comment on Dreher's argument. Saddam has not had 12 years to build more weapons of mass destruction. He's had constant inspections and bombings. He's suffered (or to be more clear, his people have suffered) under U.N. sanctions. I know it's fashionable for Commentators to assume that American's can't remember what happened six months ago, but I like to think they can. I also am encouraged by the description of Islam as Christendom's ancient foe. And here I thought the enemy of Christianity was Satan. In fact, I'm so theologically backwords, I can't help thinking that an enduring religious war between Christianity and Islam would bring the devil much joy.

But to my main point--would someone please draw a line between the over three thousand dead in the tragedies of September 11 and Saddam Hussein's Iraq? Is it merely that the hijackers came from the middle east (as Hanson points out), and Iraq is in the very same region? Do you think that's merely a coincidence?

Do Hanson and Dreher really believe in an America where on the vaguest of proofs (or even in the absense of proof) of malfience, we wage war on another nation? Apparently they do.

But I don't.

For a more rational appraisel of the Iraq invasion, check out Dilip Hiro's article, "The Post-Saddam Problem."

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Exercise may Prove Dangerous to your Health

Suzanne Fields, writing today in Townhall.com, states;

"So beware of the New Age snake oil in the Gymnasiums of Eden. Satan can find Eve on a Stairmaster or in a rowing machine and Adam will drink the forbidden fruit juice wherever it's offered. Fitness may be just another fig leaf to hide from our inner selves."

Luckily I use one of those exercise bikes, so I'm relatively safe from Satan.
The Wonders of the Modern Corporation

"The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles."
Ayn Rand

There are many who praise the modern corporation as incredibly efficient. And it is. It acquires resources, works those resources, and produces and distributes final products. Certainly there is bloat in many modern organizations (although very little at present, all things considered), but the corporation has revolutionized the way we get things done.

There is another kind of efficiency the modern corporation offers--moral efficiency. Morality often gets in the way of the most efficient way of doing things. A personal example from the running of my house. I have two dogs, which I walk several times a day. The most efficient thing I can do as a person is to let their crap lay where it falls. After all, so long as it's outside and I know where it is, I'm likely to avoid it. But that is not the moral thing to do--so I add in extra inefficiencys, like carrying a scoop, and eliminating the crap afterwords. Inefficient. But Moral.

Now here's where the modern corporation comes in. At some point I have to face myself, and realize that i'm the sort of selfish jerk who lets other people stop on his dog's dog-doo. But with the modern corporation nobody has to face that. Each individual in a chain makes a moral decision, but it's always a small decision. Do I fill out this paperwork that i've been assigned? Do I transport these containers to our other facility? I'm sure if burying these containers was dangerous, someone would tell me. And so on. And so forth.

Everybody has someone else to blame for any immoral actions that happen. The worker blames his supervisor. The Supervisor blames company policy. The Company leaders place responsibility either on the stockholders (for demanding profits) or the workers. Nobody blames themselves. And the morality of any action, spread among so many different people, vanishes in the ether.

Rush says all the time, "Do you think Corporate heads really want dirty air or dirty water? Why would they want that? Why wouldn't they fight to ensure clean air and clean water for their children?" Well there are two answers to that question. First, nobody deciding to pollute lives in the town where the pollution is going to happen. They live in clean safe areas a long way away. The exception is probably Texas--but only because Texas is so aggresively anti-environment. Second, the morality of the decision to not change filters for example dissappears when its spread out over so many people.

Monday, December 23, 2002

Trent Lott--A Post Mortem

It was two weeks ago I first came across Trent Lott's Comments at Strom Thurmond's Birthday Party. Angry at the initial lack of media coverage, I reprinted Lotts comments and called for his resignation. It's the sort of red-blodded all American thing I do often--taking a position on an issue immediately, without really thinking about it in depth. After having thought about it, I do think I was right however. Trent Lott would have held a position of representing the Republican party and the American people. He had to be removed.

However, let it not be said that the Democrats hounded him from office. That would be foolish. The real people who removed Trent Lott from power were his fellow Republicans. The President helped by refusing to show Lott even trace amounts of support. But in truth, the Repbulicans are glad to see him go. In their eyes, it was not his comments at the Birthday Party that were damning; it was his appearance on BET that did him in. There the Senator looked weak. He capitulated to his audience on Affirmative Action, claiming he supported it. To many Republicans, this weakness in articulating their opposition to affirmative action must have seemed either a cynical ploy to preserve his speakership or a continuation of his ongoing weakness in basic republican principles.

Lott commented, "There are some people in Washington who have been trying to nail me for a long time. When you're from Mississippi and you're a conservative and you're a Christian, there are a lot of people that don't like that. I fell into their trap and so I have only myself to blame." I'm not sure exactly what Mr. Lott means by a trap. Did somebody monkey up his cue cards? Or should he not have been invited to the birthday party at all?

Two final comments on the issue. From the right, Robert Novak writes, "As principal author of Lott's demise, Bush must now face its consequences: limiting his freedom in policy touching on race. He has to decide whether to approve Solicitor General Theodore Olson's proposal for U.S. intervention against the University of Michigan in the racial quota case before the Supreme Court. He has to decide whether to renominate U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering, a friend and Mississippi Republican ally of Lott's, for the appellate bench. To go with Olson and Pickering would raise accusations of "racism." "

From the Left, Seth Sandronsky, of Sacremento's Because People Matter, writes "Lott’s remark’s on the spurned glories of the South threatened to partly alter the administration’s orchestration of a benevolent U.S. imperialism in oil-rich Iraq. He had to go, and did depart as Senate leader of the Republican Party."

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Your Weekly Rush

If you go to rush's website he has an area which is constant. Entitled "Only the Rich Pay Taxes," it gives the "fact" that the top 50% of wage earners pay 96.9% of the taxes. According to Rush, "This nukes the liberal lie that the rich don't pay taxes." Of course no liberal outside of a mental institution would argue that the rich don't pay taxes--what they argue is that the rich find numerous ways to pay less taxes.

This is part of an ongoing effort on the part of the Bush administration and other Conservatives to realign our tax code so that the wealthy pay less and the poor pay more. Of course these numbers are not a complete picture of what the government takes from it's citizens. For example there is no mention of Sales Tax or Payroll Taxes (i.e. Social Security), which hit the poor and middle class to a much greater extent than they do the wealthy.

Rush and others are also quick to point out that the rich paid more taxes after the Clinton years than before. Of course the only possible answer is that Clinton raised enormous new taxes on the rich--the fact that the rich generally got richer doesn't play into it.

Another side note to future attempts to shift the tax burden from the rich to the poor is that it will probably go hand in foot with efforts to cut government services.

Another side note, Rush states, "The top 50% were those individuals or couples filing jointly who earned $26,000 and up in 1999." So in effect 50% of the wage earners in the United States are earning under $26,000. That's a happy thought. It's a good thing that conservatives have banned all talk of class or I might stress you out with comments about how the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

For those who belong to the Salon.com website, there is a much more indepth report on this argument, which has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal. It's on the pay side though.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Breaking News

Well--it used to be breaking--now it's pretty much broken. Trent Lott has stepped down from the majority leader position, but will stay in the senate--worst of all possible outcomes for the Democrats. By getting rid of Lott, Republicans can go back to pretending that racism is a non-issue. Democrats can keep pressure on for a little bit, but aren't likely too. And by keeping their one seat majority, Republicans are likely to push forward with the entire Bush agenda (tax cuts for the wealthy, weakening of environmental protections, and so on).

Still maybe the Democrats will grow spines and fight back. One never knows.
The Saudi's are Coming! The Saudi's Are Coming!

