Thursday, January 30, 2003
A crack user? A friend suggested to me that former South African President Nelson Mandela has been smoking crack? Why? Apparently my friend saw some recent quotes from an address to the International Women's Forum.
Mandela suggested that freeing the people of Iraq from a similar oppression that blacks in an apartheid-ruled South Africa faced is tantamount to a new Holocaust.
"If (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein was not carrying out the UN instructions and resolutions... I will support them (the UN) without resignation, but what I condemn is one power with a president who can't think properly and wants to plant [sic] the world into holocaust."
Note the equivocation -- if the U.N. decides that Iraq is out of line, then a "holocaust" is acceptable. But if the U.S. goes it alone, that's unacceptable.
Interesting how the mere approval of the U.N. can turn a holocaust into an example of international unity.
Mandela, who used to have some grasp on reality, also trots out the over-used "it's all about the oil" argument.
"All Bush wants is Iraqi oil, because Iraq produces 64 percent of oil and he wants to get hold of it."
Iraq produces 64 percent of the oil? What oil? Math is obviously not his strong suit, but I can't come up with a single statistical formulation on how Iraq has "64 percent of the oil."
Mandela's brain has officially left his skull.
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Sometimes you just want to slap them: The New York Times editorial page, when it comes to taking positions on judicial nominees, now appears to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ralph Neas and People for the American Way.
The Times uses lame and specious arguments to attack Estrada, a Latino American with a brilliant legal resume and an inspiring story, as being unfit for the bench.
Mr. Estrada, a native of Honduras and graduate of Harvard Law School, has a strong legal résumé. But people who have worked with him over the years, at the solicitor general's office and elsewhere, report that his interpretation of the law is driven by an unusually conservative agenda. Paul Bender, a law professor and former deputy solicitor general, has called Mr. Estrada an ideologue, and said he "could not rely on his written work as a neutral statement of the law." In private practice, Mr. Estrada defended anti-loitering laws that civil rights and groups have attacked as racist.
"Unusually conservative agenda?" Anyone to the right of the Times editorial page undoubtedly qualifies for that label -- a vast majority of Americans.
The Times highlights the complaints of Paul Bender. Who exactly is Paul Bender? The Claremont Institute's Robert Alt has some background:
Opponents point almost exclusively to the statements of one man: Paul Bender. Bender, who served as "political" deputy and as a supervisor to Estrada in the Solicitor General's office during the Clinton administration, has repeatedly stated that Estrada is "too much of an ideologue to be an appellate judge." Bender is alone among his colleagues at Justice in making this accusation. In fact, Seth Waxman, the Solicitor General for whom both Bender and Estrada worked, sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee expressly disagreeing with Bender's assessment, and lauding Estrada's professionalism and judgment. Because Bender provides no support for this statement, all we have to go on is his word. It's therefore worth getting to know Bender.
Because Bender was the "political" deputy, he was permitted to assume his high post without going through the pleasure that is Senate confirmation. This circumvention of Senate review was obviously no accident. From the earliest days of his tenure, Bender was referred to in the press as "not a popular pick," and "an unabashed liberal." His presence in the Solicitor General's office led to well-publicized friction with the career staff, who cited as their primary grievance not Bender's politics, but rather his lack of collegiality and his tendency to "impugn people's work and their motives and their integrity."
In contrast to his unfounded allegation that Estrada lacks the proper temperament to be a judge, Bender has actually demonstrated that he lacks the proper temperament to be even a neutral arbitrator. In 1999, the American Arbitration Association removed him from the position of arbitrator in an action between the Arizona Gaming Control Board and Indian tribes, citing "serious concerns regarding Bender's attitude and approach," which included "inappropriate communications" with one of the parties to the case. That Bender has failed at his one effort as impartial decision-maker casts grave doubts about his ability to stand in judgment of Estrada's impartiality.
Furthermore, for someone so quick to impugn the ideological motives of others, Bender's resume reveals a career remarkably influenced if not driven by ideology. He served as Chief Counsel for the Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, which recommended the abolition of pornography laws, a position so outside the mainstream that it was rejected 95-5 by the Senate. His own views seem to go even farther, leading him to suggest that sexually explicit material should not be removed from public display "just because it's disgusting." It should come as no surprise then that while he was at the Solicitor General's office, that office reversed its position in a child-pornography case, arguing that depictions of children must be more explicit than the prevailing standard to constitute child pornography. This "mainstream" position was rejected by the Senate by a vote of 100-0.
If that isn't bad enough, there's even more evidence that the Times editorial writers have gone beyond doing a political snow job and have dropped with Bender to the depths of dishonesty.
Recently, Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy asked Estrada to give the committee copies of his personnel evaluations from his time at the Department. Estrada agreed, and the documents reveal that Estrada, according to his supervisors:
- "states the operative facts and applicable law completely and persuasively, with record citations, and in conformance with court and office rules, and with concern for fairness, clarity, simplicity, and conciseness."
- "[is] extremely knowledgeable of resource materials and uses them expertly; acting independently, goes directly to point of the matter and gives reliable, accurate, responsive information in communication position to others."
- "[all] dealings, oral, and written, with the courts, clients, and others are conducted in a diplomatic, cooperative, and candid manner."
- "[all] briefs, motions, or memoranda reviewed consistently reflect no policies at variance with Departmental or Governmental policies, or fails to discuss and analyze relevant authorities."
- [is] constantly sought for advice and counsel. Inspires co-workers by example."
Estrada's performance was consistently rated outstanding. And the man who wrote and signed those remarkably positive evaluations was none other than...Paul Bender.
With this sort of information impeaching Bender's accusations -- you can bet that no reputable news organization would take his claims at face value. Certainly if the parties were reversed (a Democratic nominee assailed by a Republican political appointee) the Times would highlight the hypocrisy. Yet, the Times editorial writers are either poorly-informed, gullible or incredibly partisan hacks. (Take your pick.)
The Times, in its efforts to tar Estrada and the Bush administration as way outside the mainstream, displays the true depth of their stupidity/ignorance/dissembling:
Senators have a constitutional duty to weigh the qualifications of nominees for the federal judiciary. But they cannot perform this duty when the White House sends them candidates whose record is a black hole. Mr. Estrada's case is particularly troubling because the administration has more information about his views, in the form of his solicitor general memos, but is refusing to share it with the Senate.
Is the Democratic Senators' request for these memos reasonable?
Not according to every single former solicitor general -- Republican or Democrat.
In a letter to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, committee chairman and Vermont Democrat, the solicitors said they were "concerned" about the requests to turn over appeal recommendations, certiorari recommendations and amicus recommendations on which Mr. Estrada worked while employed by the Office of the Solicitor General.
"As former heads of the Office of the Solicitor General -- under presidents of both parties -- we can attest to the vital importance of candor and confidentiality in the solicitor general's decisionmaking process," said the letter obtained by The Washington Times.
The letter is signed by all seven living solicitors: Clinton appointees Seth P. Waxman, Walter Dellinger and Drew S. Days III; Bush appointee Kenneth W. Starr; Reagan appointee Charles Fried; Nixon appointee Robert H. Bork; and Kennedy appointee Archibald Cox, 94, a former Watergate special prosecutor.
"Any attempt to intrude into the office's highly privileged deliberations would come at the cost of the Solicitor General's ability to defend vigorously the United States' litigation interests, a cost that also would be borne by Congress itself," the letter said.
Note that Estrada has also received a "unanimous well-qualified" rating from that bastion of conservatism -- the American Bar Association.
Once upon a time, you could trust the Times to at least be fair and honest -- no more.
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
OK, I'm in love: I'm watching MSNBC right now, mainly because it's about the only major news channel that's LIVE right now and they've got radio talk show host Kim Serafin on. To quote Steve Martin from "Parenthood":
Gil Buckman (Steve Martin) to his son: What do we say when we see a pretty woman?
Son: Hubba, hubba.
The only apparent downside is that she's a vegetarian -- and I love to eat dead animals.
The search for the perfect woman continues.
(Of course, if anyone knows her and would like to make some introductions, I'm definitely open to it.)
