Sean's Blog

A Guide To Online
Opinion And Current Events

Saturday, August 16, 2003

I saw James Fallows on C-Span recently. He was there to discuss his latest piece for The Atlantic Online. The article is about Rupert Murdoch, Fox News, and the recent FCC rules changes. It's an excellent, and very long, piece that features Murdoch family history and the D.C. Circuit court rulings that made the rule changes inevitable and almost mandatory.

I was completely uninterested about the FCC rulings before I read Fallows' piece, but now I believe I have a pretty good understanding of what the controversy is about and why people are opposed to the changes. I believe Fallows was very fair even though he made no apologies for being a Democrat.

The Weekly Standard features a piece titled, "The Disgrace of the BBC."

The title is a dead giveaway about the authors opinion of this once great institution and the content of the piece is a detailed examination of the BBC's disgraceful reporting in regards to the recent Iraq war. See what I mean:

"Throughout the war, the BBC was consistently--and correctly--accused of antiwar bias. These accusations began almost as soon as the fighting did, when the BBC described the death of two Royal Air Force crew members, after their jet was accidentally downed by a U.S. Patriot missile, as the "worst possible news for the armed forces." On March 26 (less than a week into the fighting), Paul Adams, the BBC's own defense correspondent in Qatar, fired off a memo to his bosses: "I was gobsmacked to hear, in a set of headlines today, that the coalition was suffering 'significant casualties.' This is simply NOT TRUE." He went on to ask, "Who dreamed up the line that the coalition are achieving 'small victories at a very high price?' The truth is exactly the opposite. The gains are huge and costs still relatively low. This is real warfare, however one-sided, and losses are to be expected." Outside critics were even blunter: They revived the nickname "Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation," a coinage from the first Gulf War, when BBC broadcasts from the Iraqi capital were censored by Saddam's government without viewers' being notified."

This would all be at least tolerable if the BBC weren't funded by $4.3 billion is mandatory fees.

I don't know and I have to wonder if the British people accept this because they have a history of being "subjects." I mean, to this day they are referred to as subjects of the crown. Here's Webster's definition of a subject: "One who is under the rule of another or others, especially one who owes allegiance to a government or ruler." American's aren't subjects. We are citizens. Do the British people just accept this from their government because they are used to being dictated to by an upper class that has long told the lower classes what is best for them? The American people would never accept this and I think it's because we have never accepted being dictated to by a royal class or other such dictatorship. That's why public opinion means so much in America. Public opinion shapes policy in the U.S. even if that change comes slowly and grudgingly. Vietnam was a prime example.

In any case, this is up to the British people to decide. If I have to guess I would say that the BBC will continue and no signficant cuts in it's funding will occur as a result of these scandals and, if nothing happens, it will be because the British people are inclined to accept whatever the ruling class decides.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Victor Davis Hanson shows that the left is engaging in "unreal hypercriticism" of the U.S. and that this has been going on for many years:

"Had Mr. Atta and his fellow killers been arrested on probable cause, their Islamic haunts raided, and assorted charities and fundraisers shut down on September 10, 2001 — cries of racism, profiling, and McCarthyism would have drowned out the purportedly farfetched excuses that such preemptory FBI raids had in fact saved thousands in Manhattan."

In the pre-9/11 U.S., it would have been a major scandal if it had been discovered that our intelligence services including the FBI had been investigating the growing Islamic threat against the U.S. Any such investigation would have caused great anger by the left and charges of "RACIAL PROFILING!" would have brought protests, outraged Democrats, editorials in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times demanding investigations and resignations, and smug editorializing in the guise of news reporting by Dan Rather and Peter Jennings. European leftists would likely have been equally outraged.

As evidence of this hypercriticism, Hanson uses the recent killing of Uday and Qusay Hussein:

"After a long shootout precipitated by American troops who tried to approach a private residence in Mosul, the sons of Saddam were killed in a deadly firefight. Several of our own troops were wounded. Almost immediately, columnists and congressmen — Mr. Rangel was especially visible in this regard — implied that we had engaged in targeted assassinations. Indeed, we had apparently not even made an attempt to provide due process!

That trapped mass murderers do not always understand the logic of jurisprudence was apparently left unmentioned. Again, the first impression left was that we, not they, were somehow at fault."

Sunday, August 10, 2003

John, over at his Freedom Matters website, featured this post on an NBA basketball player who alleges that he lost playing time because of his anti-war views. It could be true that his marginal abilities coupled with his anti-war views that weren't shared by the vast majority of NBA fans made him a disposable commodity. The lesson? It may be wise to consider that people might not care and don't want to hear what an entertainer thinks. I mean what if this man were a racist? Should his playing status be secured even if fans were outraged by his unpopular views? I don't think so. Fans have rights too and boycotting games (or radio stations or movies) would be a form of free speech.

Here's my response to John's post:

John

I seem to recall Amaechi as a basketball player. He was a solid if unremarkable player.

I read the Guardian piece about him and I would like to say that I find him to be at least principled and consistent in his opposition to the war. I can respect Amaechi's views because it's clear that this is how he leads his life.

In the States though, more often than not, it was inconsistent and fashionable opposition to the war that caused the most anger.

For instance, when Bill Clinton was president he and his fellow Democrats made nearly all the same arguments for war as President Bush. I could show you the quotes from Clinton administration officials and prominent Democrats such as John Kerry and if I didn't tell you who made these charges you would think that it came straight from the mouth of George Bush. This is the inconsistent opposition that I spoke of.

As for the fashionable opposition to the war, all I can say is one word: Hollywood. Stars are among the most opportunistic, unprincipled, and flighty people the world has ever seen and many Americans are the same. They don't know what is really happening because they are too self-involved to find out, but they are eager to don their fashionable tie dyes and make ignorant statements on camera so they can feel morally and intellectually superior if even for a few days. It's a self-esteem high that many can't resist.