Good news everybody. Ben Shapiro, Boy Prognosticator, has determined that the Saudi's are pure evil. Yes, unlike most people or races or nations, which contain a mixture of good and evil, the Saudi's specially evil nature makes them 100% evil. Young Ben's het up about the fact that some people in Saudi Arabia are sponsoring programs on American Universities, mostly to increase understanding between the east and the west. You might naively think that, given the nature of the world right now, and the conflicts between our two cultures, a better understanding of how Islamic people's look at the world might be positive. Ah but your forgetting, the Saudi's are pure evil. Hence their is nothing to understand. Anybody who tries to understand Middle Eastern people (outside of Israel) risks being contaminated by their pure evil. These Saudi Funded programs must be shut down immediately. To avoid the risk of contamination, we had probably better destroy all universities as well.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Lucky Ducky

Tom the Dancing Bug is always great, but todays comic is pretty brilliant even by his standards. And it teaches a valuable lesson.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Empire without Tears

Michael Hardt, a professer of Literature at Duke University, has a theory. He proposes that the United States has embarked on an imperialist crusade. In it he appears to be using the old definition of imperialism--i.e. anything that a capitalist country does in foreign policy is, by definition, imperialistic. Fair enough. His article compares this period of time to the fall of the roman empire, when the power elites made consistantly foolish choices that doomed themselves.

But luckily he has a solution, which he and his collaborater, Toni Negri, call Empire. In it the United States conquers the whole world and makes it all part of America. Actually, given the title that makes sense, but that's not what Mr. Hardt has in mind. Instead it is Multilateralism squared, as he puts it. As I understand it, the power elites in all the countries of the world, including business elites, intelligence agency heads, trade organizations and so on, work together to solve problems, preserve free trade and capitalism, and increase security. Then he ends his essay with a truely bizarre paragraph.

"We can be confident that in the long run their real interests will lead global elites to support empire and refuse any project of US imperialism. In the coming months, and perhaps years, we may face a tragedy that we read about in the darkest periods of human history, when elites are incapable of acting in their own interest."

So either we are doomed or we aren't. But you already knew that.
Comments on Lott

Senator Lott will do his party and his country a service if he steps down. If he does not, the Party must remove him.
David Horowitz

Notwithstanding the circus atmosphere, Lott has not committed sins as grievous as multiple Senate Democrats. But that doesn’t make Lott fit to lead. At this point, he can fight in vain for the next three weeks, or he can step aside to spare his party—and the country—a political blood bath. It’s up to him.
Joel Mowbray

This is why Lott must not continue as Leader. He will be used as a tool to advance the liberal Democrat agenda, not the agenda of President Bush and his fellow Senate Republicans. He will always have to prove himself to others who oppose Republican policies, and this is what makes him damaged goods.
Cal Thomas

Lott was on the wrong side of the civil rights divide in the 1960s, and he now appears willing to switch to the wrong side of the current debate over racial preferences to keep his job as majority leader. His Republican colleagues can display more principle than Lott has by choosing someone else to lead them.
Linda Chavez

Republicans, like nearly all Americans, are completely anti-racist. In 2002, it shouldn't even be necessary to say this. The Republican Party can salvage the situation only by moving swiftly to remove Lott from the leadership. This crisis is a teachable moment.
Mona Charen

But, make no mistake, the Republicans have already paid a price -- and it is only the down payment. That Senator Lott did not step aside himself is a greater disqualification for leadership than anything that he said.
Thomas Sowell

Well, I guess a crisis lets you know who your friends are.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Political Correctness

Well not much that I read today excited me--but I am reading John K. Wilson's The Myth of Political Correctness: The Conservative Attack on Higher Education. Fascinating book, well researched. I am struck by how many "legends" of political correctness seem to be mostly that--legends. Of course I would have to go back and verify his research on some of these instances.

It does strike me, as I'm sure it has struck many others that American Conservatism's decision to declare themselves the losers in the culture wars was a shrewd one. It lets Rightest political commentators use any dirty trick they can think of, on the grounds that they are coming from so far behind that it is justified. By portraying a monolithically liberal media establishment, Rush Limbaugh and other well funded conservative thinkers can portray themselves as Davids to Liberal Goliaths.

The very term "Politically correct" is the perfect weapon for liberals. You use it on a person and they are tied into this Liberal Academic conspiracy that wields enormous and suspicious power. Or it marks him as a spineless simpleton who only comes to liberalism because he is too foolish to question the world around him. Ask yourself this--how many of you, even if you are liberal or have liberal ideas, would describe yourself as politically correct?

Probably write more on this tomorrow.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Your Weekly Rush

Well Trent Lott is still with us. And although Rush's support of Trent Lott has been rather lukewarm he has certainly enjoyed pointing out Democratic hypocricy on this issue. He commented, "We have the Adam Clymers and E J. Dionnes of the world failing to report that Strom was a Democrat when he stood for segregation. (See: Clymer Rips Lott, GOP New Clymer).

"Examples of Democrat racism are endless. The Kennedy's wiretapped Dr. King. Algore's dad stood against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - 80% of House Republicans and only 61% of Democrats voted for it. In the Senate, 82% of the GOP and only 69% of Democrats did. I think Bill Clinton's being silent on this because he recently paid tribute to J. William Fulbright."

In other words, Rush feels comfortable comparing the Democrats of 1964 or 1948 with the Democrats today. So long as it makes the Democrats look bad, he's all for it. Of course what Rush convienently moves out is how both the Democrats and Republicans have changed since 1948. President Roosevelt had already begun the change, by reaching out to black voters in the North (those parts of the nation they were permitted to vote). Truman, continued this trend. The Kennedy's record on Civil Rights is admittadly rather weak, but Johnson's was very strong. The Democratic party of 1948 and the party of 2002 are not the same on Civil Rights and only a foolish foolish man would say that they were. (I need hardly mention the Republican party's decision to seek out the segregationist White as a voting block).

But lets take Rush's theory at face value. The party is the party is the party. The republican party of 1948 of 1936 of 1890 is the same. It's the same party, same principles. Why not? It doesn't make any sense, but who cares? I can score a few points at Rush's expense.

Rush practically froths at the mouth when it comes to what he calles Appeasers and "the appeasement crowd." By this he means all those who question the impending war with Iraq. Of course the term Appeasement is totally bizarre in this context. The term arose in Inter-war Europe where England (particularly) and other Europeon powers acquiesed to Hitler's desires to increase his terroritory. In other words the appeasers gave Hitler concessions in hopes that he would not attack them. The policy stands as a pitiable failure that strengthened a vicious tyrant and weakened the west.

So what concessions do Modern Appeasers offer Saddam. Well we aren't ready to kill him. That's about it. Are we offering him land? No. Are we giving him anything? No. The situation is akin to two muggers holding up a guy (admitadly the guy in this case is a vicious monster). The "Appeasers" say "Do as we say or we'll blow your head off." Rush would rather hear, "We are going to blow your head off no matter what."

So lets look at the Republican foreign policy from before World War 1 to the outbreak of World War II. Perhaps a quote from President Roosevelt will help enlighten us.

"I would not undo, if I could, the efforts I made to prevent war from the moment it was threatened and to restrict the area of carnage, down to the last minute. I do not now soften the condemnation expressed by Secretary Hull and myself from time to time for acts of aggression that have wiped out ancient liberty-loving, peace-pursuing countries which had scrupulously maintained neutrality. I do not recant the sentiments of sympathy with all free peoples resisting such aggression, or begrudge the material aid that we have given to them. I do not regret my consistent endeavor to awaken this country to the menace for us and for all we hold dear.

"I have pursued these efforts in the face of appeaser fifth columnists who charged me with hysteria and war-mongering. But I felt it my duty, my simple, plain, inescapable duty, to arouse my countrymen to the danger of the new forces let loose in the world.

"So long as I am President, I will do all I can to insure that that foreign policy remain our foreign policy."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1940

So what party do you suppose those Isolationist fifth columnists were? Well, I'll give you a hint. It wasn't the Democrats. While some Republicans of the time saw the danger Hitler posed, many more opposed all involvement in the war. They opposed supporting the Allies, believing that such support would drag us into war. And such views are still in the Republican party. Although the most prominent spokesman for isolationism, Patrick Buchannan, has left the Republican party, there are others of his beliefs still within it.