France and the Web: Sometimes it's just fun to mock France -- a country whose leadership is convinced that it is the best thing that's happened to the modern world.
It's not real -- but it certainly is funny.
(Image via National Review Online.)
It is better to be thought a fool...: than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. Actress Susan Sarandon has a commerical out opposing the war with Iraq. Now, there are some reasonable and principled arguments to oppose a war, but it wasn't too long ago that liberals disliked tyrants. Certainly Slobodan Milosevic and his attempted ethnic-cleansing of muslims in Albania qualified.
But that loveable despot, Saddam Hussein isn't worthy of liberals' derision -- after all, unlike someone they despise, he was popularly elected.
In the commercial, Sarandon contends that Iraq's neighbors don't consider it a threat -- ignoring the U.S. and British-maintained no-fly zones and the ever-weakening U.N. sanctions regime. Of course, what happens when Saddam finally gets lucky and shoots down and captures one of our pilots? The status quo is not acceptable. So is Sarandon's answer to abandon it? If so, it won't take long before the recidivistic tendencies of Saddam Hussein take over and 1991 seems like deja vu all over again.
Sarandon also asks the question: "What did Saddam Hussein do to us?"
Some other actor answers the question for her: "Nothing."
But if this were a basic history quiz, Sarandon and her cohorts would fail.
You see, we're still in a state of war with Iraq. The 1991 Gulf War "ended" with a cease-fire contingent on Saddam Hussein disarming. The current standoff is an extension of 1991 so we get to count all of the American soldiers who died in that confilct as part of what Saddam has done to us.
Saddam is also shooting at planes everyday in the no-fly zones. Just because his military is unable to actually shoot down a plane does that make it OK?
Saddam has been writing checks to the families of suicide bombers in Israel who have killed American citizens -- tourists and students both.
Saddam does have links to al Qaeda -- the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks.
As George Orwell observed, you cannot take a neutral stand against a brutal dictator -- you must choose sides.
State of the Union: I didn't get to watch much of the State of the Union speech tonight -- I was working on designing editorial pages for tomorrow's paper. But I've read it and I have to say the line of the night was near the end of the speech: "The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world; it is God's gift to humanity."
The only polls that matter: Are those held on the first Tuesday of November every two years. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman offers a preview of tonight's State of the Union speech, and declares it lacking.
Krugman points to polls showing that support for Bush has "plunged over the last two months."
A year ago he was, indeed, immensely popular; right now he's not significantly more popular than he was before Sept. 11.
Other polls suggest that the public is particularly disenchanted with Mr. Bush's economic policy. Most voters no longer believe that his tax cuts are effective at creating jobs, and many also believe that his policies favor the wealthy and large corporations, rather than people like themselves. (Class warfare!)
Yeah, can we go back to that "there is no liberal media bias" argument again? People believe that crap because that's all the media harps on. No mention (with the exception of once on Fox News Sunday two weeks ago and the unfortunately-named "lucky ducky" editorial in the Wall Street Journal) is made that Bush's plan also has the effect of removing even more of the poor from the tax rolls. No mention is made that the tax system would be even more progressive if Bush's tax plan was passed.
Of course, in the short term it has the effect of increasing the federal budget deficit, but remember how we made the deficit disappear last time. The economy grew at such a rate that, as hard as this may be to believe, the government was unable to spend money fast enough to keep up with rising tax revenues.
When the economy kicks into gear again (and cheap oil from a newly-freed Iraq will certainly help) the rich, who are the biggest beneficiaries of the tax break now, will end up paying an even larger percentage of the federal income tax as the money starts rolling in.
Krugman, never one to come up with a new tune when it comes to people who disagree with his economic theory, assails the Bush pick to replace Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill (who, in Krugman's opinion had no credibility) with John Snow, who Krugman believes has no credibility (if he tows the Bush administration line).
The administration's credibility problem is made worse by the high casualty rate among top economic officials, and the uninspiring quality of their replacements. Today is the first day of hearings for John Snow, the administration's choice for Treasury secretary. One official I spoke to was rueful: "I thought Paul O'Neill wasn't suited to being Treasury secretary; he'd have been better off running a railroad. Now they've picked a man who ran a railroad."
But that's not why he was chosen, according to CBS Market Watch: "He was picked because he's a lobbyist, a schmoozer, a master salesman" ? and a member of no less than nine country clubs.
Still, nobody razzle-dazzles 'em like Mr. Bush. Tonight we'll see if he's good enough to make us forget last year's promises.
The latest line of class warfare attack: Now you don't even have to be a member of an all-male country club before you're some sort of robber baron -- any country club will do.
Of course, the last thing anyone wants in the Treasury Secretary's post is someone who can sell the administration's policy. Are serious-thinking people really supposed to be surprised by this job requirement? Or maybe Krugman's worried it will be successful. Then he'll actually have to find a new idea when it comes time to write his twice-weekly column.
Monday, January 27, 2003
An unlikely ally: Author John Irving has a solid and pesuasive critique of the implementation of Title IX -- the implementation that has vastly reduced the number of minor mens sports at universities across the nation.
How many days will it take before the militant feminist lobby turns on Irving, the longtime abortion-rights supporter?
I predict a press release before the day is out.
Sunday, January 26, 2003
Liberal bias and the academy: The San Diego Union-Tribune last week ran an article entitled "Some see widespread liberal bias at colleges."
Surprised? I didn't think so. The article isn't really anything that people who read National Review or The Weekly Standard or heck -- went to college -- didn't know before.
What is surprising is some of the letters to the editor the piece generated. You can find the letters here.
One Marjorie Sinel of Borrego Springs demonstrates the elitism, arrogance and ignorance of some liberals.
I, for one, was not surprised "that surveys show that liberal professors vastly outnumber conservatives." After all, we hope and expect that our professors are bright, educated and thoughtful persons and thus unlikely to have been persuaded by the specious logic cranked out by our many conservative think tanks.
I object to the current practice of demonizing liberals. Liberals are committed to the well-being and progress of all citizens, not just small and privileged groups. They are willing to use the power of government to advance these causes, if necessary.
How these goals can best be accomplished is, of course, never obvious, and it is in this regard that our universites are essential. They must continue to promote the free exchange of ideas and not be muzzled by ideologues.
Let's analyze this.
Sinel first makes the argument that anyone who is a conservative is stupid. I hereby invoke the Hoy corollary to the Dowd Rule: "Anyone who thinks that all conservatives are stupid is not as smart as any conservative."
As to Sinel's second point: The argument can be made that both liberals and conservatives are committed to the well-being and progress of "small and privileged group" they differ only in the groups they select. (i.e. liberals love trial lawyers, conservatives love business -- pick your poison.)
Finally, Sinel really misses the point. The article outlined the lack of the "free exchange of ideas" brought about by the often complete absence of the conservative viewpoint.
There are a few other letters in that list written by liberal-types, but they're the same ol', same ol'. Conservatives: Mean, evil and stupid. Liberals: Good.
Sorry, but the real world isn't that simple.
George Will's diversity test: If you missed columnist George Will's proposed ideological diversity test for the University of Michigan, then take it here (scroll down).
I scored a 130. (I don't believe Ohio State is part of the axis of evil and I wasn't home-schooled.)
Usually I don't like blowouts...: but the one exception is when the Oakland Raiders are on the receiving end. The Tampa Bay Bucaneers made mincemeat out of the vaunted Raiders offense -- with Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon throwing 5 touchdown passes -- including three to various members of the Bucs' defense.
Saturday, January 25, 2003
The book is good, but the movie is better: Or at least more fun. I'm referring to Steven Spielberg's latest movie, "Catch me if you can." The movie is the story of Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. -- a notorious con man and check forger who stole millions of dollars before his 20th birthday. Abagnale posed as an airline pilot, a medical doctor, a lawyer and a college sociology professor.
The movie takes certain necessary liberties with the story, but is a fun film to watch.
