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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

  • Q&O acknowledges how gracious France is to let people who work longer do something totally outrageous...earn more money. (Hillary, American Digest wants you to call your office.)
  • Dean might agree with at least part of my response to Michael Berg. It's the blogosphere that's telling the whole Iraq war story, not the mainstream media. And, according to Don Sensing, Iraq's new Prime Minister Iyad Allawi could very well agree, too.
  • The good guys are winning in the Middle East, and the bad guys are losing. Just ask the Junkyard Blog for a little history lesson.
  • Patterico points out that bloggers are now fact-checking (well, continuing to fact-check) the Washington Post. In fact it's one Australian blogger reading Iraqi bloggers that is finding this out. (Y'know, the more Drudge gets lambasted for not having an editor, and the more this kind of thing happens, the more it sounds like editors might be a dying breed.)
  • Pejman Yousefzadeh explains why the gloom-and-doom coming from Democrats on the economy just isn't resonating. (Hint: the economy's red hot.)
  • The WORLD Magazine blog asks; if Halliburton was supposed to profit from the Iraq war courtesy of Bush and company, how come they're losing money?

This might be in poor taste and insensitive, but I can't see letting this go. Nick Berg did indeed die a horrible death at the hands of some horrible people, and his family has a right to be left alone to grieve. But Michael Berg, Nick's father, has decided go public in a news conference and come out against Bush and the war with some preposterous charges. I find this fair game for a fisking; if he's going on the record, I don't see it as insensitive if I do too.
"People like George Bush and (US Defence Secretary) Donald Rumsfeld don't see the pain that people have to bear – they don't know what it feels like to have your guts ripped out," Michael Berg told a news conference.

While I don't think that Bush and Rumsfeld are entirely unaware of the personal consequences of war, I'll certainly give Mr. Berg the point about not knowing what it's like for him. Very, very few of us have had the experience he and his family have had in knowing the manner their son died, and having that death posted on the Internet for millions to see worldwide. This had to be gut-wrenching, absolutely no doubt about it.

But nothing Mr. Berg goes on to say follows from that. People who didn't agree with the war in Iraq don't know what it feels like to have your guts ripped out either, but that doesn't mean they're correct any more than it means that Bush and Rumsfeld are wrong. Having endured bitter anguish isn't a prerequisite for going to war.
"What I'm trying to do is show to the American people and the British people ... that war has a wretchedly horrible face," said Berg's father.

The implication is that, were it not for this news conference, we'd all be thinking that war has a 100% happy, beautiful face attached to it, which, of course, is patently false. From video of the missile strikes, to pictures of blown-up buildings, to pictures of burnt bodies in Fallujah, to "Abu Graib, Abu Graib, Abu Graib", the news media has been extremely helpful in showing us all the horrible face of war. The reality is that it's the liberation of a people, the opening of schools and hospitals, the public utilities that are at better-than-pre-war levels, all all the other good news that comes from the horrors of war that the media has given particularly short shrift to. Letters of good news from GI's get relegated to the blogosphere, and letters from Iraqi supporters thanking the US for their liberation must pay to get their thanks across to the American people. I'm sorry, Mr. Berg, but we do know that war is ugly and horrible. What you have experienced is particularly so, and thus you understand the cost of war better than most. But understand that we who believe that the removal of Saddam Hussein was a good thing do understand the costs in our own lesser ways.
Nick Berg, 26, travelled to Iraq several times looking for work in the reconstruction effort before going missing on April 9.

"He thought he was supporting the Iraqi people and the Bush administration by going over there, not with a gun but with his engineering tools," Michael Berg said.

And he was right, Mr. Berg. That's is the best description of what he was doing. Just like the Halliburton folks and other contractors trying to rebuild Iraq after a dictator, a war, and terrorists. And his death was incredibly honorable because he died in the service of people he had never met and would, in all likelihood, never see or deal with again. Yet he gave of himself. He died while serving the people of Iraq, and any thanks the Iraqis have for their liberation must be shared with him. Again, that was a good thing he was doing. His support of the aims of the Bush administration--liberation, rebuilding, securing--was not a mistake.
Bush and the American media have ignored the "true horrors" added Berg senior, who has blamed Bush and Rumsfeld for his son's death in previous interviews. He said he believed anti-war sentiment was now very strong in the United States.

"There are 11,000 plus Iraqi citizens that are dead and each one's family is as affected as I was, but the American media doesn't cover these people. It doesn't cover the people who are suffering the most."

Bush and Rumsfeld didn't send him to Iraq, sir. And why do you not have as much to say against those who actually killed him as you do against Bush and Rumsfeld, whom Iraqis are thanking for their actions?

And as I mentioned, the mainstream media has profusely covered the suffering.
"This is not a game that people in Washington get to play," Michael Berg said. "It affects people the way it's affected me and my family and the families of Paul Johnson, Kim Sun-il and the thousands of Iraqis."

"Observing someone's pain just makes you think just how can they (Bush and Blair) possibly do this. There isn't enough money in the world that could ever make this worthwhile."

Was the American War of Independence worthwhile? Far, far more people and families were affected. Do you wonder how the Founding Fathers could possibly have done that? You are correct that there isn't enough money to make it worthwhile, but freedom is priceless, and it is worth it.

You son, Mr. Berg, died in the cause of setting the Iraqi people free. Please don't diminish his death by diminishing the cause that he went there for. Honor him, as we do, even those of us who do understand that war, as horrible as it can be, is sometimes necessary.

Where do a Syrian journalist, a Syrian military intelligence officer, the US intelligence community, David Kay, a former analyst for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a former CIA Middle East analyst, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon all believe some of Saddam's WMDs are? Syria. Have you heard this in the mainstream media? If not, why not?

Good news watch:
Following the formal handover of sovereignty to Baghdad, 15 Iraqi and Iraqi-American groups have issued an open letter to the American people, thanking them for the sacrifices they endured to liberate their country.

The letter will be delivered to President Bush at the White House today and published in a full page ad in USA Today.

Yup, probably the only way that letter will get any recognition by the media; by buying space to print it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Who said this?
We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.

A. Karl Marx
B. Fidel Castro
C. Hillary Clinton

If you really have no idea, the answer is here.

So who decides what's the common good? Who decides how much they'll take? The answer, for the garden variety socialist, is "the government". A monolithic bureaucracy will make decisions on what's good for you, what you need and put a one-size-fits-all solution in place for hundreds of millions of people. Well, at least Hillary had the guts to say it out loud, but do you Democrats really want that kind of socialism?

Local to solutions to local problems is still the best bet.

Monday, June 28, 2004

The Smarter Cop has a great roundup of 25 (and I'm sure there are more) lies and exaggerations in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 "documentary". I thought only fictional movies could be loosely based on a true story?