As fun as this is, though, it's not that important. I think it's probably better to judge the Republican Party as it is today--try to figure out what it stands for, and go from there. And the same with the Democratic Party.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Hey Kids Rock and Roll

With all the holiday hubbub I forgot to update my site. But I also forgot to come up with lot's of inciteful things to say. So I guess I'll have to punt. I am working on Your Weekly Rush. That should be up later today--actually doing some research for it.

Have a nice day.

Thursday, December 12, 2002


"In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears. Things are not only what they are. They are, in very important respects, what they seem to be."
Hubert H. Humphrey

"A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel."
Robert Frost

Read an article today by William Pfaff entitled "Islam and the West: Incompatibility of Values." Being the incurable optimist that I am I hoped that Pfaff would grapple with some of the moral questions that I have been grappling with.

I am quite aware of our nations blunders in the Middle East. And I know why nations around the world have reason to fear and even hate the United States. On the other hand the values we enshrine in the United States are things I believe in. I believe that Freedom of Speech, or Expression is a positive good. Not just for me here in the United States or in the West, but for every human being on the planet. I believe that Freedom of Religion is every child's birthright, that each child has the right to seek the Infinite as they see fit. I believe in individual freedoms. I believe in respecting the dignity of each human being, regardless of their Gender or Race or Religion. I believe in Democratic principles; governments run better when they seek the input of the governed. And again, I don't believe that these principles apply only to the United States or the "West." I believe these principles should be followed in every place there beats a human heart.

And yet some Radical Islamic Fundementalists would deny these rights and privaleges to those who live in their communities. They guide their communities into opposing freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of thought. They oppress women, and often religious and racial minorities. And some Radical Islamic Fundamentalists have lead their followers into open warfare with those who do not share their values. I don't mean to imply that the only reason terrorists attack the west is because of a clash in our values. They also have specific policies they would like us to adopt. Radical Islamic Fundementalists would like, for example, for us to allow them to eliminate the only Democratic nation in the Middle East and slaughter its inhabitents.

And yet, Islam is genuinely in most cases a religion of peace. Despite the rantings of some (Ann Coulter, i'm looking your way), most Muslim people are just like people anywhere. They love their children and seek to make a better world for them. I've met several Islamic people over the years and have liked most of them. To hold all Islam responsible for the actions of a few Radical Fundamentalists is insane. So how do I square these thoughts? Perhaps William Pfaff has some thoughts that will help me navigate these tricky waters.


He holds with the standard far-left liberal thinking; the United States government is evil and corrupted and therefore anybody who fights against the United States Government is, ipso facto, good. He basically holds that the values of some Radical Islamic Fundementalists are the equal and perhaps superior to the values of the West.

He states "There is constant Western pressure on Islamic governments to conform to Western conceptions of human rights and promote free and critical religious and political thought.

In short, they are to become us.

Does Mr. Pfaff really believe that the principles of Islam are incompatable with human rights? With democracy? With freedom of expression and thought? I don't believe that. I would suspect many Islamic people in the United States and elsewhere would agree with me.
I get Unlazy

I mentioned yesterday that I was sure that Trent Lott had had problems with racism before. Well, John Nichols has compiled a list that seems very complete so I'm just going to link to that. I guess that's still pretty lazy.

On a side note, if you watch carefully, you can see several hardline Republicans that would be happy to see Lott go, including everybody's favorite radio commentator. Rush commented the other day that Lott had mismanaged the impeachment procedures, and had moved slowly on the Office of Homeland Security until President Bush pushed him on it. They would like to see a more forceful person in Lotts position.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

A Rush Hiccup

Listening to Rush while I drove around at lunch, and it was enlightening. He commented that Trent Lott's were fairly innocent (a mistake, but an honest mistake), and that anybody with a brain should know that he's not a racist. He then turned around and suggested that Lott follow Clinton's methods of avoiding punishment (apologizing, having friends say that it doesn't affect his job, and that everybody does it, holding a prayer circle, etc.).

He also commented that before this incident nobody had ever suspected or accused Trent Lott of racism. More on that later. Unless i get lazy.
Happy Thoughts

Philip Berrigan has died, and many are writing articles of praise, as they should. I'm not sure I buy into Berrigan's world view, but I know for sure (as any American who studies his life should) that he believed in what he was doing for the United States. And he never turned down the path of violence and revolution.

In one article, James Carroll writes, ". . . Berrigan would insist that originating this crisis is not the eccentric machismo of George W. Bush (Berrigan challenged Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton), but the universal American fantasy that ''national security'' can depend on weapons of mass destruction.

"On this point, Saddam Hussein is our mirror image, which must be why we hate him so."

I don't think American security does depend on Weapons of Mass distruction. I don't think we are likely to use weapons of mass distruction on Iraq, but rather conventional weapons.

What's interesting historically is that traditionally it has been liberals who have focused on non-traditional approachs, including the Atomic Bomb. Such military solutions, or the threat of them, have been cheaper; thus freeing up funds for domestic spending programs that they favor. Conservatives usually have favored conventional weapons (although they like atomic bombs too, certainly.)

Carroll also points out Berrigan's opposition to the United States Atomic Bombs, as if it had begun at the end of the cold war. The truth is Berrigan opposed Atomic Bombs and Atomic Power well before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

My difference with Berrigan and Carroll is this--the United States really does have enemies in the world. There are nations that would like to destroy us. And as long as that condition exists we can either defend ourselves or accept conquest. I choose the first.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

To Reveal or not to Reveal

“To him that you tell your secret you resign your liberty.”
Anonymous, Proverb

Today the Bush administration revealed that it is not apparently going to make a cursory glance at Saddam’s very lengthy document and then declare war. The Washington Post reported that Air Fleischer (President Bush’s press secretary) stated, “We want to be very deliberate as we move through and look at this document to determine, with the international community, what this indicates about Saddam Hussein and his disarmament.”

However, should the United States determine the document lacking in several key points, then we face a decision. I saw we, meaning our country. In truth the decision will be made with little, if any, public input. That decision is whether or not to tell Iraq and the world what we know and how we know it.

Two writers grappled with this question at Townhall.com. Mona Charen wrote a fiction piece, purporting to be an internal White House Memo. She stated, “Our advice is that you present the truth, as we have discovered it, to the American people and to the world in a televised speech (with maps and graphics) on the day our forces commence the attack on Iraq. . . . But we should do so only after the bombers are in the air. Christmas Eve would be ideal.” Touching that Ms. Charen clings to the antiquated notion that air power will be sufficient to win. One would think that Vietnam would have put that theory to rest.

Cal Thomas takes a different tack. He states, “The United States should lay out the latest evidence against Saddam Hussein. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said, “Any country on the face of the Earth with an active intelligence program knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.”” Of course he goes on to assure his readers that war with Iraq is inevitable, necessary and a positive good.

The bottom line is this, any invasion of Iraq is going to entail the deaths of American Soldiers, Iraqi Soldiers and Iraqi Civilians. Those casualties could run into the thousands (and possibly more), and perhaps that is a price we will have to pay. But before we come to that conclusion, maybe we should follow our President’s lead and look at the information before deciding that this cost is inevitable.

Monday, December 09, 2002

A History Lesson

“Dangerous men, who are trying to win followers for their war on democracy, are attacking Catholics and Jews and Negroes and other minority races and religions.”
Harry S. Truman, October 25, 1948, Chicago, Ill.

“Our determination to attain the goal of equal rights and equal opportunity must be resolute and unswerving.”
Harry S. Truman, October 29, 1948, Harlem, NY.

"All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches."
Strom Thurmond, 1948

“Pressed by ADA leaders to cut Wallace’s lead on civil rights, Truman issued executive orders in July 1948 desegregating the armed forces and banning discrimination in the federal civil service. He also endorsed a plank on racial equality that he personally considered too strongly worded. In response, some 300 southern delegates bolted from the Democratic National Convention and formed a States’ Rights (“Dixiecrat”) ticket headed by Governor J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, known for his segregationist views.”
John Mack Faragher et al. Out of Many A History of the American People.