However, one of the most interesting portions of the book is Abagnale's description of his 6 months in a French prison in the late 1960s. It seems that not too long ago, the French weren't as concerned about human rights as they are now. Abagnale was sentenced to a year in France's Perpignan prison. If you saw the movie, DiCaprio got off easy compared to what Abagnale really had to go through.
There was no light switch. There was no light in the cell. There was, in fact, nothing in the cell but a bucket. No bed, no toilet, no wash basin, no drain, nothing. Just the bucket. The cell was not a cell, actually, it was a hole, a raised dungeon perhaps five feet wide, five feet high and five feet deep, with a ceiling and door of steel and a floor and walls of stone.
I was not fed my first day in Perpignan's prison. I had been placed in my grim cell late in the afternoon. Several hours later, exhausted, cold, hungry, bewildered, frightened and desolate. I laid down on the hard floor and fell asleep. I slept curled in a ball, for I am six feet tall.
The screeching of the door awakened me. I sat up, wincing form the soreness and cramps caused by my uncomfortable sleeping position. The dim form of a guard loomed in the doorway. He was placing something on the steps inside my crypt....
I felt around and located the food the guard had brought. It was a quart container of water and a small loaf of bread. The simple breakfast had not even been brought on a tray. The guard had simple set the container of water on the top step and had dropped the bread beside it on the stone.
The menu in Perpignan prison never varied. For breakfast, I was served bread and water. Lunch consisted of a weak chicken soup and a loaf of bread. Supper was a cup of black coffee and a loaf of bread.
I never left the cell. Not once during my stay in the hoary jail was I permitted outside for exercise or recreation. ...
The bucket was my latrine. I was not given any toilet paper, nor was the bucket removed after use. I soon adapted to the stench, but after a few days the bucket overflowed and I had to move around and sleep in my own fecal matter. I was too numbed, in body and spirit, to be revolted. Eventually, however, the odor became too nauseating for even the guards to endure, apparently. One day, between meals, the door creaked open and another convict scurried in with the furtiveness and manner of a rat, grabbed the bucket and fled. It was returned, empty a few minutes later. On perhaps half a dozen other occasions during my time in the tiny tomb, the procedure was repeated. But only twice during my imprisonment were the feces cleaned from the floor of the cell.
I weighed 210 pounds when I was received at Perpignan. The tedious diet did not contain enough nutrients or calories to maintain me. My body began to feed upon itself, the muscles and tendons devouring the stored fats and oily tissues in order to fuel the pumps of my heart and my circulatory system. Within weeks I was able to encircle my biceps with my fingers.
When Abagnale was finally released -- to the custody of Swedish officials (the guy was wanted everywhere) he was finally allowed to see a doctor -- who diagnosed him with having "double pneumonia" along with open sores, lice and other minor maladies.
If Abagnale had been forced to serve his entire 1 year sentence, it is doubtful he would have lived.
When France starts to preach on the brutality of the American justice system, remember what theirs looked like not too long ago.
Thursday, January 23, 2003
Today's sign of the apocalypse: The only thing worse than this is if he actually wins.
I'm exhausted: Just got back from working a way too-long day. So, contrary to earlier reports (see below), there won't be a lot of blogging. But I would like to point out this from the Media Research Center.
In contrast to how all the networks featured soundbites from likable marchers in the anti-war protest over the weekend, the ABC, CBS, and NBC stories on Wednesday night did not include a syllable from any participant, on stage or in the crowd, at the massive March for Life, including President Bush. Despite tens of thousands of pro-lifers in Washington and just tens of pro- abortion protesters (a midday Planned Parenthood rally was estimated by Reuters at 150), Dan Rather misled viewers into assuming large crowds on both sides: "Tens of thousands of demonstrators on both sides of the issue filled the streets of Washington today."
Yeah, there's no media bias.
An aside: People who've sent me some serious e-mails in the past couple of days. Give me another day or two and I'll try to get back to you.
Dearth of blogging: Sorry, but life has been very busy the past few days. Expect blogging to (hopefully) resume late tonight.
Monday, January 20, 2003
I wish they'd come up with a better phrase: The Wall Street Journal editorial page has taken on the issue of the poor paying no federal taxes again. The Journal has referred to these people as "Lucky Duckies" -- a characterization that just gives columnists like Paul Krugman fodder for his column.
However, I will point out, once again that Krugman is a liar when it comes to what the Journal is complaining about. As I pointed out at the time, the Journal isn't advocating raising taxes on the poor. Instead it is arguing that no more people should be removed from the tax rolls.
We raised this issue several weeks ago, pointing out that the unceasing addition of exemptions, deductions and credits to the tax code was shrinking the tax-paying base. And, as more lower-income people saw tax liabilities fall to zero, more upper-income people shouldered a larger part of the tax burden. We did not, by the way, suggest that lower income people should pay higher taxes. We even went out of our way to flog our favorite horse that everybody should pay less in taxes.
The Journal also has an interesting chart that every Republican should be using when talking about Bush's tax cut plan that shows that people making $200k+ on average are receiving a 12.3 percent tax cut, while people making below $30k on average get at 17 percent reduction on their tax bill.
On a related movie note: Is the following individual a racist? Please vote.
I HATE interracial relationships. Why do white men feel that white women are inferior to those baloney smellin' black whores? And it's not only that, but it's as if white men HATE white women, the very people who gave birth to white men. I think that interracial relationships are very offensive. And I won't even get started about those kids they make.
Of course, I might've gotten the quote messed up. Click the link, it's the fifth comment down.
The joy of liberal bloggers: Sometimes I miss good, old Jeffrey Hauser. Longtime readers of this blog will remember Hauser as a stalwart apologist/defender of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman who regularly posted his views in the comments link -- usually attached to the appropriate item. (A time or two a particular piece apparently got him in such a tizzy that he would click and post on the wrong link, much to his chagrin.)
Hauser stopped coming around many moons ago. In explaining his vow not to visit or comment on anything on this page, he sent me a private letter with the big, bold words at the top: "NOT FOR PUBLICATION" -- a request I honored, and will honor still, mainly because that e-mail, among many others, was lost in what I like to refer to as the "Great harddrive formatting mistake of 2002."
After criticizing one of my (then-recent) posts, in which I denied having any desire to systematically murder gay people -- something he had accused me of in relation to my realistic stands on radical Islam (i.e. I don't believe that Islam is a religion of peace. I don't believe that Western culture [that is, tolerance, freedom of religion, etc.] can peacefully coexist with Islam as it is taught today throughout much of the Middle East).
Hauser ended his missive with a statement to the effect that his responding to my posts were henceforth beneath him, because my comments were too stupid to blog. (Makes me wonder if I should create an annual or semi-annual award by that name -- something along the lines of LGF's "Idiotarian of the Year Award.")
Anyway, with Hauser gone, I was feeling a little lonely.
But then comes along tbogg, one of an ever-increasing number of liberal bloggers. Tbogg, who eschews, for reasons that are perhaps not so mysterious, to identify himself, but he is certainly a prolific poster. (I'm certainly not against anonymity for bloggers -- but, for the record, I think it'd be a good idea to state somewhere on the Web site why you won't give your real name.)
Tbogg has recently discovered my little blog, and he has some sort of a following. Certainly more than Hauser ever had, but not a great number either (we're talking about 7-12 referrals a day from his blog to Hoystory -- Hauser averaged 1-4 at best).
Tbogg's opening blog post gives you a good idea from the worldview he comes from:
Welcome to my blog...it still has the new blogg smell...mmmmmmmmmm. After posting in Salon's Table Talk for the past two years I thought it was time to take my show on the road and quit interrupting intelligent discussions about important subjects with snarky commentary and tasteless asides. That's what this blog is for. An early warning: I am prone to using bad words, making fun of others misfortune, and generally ridiculing anything that I can think of. If you have delicate sensibilities, or even average sensibilities, maybe this isn't the place for you. If you think the Bush is the duly elected President, Peggy Noonan is sane, Dick Cheney is not a death-bound souless jackal who would sell his lesbian daughter into a Saudi harem for a quart of thirty weight...well, I'm probably not your boy. This blog is for bad thoughts, cruel putdowns, and nasty hit-and-run attacks on the rightwingers, evangelicals, crappy popular culture, drunken First Daughters, and anything that comes to mind.