What constituency, if it had voted in the 2000 presidential election, could have turned the tide for Al Gore to become President? What group, consisting of over 12 million, could have voted in that election but didn't? That group will grow to over 18 million this year. They won't be voting, but if they did they could have been the deciding factor, not just in the Bush/Kerry race, but a number of close state races. And why, when statistics show that they would be enough to push most of these elections to the Democrats, are Democrats themselves trying to "disenfranchise" these voters, making sure that they never vote in this or any future election?

Larry Eastland calls them the "Missing Voters". The trend has been called the "Roe Effect" by James Taranto. These missing voters are those who never got a chance to vote because they never got at life due to "Roe v. Wade"; aborted babies who, most likely, would have absorbed their parents' beliefs and values. Mr. Eastland puts it best when he concludes:
Liberal Democrats are having both more abortions--and more abortions as a percentage of their ideological and political group--than either of the other groupings.

As liberals and Democrats fervently seek new voters and supporters through events, fund-raisers, direct mail and every other form of communication available, they achieve results minuscule in comparison to the loss of voters they suffer from their own abortion policies. It is a grim irony lost on them, for which they will pay dearly in elections to come.

Of course it will be lost on them. For those who believe that it's a choice, not a life, the only result will be a disregard for that life, notwithstanding their protestations to the contrary. Obvious to us, but lost on them. It's a grim sort of social Darwinism at work, and it's a shame that it has to be paid with the price of innocent lives.

Take a week off, and miss a lot. Not only that, but my plan to wax eloquent on the transfer of power to Iraq in the two days prior to the turnover was sabotaged at the highest levels!

But frankly that's a Good Thing. It caught the terrorists flatfooted, mutes any charges of grandstanding against the Bush administration, and does the real conservative thing; give people their power/money/government back earlier than anticipated. I've already heard that Dan Rather suggested that the early turnover was due to the unimagined terror incidents that had been increasing, but c'mon now; if even I predicted an increase in violence in the days & week prior to the turn over (here and here) 2 months ago, do you really believe this sort of desperation was unexpected?

Brilliant move by Bush. Bremer's already left the building. Happy birthday, Iraq!

Friday, June 18, 2004

I'll be in a wedding in a week, and the whole family's going to be in town (both sides) during that time, so blogging's going to take a bit of a back seat. I may still get in some posts, especially if the news warrants it. Enjoy!

Same-sex marriage advocates prove, by their actions, that they don't intend the issue to be a "states' rights" issue at all. They want a federal mandate, or a reasonable facsimile.
The long-anticipated legal battle to extend gay marriage to couples who live beyond Massachusetts borders begins today, as two suits challenging a law barring those couples from marriage are filed in Suffolk Superior Court

Yesterday, in the same hotel ballroom where seven other plaintiff couples gathered to celebrate the November Supreme Judicial Court ruling granting them the right to marry, a new group of same-sex couples stood on the stage. All eight plaintiff couples in the new case are from out of state. Some were granted licenses and married in Massachusetts. Others were refused license applications because they are not residents of the state and would not swear an oath that they intend to reside here.

Governor Mitt Romney and Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly say a 1913 law forbids same-sex couples from other states from marrying here. The marriages of same-sex couples granted marriage licenses in defiance of their orders will not be recorded by the state, Romney has said.

This has never been in dispute (outside of those same advocates denying it). That is why there must be a federal answer to this. They are choosing the battlefield, and then they complain that they're being met on that very battlefield.

The 9/11 Commission, as most folks know by now, said that it found "no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States." But just because they may have not been actively cooperating, does that mean there was not any "link" (as the subhead states in that article) at all?

There were plenty of links, going back some 10 years. They were helping each other out, even if Hussein had no direct involvement in 9/11. As Cox & Forkum suggest, it's as if the commission (and the media) expect to find a signed contract between bin Laden and Hussein and video of a press conference announcing cooperation before they'll even consider there to be something as tenuous as a "link" between the two. C'mon folks, welcome to the 21st century.

UPDATE: The Media Research Center is calling the major networks on this.
The Republican Chairman and Democratic Vice Chairman of the 9-11 Commission on Thursday rejected the media’s widespread reporting that the commission’s report issued the day before had directly contradicted Bush administration statements about connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Yet on Thursday night ABC’s Peter Jennings declared that there “continues to be a discrepancy between the commission’s findings and the President’s on whether al-Qaeda has a link to Saddam Hussein,” and CBS anchor Dan Rather repeated how “the commission yesterday said it had found no credible evidence of a quote, 'collaborative relationship’ between al-Qaeda and Iraq -- no plotting together against the United States,” but, he added in treating President Bush as out of step, without mentioning how Kean and Hamilton had corrected CBS’s mis-reporting, “President Bush insisted again today that there was a quote 'relationship’ of some kind and defended his position.”

NBC’s Tom Brokaw took a similar tack, repeating how the commission had found “that there was no 'collaborative relationship’ between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.” But, Brokaw lectured, “despite that conclusion, President Bush insisted there was a relationship between the two.” NBC buried what should have been its lead. At the very end of his report, almost as an afterthought, David Gregory informed viewers of how “Lee Hamilton said today that he does not see much different between administration statements and the commission’s report.”

And, as is typical, Fox News Channel gives the "fair and balanced" take on it all, reporting what the broadcast networks refuse to.
FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume, but hosted by Jim Angle, on Thursday night played these clips of Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton made at an early afternoon press conference:

Kean: “Were there contacts between al-Qaeda and Iraq? Yes. Some of them are shadowy, but there’s no question they were there.”

Hamilton, two soundbites: “I must say I have trouble understanding the flap over this. The Vice President is saying, I think, that there were connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government. We don't disagree with that.”
“So it seems to me that the sharp differences that the press has drawn, the media has drawn, are not that apparent to me.”

Thus Hamilton undermined the premise of two days of the media line on how the report supposedly undermined Bush and Cheney.

Oh, that liberal media.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

JunkYardBlog is putting forth an action item to "Fight the Lie" that Bush supposedly lied about WMDs to get us into Iraq. He suggests doing a Google search for "Clinton Iraq 1998" (linked for your convenience) and keeping track of how many people in that administration also said that Iraq had WMDs. Were they all lying, too? Make a bookmark out of that search, and call it up when folks try to spread the lie.

But JYB adds another thing that I didn't know about. Add "ohio state" to that search and you'll see where the Clinton foreign policy team was out in full force trying to drum up support for...a war in Iraq!

Fight the Lie.

Good News Watch:

NEW YORK (AP) - A closely watched gauge of future economic activity rose a stronger-than-expected 0.5 percent in May, suggesting that the U.S. economy will continue sturdy expansion through the summer.

The Conference Board said Thursday its Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators increased to 116.5 last month following rises of 0.1 percent in April and 0.8 percent in March.