"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."
Trent Lott, 2002

Trent Lott should resign as Speaker of the House. It is a sign of how comfortable the Republicans are that he won’t and won’t be asked to. Rush and others have pointed out that many democrats (Robert Byrd, Al Gore’s Father) are not exactly clean on this issue. Fair enough. But neither Robert Byrd nor Al Gore are calling for segregation today, as Trent Lott apparently was.
A Link

Today's This Modern World is particularly inciteful. Tom Tomorrow is brilliant regularly, but today's is particularly good. Check it out.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Your Weekly Rush

Well Rush was pretty focused on being attacked by the left and on the 2nd amendment this week, but what stuck to me was some comments on environmentalists on Friday. I thought it would take this chance to teach you further the secrets of being a commentator.

First step, neatly divide the world into two categories--the good and the bad on an issue. Ignore all differences or subtle variations. Neatly whittle reality down to black and white.

Second, place yourself neatly in the good category.

Third, ensure that your audience knows the most bizarre, or damaging or questionable viewpoints of any member of the bad side. Also act like these bizarre viewpoints are the viewpoints of everybody in that group. Any member of that group that goes against these view points is simply hypocritical.

In the environmental arena, Rush admits to two groups of people who care about the environment. People who want clean air and clean water and environmentalist wackos. I cannot think of a time when Rush has supported any specific group campaigning for clean air or clean water. In fact, it strikes me that he usually takes the corporate side in any conflict.

So any environmentalist movement or speaker will immediately be referenced to the twin extremes of environmentalism. The twin extremes are those who are opposed to eating meat and those who believe the earth is doomed unless we eliminate two thirds of the population of earth (or just the population of the United States given our consumptive ways). These are two extremes, and certainly the environmentalist movement could do a lot better at selling itself.

But Rush is pretty comfortable telling his listeners that all environmentalists want to take away their hamburgers, destroy their economy, and give your children a more pinched uncomfortable life.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

The Amazing Shapiro

Ben's article is here. He predicts two terms for President George W. Bush, followed by two terms of Bill Frist, and then Condoleeza Rice. I guess Democrats should start preparing for the 2024 race, since that's the next one they have a shot at. Unless young Ben is wrong. But what are the odds of that?

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Inching Towards War

War seems inevitable at this point. I expect in the next three months we will be at war with Iraq. It also seems clear that many on the right would like to see an ongoing war against Islam, despite the two articles mentioned yesterday. Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. published an article today condemning the Bush administration from backing away from their policy of regime change. He states, “If, on the other hand, Mr. Bush goes along with a redefinition of the meaning of "regime change," he will not avoid war between Iraq and the United States. If he allows the UN once again to trump sovereign American decisions about our security, he will simply be condemning this nation to a conflict with Saddam at some other time and under circumstances of the latter's choosing . . .” We must invade Iraq to protect ourselves, despite the fact that Iraq has taken no aggressive actions against us.

Cal Thomas, who, despite his wearing a sweater in his bio picture, is very conservative, suggests that Moderate Muslims must bring an end to Islamic Terrorism, or else. This proposition is about as practical as asking the Christian world to end organized crime. In truth, it is just a pretext for Ann Coulter’s famous policy; “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”

Arguments on the Left aren’t a lot better. Ramzy Baroud repeats the same tired argument in the Washington Post, reprinted at Commondreams.org, that the reason terrorists exist is that the West has not yet been generous enough in that region (or in any region). His article is a terrible mishmash of half thought ideas and vague questions.

This situation is driving me crazy. So I’ll leave a few questions for the reader.

1. Why is it important that we condemn Islam, given that Saddam Hussein is a secular dictator?

2. Are the values of Islamic Terrorists and the values of Western Secular Liberalism compatible?

3. Is the enemy of my enemy really my friend?

New Quote

For those who didn't notice--changed my quote up at the top of my Blog--hope you are having a nice day, write more later.

Monday, December 02, 2002

El Islam

Two good articles the last couple of days defending Islam. Both writers published at the Conservative Townhall.com. Both were responding to Pat Robertson’s comments of some weeks ago (that Islam is not a religion deserving any respect), as well as the increase of Islam bashing since the incidents in Nigeria. (For an example of Islam bashing, take the ever dependable Ann Coulter. "Recently, the Religion of Peace suffered a PR setback when Muslims in Nigeria welcomed the Miss World beauty pageant by slaughtering Christians in the street and burning churches to the ground.")

Pat Buchanan is the more famous of the two writers; he takes a more political view. His argument is that the Islamic world is undergoing a revivalist period, and that America’s best strategy is that employed during the Cold War. “. . . we can outlast this Islamist revolution. What we must avoid is a war of faiths, a war of civilizations between Islam and America. And those who propagandize for such a war are the unwitting or willful collaborators of Osama bin Laden.” I have to say that while I disagree with a lot of what Pat Buchanan stands for, on affairs in the middle east he has acted as a voice of reason.

Jacob Sullum takes issue with Pat Robertson’s statements that a proper reading of the Koran leads one inescapably to the conclusion that conflict between the Islamic and non-Islamic world is inevitable. Sullum points out that there are equivalent phrases in the Bible, calling for the elimination of “heathen nations.” Do such phrases make Christianity a violent religion? Or, to be more clear, do they require Christianity or Judaism to be aggressive against other nations?

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Walter Williams OK's Discrimination

First things first--I misread Ross Mackenzie's article yesterday. For some reason I put Ponyang in China rather than North Korea where it actually is. So I apologize for that mistake, and promise you i will almost certainly make that kind of mistake again.

Moving on to today's article, we have the sad spector of Walter Williams shilling for racism.

There are those who would argue that Walter Williams decision to embrace conservatism makes him a sellout to his race (Williams is Black), but I am not one of them. I understand that the Conservative Viewpoint has positive aspects for all races, and I don't think any American owes political allegience to one party or point of view by virtue of the color of their skin.

But what Williams supports today is dispicable. He states, "Suppose leaving your workplace you see a full-grown tiger standing outside the door. Most people would endeavor to leave the area in great dispatch. That prediction isn't all that interesting, but the question why is. Is your decision to run based on any detailed information about that particular tiger, or is it based on tiger folklore and how you've seen other tigers behaving? It's probably the latter.

"You simply pre-judge that tiger; you stereotype him."

OK Williams let me put forward this argument, one I don't believe but that is believed in many places in this country (and not just in "the red states." Black people are self evidently dangerous. They are stronger physically, given to violence as a way to solve their problems, and have resentments against normal (white) America. The Government and the Law should be careful to keep thse potential menaces under control, by locking as many of them up as possible, and keeping the rest in a state of terror and fear.

Why not?

Well for one thing, people aren't tigers. Conservatives are always telling America that Mankind is not made up of animals but when it comes down to it, you really mean, many human beings are not animals (the white upper and upper middle class), and others are (blacks, hispanics, "white trash," etc.).

My scenario mentioned above is one interpretation of America's draconian drug laws, and it's interpretation that has a lot of validity.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

War Without End

Two articles today about the current clash between the West and El Islam.

Ros Coward wrote in the Guardian UK, published at commondreams.org about the recent Nigerian Riots over the Miss World competition. His basic theme is that we need to choose more carefully which values we take with us into the third world. He's careful to position this incident, and the bombing in a Bali night club as the third world responding to Western Cultural Imperialism. He states, ". . . casual imperialism caused offence when the west paraded its interests and values as self-evidently desirable. Now the reluctance to attack representatives of western values has disappeared even among those with no involvement in extremist organizations." In other words, it was the clubber's fault for daring to dance in a Muslim Country. The deaths and injuries are legitimate when inflicted on Western Imperialists.

The use of the Miss World pageant is a helpful springboard to attacking this issue. It makes the west look petty and vulgar. Well enough. But unless people are free to be petty and vulgar, they aren't free. What about the young girl in Nigeria who sees what the Miss World contestants have to offer? Who desires the freedom and opportunity that women in the west desire? Is Mr. Coward comfortable condemning her to a life of near slavery to satisfy his anti imperialist world view?

The second article, by Ross Mackenzie, at Townhall.com discusses the ongoing war and is so filled with lies and half truths and misleading statements its breathtaking. Lets take a look at one paragraph.