So, as you can see, we shouldn't expect a whole lot from Tbogg, but he's certainly an amusing read.
Tbogg's first post regarding Hoystory can be found here. Now, I assume he read my entire piece on Kristof -- since he quotes it nearly completely -- but, like any good sensationalist, blows my complaint completely out of proportion. Go back and read both pieces yourself -- Tbogg's assessment of me being "greviously wounded" runs counter to what I said in the piece itself:
Now, I don't really count Kristof's little jab as a serious slam against Christianity -- but it's one of those little things that I think is indicative of many in the liberal media. A little jab at the Christians is OK, and maybe even the Jews (those Israelis being so pesky and all), but a similar skewering of blacks, Latinos, gays, women? I seriously doubt would have made it past the Times copy editors -- if doing it had crossed Kristof's mind in the first place.
And Tbogg quotes that -- and he still doesn't get it.
Tbogg's latest argument is one that you're hearing a lot nowadays -- in short, racism is rampant everywhere and (apparently) affirmative action is the answer.
I argued that we've come a long way on race since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Tbogg uses this as an example that I'm wrong. Of course, the fact that this incident of a few college students being stupid makes the New York Times would be evidence that to the contrary (see "Dog bites man" axiom of journalism).
As far as Tbogg's movie history question: Does anyone really believe that "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" didn't cause an uproar in the South when it was first released -- if it even played in theaters there?
More on conscription and politics: The San Diego Union-Tribune's own Robert J. Caldwell has an article in the Sunday paper on the proposal to resume the draft. The article is based upon some facts from the Pentagon on our all-volunteer military -- and whatever Democratic congressmen Charlie Rangel and John Conyers say -- forcing people into the military that don't want to be there will not make our military any better.
The most interesting bit, however, has to do with the claim that somehow, poor, less-educated minorities are doing a greater proportion of the dying in battle.
Are black Americans cannon fodder in the all-volunteer military?
Quite the contrary, actually.
Blacks constitute 21 percent of the enlisted force but only 15 percent of the combat arms ? infantry, armor and artillery. By contrast, African-Americans constitute 36 percent of functional support and administration and 27 percent of the military's medical and dental career fields.
Casualties in the 1991 Persian Gulf War reflected these military occupational proportions. Blacks constituted 23 percent of U.S. military personnel in the Persian Gulf conflict but only 17 percent of combat and non-combat deaths. Whites constituted 71 percent of the Desert Storm force and 76 percent of the U.S. deaths.
Surprising you don't hear more of the media reporting this.
Friday, January 17, 2003
Ramesh on Roe v. Wade: Over at National Review Online.
Even at the peak, most Americans disappointed pro-abortion ideologues by persisting in seeing abortion as a tragedy rather than a routine medical procedure. Parents do not dream of one day telling people about "my son the abortionist." Few men brag about pressuring their girlfriends or wives into having abortions. Unease about abortion is so widespread that the politicians most committed to keeping it legal rarely use the word, preferring to talk about "choice." Abortion is the right that dare not speak its name.
It's an excellent history/analysis of the issue -- and it offers some hope that, sometime in the not too distant future there will be far less killing.
Explain the chart: There's been a lot of discussion about the latest Bush tax cut plan and whether it's wise to give so much back to "the rich."
But a chart on Page 35 of this week's Time magazine has me confused about the less-talked about Democratic plan.
Entitled "For Richer or Poorer," the chart compares the "estimated average tax savings under each proposal" for various income levels.
If the chart is accurate -- and I've no reason to believe it isn't -- then the Democratic plan is merely a transfer of funds from the rich to the poor and not really a tax cut at all.
According to the chart, people with an adjusted gross income of "Less than $10,000" would get a tax break of $5 under the Bush plan. It's next to nothing -- but realize that these people don't pay any federal taxes anyway with a gross income that low. Under the Democrats' plan, that same income group would "save" an average of $234.
How exactly does that work?
Also, looking at that same chart, I'm happy that apparently I classify as "rich" to Democrats -- since I would save more under Bush's plan than theirs -- and I'm a journalist! A profession whose low wages are rivaled only by those of social workers.
Affirmative action and college admissions: Wednesday President Bush came out against what he termed a "quota system" in place at the University of Michigan's campuses.
The time for affirmative action at the nation's universities needs to come to an end. Is racism in American society eradicated? No. Some people will always harbor hate for those different from them in their hearts. But, especially among Gen X and Y, there is significantly less racism than at any time during our nation's history. We've come a long way in the nearly four decades since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Just look at our popular culture -- most people no longer bat an eye at interracial couples. The movie "Finding Forrester," one of my favorites, features a bit of interracial romance (though never fully realized). Thirty years ago, that sort of thing could be cause for riots in the South. Nowadays that sort of thing causes nary a whimper.
Look, the Democrats, Civil Rights leaders and assorted members of the liberal left that have spent the last two days implying that Bush is anti-minority (if not harboring a little bit of barely repressed racism in his heart) are mostly in their 50s, 60s and up. These people remember Jim Crow -- many of them lived with it for some portion of their lives. But times have changed. For the overwhelming majority of the people applying for admission to the University of Michigan for this coming year, Jim Crow is something they learned about in their high school history class (hopefully).
People who never instituted or enforced Jim Crow laws, nor practiced discrimination are passed over by people who never suffered from Jim Crow or any other kind of discrimination. (Note that I'm making a distinction here between the U of M's program and other remedial programs at institutions that do have a recent history of discrimination.)
If the goal is diversity, as the program's defenders claim, then that can be done without taking race into account. Programs like those in Texas which allow admission to the top 10 percent of high school graduates -- regardless of the quality/location of the school -- is a good way to achieve this.
The way the U of M's program is set up, diversity is only skin deep. All other things being equal, the son of a black lawyer and doctor is preferred over the son of an asian dishwasher and maid.
If you want real diversity -- diversity of thought, diversity of experience, diversity of abilities -- then it takes more than simply checking the correct box labeled "race."
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
I hit the trifecta: Mark the date and time! Today, probably for the first and last time, I agree with: The New York TImes editorial page and Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer.
Everyone, take a deep breath -- I have not been taken over by pod people. The issue is Congress' desire to create perpetual copyright control in defiance of the Constitution, which gave the government the power to "promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." [emphasis added]
According to Breyer:
The economic effect of this 20-year extension--the longest blanket extension since the Nation's founding--is to make the copyright term not limited, but virtually perpetual. Its primary legal effect is to grant the extended term not to authors, but to their heirs, estates or corporate successors.
I concur with the Times' assessment of the impact of the court's decision:
Artists naturally deserve to hold a property interest in their work, and so do the corporate owners of copyright. But the public has an equally strong interest in seeing copyright lapse after a time, returning works to the public domain ? the great democratic seedbed of artistic creation ? where they can be used without paying royalties.
In effect, the Supreme Court's decision makes it likely that we are seeing the beginning of the end of public domain and the birth of copyright perpetuity. Public domain has been a grand experiment, one that should not be allowed to die. The ability to draw freely on the entire creative output of humanity is one of the reasons we live in a time of such fruitful creative ferment.
It just goes to show you, that even a broken clock is right twice a day.
[An aside: How much longer will it be before that phrase goes out of the societal memory because of the proliferation of digital clocks?]
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
A question of bravery: New York Times editorial page columnists have, since the inception of President George Bush's administration, taken a certain pride in taking "brave" and "honorable" stands against a popular president -- especially since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Everyone's favorite columnist, Paul Krugman, recently told the German newspaper that he is "the solitary voice of the truth in a sea of corruption. Sometimes I think that I land (laugh) a day in one of these cages in Guantanamo Bay. But I can ask always yet in the Federal Republic for asylum. I hope, you take me in the emergency up."
That's right, an allegedly intelligent man actually seems to think that he is some sort of modern day Cassandra standing alone against the evil tyranny of the Bush administration. Krugman also seems to think that he's got some corner on the "truth."