Analysts had been expecting an increase of 0.4 percent in May.

Ken Goldstein, economist for the Conference Board, noted that the index has risen in 13 of the last 14 months. The latest numbers, he added, "reflect a robust economic environment this spring and point to more of the same this summer."

It's growing so fast, Goldstein said, that the Fed may have to raise interest rates to hold down price increases and "cool the economy". It's red hot! Listen closely to your mainstream media source to hear all about it.

(But hold not thy breath.)

Oh fer goodness sake.
GENEVA - A U.S.-based company has been warned by a United Nations expert not to sell bulldozers to Israel because of the way the Israeli army is using them.

Jean Ziegler, the UN's special expert on the right to food, sent a letter to Caterpillar Inc. saying that the company could be considered an accomplice in human rights violations.

The letter to Caterpillar chief executive James Owen expressed Ziegler's concerns "about the actions of the Israeli occupation forces in Rafah and in other locations in Gaza and the West Bank."

<satire>In a related story, the UN has threatened US farmers with considering them accomplices in human rights violations if their food is used to feed the Israeli army.</satire>

Sorry, Nancy, but the Gipper wouldn't have approved.
While Nancy Reagan is urging the Bush administration to reverse its opposition to federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, a document has surfaced indicating President Reagan would not have supported his wife's campaign.
The order was to "continue and broaden the [1988] moratorium on NIH [National Institute of Health] grants for certain types of fetal experimentation," according to Charles Colson, the former Nixon aide who now leads a Christian ministry, Prison Fellowship.

Colson, in his daily radio commentary, said he received the document from William Clark, Reagan's national security adviser and close personal friend.

"Reagan took a clear stand against research that would harm or destroy 'any living child in utero,' in all stages of development in which scientists were then able to experiment on them," Colson said.

Clark insists Reagan clearly was opposed to funding embryo research.

Writing recently in the New York Times, he said, "After the charter expired for the Departments of Health, Education and Welfare’s ethical advisory board – which in the 1970s supported destructive research on human embryos – [Reagan] began a de facto ban on federal financing of embryo research that he held to throughout his presidency."

The presidential adviser also noted Reagan, in his 1993 speech known for it's "evil empire" reference, "spoke strongly against the denegration of innocent human life."

"And [Reagan] favored bills in Congress that would have given every human being – at all stages of development – protection as a person under the 14th Amendment," Clark said.

Reagan also favored a Human Life Amendment defining life as beginning at conception.

So on point after point, Bush and Reagan would have solidly agreed on these issues. And bloggers like this and that, and the others that seem to think there's some kind of conflict in values here need to re-learn what Ronald Reagan himself really believed.

And Bronson's got it right. "I could be wrong, but from what I've seen, I do not believe that President Reagan would have wanted Nancy or his children to advocate for killing embryos just because it would benefit him personally."

Clark puts some words in Reagan's mouth, but I think they're perfectly fitting coming from a conservative like him:
In addition, Clark notes, Reagan "would have asked the marketplace question: If human embryonic research is so clearly promising as the researchers assert, why aren't private investors putting [their] money into it, as they are in adult stem-cell research?"

Consider that.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The first newspaper to endorse John Kerry for President was the Philadelphia News, and Hugh Hewitt interviewed Frank Burgos, the editorial page editor to ask him about that endorsement. He had quite a difficult time defending his points, and I took note of the dancing he did when Hugh asked him about the jobs that were created in the first quarter. The first part of this clip is the section of the segment where he tried to defend it when Hugh asks him how many of those new jobs are "good" jobs, even by Frank's standards. Basically, he couldn't answer, he couldn't defend his editorial assertion. He finally said that we have to ask the American people what they think about the jobs. The second part of the clip is where I called and answered that question, and it's not what Mr. Burgos was hoping. In fact, the editorial seems more of a description of what Mr. Burgos wishes were the case (i.e. conditions that would hurt Bush, regardless of the Democratic nominee).

"Considerettes Radio" on The Hugh Hewitt Show (WGKA, Atlanta, GA) 6/16/2004 7:05pm EST (554K)

I don't do much linking for linking's sake; I usually have something to add or comment on. However, there have been a number of times when I just felt like a "Me, too" was in order, and so that's when I'll do some general linkage. Enjoy!
  • Jane Galt takes Matthew Yglesias' reason for considering the estate tax a Good Thing and turns it on its ear.
  • Backcountry Conservative asks, after Coke's new low(er) carb C2 soda, what's next? I'm holding out hope for low carb Snickers bars (and not just low carb because they're microscopic, either). (By the way, I've kept off the 25-30 pounds I lost on Atkins)
  • Spoons has found the WMDs from Iraq. Why hasn't the press?
  • Right Wing News deconstructs (again) the canard that Republicans questions Max Cleland's patriotism. This time the tired argument comes out of the mouth of Teresa Heinz-Kerry, and Hawkins bats it down again. And Pietro at the Smarter Cop comes at this from another angle; THK says she was a Republican until that (supposedly) happened. But was she really ever a Republican?

John Kerry finally decided to tell us why he wants to be President.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (Reuters) - Armed with a five-word refrain, Democrat John Kerry on Tuesday fought back against the perception that many voters don't know what he stands for or why he is challenging President Bush.

"I'm running for president because ...." the White House hopeful, longtime senator from Massachusetts and decorated Vietnam War veteran explained again and again during a campaign swing through New Jersey and Ohio.

Although Kerry leads Bush in some opinion polls and has raised more money than the Republican president in the past couple of months, some critics say he has fallen short when it comes to clearly articulating why he wants the job and what he would do with it.

OK, let's find out what he wants.
"I'm running for president because I want an economy that strengthens and expands the middle class, not one that squeezes it."

Yeah, we're really squeezed, which is why consumer confidence took a nice climb last month, and all the economic news keeps getting better. (Although if he's getting his economic news from the mainstream media, his confusion is understandable.)
"I'm running for president because we have to put the country back in a place of responsible leadership."

Translation: Cede all our responsibility to the U.N., which ran that "responsible" Oil-for-Food program. If we'd done that, Hussein would be adding to his 300,000+ deaths today. I guess that's the "responsible" thing?
"I'm running for president because health care is not a benefit for the wealthy or the elected or the connected."

And he's running so they will get health care, eh? Actually, what he really means is that health care is a benefit for others that you should pay for.
"I'm running for president because I know that we could be a hell of a lot stronger in the world if we were to secure our freedom."

Heaven knows, capturing Saddam Hussein and dealing serious blows to al Qaeda has certainly done nothing to stem terrorism in the U.S. The last attack was as recent, more than 2 years ago.

Or is he saying that securing our freedom from oppressive taxes, excessive government meddling and being given the freedom to make our own mistakes will make us stronger in the world. First of all, it's our freedom that these Islamic terrorists hate, so that won't help. And secondly, those idea sound oddly conservative for such a left-winger as Kerry, so he can't mean that either.

