Sean's Blog

A Guide To Online
Opinion And Current Events

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Finally. It's beginning to trickle out that Iraq isn't nearly the disaster the media has been leading us to believe. Michael Barone is the latest to directly accuse the media of ignoring the good news:

The plan must be to turn over the task of preventing criminal and terrorist violence to the Iraqis, and that is what the Pentagon and other agencies planned for in the months leading up to the war.

The plans have been adapted in response to events and circumstances, as they should be, and things are proceeding much more rapidly than they did in Germany or Japan: A new currency will be introduced October 1; the governing council has been appointed and is setting in motion a constitutional convention; and a civil defense corps of 15,000 Iraqi recruits should be in place by December. Put in historic perspective, the good things that are happening in Iraq are impressive, even if old media think they are no more newsworthy than an accident-free day at Disneyland.

John McWhorter in the Opinion Journal:

Mr. Blair takes his place in a routine of crying wolf in the name of speaking truth to power. This year alone, the president of Florida's NAACP has told us that "racism finds itself no matter where we are in this country and holds its head high," while one state up, the head of the Southeast division of Georgia's NAACP has announced that "if it were up to the majority of people in the state of Georgia, slavery would still be legal and lynching would still be the law of the land." In this same state, Ray Brent Marsh, the black crematorium operator discovered to have stashed away 339 corpses, told the press that racism drove his indictment.

People like this see themselves as collaring an America deaf to the urgency of a "new Civil Rights revolution." But every self-indulgent performance of this kind is an insult to our black forebears, who endured a racism no one needed to be taught to "understand," as well as to living blacks running up against tragic remnants, such as the 46 blacks in Tulia, Texas, rounded up and condemned to lengthy jail sentences on false grounds in 1999 by a blatantly racist detective. Whatever "alleged" events Mr. Blair encountered around the water-coolers at the Times, could he really look at a woman hammered to the ground by a fire-hose current in Birmingham in 1963 and extend his hand to her as a partner in "oppression"?

It's no surprise that a publisher has taken up Mr. Blair's book--money rules. But when Mr. Blair teaches those blacks in his book-tour audiences who are too young to remember a world without VCRs that being black and successful remains a tragedy in 2004, he will take his place as a true sellout. He will distort his story of advantage marred by personal failings into a tired parable, teaching that black failure happens because we still don't have all the chips. And if that is "progressive," then history is repeating itself as tragedy and farce at the same time.

I love this. Thanks Connie.

Question:

You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small
children. Suddenly, a dangerous looking man with a huge knife comes
around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, raises the
knife, and charges. You are carrying a Glock .40 and you are an expert
shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What
do you do?

Liberal Answer:

Well, that's not enough information to answer the question!
Does the man look poor or oppressed?
Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?
Could we run away?
What does my wife think?
What about the kids?
Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of
his hand?
What does the law say about this situation?
Does the Glock have an appropriate safety built into it?
Why am I carrying a loaded gun and what kind of message does this send
to society and my children?
Is it possible he'd be happy with just killing me?
Does he definitely want to kill me or would he just be content to wound
me?
If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while
he was stabbing me?
This is all so confusing!
I need to debate this with some friends for a few days to try to come to
a conclusion.
________________________________________________________
Conservative Answer:

BANG!
_________________________________________________________
Texan's Answer:

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! click... (sounds
of reloading).
Wife: "Sweetheart, he looks like he's still moving, what do you kids
think?"
Son: "Mom's right Dad, I saw it too..."
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! click.
Daughter: "Nice group, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver Tips?"