Of course, this brings us to Krugman's colleague, Nicholas Kristof, who does occasionally do some good reporting, and his column in today's Times on North Korea.
Leaving aside Kristof's foreign policy suggestions (he advocates engagement with North Korea, much like what we have with China -- "If we exchange embassies and expand trade and other exchanges, the isolation and totalitarianism there will be unsustainable, and North Korea in time will either collapse or reform and open up as China did..." -- I'd ask Christians, the Falun Gong and others if their lot is better now), like Krugman, Kristof uses any opportunity to take a cheap shot at a class of people he's probably never met.
So how can we undermine North Korean propaganda and totalitarianism? By imposing sanctions and increasing its isolation? Or by engaging it and tying it to the global economy?
The answer should be obvious, for there is no greater subversive in a Communist country than an American factory manager. People will hear stories from his housemaid's third cousin's neighbor's friend about how he has five pairs of blue jeans (!), a beer belly (!), blows his nose on tissues that he then throws away (!), and reads a Bible (!) and Playboy magazine (!!). Many a Communist will immediately begin dreaming of capitalism.
Krugman was one of the first to start it when he popularized the trend of using Attorney General John Ashcroft's name as a synonym for Bigfoot, Big Brother and Josef Stalin all wrapped up in one.
Now, I don't really count Kristof's little jab as a serious slam against Christianity -- but it's one of those little things that I think is indicative of many in the liberal media. A little jab at the Christians is OK, and maybe even the Jews (those Israelis being so pesky and all), but a similar skewering of blacks, Latinos, gays, women? I seriously doubt would have made it past the Times copy editors -- if doing it had crossed Kristof's mind in the first place.
But, getting back to the bravery theme -- Kristof would have demonstrated some serious cajones had he replaced the Bible with the Koran.
Those Christians don't offer death threats at the slightest offense, but if you want to demonstrate some bravery -- slam Islam. You can bet CAIR's Ibrahim Hooper would be on an immediate "crusade."
Monday, January 13, 2003
Biggest threat to world peace? It's obviously not a scientific poll, but over at littlegreenfootballs.com, they're looking at what country is the biggest threat to world peace.
Currently in the lead?
"Our friends the Saudis."
More on the Gov. Ryan and the death penalty: OpinionJournal.com's James Taranto had some apt words to say about the decision to clear off Illinois' death row.
It's an act of stunning moral vanity. Ryan claims he's concerned that innocent people may have been on death row, and the Associated Press quotes him as saying that capital punishment is "arbitrary and capricious, and therefore immoral." But what's more arbitrary and capricious than sparing every convict on death row, even those about whose guilt there is no doubt? Ryan's successor, Democrat Rod Blagojevich, calls Ryan's act "a big mistake." He tells Reuters: "A blanket anything is usually wrong. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. We're talking about people who committed murder."
Even if there were innocents on death row, Ryan has done them no favor. Except for four inmates who got full pardons (Ryan said police had beaten and tortured them into making full confessions), all the erstwhile death-row denizens merely had their sentences reduced to life in prison. This means, as a USA Today editorial notes, that they "will lose access to the mandatory legal review of their sentences and to the legal experts who provide them extraordinary appellate help." USA Today seems to approve of this, but if there really are innocent people behind bars, why would anyone want to deny them "extraordinary appellate help"?
Ryan's decision harms the innocent, helps the guilty and is a slap in the face of the victims of violent crime and the jurors who made the difficult decision to sentence defendants to death. But as Sam Evans, Debra Evans's widower, tells ProDeathPenalty.com, "He is not very concerned with individuals, just with issues."
Ryan's decision wasn't about doing what is right, but creating some other legacy than corruption.
Ask and ye shall receive: Well, last week when President Bush resubmitted the name of Judge Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the cries of racist erupted from the Democrats. Their charge was mainly based on a 1994 cross burning case where Pickering sought a lighter sentence for a convicted cross burner because his cohorts -- including one who was definitely more culpable than the rest -- got off with zero jail time. The government sought a 7 1/2 year sentence for the cross burner. And the ringleader got off with nothing.
My question was: What happened with the Clinton Justice Department that was so soft on racism that they gave the ringleader no jail time?
Thankfully, National Review's Byron York has dug up the answer. The short version: They screwed up.
I'm also watching my tape of today's "Special Report with Brit Hume." Hume interviewed York on this very subject and brought up this very issue. Finally, this aspect of the issue gets out in the mainstream media.
And you read it here first.
Friedman reports: New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a liberal with whom I agree from time to time, has an interesting report on the Friday prayers at one of Egypt's mosques.
Thousands of Egyptian faithful went through their traditional prostrations and listened to the sermon by the sheik of Al Azhar, who spoke in measured tones about how God deals with "oppressors." At the end, he appealed to God to rescue the Palestinians. It was all very solemn and understated. And then the excitement started.
A split second after he finished, someone tossed in the air hundreds of political leaflets, and a young man was lifted onto the shoulders of the crowd and began denouncing "American tyranny." Hundreds of the faithful then marched around the mosque chanting behind him, while the silent majority shuffled out. It was as if you were seeing two services: first the state-run service and then the street-run service, where the real steam was let off. But here's what struck me most: While America came in for a lashing, no one in this crowd was chanting in support of Saddam Hussein.
What struck Friedman the most isn't what struck me the most -- and it's an indication of the main problem in Islam.
Hundreds of the faithful then marched around the mosque chanting behind him, while the silent majority shuffled out.
CAIR and its cohorts can decry how Muslims around the world are sometimes "stereotyped" as intolerant, hateful and sometimes violent -- but it's real problem is the "silent majority" that refuses to stand up against the violence perpetrated by their "brothers."
Justice and the death penalty: On Saturday, Illinois Gov. George Ryan committed a grave injustice. Gov. Ryan, who was leaving office with a cloud of corruption over his legacy, now leaves office as the darling of the liberal left for commuting the sentences of 167 people on his state's death row.
Ryan's decision is unlikely to reinvigorate the anti-death penalty campaign. The vast majority of the American people support the death penalty and Ryan's action doesn't change that. What is likely to change, however, is the power of the executive in the state of Illinois. Expect to see Illinois follow the example of Texas, which requires a review board to approve commutations before the governor has the opportunity to grant a pardon or commutation.
Ryan was not serving justice -- he was serving himself. For the vast majority of the persons whose sentences he commuted, there was no question of their guilt. No evidence of police or prosecutorial misconduct. Included in those pardoned are baby murderers and cop killers.
Jon Van Schaik, a Chicago firefighter whose brother Roger was one of two police officers fatally shot on a South Side street in 1979, said he hoped Ryan would soon face charges in the corruption scandal and then "spend the rest of his life in prison."
"How can one person have all of this authority and power?" Van Schaik said. "It's making a mockery and a farce out of our legal system and our prison system."
Death penalty opponents are applauding the move, but it's really a blow to their cause.
The death penalty won't face a serious political test in this country until, unfortunately, someone truly innocent is executed.
In the approximately 30-odd years since the death penalty was reinstated in many states hundreds of brutal and depraved murderers have paid the ultimate price for their heinous crimes. Not one of them has later proven to be innocent.
We've come close a few times. One man in Illinois was exonerated about 48-hours before he was scheduled to die. And numerous people have been freed through the use of DNA testing that implicated others.
But all of these examples, including the long time spent on death row before the sentence is carried out -- often more than a decade -- show that the system is working. The lack of a truly "innocent victim" of the death penalty is what hurts death penalty opponents the most.
Despite its flaws -- our judicial system works.
Sunday, January 12, 2003
From Muslim to Christian: There's an interesting first person article in The Times (U.K.) that is definitely worth a read. The piece is written by Ahmer Khokhar, a son of a Pakistani immigrant to Great Britain.
While the piece is a good read, and I feel for what this man has had to go through, when it comes to a solution to stopping the violence in the Middle East, his feelings cloud his reason.
My Muslim friends accept me, but if I was living in an Islamic country I would be killed for converting to Christianity.