(What does he mean?)
"I'm running for president because I believe we can build an even more effective military."

Even better than the one that ran through Iraq like a hot knife through quagmire? Just asking.
"I'm running for president because I believe that our government should live by those values [hard work, service and caring for one another], too."

Translation: You should give the government more of the money you've made through your hard work, service and caring for one another because government knows better what to do with it than you do.

Well, I'm glad he cleared that up. Or not.

JunkYardBlog has had it up to here with folks who continue repeating the canard that Bush lied to get us into the war, and has called Eric Alterman on it.
You keep referring to the "lies" the Bush administration told to get us into the Iraq war, yet you consistently fail to offer any historical perspective. If Bush lied about WMDs, then so did every single member of the Clinton administration that had any foreign policy responsibility. In 1998, 1999 and 2000, Clinton, Gore, Berger, Albright, Cohen--all of them--cited Saddam's pursuit and possession of WMDs as pretext to bombing Iraq. Sens. Kerry, Kennedy, Biden, and many other prominent Democrats also went on the record as favoring a tough line against Saddam because of his pursuit and possession of WMDs and his connections to terrorists. They all favored making regime change in Iraq national policy. As late as 2002, Gore delivered a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations in which he cited Saddam's regime as a special case for both its pursuit and possession of WMDs and its connection to terrorists as reasons to oust him. In fact, at that time Mr. Gore was one of the leading voices in favor of war with Iraq.

As a member of the press I have to assume you know all of this, and are either lying when you accuse Bush of lying or are simply shading the truth to suit your prejudices. Or perhaps you just don't know what you're talking about. Either way, you're not an honest broker of the facts.

It'll be interesting to see if Alterman notices. Hold not thy breath.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

For those who think we should get our troops out of Iraq at the first possible moment, consider this:
Iran reportedly is readying troops to move into Iraq if U.S. troops pull out, leaving a security vacuum.

The Saudi daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat, monitored in Beirut, reports Iran has massed four battalions at the border.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat quoted "reliable Iraqi sources" as saying, "Iran moved part of its regular military forces towards the Iraqi border in the southern sector at a time its military intelligence agents were operating inside Iraqi territory."

Until Iraq is ready to defend itself, it would be foolish to leave. But of course, the antiwar folks won't take that into consideration.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Right Wing News asked a bunch of bloggers who their favorite fictional characters were, and I was honored that he asked me. The full list is here, and here's the list I sent in. (Links for characters that don't appear on the RWN list.)

  • Larry the Cucumber from the video series "Veggie Tales"
    A lovable guy that, while a little slow at times, is the one that ultimately "gets it". (And what other cucumber do you know that looks as good in Spandex?)
  • Sam Gamgee from "The Lord of the Rings"
    Sam was my favorite character. He had to both press on, as Frodo did, but also had to keep his own spirits up as well as Frodo's. He didn't have the heaviness of the Ring to weigh him down, but he pretty much ran interference for every other pressure that might have hit Frodo. A true friend.
  • District Attorney Arthur Branch from the TV show "Law & Order"
    Former Senator Fred Thompson plays a character that, I think, isn't that much of a stretch for him, in terms of political views. However, the character has some great ways to get his point across, typically in ways that are tough to counter.
  • Sherlock Holmes
    Always had a fascination with him, but after I got married my wife and I read through a complete volume of all the Holmes stories, which cemented my appreciation of the character.
  • Dr. Who from the British science fiction series of the same name
    Especially the John Pertwee and Tom Baker incarnations.
  • Phillipe Gaston from the movie "Ladyhawke"
    The movie's pretty good, the music's excellent, and Matthew Broderick gets some really great lines.
  • Mr. Bean as played by Rowan Atkinson
    If my family's any indicator, you either love him or you hate him. I place myself in the former camp, really enjoying a character that is sometimes childlike, sometimes extremely clever, and always hilarious.
  • Benjamin Martin from the movie "The Patriot"
    A many willing to do what it takes to defend his family and his country.
  • Col. Jack O'Neill from the TV series "Stargate SG-1"
    He may not be the brightest bulb on the SG-1 team (for him to use the word "quark" in a sentence, properly, would truly amaze Maj. Carter), but when the hard decisions have to be made, he is decisive.
  • P. D. Q. Bach, the (hilarious) classical composer invented by Prof. Peter Schiekele
    I was introduced to this "composer" in high school (by a "Literature & the Arts" professor with a sense of humor), and enjoyed him ever since.
  • Elwin Ransom, main character in the science fiction trilogy by C. S. Lewis ("Out of the Silent Planet", "Perelandra", "That Hideous Strength")
    "C. S. Lewis" and "science fiction" in the same sentence? You betcha, and Elwin Ransom, the main character, learns to understand himself, his purpose, and the meaning of his existence, while we learn about it for ourselves.
  • Inspector Jacques Clouseau from the "Pink Panther" movie series
    "Is that your minkey?"
  • Col. Robert Hogan from the TV show "Hogan's Heroes"
    How did they get a microphone in Klink's office? Anyway, when I was a kid I used to imagine myself being a part of the crew.
  • Rick Marshall from the original "Land of the Lost" Saturday morning TV show
    OK, the acting may have been a bit hokey, but the stories were generally good science fiction. So imagine being a father with your two kids, and trying to hold things together in a land of dinosaurs (and no change of clothes). I think this guy deserves a lot of credit.
  • The Genie from Disney's "Aladdin"
    Not just a guy who makes wishes come true, but becomes Aladdin's surrogate conscience at times.
  • One vote each for Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Linus van Pelt from the "Peanuts" comic strip
    I really identified with Charlie Brown growing up. I had an imagination a lot like Snoopy's. I thought that Linus was the great wise man of the bunch and enjoyed his advice (The Great Pumpkin notwithstanding).
  • Inigo Montoya from the movie "The Princess Bride"
    Best character in the whole movie, in my humble opinion.
  • Willy Wonka from the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"
    Some might see him as cruel sometimes, but I think he knows human nature and, in searching for his successor, needed to weed out the bad apples. In society today, there's apparently no such thing as bad apples, but Wonka didn't have to worry (or didn't care about) being politically correct; he made value judgements when they needed to be made, and brought out the best in Charlie.
  • Harry Tasker from the movie "True Lies"
    Schwarzenegger has done a number of movies where he's one sort of family man or another, but I like him best in this role (not to mention it being incredibly funny).
  • Peter Parker from "Spiderman" (more so from the movie than from the comic)
    Another awkward teenage kid I could identify with.
  • The Grinch from the book/movie "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
    The 1966 Boris Karloff version is the classic. Jim Carrey's version definitely has it's moments, but the original is still the best. The Grinch is a guy willing to rethink his well-entrenched ideas when confronted with his error.
  • Dr. Phlox from the TV series "Enterprise"
    I like this guy's attitude, even in the worst of circumstances. He can be serious, if the situation warrants it, but his joviality is often what is really needed rather than medication or a blood worm.
  • Vir Cotto, aide to Ambassador Londo Mollari from the TV show "Babylon 5"
    He started out as comic relief, but Vir became Ambassador Mollari's conscience and saving grace a few times. During the 5 year run of "Babylon 5", he did some serious growing up himself.
  • Indiana Jones from the "Indiana Jones" movies series
    Who wouldn't want to join him on one of his adventures?