Friday, September 19, 2003

Andrew Sullivan is not impressed with Wesley Clark:

"CLARK ON THE WAR: Reading this essay by Wesley Clark, I have to say I'm not reassured that he has what it takes to wage a war on terror. If he had been president, the war in Afghanistan would probably not have taken place, let alone the war against Saddam. His first instinct after the deadliest act of war against the American heartland in history was to help the United Nations set up an International Criminal Tribunal on International Terrorism. I'm not even making that up. Maybe Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia could head up the committee. If I were to imagine a parody of what a Rhodes Scholar would come up with in such a moment, I'd be hard pressed to come up with something more perfect. His insistence throughout the piece is on process, process, process. Everything is seen through the prism of NATO's Kosovo campaign, his one claim to military glory. Can you imagine having to get every special ops target in Afghanistan approved by 19 different countries, including those who opposed any action against the Taliban? Can you even begin to imagine constructing a case for any action in Iraq under similar auspices? It simply wouldn't have happened. Which is the point. It's important to remember that under the last administration, almost nothing happened to address the genocide in the Balkans until the genocide had taken place. Why? Because we needed a consensus from all the Europeans to even wipe our collective ass. And the Europeans couldn't agree on anything in the 1990s. Have you noticed greater unanimity since? There's also no sense in Clark's essay about other agendas from our allies. It's all very well to achieve maximum international consensus on every international action. But what if you cannot get it? What if you cannot get the U.N. even to live up to its own resolutions, let alone American priorities? What if a critical "ally", like France, has a firm policy of thwarting American power - wherever and whenever it is waged? The notion that Bush created such a French policy is a fantasy. Clark's foreign policy strikes me as an abdication of foreign policy. That was dangerous in the 1990s. It would be fatal now."

Thursday, September 18, 2003

I disagree with most of what Thoman Friedman says in his latest piece for The New York Times except when he declares that we are at war with France. It's not a shooting war; it's more like the Cold War, but it's war nonetheless.

Otherwise I disagree with Friedman on nearly every point, especially when he makes the preposterous statement that:

"....America will not be as effective or legitimate in its efforts to rebuild Iraq without French help."

Yes, Friedman is serious. He's a U.N. lover and he believes in the U.N. as a legitimate and righteous world body. Of course that's complete horseshit and I couldn't disagree more, but that's what he believes.

We need France in Iraq like we need Cuba in Iraq.

I haven't linked to a James Lileks piece in a long time. This one is excellent. I wish I could just paste the whole thing, but I'm not sure about the legality of doing that. Anyway, go read the whole thing. Here's a taste:

"I went back to the editorial archives today, to see what was said around the time of the Dec 1998 “Desert Fox” campaign. (And let us just imagine the panic if the current administration started naming military operations after famous Nazi nicks.) As I trolled back and forth in the microfiche looking for the relevant piece, I was struck by the other things the chattering classes brayed five years ago. "Lift the sanctions" was a popular item. And why? Because it would show Saddam the world was serious about giving him one last chance. Okay, here’s your gun back. But if you shoot us we’re going to take it away. The naivety nearly makes you weep. These people didn’t want Saddam’s body bobbing ass-up in the Tigris. They wanted a world in which the fascist clique that ruled Iraq curtseyed and bowed in the lovely gavotte of international diplomacy. However many people died in Saddam’s gulags was irrelevant; what mattered was that the UN was Concerned, and that the Iraqi Ambassador - clad in a nice Western suit, skilled in many tongues, daubed with a Macy’s cologne - agreed to facilitate the process of calibrating the precise nature of the consquences of failing to live up to the spirit of the letter of the penumbra of the -

Ah, it’s noon; shalll we have lunch sent in, or have our drivers take us to the Village? I understand there is an excellent Tibetan restaurant that’s just opened."

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Slate Magazine is hardly a right wing publication so when one of their writers scolds the Democrats for imagining that they are innocent of political games, the Democrats must listen:

"In Florida, Al Gore originally asked for a recount only in counties in which he thought Democrats would gain votes. Moreover, to be precise, he wasn't for "counting" more ballots; he was for reinterpreting already-counted ballots until he came out ahead. Gore's lawyer, David Boies, argued that ballots should be interpreted as votes for Bush or Gore based on 'the intent of the voter, not how the voter manifests his or her intent'—in other words, without rules. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a Gore surrogate, actually claimed, 'The punch cards were wrong.' Gore eventually moderated his position, but not until he had to.

In Texas, Republicans seeking to redraw congressional districts in the third year of the decade are violating custom but not law. On Friday, a panel of federal judges dismissed a lawsuit by Democrats claiming that the GOP's redistricting tactics violated the Voting Rights Act. As for the 11 Democratic state senators who fled to New Mexico to prevent the majority from gathering a quorum, I can only imagine the cries of outrage I'd be hearing from my liberal friends if those were Republicans thwarting a Democratic legislature.