My prayer is for the world to realise that the only way to solve conflicts is by talking to people and understanding their beliefs instead of resorting to war and violence.
With a war in Iraq imminent, Khokhar's comment would appear to be directed to the United States and Great Britain. However, we are the tolerant ones, as evidenced that Khokhar is alive today, despite his conversion. The West is willing to live and let live. It is the radical Islamists, among them Khokhar's father, who would prefer to kill "infidels."
Don't forget, we didn't start this...
Iraq did...by invading Kuwait in 1991...
Iraq did...by sponsoring suicide bombings in Israel...
Iran did...by funding terrorism...
Pakistan did...by providing a home base and support to al Qaeda...
Saudi Arabia did...by raising their children to hate...
Saudi Arabia did...by funding "charities" that pay terrorists who kill Israelis...
Islam did...by fomenting hatred of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Baha'is, Animists, etc., ad infinitum ...
"Moderate" Muslims did...by refusing to denounce and restrain their more bloodthirsty brethren...
We're just going to have to finish it.
Book report: I've finished reading the latest entry in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, "Crossroads of Twilight."
Sorry to say it, but I'm disappointed.
I began reading Jordan's series back in college -- 1991 if I recall correctly -- and the guy can tell a story. I've also been impressed over the years at the depth of the world that he's created in his books. But the latest tome, while over 600 pages in length, doesn't really advance the plot. Not one event that could be construed as "major" occurs. You don't even get a glimpse of the series' main character Rand al'Thor until several hundred pages into the book (about 400 if I recall correctly).
If you read many of the customer reviews online, I'm not alone.
Jordan's an excellent writer, but I'm beginning to wonder if he isn't simply stretching an already incredibly long series out in an effort to line his pockets. As far as giving the reader information that is needed for future installments, there are probably no more than 10 chapters you really need to read.
It's probably too late for fans of the series, who've already bought and read the book. But if you're a less-devoted reader -- wait for the paperback.
Friday, January 10, 2003
Is there an editor in the house? Kudos to OpinionJournal.com's James Taranto for this zinger from columnist Molly Ivins, who proves once again that logic is an anathema to the liberal columnist.
"The first claim [of those who support tax cuts] is that the rich pay more in taxes in the first place. Well, yeah, they do--they have more money. The richest 1 percent have 18 percent of all the pretax income and they pay 36 percent of all personal income taxes."--Molly Ivins, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jan. 9
"The dirty little secret about taxes in this country is that rich people and corporations mostly don't pay them now--they have a whole system of shelters and offshore deals."--Molly Ivins, same column
Molly, here's a quarter -- get a clue.
Sullivan fisks leftist Joan Didion: You can find it here. A sample:
When the only educated people you know hold identical views to yours, it's an easy step to assuming that all those other mysterious creatures out there who disagree with you are simply dumb anti-intellectual jingoists. The cocoon blinds Didion in other ways as well. Many times in the piece, she recounts going out into the country to talk to real people about 9/11. She doesn't seem to realize that the people Joan Didion might meet in bookstores -- the ones who have come explicitly to hear her speak, no less -- might not be completely representative of the country as a whole. Memo to Didion: Get out a little more.
A pundit once said that Democrats think Republicans are evil and Republicans think Democrats are stupid. That may be accurate, but Democrats think Republicans are stupid too.
Thursday, January 09, 2003
Good call on the dividend tax break: It turns out that the Bush administration has preempted one of the Democrats methods of attack for the tax cut package. According to a New York Times News Service report, if a company pays no federal taxes, then it cannot pass on tax-free dividends to its shareholders.
Companies with losses or those that use various techniques that eliminate taxable income will find they have no tax-free dividends to hand out.
For the first time, in other words, companies that pay federal income taxes will seem more attractive to investors than those that find ways to avoid paying the taxes.
"There is less pressure on the company to shelter its income, because it will inhibit its ability to pay out dividends without tax," said Pam Olson, the assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy.
The president's plan also came up with a way for shareholders of profitable, tax-paying companies to get a break even if the companies decide to distribute little or no cash in dividend payments.
Companies that choose to reinvest in their businesses rather than pay dividends will pass on to their shareholders a tax break that will reduce the capital gain they report when they sell their stock.
That twist, not widely understood when the plan's details were first disclosed, means that the tax bill may benefit holders of new-economy companies such as Microsoft that pay no dividends, as well as owners of old-economy companies such as General Motors that do pay them.
This is an excellent help to the struggling stock market! Hopefully this aspect will get some good play in the national media and the news networks. Though, I'm not going to hold my breath.
Judicial standards and the liberal line: Predictably, today's New York Times comes out with another scathing attack on Judge Charles Pickering. Pickering, who was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee in the last Congress on a party-line vote, is from Mississippi, the same state as "segregationist" Sen. Trent Lott.
The main charge against Pickering has been his "racial insensitivity" regarding a 1994 cross-burning case. National Review's Byron York summarized the case here -- including the details that the Times and other opponents have a tendency to omit.
You should read York's piece, but to quickly summarize, three men were involved in the cross-burning incident. The Clinton Justice Department reached plea bargains with two of the men -- including the ringleader -- which included no jail time. The third man, while definitely deserving of time in jail (in my opinion, they all should have spent time in jail), was facing 7 1/2 years in federal prison.
Pickering thought that sentence would not be just, considering all of the facts -- and that's what the liberals have rhetorically beat him with.
It should come as no surprise that this really isn't about Pickering and race -- it's about his overall judicial philosophy.
As I was pondering this earlier today, a thought came to me that hadn't occurred at the first tarring of Pickering: If the Democrat/liberal lobby is really concerned about people who are soft on racism (I know they aren't, but just suppose), then why isn't there an investigation into the Clinton-appointed federal prosecutors who OK'd a plea bargain with the ringleader -- who prior to burning the cross had fired a gun into the same home?
I know, consistency in politics is a rare thing -- but I'd love to hear someone in the national punditocracy bring up this point. I'd love to hear an answer.
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
More evidence of segregationism and the Republican party: From the op-ed pages of The New York Times is a piece which details, as Bill and Hillary Clinton say, what the Republican party does "on the back roads every day."
What is the world coming to? I must confess that I don't read The Weekly Standard's Web site all that often. It's not that it's bad, it's just that it's not as good as National Review's or any of a plethora of blogs. So, when it comes to my Web-commentary reading, it often falls low on the list.
That's why I missed this piece last Friday from J. Bottum entitled "Eating babies." A warning before you go and click on that link, or read further: I can't remember the last time I was so sickened and disturbed by something I read. The title of the piece, part of what caught my interest and caused me to read the piece is not metaphorical.
Bottum refers to a series of depraved acts, the most tame of which is the recent televised autopsy by a "performance artist" in Great Britain, to make the point that there is a slippery slope when it comes to respect for life.
The public figures who've fought cloning and the Brave New World of eugenics over the past few years insist that the biotechnological issues can be separated from abortion, and there are obvious ways in which they're right: If the abortion debate is really about "a woman's right to chose," then it has nothing to do with the question of creating life in laboratories.
But there are other ways in which the anti-cloning forces are wrong, for the prohibition against abortion is quickly proving to have been the key hedge against the disrespect for life. To offer a different metaphor, the Brave New World is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each small piece of the puzzle is held up by its advocates as though it existed in isolation, as though it implied nothing about what is to come, as though it were bad faith on the part of its opponents to point out that it fits in a larger picture. Back in 2001, we were told that the use of embryonic stem cells doesn't require cloning embryos for research. In 2002, we were told that cloning embryos for research doesn't require bringing clones to birth. And now, in 2003, the Raelians claim to have brought a clone to birth, and we are told that this doesn't require the genetic redesign of our descendants.
But it does, of course. Don't look at the single jigsaw-puzzle piece they're holding up this time. Look at the picture they're filling in with it.
Well said. Of course, Bottum's piece as a whole is much more persuasive and challenging, but it's not for the weak of heart.
I'd be curious to see how pro-choice would respond to some of the things Bottum describes have happened elsewhere in the world. I'd like to think that our mostly-moral society would not tolerate those acts here, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the likes of the ACLU defending them.