I considered putting Atrus from the "Myst" series of games in here, possibly leaving out Rick Marshall, but Atrus did have some family issues (sons, father) and seems kind of naive at times. Nonetheless, he has a good heart.

That was an interesting poll to take, and got me thinking hard about what I've read or watched in the past. Most of my choices didn't show up on the list (but then, my wife figured that would be the case >grin<), but it was fun to participate.

Friday, June 11, 2004

I'm going to end this week of "Reagan blogging" with a quote from his farewell address, January 11, 1989, that I think describes best what Ronald Reagan did for the United States and the world.
Well, back in 1980, when I was running for president, it was all so different. Some pundits said our programs would result in catastrophe. Our views on foreign affairs would cause war. Our plans for the economy would cause inflation to soar and bring about economic collapse. I even remember one highly respected economist saying, back in 1982, that "the engines of economic growth have shut down here, and they're likely to stay that way for years to come." Well, he and the other opinion leaders were wrong. The fact is, what they called "radical" was really "right." What they called "dangerous" was just "desperately needed."

And in all of that time I won a nickname, "The Great Communicator." But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: It was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation — from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I'll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense.

Godspeed, Gipper.

Gorbachev on who won or lost the Cold War:
But if he had warm, appreciative words for Reagan, Gorbachev brusquely dismissed the suggestion that Reagan had intimidated either him or the Soviet Union, or forced them to make concessions. Was it accurate to say that Reagan won the Cold War? "That's not serious," Gorbachev said, using the same words several times. "I think we all lost the Cold War, particularly the Soviet Union. We each lost $10 trillion," he said, referring to the money Russians and Americans spent on an arms race that lasted more than four decades. "We only won when the Cold War ended."

By that logic, we all lost World War II, until it ended. Sorry, I don't see it that way. The cost of lives in World War II was worth it to beat back tyranny, and it was worth it every step of the way. In a cause that is right, every right step taken is a little "win" that can lead to the final, big "win". And in in winning World War II, we lost far, far more human life than we did in the Cold War. Yeah, it was a lot of money, but it was mostly just money we lost. Each step towards the defeat of the Soviet Union was one of many little "wins".

But here's a guy who believes this as well, a gentleman who was a part of many of those little "wins" that brought down the Soviet Unions; a gentleman named Lech Walesa.
Poles fought for their freedom for so many years that they hold in special esteem those who backed them in their struggle. Support was the test of friendship. President Reagan was such a friend. His policy of aiding democratic movements in Central and Eastern Europe in the dark days of the Cold War meant a lot to us. We knew he believed in a few simple principles such as human rights, democracy and civil society. He was someone who was convinced that the citizen is not for the state, but vice-versa, and that freedom is an innate right.


In the Europe of the 1980s, Ronald Reagan presented a vision. For us in Central and Eastern Europe, that meant freedom from the Soviets. Mr. Reagan was no ostrich who hoped that problems might just go away. He thought that problems are there to be faced. This is exactly what he did.


I have often been asked in the United States to sign the poster that many Americans consider very significant. Prepared for the first almost-free parliamentary elections in Poland in 1989, the poster shows Gary Cooper as the lonely sheriff in the American Western, "High Noon." Under the headline "At High Noon" runs the red Solidarity banner and the date--June 4, 1989--of the poll. It was a simple but effective gimmick that, at the time, was misunderstood by the Communists. They, in fact, tried to ridicule the freedom movement in Poland as an invention of the "Wild" West, especially the U.S.

But the poster had the opposite impact: Cowboys in Western clothes had become a powerful symbol for Poles. Cowboys fight for justice, fight against evil, and fight for freedom, both physical and spiritual. Solidarity trounced the Communists in that election, paving the way for a democratic government in Poland. It is always so touching when people bring this poster up to me to autograph it. They have cherished it for so many years and it has become the emblem of the battle that we all fought together.

Was that election a "loss" because the Cold War hadn't ended yet? No, not in the slightest. Of the many "wins" along the way, that was one of the bigger ones that helped seal the big "win". Reducing the Cold War by simply bemoaning the spending of money is, to an extreme, glossing over the real issues of freedom vs. oppression. But, of course, that's the only way Gorbachev can possibly put the U.S. and the Soviet Union on any sort of moral equivalence; they both spent a lot of money. The left tries to do this all the time; drawing moral equivalences between Israel attacking Palestinian military targets and Palestinians blowing up civilian buses, or between the tragic civilian casualties of the Iraq war with the overwhelming evil of Saddam's hundreds of thousands dead and tortured. There was no moral equivalence between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, between freedom and oppression, nor between, as Walesa notes in his article, the cowboy and Communism.

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this rhetoric!

Thursday, June 10, 2004

My brother lives in Russia and my dad has asked him what the Russians thought of Reagan. He talked with one of his co-workers, and this is what he sent back. (Names expunged for privacy reasons.)
I spoke with one person named ***. He's Georgian. I asked him, point blank, what did you think of Reagan.

He responded that Russians really liked Reagan for two main reasons 1) He was funny (you have to hear that comment in the light of the personality of former Soviet leaders) and 2) Reagan respected Russia.

I could see the first reason but I had to probe about the second. How could the "evil-empire" man be someone whom Russians perceived as respecting Russia? The "Mr.-Gorbachev,-tear-down-this-wall" guy still was understood as a man who treated Russia with dignity. While his limited English prevented him from articulating this in depth, [he] only emphasized it.

Even with all my years here, I was not ready for that answer and am still, this morning, trying to make sense of it. Did they see him as a tough-love president (the way a teenager sees his parents later on)? I'm not sure. But something about President Reagan connected with Russians. Did they see him as their only hope? Certainly they did NOT see him as an enemy.

The frustrated Reagan who walked away from the talks in Iceland then came home and made a scathing address to the people about the continuing world-domination intentions of the Soviet Empire, "respected Russia".

Can anyone make sense of this?

Now, this was just one guy in a big country, but I think I could explain this attitude in any Russian. Reagan made a clear distinction between his disdain for communism and his love for the people that were being oppressed by it. He didn't ask the Russian people to "tear down this wall", he asked the Russian government in general, and Gorbachev specifically. And for what reason? Not for our benefit, but for the benefit of the people living under communism.