Many Democrats have questioned Bush's legitimacy because he lost the nationwide popular vote. It doesn't seem to bother them that this principle—the right of the majority to get like-minded representation, regardless of which party wins jurisdiction by jurisdiction—is exactly the principle they deny in Texas. Gore lost the Electoral College while winning a 48 percent plurality of the vote nationwide. Texas Republicans lost a majority of the state's congressional seats in 2002 while winning 56 percent of the vote statewide.

In California, the recall process is authorized by the state constitution. More than 1.3 million California voters signed petitions calling for this recall. Maybe that's because Davis got a lower percentage of the vote statewide in 2002 than Bush got nationwide in 2000. Or maybe it's because 63 percent of likely California voters disapprove of Davis' performance in office (down from 72 percent in August). And before you complain about Republicans using sneaky tactics to oust an honestly elected governor, let's hear your defense of the $7 million Davis spent in last year's Republican gubernatorial primary to deprive general-election voters of a moderate Republican alternative.

Are Republicans nasty? Do they refuse to accept election defeats? Do they subvert respect for democracy? If so, they have no monopoly on these vices. They aren't the ones claiming that our current president 'was not elected by the American people.' They aren't the ones declaring 'a nonmilitary civil war.' And it was Clinton, not a Republican former president, who asserted at the Iowa steak fry that the other party 'tried to put more arsenic in the water.'"




For the record, Clinton issued an order reducing arsenic levels TWO DAYS before left office. In other words, arsenic levels were fine for the eight years he was in office. Clinton was sticking it to Bush because he knew Bush would rescind that order if for no other reason than to study the issue. This would allow the Democrats to accuse Republicans of being evil and increasing arsenic levels in drinking water. In fact, here's a photo of Tom Daschle taking advantage of Bill Clinton's deception. It's a picture of Daschle holding a bottle of water similar to what you would find in any convenience store except this bottle is labled, "Arsenic Springs."

That's nice. Democrats are nice. They don't play games. They're too nice to do anything like that. Or at least that's part of the appeal of Howard Dean. He's convinced lefties that they are good and republicans are EVIL! The whole leftwing believes this. That's why they think they are losing public debates; because they are too nice. Instead of playing the same game they've been playing, Howard Dean is taking them to new lows of discourse. Lately the Democratic presidential contenders have been trying to outdo each other to see who can insult President the best, or worst actually.

As so many have said, the Democrats have become unhinged. They've lost it. They are the equivalent of the crazy man raining spittle on those around him while he rails in his fevered mind about conspiracy theories and the injustices that have been heaped on him.

Wow. Here's more on CNN and their "special relationship" with Saddam Hussein's Iraq dating back to the first Gulf War:

Here's the late Michael Kelly discussing CNN in an interview just before his death:

". . . There are a lot of individual stories from that night that you can't see because they're not what TV shows--how people react to things. Some of that I wrote about, some of that I didn't. Some people had reactions to that night that I didn't want to write about. There were a lot of people there who were mad at CNN--you didn't see that on TV.

Because?

Well, because CNN had this special relationship with the Iraqi government that they had earned, in part, through what I thought was corrupt reporting.

Sort of the mouthpiece for Saddam.

More than that. Specifically, they were allowed to fly on Iraqi planes to go into Kuwait City when it was occupied, and they were taken there by the Iraqi government for the specific purpose of shooting down the story that the Iraqi occupiers had killed babies in incubators. And they did shoot that story down for the government. As [Robert] Wiener, the producer for CNN, has written for his book, which has recently been made into a movie, they acquiesced to the Iraqi government's demand that they not tell the world the rest of the stuff they saw in Kuwait City. They did that to protect their special standing. Their special standing was not only access to interviews that nobody else could get, but they also had this land line that allowed them twenty-four-hour open telephone.

So in effect, they were enabling.