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Point for Ponnuru: In a post on National Review Online's group blog, "The Corner," Ramesh Ponnuru has a little advice for the Democratic party on a talking point they may want to discard.
Rep. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, is attacking the president’s plan thus: “We stimulate the job market. The president’s plan stimulates the stock market.” Is this wise of the Ds? I would guess that more Americans have been hurt by the substantial decline in stocks than by the modest uptick in unemployment.
Ponnuru's right on this one (no surprise really). While unemployment has risen slightly, its still low compared to historic levels for an economic downturn. What has really hurt most people is the fact that their 401(k)s have have decreased in value with the burst of the tech bubble and the corporate accounting scandals.
While we need to reduce the unemployment rate, giving the stock market a shot in the arm is more important, both for overall consumer confidence and Bush's re-election chances. If the Dow is back above 10,000 by the 2004 election, Bush should have little trouble from Democrats on the economic front.
Sixty years ago, you could make the class-warfare argument that a tax policy that boosted the stock market helped only the rich. But with the proliferation of 401(k)s that line loses its potency.
Rep. Menendez, try again.
Race and politics: In the wake of the "Trent Lott Stupidity," there was a landslide of denunciations from both conservative and liberal columnists -- as there should have been.
There's a discussion that needs to take place in America regarding race.
In the nearly 40 years since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, America has come a long way on the issue of race. Jim Crow is no more. It is not coming back. Ever.
Any suggestion that there is a vast Republican-sponsored conspiracy to reinstate segregation is not only laughable -- it is stupid. Any suggestion that Republicans, as a party, hate blacks, Latinos or any other minority group is a vicious slander.
Finally, it appears as though at least one responsible commentator from the left are willing to discuss the topic of race, affirmative action without resorting to the knee-jerk charge of racism. The Washington Post's Richard Cohen's column today is a mild rebuke to Democrats and their race card-playing tendencies.
Of course, (Al) Gore is no racist, and it is not even remotely possible that he ever used racially offensive speech. But for a long time he has been the personification of a Democratic Party that has found it impossible to move off the racial dime, often staying silent or complicitous when others waved the bloody shirt of ol' time racism -- usually just to propel African Americans to the polls.
This is precisely what happened in the last presidential campaign when the NAACP all but placed the body of James Byrd Jr., the victim of a racial murder, at George W. Bush's doorstep. Byrd's daughter, Renee Mullins, narrated the commercial and said, "So when Gov. George W. Bush refused to support hate-crimes legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again."
This tasteless ad, run just before the presidential election, was not denounced by a single prominent Democrat. It tried to link Byrd's gruesome murder to Bush's opposition to hate-crime legislation. That was pretty close to, if not indistinguishable from, calling him soft on racism.
Gore was the presidential candidate and had an absolute obligation to denounce the ad. (So did Bill Clinton.) He did not, because in its own way the Democratic Party is just as likely to play the race card as the Republican Party. Take a principled stand against this or that civil rights program and you're going to be denounced as a racist.
I'd disagree with Cohen's contention that Democrats and Republicans are equally likely to play the race card. Referencing the 2002 elections, many leading Democrats, including "right-wing conspiracy" backer Hillary Rodham Clinton, suggested that Republicans had used the confederate flag to get elected in some Southern states. Of course, no one has explicitly stated just exactly whom they are referring to, nor have they pointed to statements, political mailers or TV or radio ads that support their contention.
Instead, they throw out the accusation, and, with the exception of Fox News, the media shows the sound bite but fails to do the basic reporting to determine whether or not the statement is true.
Hate-crime legislation is an example. Why it is needed is beyond me. Byrd's killers were hardly going to be daunted by such legislation, as what they did -- murder -- was already a capital crime. (Two of the three killers have been sentenced to death and the third to life in prison.) The town of Jasper, Tex., where the murder occurred, hung its head in shame. Yet, the entire ugly incident -- an aberration, really -- was treated as if the era of lynchings was not over and something had to be done quickly. To think otherwise was somehow racist.
It's the same with affirmative action. Say you oppose it -- believing it is a worthy end but achieved by dubious means -- and you stand a fair chance of being accused of racism. Gore himself came pretty close to that when, in a 1998 speech, he likened opposition to affirmative action to a duck blind. "They hide behind the phrase ['a colorblind society'] and just hope that we, like the ducks, won't be able to see through it."
Yes, that is sometimes the case. But opponents of affirmative action include quite a few blacks, who cannot be reasonably accused of racism. No matter. The prospect of having to defend yourself against what amounts to the most powerful charge in American politics is enough to make anyone just shut his mouth and, if he is in Congress, vote the way of political correctness.
Cohen is being charitable in his analysis. "...stand a fair chance of being accused of racism?" You're undoubtedly going to be accused of racism.
Cohen's article, even with its flaws, is a good start. But don't expect many others to follow. It will take a sea-change in the American media and academia when it comes to the discussion of race -- but don't expect it anytime soon.
I just finished reading Bill McGowan's book "Coloring the News," last night. It should be required reading for every journalist -- and every college student for that matter. From reading McGowan's book, and my own experiences in newsrooms, don't expect change anytime soon. Racial hatemongers like Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton have too much invested (figuratively and literally) in the current racial division in this country to have an honest, forthright discussion of issues like affirmative action. Unfortunately for the black community, the Sharptons, Farrakhans and Jesse Jacksons of this world are the ones who would have to spur this discussion -- others do not have the liberal credentials to avoid the "oreo" or "Uncle Tom" accusations that would be sure to follow.
While racism will likely always be a part of the human condition (witness anti-Semitism in Europe and the Middle East), we've come much farther on the issue of race than many who have vested interest in racial division would like to believe.
Another award for Krugman: Lying in ponds, a Web site that tracks partisanship of prominent columnists and some of the nation's most influential editorial pages. The 2002 award for most partisan columnist went to none other than New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
In a year in which Mr. Krugman generated lots of buzz and won an award, his 18:1 ratio of negative to positive Republican references and 99 columns without a single substantive deviation from the party line were unmatched in the Lying in Ponds portion of the punditocracy.
In an effort to be even-handed, The Wall Street Journal opinion page was ranked the most partisan, among the major newspapers, with The New York Times coming in a close second.
Just to demonstrate how knee-jerk Republican-hating Krugman is, Krugman rated a 75 on the "Negative Republican Index" score, Michael Kinsley came in second with a 55.
In contrast, the most negative Democrat-hating columnist was the Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz with a 42. Checking that score against the "Negative Republican Index," Rabinowitz is still less negative than: Krugman, Kinsley, and Times columnists Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd, Bob Herbert and Nicholas Kristof.
One thing, however, to note about the Lying in Ponds ratings, as far as the total partisanship score goes. While the Times and the Post publish all of their columnists online (Lying in Ponds deals with online data only, not what appears in the print editions), only a portion of the Journal's columnists appear in the online version. While the Times has conservative William Safire to temper its total partisanship score, the Journal's liberal Al Hunt is rarely published online.
Congratulations to Krugman on another award. My bet is that Krugman will win this award again next year.
Question: How many consecutive years must Krugman win the award before it is named after him?
Monday, January 06, 2003
A dearth of posting: Sorry about the lack of insightful commentary/posting that you've all come to expect, but I've been battling a particularly vicious variety of the cold bug the past week or so.
But, to tide you over with a little humor, I was looking at this page at Amazon.com when I scrolled down to find the following:
Customers who wear clothes also shop for:
Clean Underwear from Amazon's Target Store.
Whew! I'm glad to know that you can buy clean underwear at Target.
Friday, January 03, 2003
Get your search terms straight perverts!: Someone who uses bellsouth as their ISP is a pedophile that needs a serious beating. They found their way to my blog by using the search terms: "hoy very young girls." Criminal can't even type right.
Ignoring the elephant in the room: The latest offering from "Columnist of the Year" Paul Krugman is amazing in its inanity because of Krugman's neglect of the biggest, most relevant issue when it comes to the current nuclear standoff with North Korea.