"They said - remember? - Bush II, the graduate of both Yale and Harvard, is stupid. They said he wasn't really president and couldn't lead. They said he could not get an enabling resolution for Iraq through Congress, but he did - with a majority of congressional Democrats voting against him. They said he could not prevail in the UN Security Council, but he did - unanimously. They said he could not enlist the NATO allies, but next week he likely will - just watch. One day soon he may even win over a majority of the Arab regimes as well."

I'm not sure that Bush has escaped permanently his label as stupid, but lets leave that aside. "They said he wasn't really president and couldn't lead." Well of course this fails to take into account the huge bump in popularity Bush received after September 11. Americans are going to follow a president in war; it's what we do.

"They said he could not get an enabling resolution for Iraq through Congress, but he did - with a majority of congressional Democrats voting against him." I don't know what the final vote was off the top of my head, but it's clear that Bush could not have received his resolution with out the support of many Congressional Democrats. More to the point, the debate wasn't about whether or not Bush could get permission, but whether or not he would seek it.

"They said he could not prevail in the UN Security Council, but he did - unanimously." Again the issue wasn't that He couldn't get permission (although odds were against him), but whether or not he would go to the UN or decide to invade Iraq unilaterally. I'm personally glad that he decided to work within the UN, but there were many commentators on the right who argued that UN approval was unnecessary and in some ways detrimental.

McKenzie argues straightforwardly for an ongoing war against the Arab/Islamic world in order to eliminate anti American sentiment in that region. Good plan. And then, in a fit of insanity, argues for war against China, after we have finished off Iraq.

Monday, November 25, 2002


Two quick things. Thank you to Ms. Kate Seller for correcting me. It was not the Canadian Prime Minister but an aide of his who called President bush a moron.

The other is that I am on the road the next couple of days--i should be able to update ok, but in case i don't, that's why.

Have a nice day.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Your weekly Rush

Apparently the Canadian Prime Minister called President Bush a moron this week. You might think this would push all of Limbaugh’s buttons, but it didn’t. Instead Rush encouraged his fans to laugh at it.

One of Rush’s prevailing opinions is that the United States should export liberalism around the world so that all the other countries will be messed up and Americas power will increase. This reflects the common American perception that all the other countries in the world are merely bit players in the American Drama. Canada forms no important opinions on it’s own, but merely reacts to the United States. Rush is proud of his uniculturalism, and unlikely to care very much about this criticism, but the rest of you should realize after a moments reflection that all the nations of the earth are full of people trying to make their life the best they can, who make decisions often based on local issues or challenges and who do not focus on the United States twenty four hours a day.

Friday, November 22, 2002

On Slander

"Great wisdom is generous; petty wisdom is contentious. Great speech is impassioned, small speech is cantankerous." Chuang-Tzu (4th century BC)

Well one of the big stories of this week is that Senator Daschle thinks that Rush is inciting people to kill him. Possibly. If you look at it right. Senator Daschle is known for making reckless statements on occasion, and having them blow up in his face.

Thomas Sowell wrote on this issue in Townhall.com, making an argument that Republicans have had it far harder over the years. He repeats the tired refrain that Liberals demonized Conservatives over social security, welfare, civil rights etc. What he does not comment on is Rush and other Conservative speakers attacks on Democrats for treason, for being soft on communism, for being pro-drug, pro-crime, pro-abortion.

It reminds me, as it must remind many of the old scene where a parent comes in a room to stop children fighting. Both kids are anxious to argue that the other kid started it. The parent rarely cares, but merely wants the fighting to stop. One wonders when America’s ideologues are going to stop fighting over whose fault this rancor is.

I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

The Fear

I regularly enjoy the writers at Commondreams.org. They are often articulate and thoughtful. Their writing on the impending war today, however, struck a shrill and paranoid tone.

Doug Thompson wrote of the homeland security bill calling it the American Gestapo. He states, “these fears have forced America to abandon its principles and create a police state.” Admittedly some of the powers granted in the name of Homeland Security are scary, particularly those related to the surveillance of Americans. But calling it a Gestapo and painting it as a force that Bush will use to maintain political power is questionable in the extreme.

Seumas Milne, writing in the Guardian, states that “But there is little sign of any weakening of the wilful western refusal to address seriously the causes of Islamist terrorism.” What are the causes of Islamist terrorism against the United States?

The United States supports Israel. I believe we could put some pressure on Israel to move towards peace. But it is clear that the Islamist Terrorists for the most part are more interested in eliminating Israel all together.

Most of the rest of the arguments I hear coming from Islamist Terrorists have to do with our being in the middle east, or with our (and Western Europe’s) Secular, Christian, and Jewish societies. I hear dozens upon dozens of arguments coming from apologists for terror, but from the terrorists themselves, these are the only arguments. Does Thompson really expect the United States or his own Great Britain to convert to Islam en masse?

Tuesday, November 19, 2002


Cathy I'm lost I said though I knew she was sleeping
I'm empty and aching and I don't know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all come to look for America

America Simon And Garfunkel

Sorry this is a bad week for posting. Feeling a little run down. Thought I would comment on a piece by Pierre Tristam on the American Heartland. In it he comments on the mythical America that conservatives believe in. He takes a moment to attack the Great Plain States, or the Red States (truth to tell I’m not sure which area’s he’s talking about), commenting, “Red-blooded conservatism has never seemed so grim, so hungry for hand-outs, so capably deluding.”

I can understand Tristam’s point of view. Certainly Harvard is as American as small town Iowa. San Fancisco is as American as Saint Louis. On the other hand it’s easy enough for the left to swing back. Michael Moore, for example, talks all the time about the good hearted working class America that hates corporate America. I suspect we all want to see a sanitized America, an America with the bits we don’t like cut out, removed. However, cutting out those parts, whether they be in the corporate world, or on the streets, in the middle of the country, or on the coasts, would leave us just a little bit less America.

The Prestige oil tanker has been fallen apart in two

For those who don't know it, there has been an oil tanker disaster off the coast of portugal. According to AP, "Oil has already blackened beaches in northwestern Spain, and cleanup workers said scores of animals were covered in sludge and in need of care. Fishing has been prohibited leaving hundreds out of work. The oil threatened some of the richest fishing grounds in the region."

This story, and the other ones I've read don't talk about who is responsible other than the captain. There are indications that the ship was not checked as often as it should have been. The owner of the ship was Mare Shipping Incorporated, apparently an italian company. And if you want some fun, go to Google and get them to translate their webpage for you. The title comes from their webpage.

One problem with the environmental movement, among many others, is that they have allowed Conservatives and Corperations to portray them as alternatively only interested in animals or as doomsaying prophets. Here's a situation where a company, Mare Shipping, has caused a problem that will hurt hundreds of humans. Fishermen, as referenced above. It will hurt tourism in those areas, and there could be other consequences. Focus on the people, and don't let the captain of the vessel be demonized alone.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Your Weekly Rush

Nothing really stood out to me this week on Rush, except his continued contempt for modern music. I can understand not liking or appreciating trends in modern music. There are many I don’t like. But talking about how bad modern music makes one sound like a grouchy old man, and it doesn’t look good no matter who does it.

His brother, David Limbaugh, has written an article for Townhall.com which continues a Limbaugh tradition of describing the Poor. Limbaugh states, “Plus, any money they [the rich] save from the tax cuts will be money they earned themselves, not transfers from the poor or the government, neither of which produce wealth.”

You see, to the Limbaugh clan the Poor and the Unemployed are essentially the same. The Working Poor is a contradiction; if the poor were working they wouldn’t be poor. The wealthy create wealth all by themselves, presumably in a manner wholly unrelated to those factories one sees from time to time. Imagine the manager of your local Wal-mart running his store without the hundreds of employees, many of whom work at or near the poverty level. Many of whom may be working two or three jobs to maintain a family. And yet to the Limbaughs of the world (David or Rush), the working poor are irreverent.

Perhaps disposable.

The Wisdom of Solomon

It was kind of a slow week, and then all of a sudden we got several good articles. So several updates today. Probably.