Well, I didn't blame them politically for that. But I thought the decision to suppress what they knew they had seen in Kuwait City was wholly corrupt and wrong and indefensible. That night, the people who were there--we all passed the same night. They passed it in glory on TV. But everybody was in the same hotel. In the morning--I was talking the other day to a guy I had spent a lot of time with that night, a reporter from a Sydney paper--and he reminded me that he and I had gone up to CNN's suite at dawn and knocked on the door. They had locked the door so nobody could get into their suite, because they had the only working phone line and they wanted to protect it, of course. I knocked on the door and slipped them a note asking them if they would, not file our stories for us, but if we could give them a list of phone numbers of wives and others that they would call and tell everybody we were okay. They pushed the note back under the door and said, "Haven't you ever heard of competition?" So a lot of people who were there have never forgiven them for that.

That was not competition.

No, what competition? It's just being a complete jerk.

What did they think, it was encoded messages?

No, I think they were just jerks. I think the producer, Wiener, was just a jerk.

THE single most important condemnation of the media in pre- and engaged war in Iraq and I forget to post it. As Red Foreman would say, "Dumbass!"

Here's John Burns, The New York Times reporter, blasting his colleagues for what they did and for what they do:

"There were correspondents who thought it appropriate to seek the approbation of the people who governed their lives. This was the ministry of information, and particularly the director of the ministry. By taking him out for long candlelit dinners, plying him with sweet cakes, plying him with mobile phones at $600 each for members of his family, and giving bribes of thousands of dollars. Senior members of the information ministry took hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes from these television correspondents who then behaved as if they were in Belgium. They never mentioned the function of minders. Never mentioned terror.

In one case, a correspondent actually went to the Internet Center at the Al-Rashid Hotel and printed out copies of his and other people's stories -- mine included -- specifically in order to be able to show the difference between himself and the others. He wanted to show what a good boy he was compared to this enemy of the state. He was with a major American newspaper."

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Is she kidding? Christiane Amanpour is blaming Fox News for her network's cowardice and lack of integrity?

We've all known since at least April 2003 (many people knew before then) how unprincipled CNN is, but to actually blame Fox News is hilarious. I can't believe the woman actually said that.

Wow.

Fred Nichols in The New York Post has some pretty interesting economic numbers:

"Courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are more stubborn facts never mentioned by Bush challengers:

* By the end of January 2001, when Bush took office, 217,000 manufacturing jobs had vanished.

* Through February 2001, while he organized his Cabinet and prepared his first budget, 286,000 factory jobs were eliminated.

* And by the time Bush's first economic plan got through Congress and became law on June 7, 2001, 652,000 hard working men and women had already lost jobs.

* In the middle of August 2001, Bush's tax rebate checks of up to $600 per family were in the mail to tens of millions of Americans. This marked the administration's first tangible influence on the economy, one that most economists said kept the overall recession "short and shallow." By the end of that month, manufacturing had lost more than a million jobs.

Thus roughly 40 percent of manufacturing jobs lost during this ongoing three-year downturn were lost before Bush policies could have begun improving economic conditions in September 2001 - just before cataclysmic terror attacks compounded global recession, corporate accounting scandals were uncovered, West Coast ports shutdown and our war against terrorism at home and abroad began. And, of course, the stock market meltdown began in early 2000 - eroding personal wealth, business investment and consumer confidence long before the Bush presidency began."

The hard truth Democrats refuse to accept is that the recent recession was not President Bush's fault. In fact, the recession was the result of inaction by the Clinton adminstration. The fallback position is that Bush squandered the surplus, but the fact is that the bursting of the internet bubble, more than anything else, is the reason for the disappearance of the surplus. Now, if they can just get people to ignore facts they'll have it made.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Yes of course. Leftists love a diversity of skin color, just not diversity of political opinion:

"Predictably, the universities scream bloody murder at any suggestion of adding conservatives to their faculties in order to improve diversity of opinion. They are all for quotas when it means admitting unqualified minority students, but allowing students to be taught by a conservative would somehow be a violation of everything the university stands for, it seems."

And the left wants to scream about Fox News and Rupert Murdoch? The bias on American universities is much more blatant and dangerous than anything Rupert Murdoch does.

The Carolina Panthers won a game they should have won before they should have lost it. Make sense?