And I have a feeling that the Russian people weren't entirely fooled by the lies told to them by their government. In that way, they could see that Reagan had their best interests in mind, and respected him for it. Again, this is one guy in a country with opinions that run the gamut, but I think you will find a good number of them who did respect Reagan, and all the more so when, due in large part to his actions, the wall came tumbling down.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

With all the napalm that anti-Reagan pundits have been dropping during this time of mourning, I thought it might be interesting if I could draw parallels between Reagan and some other president that these folks would presumably love and respect. On today's "Considerettes Radio", I explained to Hugh Hewitt 3 ways Reagan and JFK were similar, and in major ways, no less. Blindly hating Reagan and not giving him credit for things that, no doubt, they'd give credit to JFK for can only be explained by pure partisanship and a lack of intellectual honesty.

"Considerettes Radio" on The Hugh Hewitt Show (WGKA, Atlanta, GA) 6/9/2004 7:05pm EST (253K)

Yet another example of appreciation for Reagan that American liberals probably wouldn't understand:
The main opposition party in Germany wants Berlin to name a street or square after the president who stood up to the Soviet Union when the city was divided, calling on Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."


"We should recognize his commitment to unification through a square or street near the Brandenburg Gate to be named after him," Christian Democrat General Secretary Laurenz Meyer told the German daily Bild Zeitung.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Dinesh D'Souza in the NY Post puts the lie to ... well, just about every revisionist historian and pundit trying to deconstruct Reagan. An example:
WRITING on Ronald Reagan's achievements in Newsweek, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. notes, "Reagan's admirers contend that his costly re-armament program caused the Soviet collapse. Maybe so; but surely the thing that did in the Russians was that time had proved communism an economic, political and moral disaster."

Funny: Here's Schlesinger in 1982, observing that "Those in the United States who think the Soviet Union is on the verge of economic and social collapse" are "wishful thinkers who are only kidding themselves."

Many historians and pundits have refused to credit Ronald Reagan's policies for helping to bring about the Cold War victory, blaming communism's chronic economic problems. Yet, like Scheslinger, they failed to describe it as inevitable while Reagan was actually in office.

There's more. Lots more. D'Souza brings the point home that I mentioned before; the fall of the Soviet Union wasn't just a chance occurrence that happened on Reagan's watch.
These were not just results Reagan predicted. He intended the outcome. He implemented policies that were aimed at producing it. He was denounced for those policies. Still, in the end his objective was achieved.

Remember both these things--that the pundits were not predicting the fall of the Soviet Union, and Reagan was working toward that very goal--when you hear and read those who pretend otherwise.

People in line waiting to view Reagan's casket show how broad his appeal was.
Though brief, the time in the library was enough for Scotia Alves, 51, of Camarillo, who said she and her husband started a car stereo company in their garage at the beginning of Reagan's presidency.

"Reaganomics was good for business. ... I felt gratitude to him," she said.

Charles Shelton, 38, a Los Angeles lawyer, was struck by the range of people.

"It's a testament, how broad his appeal was," said Shelton, who voted for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in 2000 and plans to vote for Democrat John Kerry but called himself a "Reagan Republican."

"He's a different type of Republican ...," Shelton said. "He was tough, yet graceful."

Salvador Ayala, 74, came from Simi Valley with three other veterans.

"He won the Cold War without firing a shot. He was the greatest president that we ever had, and I'm a Democrat," said Ayala, who served in the Korean War.

I think this is proof that, deep down, most Americans are, in fact, conservative. While some eschew labels and others have individual issues in which they lean or swing left, I think generally the common sense of most folks stands pretty well conservative. Yeah, you still have your socialists out there, but Reagan's dual landslides prove my point more than the socialists disprove it.

John Fund, in making his case for how Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II were the team that took down the Soviet Union, has this intriguing story of how well our spy networks were operating in the 80s.
A new book by former Air Force secretary Thomas Reed reveals that the Reagan administration allowed a Soviet agent to steal gas-pipeline software that had been secretly designed to go haywire on a catastrophic scale. The ruse led to a June 1982 explosion in the Siberian wilderness that Mr. Reed says was "the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space." It crippled the Soviet's secret techno-piracy operation because they could longer be sure if what they were buying or stealing was similarly booby-trapped. They had reason to worry: Contrived computer chips found their way into Soviet military equipment, flawed turbines were installed on a gas pipeline, and defective plans disrupted chemical plants and tractor factories.

I've been reading a number of anti-Reagan articles this week, many of which talk about how he spent us into the cellar. While it's true that the Congress didn't restrict spending when they saw more money coming in due to the tax cuts, there was a method to the (assumed) madness of the military spending under Reagan.
That strategy rested on six pillars: support internal disruption in Soviet satellites, especially Poland; dry up sources of hard currency; overload the Soviet economy with a technology-based arms race; slow the flow of Western technology to Moscow; raise the cost of the wars it was fighting; and demoralize the Soviets by generating pressure for change.

The arms race was calculated to destroy the Soviet economy. We've survived. They didn't. And some still say that Reagan was just lucky. Not so.

Greg Palast, on Reagan's invasion of Grenada:
That little Club Med war was a murderous PR stunt so Ronnie could hold parades for gunning down Cubans building an airport.

But those nations in the region have a different perspective:
Sir John Compton, 78, was prime minister of St. Lucia during Reagan's years in the White House. He praised Reagan's decision to send U.S. troops to invade Grenada in 1983 following a bloody coup.

"Had Reagan not acted then, the history of the Caribbean would have been much different from what it is today," Compton said.

He said apart from President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s, Reagan was the only other American president who demonstrated "a genuine interest" in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Compton said Reagan's administration effectively countered Cuban-style socialism through aid programs and initiatives to increase trade. "We have to be grateful for a number of things, both politically and economically, which he did for this region," he said.

The island of Grenada became a point of contention in the Cold War after Maurice Bishop led a bloodless coup and installed a Marxist government in 1979 - five years after independence from Britain. In October 1983, a radical faction of the government staged a coup, and on Oct. 19 a firing squad killed Bishop and 10 of his supporters.

Six days later, Reagan defied U.N. and British criticism and ordered the invasion. Compton was among Caribbean leaders who urged Reagan to send in troops.

Reagan said the purpose of the intervention was to restore order and protect American interests, particularly the lives of hundreds of American medical students.

Reagan also ordered the invasion because his administration suspected Grenada's airport was going to become a joint Cuban-Soviet base. Cuba insisted it was helping build the airport for civilian uses only.

Who do you believe; a vitriolic columnist (who titles his article "KILLER, COWARD, CON-MAN; GOOD RIDDANCE, GIPPER ...") and a dictator, or somebody who saw communism on his doorstep and asked for help?
In Grenada on Sunday, about 2,000 people at a political rally bowed their heads as they observed a moment of silence for Reagan.