First came across Norman Solomon through his book “The Trouble With Dilbert: How Corporate Culture Gets the Last Laugh.” In it he takes Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) for not writing cartoons that expose the horrors of large corporation capitalism. He also argues that by providing a safety valve for workplace anger, Scott Adams prevents the workers from getting mad enough to organize and change the system.

One of the ways you can tell an ideologue is that he is satisfied with the suffering of others if he believes it will lead to the changes he’s advocating. Norman Solomon wants to see capitalism over thrown, and as such is unhappy when management gives the workers some of the things they demand. He’d rather the workers suffer so that they will get angry enough to completely destroy the system.

Such thinking is not unique to the left. Certainly there are right commentators who take pleasure in the problems of California, which they attribute to Liberal Politicians.

Solomon’s latest article is a portrait of the future 50 years hence, in which there is only one media company (with the catchy name AT WONDERS), and the air is so bad that you have to wear a gas mask outside. Cheery. Of course in the future we’ll all have giant domes so the gas mask scenario isn’t really the future.

Solomon’s critiques of media are pretty much always old school, and ignore the internet. There are a lot of metaphors for the internet. Here’s one. It’s an infinite frontier. It’s being colonized. There are large ranches and small farms and tiny vegetable garden’s (like the site you are currently viewing.) Most people still get their news from Mainstream sources perhaps, but the numbers shrink ever year.

Now the Internet isn’t the best counter to the mainstream media. As I document pretty regularly, there are hundreds of different points of view online, all with “facts” backing them up. I personally like that. I like that I can visit websites of all different political factions and ideals.

But remember rule #1, which I haven’t mentioned yet, but is true. Ideologues hate democracy. You see the internet allows points of views from most American’s, and probably eventually all Americans. But if points of views are available everywhere, doesn’t that devalue the value of any one point of view? If an Ideology points the One True Path to ideology, than why have other points of view? Tough question. Because it’s clear on many issues that there is one right answer, and differing points of views don’t seem to add much value.

Still I believe in noisy boisterous and occasionally angry democracy.

Still to come, an analysis of Michelle Malkin’s “A Generation of Skanks” and Your Weekly Rush. Come on back.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

It's Thursday!

Sorry not much of a post tonight. Ann Coulter's and Ben Shapiro's columns posted today, but both are doing post election spin. It's nice that Ann Coulter is pushing to have the Democratic party renamed the Abortion party. And it's nice that young Ben has realized that he need never worry about liberals returning to power again. After all, "Americans are looking for more than radicalism with a friendly face." Nope, young Ben has realized that American's will see through liberals from now until the end of time.

Oh, and Ms. Coulter, some Democrats do know how a squirt gun works. I myself experimented with one this very evening. You see you pull the trigger and water shoots out one end, and also drips out the other end, thus wettening the hand. They aren't so tough to figure out.

Seriously, Ms. Coulter, are you for anything other than defeating the Democrats?

Wednesday, November 13, 2002


Well, one thing you have to say about Walter Williams; he’s consistent. Walter Williams believes in the strictest of interpretations of the constitution. He would abolish the departments of Education, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, etc.

In his latest article he attacks the generation that lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War. As he says, “There's no question that the "great" generation spared the world from external tyranny, but it has outdone any other generation in destroying both the letter and the spirit of our Constitution, and as such produced a form of tyranny for which there's little defense.”

Williams, like most ideologues, fears democracy. He admits readily that the growth of the government is reflective of the will of the people, but would presumably argue that the founders did not intend for the government to be reflective of the people. And he’s correct. Walter Williams, for example, was considered by the founders to be three/fifths of a person for purposes of representation. While I have enormous respect for the Founders, I don’t believe that they had the solutions to all problems America has faced or will face.

You might check out this article by Brett Dakin about “The Quiet American.” The movie was to be released before September 11, but was seen as too radical after that. The movie stars Brenden Fraser and Michael Caine--and apparently is opening in selected theaters. I don’t know much about it, other than it deals with the moral problems posed by the Vietnam War.

Also if you are reading this--please e-mail me any thoughts or questions you might have.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Don't Let it Get you Down

Well can’t find much to write on today. Bin Ladin is apparently alive and well, according to msnbc.com. Most columnists are still doing post game analysis. One interesting column by Sean Wilentz appeared at Salon.com. Unfortunately it's on the pay side so I can't link to it. Wilentz argues that the recent republican gains in the South are probably linked to their support of the confederate flag. He may be right; and if so it's a troubling reminder that the Civil War is not all that long ago.

Rich Lowry wrote an article on a new Sonar System designed by the navy that may prove harmful to whales. He spends most of his article talking about what a submarine is and what it’s designed to do, suggesting Iranian subs (both of them) off the coast of Atlantic City or San Francisco “launching a cruise missile or disgorging an operative to carry a suitcase nuke into a city.”

Then he makes the standard environmental argument about how whales have no problem using sonar attacks to stun their prey. This proves that Whales are hypocrites for being critical of our use of sonar. So the next time you see a whale speaking on Face the Nation or Hardball, you'll know to discount anything he says. Of course, humans, who speak on behalf of whales have no such sonar powers, and so are not being hypocritical in their suggestions.

He then ends with a neat bit of historical revisionism. “Liberals opposing the Cold War used to preach "Better red than dead."“ Of course the phrase was “better dead than red” was much more popular. The right made use of that and other cold war slogans to attack their political enemies. "Better Red than Dead" was a reaction by some in the far left to this more common phase.

Monday, November 11, 2002

More Post Election Commentary

Well the writers at Commondreams.org are not very happy. I use Commondreams.org and Townhall.com for most of my research these days. Both collect at least 7-8 articles a day, usually on a fair range of subjects. There is some differences between the two however. I find that Townhall.com has a greater diversity of opinion. While there are certainly hard-line conservatives, such as Oliver North, and David Limbaugh, there are also contrarian voices such as Pat Buchanan (who has consistently opposed invading Iraq), and Steve Chapman (who wrote an excellent article today on the futility of Ashcroft fighting a war against drugs and a war against terrorism at the same time).

At Commondreams.org, however, the viewpoints are much more homogenous. There are very very few words of praise for President Bush, for example. Commondreams.org also prints a number of articles from outside the United States, although they are all about the United States. In Sunday’s edition, they printed an article by William Hutton from the Guardian UK about how terribly messed up the United States is now that we’ve elected a Conservative Congress. As he says, “America is not a happy place.”

I don’t know, I suspect a good percentage of American’s are happy--at least 30 percent or so, and possibly more. Last Thursday America had a chance to speak it’s mind, and it did. I’m not sure I like what came out any more than Mr. Hutton. I think, however, it’s nonsensical to assume (baring massive voter fraud) that the American People didn’t know what they were doing last Tuesday.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Your Weekly Rush

Rush was pretty difficult to enjoy this week. His incredible joy about the election was not enjoyable. On Thursday, Rush said, “We ran on optimism and the future, not Mondull's pessimism and the 70s. (Somebody tell me the last time anything about George W. Bush made you feel pessimistic.)” Hmmmmmm. I don’t want this nation to invade Iraq and yet that seems inevitable. I’d like to see tighter corporate oversight, and yet Wall Street is ebullient because it seems that that is not likely to happen under Bush’s administration.

My biggest problem with Bush is this. It’s a hallmark of conservative thought that those who are wealthy and in power got there because they worked hard, and had talent. And yet we have Bush, who for the first 30 to 35 years of his life was mediocre at best. I haven’t read the article that talks about his brilliance as a businessmen, and his performance as a student was so unexceptional that even he jokes about it.

Here’s the rub. Any Black man or woman, Hispanic Man or woman, White Lower class to lower middle class man or woman who preformed like Bush did as a young man into his thirties would be flipping burgers or waiting tables or worse. Some businessmen can say, “Nobody handed me anything.” Bush has to say, “Everybody handed me stuff, and pretty much my only skill has been in taking it.” So what does this say about the Republican ideal? Answers should be sent to me care of this email address. The first person who’s not my brother to send me an e-mail will get a personal e-mail back, typed by my secretary Doogie McBouser (Personal in this case meaning that I count Doogie as a person.)