The Panthers lead the whole game until the final minute. The score was tied with no time remaining and all the Buccaneers had to do was to kick an extra point, something their kicker had never failed to do. The kick was blocked and that allowed the Panthers to go on to win the game in overtime. When they failed to win the game in regulation, they deserved to lose it with no time remaining in regulation.

Once again, the Panthers won a game that last year they would have lost.

Political ideology causes aid agencies to pull out of Iraq:

"Many of the NGOs that are on their way out of Iraq from fear--if we believe them--maintain elaborate operations in Liberia, where their employees were until recently probably more at risk than in Iraq. After all, Liberia has been plagued by wanton, random killing. And yet the relief workers soldiered on."

"But let's face the truth: Any success in rebuilding Iraq would undermine the widely diffused ideological presumption of relief organizations and many international agencies that powerful nation-states cannot provide the impetus for decent change or even real relief among suffering pre-industrial and pre-modern populations. That is a task, the humanitarian professionals argue, for the practitioners of the post-sovereign ideal--for them, that is. It is for this reason that these professionals actually engage in what one might call passive sabotage in Iraq, a mean-spirited version of what Thorstein Veblen called "the conscientious withdrawal of efficiency." They do not want the water to flow if the tap is turned by Paul Bremer."

Democrats are screaming that a right wing conspiracy is attempting to subvert democracy. It all started with the impeachment of President Clinton and continued with the Florida recounts in 2000, attempts by Republicans in Texas to redistrict, and now the recall of Governor Gray Davis in California.

If that's all you looked at you might be convinced that a rightwing conspiracy of dirty tricks is in play. Thankfully, the Opinion Journal features a little piece that shows what the Democrats have done:

"Now, Howard Dean has seen elections overturned. In the 2000 elections in his home state, voters who pulled a Republican lever found their votes being counted for Democratic control of the U.S. Senate. Democrats did not consult the voters when they persuaded Republican Jim Jeffords to give them the crucial 51st vote in organizing the Senate.

Remember, too, that Democrats also bent the rules to keep their U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey, booting scandal-singed Robert Torricelli when he fell behind in the polls. Their funeral service/election rally for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, however, did not succeed in holding his seat in Minnesota. And just recently, of course, they hounded Miguel Estrada out of a seat on the D.C. Court of Appeals, for the first time using the filibuster to stop an appellate court nominee who clearly would have been confirmed if the Senate had been allowed to vote.

Not much justification for anger so far. What about Florida?

What happened in Florida was that George Bush won every official recount, a result confirmed by the press-sponsored unofficial recounts. Also, Mr. Bush didn't start the lawsuits; Al Gore fired the first writ.

In the same election, John Ashcroft declined to go to court after he lost his Senate seat because votes for the dead man listed on the ballot were counted for his widow instead. Even Richard Nixon persuaded reporter Earl Mazo to abandon the story that John F. Kennedy's forces stole the 1960 election in Illinois and Texas.

By contrast Mr. Gore went to court, asking for additional recounts in specified Democratic counties where 2-1 votes of election boards could find new Gore votes in "dimpled chads." He ordered up a smear campaign against Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, and pursued his litigation until even the activist Florida Supreme Court split 4-3, with a blistering dissent from its chief judge.

The Supreme Court stepped in to stop the chaos, ruling by a 7-2 majority that what the Florida court had chartered was unconstitutional. Two of the seven had their own ideas about the proper rules, but the five-member majority closed recounts summarily and let Ms. Harris certify a 537-vote victory for George Bush.

The media recounts found that Mr. Bush won by 493 votes. Mr. Bush also won, this tally determined, under an honest recount of votes in the counties the Gore lawsuits had selected. It did construct a Gore victory scenario if you counted spoiled ballots. But if you entertain "what if" scenarios, you have to remember that many Republican voters were dissuaded from voting when the television networks called the election for Gore before the polls had closed in the western panhandle counties. While the Florida election was excruciatingly close, it is simply not true that the Supreme Court let Mr. Bush steal it."

It drives me mad that NO ONE mentions that President Bush won Florida according to the rules in place before election day. Only after Gore realized that he had lost did he try to change the rules. The USSC did not hand Bush the victory. They told the state of Florida that they could not change the rules of an election AFTER THE FACT. The USSC stopped Florida from changing the rules after the election had taken place and that is exactly what happened.