And don't forget a grateful people, too.

"Finally, the leader of the free world had spoken the truth – a truth that burned inside the heart of each and every one of us."

But a truth that the liberal elites could never understand, because it involved a moral clarity they don't posses. That quote is from Natan Sharansky, who was a Soviet prisoner in an 8 x 10 foot cell in Siberia in 1983. He's speaking of the time he heard about Reagan's "Evil Empire" speech.
"We dissidents were ecstatic," Sharansky wrote in a column for the Jerusalem Post.


Sharansky recalled, at the time, he could not have imagined he would be in the White House three years later telling his story to the president.

The Israeli leader said he was aware there had been much criticism of Reagan's decision to cast the struggle between the superpowers as a battle between good and evil.

"Well, Reagan was right and his critics were wrong," Sharansky said.

And, when it comes to good and evil, they still are.

Monday, June 07, 2004

In her inimitable fashion, Peggy Noonan gets behind the scenes, the quick takes, and the cursory looks at Ronald Reagan. She gets to how he became the man he was.

The Smarter Cop has a good analysis about those who would smear Reagan's accomplishments with outright falsehoods, or attempt to draw moral equivalences where they don't exist.

And even with all those columnists and bloggers that just don't have enough bad to say about him, and don't feel they can give credit where credit is due, there's this:
Former Soviet republics and other ex-East Bloc nations remembered Reagan as the American president who stared down Moscow and won, clearing the way for their independence and the 1991 Soviet collapse.

"President Ronald Reagan will be remembered in the hearts of all Latvians as a fighter for freedom, liberty and justice worldwide," Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga said.

The liberal elites and the Reagan-haters could never understand him, and still can't. But the people he liberated from Communism, numbering in the hundreds of millions, are a testament to his legacy. They understood him and give him credit in having a big hand in freeing them.

In don't think it's was by chance, as some say, that Communism fell on his watch. Being the first President to actively try to defeat, rather than contain, the Soviet Union, to call it "lucky" is to ignore the things he did that forced the Soviets to deal on his terms. Hey, the man walked out of the Reykjavik talks, fer goodness sake, in spite of the naysayers and handwringers (who were, as usual, wrong).

George Will on the Reagan Legacy:
Ronald Reagan, unlike all but 10 or so Presidents, was a world figure whose career will interest historians for centuries, and centuries hence his greatness will be, and should be, measured primarily by what happened in Europe, as a glorious echo of his presidency, in the three years after he left the White House. What happened was the largest peaceful revolution in history, resulting in history's largest emancipation of people from tyranny—a tyranny that had deadened life for hundreds of millions of people from the middle of Germany to the easternmost of Russia's 11 time zones.

However, Reagan will also be remembered for his restoration of American confidence that resulted in a quickening tempo of domestic life. During his first term, the most remarkable run of wealth creation in the history of this or any other nation began.

Continue reading to find out how Will believes that Reagan paved the way for the economic boom that continued through the 90s, and how firing the striking air traffic controllers set the stage for his showdown with the Soviet Union. He ends with this:
So as memories of the Cold War fade, Reagan is remembered more for the tax cutting and deregulating that helped, with the information technologies, to shift the economy into a hitherto unknown overdrive. But the truth is that Reagan always thought that winning the Cold War and revving up the American model of wealth creation were parts of the same project. That project was to convince the watching world that the American social and political model—pluralism, the rule of law, allocation of wealth and opportunity mostly by markets and maximum diffusion of decision making—is unrivaled. To the extent that anything in history can ever be said to be completed, that project has been.

Reagan always believed that the world was watching America. Indeed, he thought the point of America was to be watched—to be exemplary. Hence the complete sincerity of his reiterated references to the City on the Hill. And when the democratic revolution against communism came, Tiananmen Square in Beijing and Wenceslas Square in Prague and points in between rang with the rhetoric of America's third and 16th presidents. The 40th president was not surprised.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

With all the remembrances that will come due to the death of Ronald Reagan, I hope the true Reagan Legacy will be brought more to the forefront.
  • The ultimate discrediting and virtual destruction of communism, winning the Cold War.
  • Proof (again, since the JFK lesson had been forgotten) that lowering taxes can indeed increase revenues.

Those are, I think, the top 2 things he accomplished, and in spite of all the things the liberals tried to smear him with, he won a second term in a 49-states-to-1 landslide and left office with the highest popularity rating in the history of modern opinion polls. Pejman Yousefzadeh has an amazing in-depth look at Reagan's legacy; the "amiable dunce" who didn't care what others thought about him and just did the right thing (ask all those who got out from under the communist boot in Europe due to Reagan's belief that the Cold War could be won).

Reagan was the first president I voted for, and I never regretted it. The optimism he brought with him to the Oval Office and that he spread to the country is summed up in this:
"When the Lord calls me home ... I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future," he wrote on Nov. 5, 1994. "I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead."

Fittingly, he lived longer than any U.S. president. Goodbye, Gipper.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Via Instapundit, this Centcom news release:
MOSUL, Iraq - Coalition soldiers questioned two news media cameramen and a reporter after a roadside bomb exploded near a Coalition convoy two kilometers north of Mosul June 3.

The media, who were at the scene prior to the attack, told soldiers at the scene they had received a tip to be at that location prior to the attack and they had witnessed the explosion.

There was minimal damage to a Coalition vehicle, a cracked windshield, and no serious injuries.

3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division soldiers requested the media accompany them to a base camp in Mosul to answer questions as witnesses to the incident. The news media representatives left the base camp in the mid afternoon.

This isn't just a case of the "I'm a journalist first, and an American second" syndrome (besides, we don't know their nationality); it's worse than that. These folks are relegating being a "human being" to second-class status.

Q&O has details of an internal Pentagon brief on the supposed "wedding party" that got hit last week in Iraq. It's only the unclassified parts, but it's enough to show that it most likely wasn't a wedding that was crashed.

And now listen for the clamour as the mainstream media, who was all over the "wedding party" news originally, reports on this.

Or not.

I guess it depends on what you mean by "public".
National Public Radio is being criticized for canceling a scheduled interview with an anti-evolution high-school biology teacher while allowing a pro-evolution teacher to appear on the program.

According to the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which accuses the radio network of "censorship," NPR canceled invited guest Roger DeHart "just hours before airing a program discussing the teaching of evolution." The teacher was to appear on the May 21 edition of the "Science Friday" program.

Did they also refrain from airing the opposing teacher's point of view?
"I wish I'd been allowed to present my side of the story," said DeHart in a statement. "The teacher they had on made false claims such as Discovery Institute wanting to weaken the teaching of evolution. Nothing could be further from the truth, but NPR listeners will never know that because NPR only presented the one side."