Krugman's "analysis" (I think this is an appropriate time for the infamous scare quotes) of the North Korean situation is fundamentally flawed by his failure to come to grips with the simple fact that Kim Jong Il has been actively pursuing the acquisition of nuclear weapons for more than eight years -- in violation of an agreement brokered by former President Jimmy Carter.
[W]hat game does the Bush administration think it's playing in Korea?
That's not a rhetorical question. During the cold war, the U.S. government employed experts in game theory to analyze strategies of nuclear deterrence. Men with Ph.D.'s in economics, like Daniel Ellsberg, wrote background papers with titles like "The Theory and Practice of Blackmail." The intellectual quality of these analyses was impressive, but their main conclusion was simple: Deterrence requires a credible commitment to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior.
I know, it sounds obvious. Yet the Bush administration's Korea policy has systematically violated that simple principle.
I'm curious to see how a reputedly intelligent man can come to this conclusion. For eight years, the U.S. rewarded the appearance of good behavior, i.e. not developing nukes, by providing food, fuel oil and agreeing to build two nuclear reactors. Though they signed the agreement, it is obvious now that the North Koreans never intended to abide by it. Why? I would argue that it was the Clinton administration that systematically violated Ellsberg's principle by not offering a credible commitment to punish bad behavior.
Let's be clear: North Korea's rulers are as nasty as they come.
Ahh, the obligatory condemnation, albeit extremely weak, of a government that starves its people and executes Christians while spending the vast sums to build ICBMs and nuclear weapons. You'd think that a peace-loving liberal like Krugman would be harder on a militaristic government like North Korea's. However, Krugman, a card-carrying member of the "blame America first" club apparently fails to appreciate that the greater of the two evils (in his eyes) is the North Koreans, and not the Bush administration.
And, you know that following the condemnation sentence there is always a ...
But unless we have a plan to overthrow those rulers, we should ask ourselves what incentives we're giving them.
Someone help me understand this. One paragraph after arguing that the Bush administration's foreign policy is flawed because there is no "credible commitment to punish bad behavior," Krugman is asking us why we aren't rewarding them despite their bad behavior? We need to present them with some sort of carrot because they've violated an arms-control agreement?
So put yourself in Kim Jong Il's shoes. The Bush administration has denounced you. It broke off negotiations as soon as it came into office. Last year, though you were no nastier than you had been the year before, George W. Bush declared you part of the "axis of evil." A few months later Mr. Bush called you a "pygmy," saying: "I loathe Kim Jong Il -- I've got a visceral reaction to this guy. . . . They tell me, well we may not need to move too fast, because the financial burdens on people will be so immense if this guy were to topple -- I just don't buy that."
Moreover, there's every reason to take Mr. Bush's viscera seriously. Under his doctrine of pre-emption, the U.S. can attack countries it thinks might support terrorism, whether or not they have actually done so. And who decides whether we attack? Here's what Mr. Bush says: "You said we're headed to war in Iraq. I don't know why you say that. I'm the person who gets to decide, not you." L'état, c'est moi.
So Mr. Bush thinks you're a bad guy -- and that makes you a potential target, no matter what you do.
This logic only works if the recent news out of North Korea was that they were going to restart their nuclear program because Bush had: A) stopped delivering fuel oil; B) stopped providing food; C) refused to build nuclear reactors. Unfortunately for Krugman's little formulation, none of these items is true. Remember, North Korea has been pursuing nukes for decades without ceasing.
Also, how is Bush violating Ellsberg's principle of deterrence if, as Krugman claims, "under (Bush's) doctrine of pre-emption, the U.S. can attack countries it thinks might support terrorism," and North Korea is already on notice?
On the other hand, Mr. Bush hasn't gone after you yet, though you are much closer to developing weapons of mass destruction than Iraq. (You probably already have a couple.) And you ask yourself, why is Saddam Hussein first in line? He's no more a supporter of terrorism than you are: the Bush administration hasn't produced any evidence of a Saddam-Al Qaeda connection. Maybe the administration covets Iraq's oil reserves; but it's also notable that of the three members of the axis of evil, Iraq has by far the weakest military.
So you might be tempted to conclude that the Bush administration is big on denouncing evildoers, but that it can be deterred from actually attacking countries it denounces if it expects them to put up a serious fight. What was it Teddy Roosevelt said? Talk trash but carry a small stick?
I'll explain this to Krugman, because to everyone outside the ivory towers of academia, it's pretty simple.
Yes, Iraq is the weakest militarily, so it makes sense to start with them to season your troops. Second, Iraq does not (yet) have nuclear weapons. It's better to get rid of a menace and tyrant like Saddam before he has nukes, rather than waiting until he obtains them. To normal people, it makes sense to pick the low-hanging fruit first -- whether or not they have oil. Also for Krugman's information: North Korea has not launched a full-scale invasion of any of its neighbors in the past forty-odd years. Iraq, however, has.
Your own experience seems to confirm that conclusion. Last summer you were caught enriching uranium, which violates the spirit of your 1994 agreement with the Clinton administration. But the Bush administration, though ready to invade Iraq at the slightest hint of a nuclear weapons program, tried to play down the story, and its response -- cutting off shipments of fuel oil -- was no more than a rap on the knuckles. In fact, even now the Bush administration hasn't done what its predecessor did in 1994: send troops to the region and prepare for a military confrontation.
Violates the "spirit" of the agreement? If Krugman were a lawyer, he'd never be able to prove anything.
And Krugman, after decrying the Bush administration's saber-rattling is now complaining that they aren't saber-rattling? Apparently logic is no longer part of the requirement for Times' columnists.
So here's how it probably looks from Pyongyang:
The Bush administration says you're evil. It won't offer you aid, even if you cancel your nuclear program, because that would be rewarding evil. It won't even promise not to attack you, because it believes it has a mission to destroy evil regimes, whether or not they actually pose any threat to the U.S. But for all its belligerence, the Bush administration seems willing to confront only regimes that are militarily weak.
Say what? We aren't offering North Korea aid because it's obvious to anyone who isn't named Paul Krugman, that they have no desire to cancel their nuclear program -- no matter what! What we've learned since the 1994 "agreement" is that we can't trust Kim Jong Il. Krugman's "even if" is meaningless.
Also Krugman doesn't understand that, compared to every other military on the face of the Earth, they're all "militarily weak." All of them. None can hold a candle to our military prowess. Could any other country do what we did in Afghanistan as quickly and with as few casualties? Even at the height of its power, the Soviet Union couldn't pull off in 10 years what we did in a few months in Afghanistan.
Krugman also doesn't listen to the news, because Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been saying for weeks that we can fight a two-front war, if that becomes necessary. Krugman's argument is based in a fantasyland that bears no resemblance to the real world.
Krugman assails Bush for preparing for war on Iraq, arguing that we must give diplomacy a chance, then turns around and assails Bush for pushing diplomacy in the case of North Korea when he should be preparing for war.
Krugman's lack of consistency (or at least a credible explanation for why he must be inconsistent) proves that the Times' golden boy is nothing more than a blindly partisan, intellectually vapid, attack machine.
Which will ensure he has a long career at Howell Raines' Times.
Thursday, January 02, 2003
Donna Brazille, economist: The DNC's Donna Brazille is on CNN right now and has said, without rebuttal from Bay Buchanon, that the Bush Tax cut has been "pushing the economy down."
Some economists have claimed that the tax cut hasn't helped the economic situation, and have basically said it has had no effect on the overall economy. But no one that I've heard of, including Paul Krugman has claimed that it has hurt the economy. In fact, in one of his most recent columns, Krugman actually said that the tax cut has helped the economy, albeit only slightly.
Ignorance or dishonesty on Brazille's part?
Wednesday, January 01, 2003
More about the poor, misguided military: The Wall Street Journal has an op-ed by Fox News anchor David Asman on his son, a U.S. Marine corporal.
Once again, more evidence that our military men and women aren't stupid -- and they know what they're getting into when they join up.
Rangel can put that in his pipe and smoke it.