Friday, November 08, 2002

The Healing Power of Music

Yesterday while I drove around at lunch, I turned on Rush Limbaugh and listened for a while as he discussed all the wonderful things Bush would do now that he had the country firmly in his back pocket. And then I put on Fatboy Slim's "Drop the Hate." And it was better. Not perfect, but better.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

What comes after math? Aftermath!

Well today’s articles are full of responses to the elections. So lets go down them. The Republicans are naturally ebullient. Ann Coulter happily contemplated the fate of the democratic party, saying “What a miserable party. I'm glad to see their power end, and I'm sure they'll all be perfectly comfortable in their cells in Guantanamo.” Something to look forward to I suppose. I suspect the cells in Guantanamo aren’t sufficient for the approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of this country that is Democrat. Steve Chapman has a somewhat more realistic assessment.

On the Liberal side there are two theories. One is that Democrats ran to the middle and never came up with an issue other than vague generalities. The other is something about how the American system is biased against real reform, and therefore the democrats never had a chance. This second opinion is advocated strongly by Thom Hartmann, who suggests that “It's time to get the banana companies out of our republic.” I don’t know about this; I really enjoy the occasional banana.

For those interested in economics, Salon ran a very good article by Andrew Leonard on Harvey Pitt’s resignation today - well written and interesting. And if you have any comments or questions on what you read here, please e-mail me.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Walter Williams, A Voice you can Trust

Walter Williams is one of the triumvirate of conservative commentators, along with young Ben Shapiro and Ann Coulter, who almost never fail to amuse. Walter Williams favorite sentence structure is putting words in his readers mouth.

You say, “Gries, what do you mean by that?” I mean that Walter Williams loves having his readers pose innocent dopey questions that he can immediately and condescendingly answer. Gives the illusion of considering both sides of an issue without having to.

His latest piece does not happen to use this sentence structure unfortunately, but a quick study of William's archives will reveal it’s constant use. His latest piece does borrow another common rhetorical technique, that of answering the question you want to answer without any reference to the actual question.

You say, “Gries, how does that work?” Well it works like this. In his latest article, Williams discusses Princeton University economist Paul Krueger’s contention that the 1950’s and the 1960’s were are more egalitarian time in American society. Krueger’s work, which I must admit I have not read, laments the shrinking middle class, and the subsequent growth of the lower class. Williams, like most conservatives, is uncomfortable with the idea that our society is moving to a division between the haves and the have-nots.

So how does Williams respond? By comparing life now to 100 years ago. Life is probably better now for most people than it was 100 years ago. Isn’t that great? But of course it doesn’t answer the question of whether life is better now than it was 50 years ago. And Williams focuses mainly on technological and medical innovation in his article, ignoring the social and economic ramifications of Krueger’s work.

You say, “Gries, I’m sick of reading your web log, would you kindly shut up.” Yes. Yes, I will.

Oh, don’t miss Ben Shapiro’s discussion of female sexuality. Pretty bold territory for young Ben. Commondream’s columnists didn’t update today, but I love their headline. “ELECTION FALLOUT: WORLD IN FEAR OF AN EMBOLDENED BUSH…” Just have this image of a gigantic Bush making the Godzilla sound and knocking over the Eiffel Tower. Most ideologically motivated people fear democracy.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Once around the horn

Several articles caught my eye today.

Dennis Prager wrote an article continuing Ann Coulters line on Islam. In it he reiterates the comparison of Islam to Nazism (and adds in Communism for good measure). He’s a bit more cagey than Coulter, admitting that the majority of Muslims are not terrorists. He merely holds them responsible for not rooting out the terrorists. Of course this is akin to holding the United States responsible for not rooting out the rampant (although greatly diminished) crime that exists in our society. In only a few places (Iraq, Saudi Arabia) are the governments entertwined with the terrorism business. In most of the Islamic world, the governments and law-abiding citizens are victims as surely as the West is.

Matthew Engel wrote, in the Guardian/UK on the terrible state of American politics. You can read it yourself and get your own take on it. To me it feels like Matthew Engel is complaining that the Federal Government is too democratic and too weak. It is also interesting that Commondreams.org would choose to reprint this article on election day. Are they trying to dispirit those who might vote, particularly given their predominately liberal base?

James Carroll’s article comparing the terms of surrender at the end of WWII and the terms we are offering Saddam is also thought provoking.

Anyway, hope you all had a nice election day.

On Election Day

Remember to Vote today. And in case you are stymied in your attempts to select an appropriate candidate--you can always write in the candidate of your choice. And my name is Bryant E. Gries.

Seriously though, vote.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Ideology and Ira Chernus

“Ideology - that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. . . . That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations.”
Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn The Gulag Archipelago

I am an American, and I make no apologies for that. I love my country and what it stands for. I love freedom, and seek to do those things which will increase the freedom and opportunities of all Americans.

Because of that I am suspicious of Ideology of any kind. Ideology is a form of shutting off the mind--closing yourself off from possibilities and truths.

It should be said that the prevalent ideology of the 21st century (at least so far, and I hope it changes) is cynicism. It is so easy to believe the worst of our public officials, of religious leaders, of media representatives, of ourselves. Easy, but lazy ultimately. The truth is that our public officials are no different from we ourselves. I don’t know about you but I find in myself a mixture of passions. Some of them are exceedingly noble, some are terribly base and mean spirited, and most are just selfish. I would assume our public officials are animated by the same mixture of passions. They do have noble impulses and on occasion they give reign to those impulses.

With those thoughts in mind, and believe me I will return to them often, I turn to Ira Chernus’ recent article, entitled The National Insecurity State. In it he makes some interesting points on the origins of the cold war and then proceeds to cite a recent Bush administration document, entitled "The National Security Strategy of the United States.” In commenting on the document he provocatively suggests that the document states that we the United States is “threatened by any nation that might resist the spread of free trade or seek military strength equal to our own.”

That would be terrible if true. Not so much the second part, but the United States is threatened by any nation that resists free trade? What does resisting free trade mean? Allowing trade unions? Levying taxes?

Unfortunately Chernus does not provide a link to the document in question; one quality of many commentators that I do not share is the desire to shield my audience from the source documents. However, a review of the document does state the Bush Administrations hardly remarkable affinity for Free Trade, but does not commit the United States to intervene militarily in any way, assuming I didn’t miss anything.

Why read a document stating that the United States is in favor of free trade and automatically jump to the assumption that the President is in favor of military action in those situations? Because it’s an easy assumption to jump to, if you are facing that direction ideologically. It’s no more noble to reflexively attack President Bush than it is for Rush Limbaugh to reflexively defend him.

Sunday, November 03, 2002

It's a Confusing World

“Phrases such as "plucking out the terrorist network," "destroying the terrorist infrastructure" and "attacking terrorist nests" (note the total dehumanization involved) are repeated so often and so unthinkingly that they have given Israel the right to destroy Palestinian civil life, with a shocking degree of sheer wanton destruction, killing, humiliation and vandalism.” Edward W. Said

“[T]he creation of "Palestine" will simply bring into existence yet another Islamist, terrorist-sponsoring, corruptly and despotically misruled nation committed to the destruction of Israel. The difference is that this nation would exist on territory without which Israel is essentially indefensible, giving rise for the first time since 1973 to the distinct possibility that the very existence of America's only regional democratic, and most reliable, ally could be imperiled.” Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

I can’t write very much tonight--but did want to comment briefly on the Palestine-Israel conflict. With Ariel Sharon’s recent troubles and his subsequent courting of more hard-line parties, it seems likely that this issue will flare up again.

What I have to say isn’t brilliant. Those who choose to support Palestine, generally choose to ignore the aggression of Israel’s neighbors, portraying Israel as the aggressor in conflicts where the record is clear that they were not.

Those who support Israel, on the other hand, generally choose to ignore the Palestinian people’s legitimate claims to the land and to popular sovereignty. They choose to ignore that Israel’s settlement policy is aggressive.