How about some perspective:

"Six months before, the world had cheered as the statues of the dictator came crashing down. The Americans had seemed heroic. But now things were going very badly. The occupation was chaotic, the American soldiers were hated and they were facing threats from the surviving supporters of the dictator, whose whereabouts were uncertain.

Washington seemed unwilling to pay the enormous bill for reconstruction, and the president didn't appear to have any kind of workable plan to manage the transition to democracy. European allies, distrustful of the arrogant American outlook, were wary of co-operating. To many, it looked like the victory had been betrayed, since the American values of democracy, equality and well-being seemed unlikely ever to emerge.

That's how it looked in Germany in November, 1945."

Sunday, September 14, 2003

George Will writes about "The Choice War":

"Rep. John Boehner (R- Ohio) no longer attends the annual picnic held by the District of Columbia's supporters of school choice.

During the picnic there are lottery drawings to award scholarships empowering a few children to escape from the nation's worst - and, in per-pupil spending, third-most lavishly funded - school system. Boehner stopped attending because he could not bear the desperate anxiety, and crushing disappointment, of parents whose hopes for their children hung on the lottery. 'I'd stand there and cry the whole time,' he says."

We constantly hear that the only thing schools need is more money. Always, more money. But when the "third-most lavishly funded school system" is failing who can argue that is what is most needed.

The ideal solution would be for parents to understand that it is the Democrats who have been running inner city school systems for years and vote them out of office. The problem is that you can't be a black Republican in the inner city. If you are a black Republican, you aren't authentically black and your life or well-being could be in danger. That's why no real alternatives are put forward. The only ideas we hear are from Democrats who all believe mostly the same things.

Democrats have a stranglehold on inner city politics. They maintain this stranglehold by denouncing black Republicans as "Uncle Toms" and "sell-outs." As I said, it's dangerous to be a black Republican in the inner city. You are basically alone and your health could be at risk for daring to express views contrary to the dominant leftwing beliefs.

This is why I say that the number one problem in the black community is lack of political diversity. Presently you can only be a Democrat. You can range from being a far leftwing Democrat to a "moderate" Democrat, but being a Republican is mostly out of the question. As I learned from Kamau and Walter, at this time, only black Democrats can express views on black issues. That seems to be the dominant view. They say that black Republicans are attempts by white people to choose black leaders and therefore their opinions don't count.

It's a serious problem that will take years to go away, but I believe in time it will.

Amir Taheri discusses what the U.N. can and cannot do to help the Iraqi people.

Shelby Steele says Jesse Jackson is a "walking anachronism" in this excellent Opinion Journal piece:

"The March on Washington was a majestic American moment because it offered a vision of America that was at once critical, inspiring, and flattering. Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech is an American manifesto since, like the Declaration of Independence, it carries the flattery of high expectations: that America can achieve a colorblind society. This speech articulates the spirit of the civil rights legislation that followed it in the same way that the Declaration articulated the spirit of the Constitution.

So black protest taught America that it could not be a legitimate democracy unless race ceased to be a barrier to individual freedom. This was instructive protest of the highest sort because there was parity between its accusations against America and the wrongs which America could grudgingly acknowledge. It said America was a racist society and it clearly was. Thus Dr. King, out in front of a movement with a near-perfect equilibrium between what it charged and what was acknowledged, gave black protest an unquestioned integrity and authority. By the late '60s, protest represented a permanent vision of authenticity in black America. Not only did it carry glamour and authority, it also became the core of a new black identity.

The young Jesse Jackson was glamoured by protest just as the young Norma Desmond was given mystery by silence. Both were enhanced by a glory that came from context. But for the older Jesse, as for the older Norma, the context changed. America took Dr. King seriously and made great progress in the struggle to eliminate race as barrier to individual freedom. Today whites know that progress has been made, and this knowledge means something profound for blacks: that black protest has essentially ceased to be instructive. It tells no one anything they haven't already acknowledged. There is no longer parity between what blacks accuse and what whites acknowledge."