The Dixie Chicks immediately come to mind. I saw the television interview those women had and it was clear that they didn't even know why they were opposed to the war. They were simply responding to what their peers were saying. Natalie Maines wanted to certify her moral superiority. She is completely clueless, but her desire to be accepted by Europeans as more than just a hick country singer forced her to make her unprincipled statements. She sold her soul so Europe would think that she was more than just some unsophisticated redneck from Texas.

Sadly, this is a driving force for many people. The desire to be thought of as intelligent, informed, sophisticated, nuanced, and moral was the reason many people opposed the war. More often than not they were simply trying to impress people.

I will still argue with people who opposed the war for deeply held reasons such as Amaechi holds while at the same time at least respecting their views, but I have nothing but disgust and contempt for people who were fashionably and inconsistently opposed to the war.

Wow. John McWhorter's devastating dissection of "gangsta rap":

"NOT long ago, I was having lunch in a KFC in Harlem, sitting near eight African-American boys, aged about 14. They were extremely loud and unruly, tossing food at one another and leaving it on the floor.

What struck me most was how fully the boys' music - hard-edged rap, preaching bone-deep dislike of authority - provided them with a continuing soundtrack to their antisocial behavior. So completely was rap ingrained in their consciousness that every so often, one or another of them would break into cocky, expletive-laden rap lyrics, accompanied by the angular, bellicose gestures typical of rap performance. A couple of his buddies would then join him. Rap was a running decoration in their conversation."

I think that John McWhorter is absolutely brilliant. The whole thing is a must read.

Do you remember Charles Moose? He was the Montgomery County, Maryland police chief who was in charge of the sniper investigation last fall. Dave Kopel on The Corner links to this Washington Post story that details Moose's shakedown of a Hawaiian Marriot hotel. Here's the controversy:

"The dispute that led to the Mooses' financial settlement originated at the JW Marriott Ihilani resort and spa at Ko'Olina, a luxurious, grassy beachfront property with manmade lagoons and a golf course about 30 miles outside downtown Honolulu. Late in December, still exhausted from the three-week sniper manhunt and the accompanying media blitz, the chief flew with his wife to the Hawaiian hotel to celebrate their 14th wedding anniversary and finally get some rest.

At some point during the Mooses' stay, sources familiar with the allegations said, the chief wandered into what the hotel managers call "the back of the house," an unfinished area reserved for employees . Moose was confronted by a hotel employee. When the chief was asked to produce proof he was a guest at the hotel, in the form of a room key, an argument ensued, the sources said.

The details of the exchange have not been publicly disclosed. At some point after this exchange, Moose contacted Relman. The Washington civil rights lawyer, who is best known for his representation of African American plaintiffs suing the Denny's restaurant chain, was also a very familiar name to Marriott's attorneys, the sources said. In 1999, Relman helped represent the NAACP in a lawsuit against the Adam's Mark hotel chain after Black College Reunion participants complained of discrimination at a hotel in Daytona Beach, Fla. Two years later, Relman and NAACP attorneys settled the case for $2 million.

In a letter to a top-level Marriott executive, the source said, the Mooses threatened to sue over what they considered discriminatory behavior at the Hawaii resort. In the letter, Moose asked for $100,000 for himself and $100,000 for his wife, to compensate them for "suffering" and "distress," the source said.

The request infuriated top executives at Marriott, according to company executives who discussed internal reaction to the settlement demand with The Washington Post on the condition that they not be named. They said company lawyers believed the hotel chain's only option was to settle the case. The last thing the company wanted was the public relations debacle that probably would come with an accusation of discrimination from Moose, who was riding a wave of popularity as one of the nation's best-known African American lawmen, they said. "

This is nothing new to Charles Moose. He and his wife have done this sort of thing before. Reports indicate that he is a deeply unprincipled and ethnocentric man who sees racists behind every tree while completely ignoring his own racial bigotry. The man is no hero. He's a racial opportunist on par with Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.

Dave Kopel and others have pointed out that Moose obsessively insisted that the sniper or snipers were white and this bigotry lead directly to the deaths of more people.

The biggest news these days is that California is having a recall election.

There are two questions California voters must answer: First they must decide if they want to replace Gov. Gray Davis and second, if they do, then who do they want to be the new governor.

I think it's funny. For the last 30 or 40 years California has been like the eccentric family member and this carnival is just further proof of how flaky the state is. Some of the candidates are serious contenders, but most of the more than 130 candidates are flakes. Here's a sample from SFGate.com:

"(Hustler publisher Larry) Flynt entered, along with a Sacramento bail bondsman and the owner of a discount cigarette chain.

B.E. Smith, 56, who served two years in prison for growing marijuana, said he entered the governor's race to campaign against victimless crimes.

'As governor, I will pardon all victimless crime convictions, and I'll release them from prison,' said Smith, who lives in the northwest corner of Trinity County.

Mathilda Karel Spak, 100, said her age shouldn't hamper her chances of winning the election.

'I've made plans until 105,' the centenarian said. 'Then I'll take things easy.'

Los Angeles porn actress Mary "Mary Carey" Cook, wearing a low-cut black dress, said she would install a Webcam in the governor's mansion."

Only in California. But hey, they can do what they want. I'm not putting them down. If this is what they want then more power to them. The campaign and election should make great entertainment for the rest of us.

For the record, I would be voting for Peter Ueberroth if I lived in California. Ueberroth organized the 1984 Olympics and is the former baseball commissioner.

It appears that Arnold "Ahnuld" Schwarzenegger is the current frontrunner in this two month sprint to election day.

This should be fun.