So what is my solution to this terrible problem. I don’t have one, except everybody should stop believing things they know aren’t so. Tell the truth, and work towards a peaceful future.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Your Weekly Rush

For anybody who enjoys mocking commentators, Rush Limbaugh is someone who provides a goldmine of opportunities. In fairness to all the other commentators out there I have decided to limit my servings of Rush to once a week. I had originally planned to riff on his bizarre Thursday comment on the reason the music industry is going down the tubes is that they don’t put out records by Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder. But then yesterday he said this.

“I'm now convinced that most of you Democrats out there are so filled with hate that you don't care, either, about how your people win. It doesn't matter a hill of beans to you. In fact, winning is not even what matters to you. Seeing to it that the people you hate lose is what's important to you. You don't care what we're left with as a nation.

“You take all of your pleasure in the people you hate losing or getting booed. There must be nothing in life from which you derive pleasure. You are so consumed with bitterness, animus, and hate that you spend all day trying to rid yourself of it, but all you do is turn up your own hate because all you do is live in it day in and day out. You make up things about people in order to justify, in your minds, hating them.”

And all I have to say is, he’s certainly got me nailed. I have nothing to live for except for my passionate love of strawberries, and my hatred of all things Republican. I have no positive agenda, only a desire to stop Republicans from getting their agenda. Protecting the American Worker, protecting and expanding Social Security, giving tax breaks to working families so they can send their kids to college, protecting free speech and freedom of association; none of these ideas count because they are old ideas. See we Democrats can’t come up with any new fresh ideas, like Bush’s idea to give tax cuts to the wealthy. That had never really been thought of until Bush proposed it.

I guess Rush must think either the Republicans have got the election nailed or that the best way to bring out the Republican vote is to remind them how much they hate Democrats. And in an ironic twist, Rush decides to portray Democrats as hateful because they are full of hate.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Ann Coulter and El Islam

Ann Coulter and El Islam

Serve God,
and do not associate
anything with God.
And be good to your parents
and relatives
and to neighbors close by
and neighbors remote,
and to the companion by your side,
and to the traveler,
and to your wards.
For God does not love
the arrogant, the boastful.
The Koran, As translated by Thomas Cleary

Ann Coulter is dependable. Like the sun moving through the sky, like the growing of the grass, Ann consistently writes vengeful prose. Her latest column contains her normal attacks on the media, the left (you know, those people who hate normal Americans and lie for sport), and US immigration policy. All well and good, and to be expected. But she also continues her attacks on Islam, disdaining to distinguish between a religion practiced peaceably by millions and the scattered insanity of a few individuals and communities. All over the south west there are infrequent incidents in which Hispanics (predominately Mexicans) are abused and harassed because of the same anti-immigration attitudes Coulter espouses, and yet I would be loathe to hold her responsible for these bouts of lawless violence.

In her most hateful passage (I use the word hateful here to indicate that I hate what she says; I wouldn’t presume to judge Coulter’s motives in writing it.), Coulter states “In one of the oddest attempts to soften depictions of Islam – the one religion the media respects – the Times has apparently banned the word "burka" from its pages. (Burkas have gotten such a bad name recently!) Instead, one reads only about the "burka-style gowns" of the Islamic terrorists in Moscow or the "burka-like robes" of women in Bahrain. (How about: The swastika-like adornment on the skinhead's forearm.)”

Here Coulter comfortably equates Nazism with Islam. How reprehensible. Ann Coulter places herself on par with those on the left (and some on the right) who feel that abandonment of Christianity is a necessary next step in the evolution of a just society here in America. Coulter is comfortable as an enemy of religious freedom; as a faith holding person myself I find that very dangerous.

Politics at It's Dirtiest redux

Politics at it's Dirtiest redux

"Such low-level rowdysim might seem to be of only tangential political importance, but in an era when elections were decided by repeat voters and poll-box smashers, by the intimidation and beating of citizens before they could cast their votes, gangland vendettas were more integral to the electoral process than any set of laws or principles."
Luc Sante, Low Life

Sante's brilliant work on New York does put Shapiro's complaints in perspective.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Politics At It's Dirtiest

Politics At It's Dirtiest

Poor Ben Shapiro. Ben is in danger of being sued by the Governor of California. Apparently Ben has a friend who witnessed Governor Davis blowing up in a crowd of people. Ben, noting that Davis had a history of anger, decided to call Gabriel Sanchez, Davis’s Campaign Spokesperson to confirm the quote. Sanchez didn’t confirm it and suggested that Shapiro might face legal action for Slander. Oh no! Poor Ben only has $8,000 in his checking account, and a small baseball card collection worth $200.00.

Of course Ben did not in fact leave himself open for slander accusations. He made it clear that he was repeating what he had heard. And one might wonder if Ben’s fellow conservatives might support him in his battle with Governor Davis. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ben’s political capital began to rise. And I’ll bet Ben is aware of all these facts.

I am not, however, immune to the danger that Ben is in, and my great heart goes out to him. But then I remember another article young Ben wrote.

He said, on the possible strafing of an Afghan wedding party, “Maybe I'm a hard-hearted guy, but when I see in the newspapers that civilians in Afghanistan or the West Bank were killed by American or Israeli troops, I don't really care. In fact, I would rather that the good guys use the Air Force to kill the bad guys, even if that means some civilians get killed along the way. One American soldier is worth far more than an Afghan civilian.”
For those interested in contacting me, my e-mail is politicalcombryant@hotmail.com

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

On Anti War Protest

On Anti-War Protest

“We believe that it is unconscionable to send young people in the U.S. armed forces into combat in an illegal war that serves only the interests of Big Oil. Instead of spending $200 billion of taxpayers' money on another war in the Middle East, the funds should be used to create jobs and finance education, housing, heathcare and other vital human needs.”

This last weekend saw a massive protest movement against the war in Iraq. The main focus of these marches was D.C., and to a lesser extent San Francisco, but smaller protests were held in dozens of cities across the U.S. All this you probably already know, but I like repeating stuff. Makes my entries longer.

I was on my way to lunch Saturday, when I saw the protestors here in Tallahassee. I had a question as I drove past them, and then came back and observed them. I probably would have participated, but due to bad timing was only able to watch them march back to their “staging area.”

I wondered if the protesters really wanted to stop the war in Iraq, or if their primary desire was to relive or recreate the magic of the sixties. Several held up posters attacking the United States as imperialist. Indeed, the quote above, from the website http://www.votenowar.org/, leaves only the only reasons to invade Iraq were economic in nature. Several other posters linked our intention to invade Iraq with racism, and indeed the event on Saturday was entitled Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (which cleverly spells Answer for those playing along at home).

Let me stop here for a moment to answer the obvious question. Yes, I oppose the war. I believe that our goals in Iraq are ill defined, and I certainly don’t buy the argument that we are fighting a war to liberate the Iraqi people. More to the point I am deeply troubled by the undemocratic way we seem to have settled on this course of action.

That being said, there are reasons beyond oil and racism for invading Iraq. While it is certainly enjoyable to paint all who those who support invading Iraq as greedy or racist or evil incarnate, doing so is a hindrance towards arguing with them.

The protesters I saw contained many serious people who seemed to have reasoned and well thought out arguments for opposing the war. But they were overshadowed by a small combative minority, who spoke a language of symbols alien to those they were trying to reach.

I happened to stop at a light directly in front of the rally (and coincidently enough, the capital). On the island between me and the other cars was a protester holding up, if memory serves, the standard “No Blood For Oil.” (As a footnote, please don’t try using blood for oil. Use oil for oil. And leave any blood you come across where you found it.). I listened to him berate the gentleman in the other car, who had served in the Air Force. The island protestor’s arguments about the evils of American Imperialism only roused this gentleman’s ire. Which, looked at from a certain perspective, was more gratifying than a brief discussion of why we should not invade Iraq.

Perhaps this is a minor thing, in the face of the great potential evil we face as a nation. But serious times call for serious people.

For a further, and much better outlook on this subject, I suggest Andrew M. Manis’s article Memo to the Peace Movement.

On a lighter note Frank J. Gaffney has written a piece calling on us to label France, Russia , China, Brazil, Venezuela, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia as our enemies. Why not? We don’t have enough to do with Iraq.