Whose definition of "Fair and balanced" is this?
According to DeHart, the producer who pre-interviewed him for the show said she was an atheist and insisted that scientists who are critical of evolutionary theory are merely promoting religion.

There's your answer; a supposedly "unbiased" journalist. (Bet she considers herself a moderate.) Further evidence of a hard liberal slant at NPR.
"The censorship of DeHart is just another incident in a long list of biased reporting by NPR in what seems to be a campaign of misinformation about criticism of Darwinian evolution," said Dr. John West, associate director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. "NPR has a history of presenting only one side of the issue, or misrepresenting critics of Darwin when their point of view is included."

Other examples of this bias are itemized at the Discovery Institute's website. And just so you know it's not just NPR liberals that have this problem...
When DeHart was targeted in 2000 by the American Civil Liberties Union for his in-class criticism of evolution, he was muzzled – forced to clear all of his teaching materials with the school board's curriculum committee.

"If something in science suddenly becomes so sacrosanct that you can't question it, then it ceases to be science," said DeHart at the time. "I don't even want to teach creationism, I just want to teach the flaws of Darwinism."

...the ACLU has it's own band of them as well, eager to keep both sides of an issue away from the tender ears of our children, all in the name of (heh...get this) "civil liberties". Thank you NPR and ACLU for giving us the "liberty" to ignore scientific evidence contrary to liberal positions. Except that it's not "liberty" to ignore it, it's their demand that it be forcibly removed from the national debate.

For fairness and balance, I'll stock with Fox News. For all the jabs poked at it for the politics of its reporters and pundits, the actual news presented is far, far more balanced than you'll find on NPR.

If you think that we should cut our ties with Saudi Arabia because of their dubios stance on terrorists, then in addition to potentially cutting ourselves off from a huge chunk of the world's oil reserves, we might be putting ourselves at the beck and call of Russia, those stalwart allies (or not) in the war on terror.
With Saudi Arabia's security risk on the rise and fears that violence will increase there, the world has little choice but to turn to Russia as a source of secure – and reasonably priced – petroleum exports.

Russia is poised to assume leadership of crude-oil export markets, the implications of which also could significantly affect Russia's domestic political and economic order.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. While we're still dependent on oil for our energy, drilling more of our own, or working with countries that don't necessarily have our best interests in mind, is a fact of life, unfortunately.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

From Arthur Chrenkoff via Instapundit, comes this tale of inverted priorities.
MADRID – The Spanish prime minister has been dragged into an embarrassing political row after the Defence Minister handed back a medal he was given for his role in withdrawing troops from Iraq, it emerged Wednesday.

Read that again. No, it's not France that did this, it's those lovable socialists in Spain who are giving out medals for running away.
José Bono sent a letter to the prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero saying he would give back the Cross of Military Merit, according to sources close to the minister.

The move comes after Bono was heavily criticised when he was given the award last week.

It was awarded by Zapatero for Bono's "merits" as a minister, including his role in the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq.

But Opposition political figures said Bono should not have received the award only six weeks after taking over as Defence Minister.

Zapatero granted the award to all those who helped in the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq.

Well at least there's "an embarrassing political row" about the whole thing, but this the kind of guy to run a country? Should police now be given medals for failing to respond to emergencies?

If a Bush administration official had said things like these before the war, would Democrats still be up in arms?
  • Saddam probably hadn't rebuilt his nuclear program
  • There's an awful lot we don't know and awful lot we may never know, and we've got to think differently about standards of proof.
  • Even if Iraq democracy makes it only to a Romanian style, that's still such an advance over anywhere else in the Arab world.

If all this lowering of expectations, and more, had been done by the Bush administration, would that have placated the Democrats.

Ann Coulter says "No", mostly because that is what was said.

People are leaving the public schools in droves. Here's one example.
Early on weekday mornings, as Lesley-Anne Jones implores her three sons to button their shirts and knot their ties and tie their dress shoes, they ask why they can't attend her school.

If Ms. Jones wanted to be factual about it, she could say that the family lives just outside the boundary for Public School 158 in the East New York section of Brooklyn, where she teaches fifth grade. Instead, she tells them the deeper truth. "I'm your mother, and I know what's good for you," she explains. "And the public school won't be."

Then she drives the children to a nearby private school, the Trey Whitfield School. Every month, she and her husband send the school a check for $900, the equivalent of almost two weeks' take-home pay from her job. They make the sacrifice because Trey Whitfield offers their children a demonstrably safer and better education than what is available at either P.S. 158 or their local school, Public School 149.

Oh, and this isn't some manner of "white-flight".
There is nothing effete about the private education at the Whitfield School. Its campus consists of three cinder-block barracks tucked behind a Baptist church. The curriculum eschews the fashionable pedagogies of whole language and constructivist math. From pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, every pupil wears a uniform. And not a single child in a student body of 470 is white.

In fact, this trend among non-whites isn't even being noticed by (or apparently cared about by) the media and organizations that allegedly care about education.
When white families pull their children out of big-city public schools, everybody pays attention and debates whether the cause is educational failure, racial bias or some other factor. When African-American parents do the same thing, hardly anyone seems to care or comment, as if blacks are just supposed to accept whatever the neighborhood school dishes up - good, mediocre or abysmal.

To put the myopia in statistical terms, the database LexisNexis finds more than 2,500 newspaper and magazine articles using the phrases "white flight" and "public schools." With the term "black flight" substituted, the number of citations plummets to fewer than 100. Not even an organization devoted to helping African-American parents with school choice, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, based in Washington, D.C., has firm statistics on the black migration out of public schools.

But the numbers are out there, for those who do care.
Still, some indications of the scope of that migration exist. Black enrollment in Catholic schools stands at about 200,000 students nationally, and minority enrollment has risen from one-tenth in 1970 to more than one-quarter in 2004, according to the National Catholic Educational Association.

Some 400 historically black independent schools operate around the country, serving 52,000 pupils, the educator Gail Foster reported in 2000 in the anthology "City Schools" (Johns Hopkins University Press). Voucher programs in Florida, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Washington, D.C., affect 33,000 pupils, the overwhelming number of them minorities.

How in the world can the Black Alliance for Education Options not care about options other than the public schools? Are they considering bussing to other public schools the only "option"? And how can the media possibly ignore this? Do they really care about what they say they care about, or is it all a smokescreen to sell more papers/airtime?

I think actions speak quite loud enough to figure that out.

Ah, the wonders of socialized medicine.
People with chronic illnesses are being shut out of doctors' offices and complain that "cherry-picking" doctors are denying them a right to basic health care.

Emergency rooms and walk-in clinics don't want to be used in lieu of a family doctor, so thousands of Windsorites languish in the twilight zone of needing a doctor's care, but having to wait until their condition deteriorates enough to warrant a trip to the ER.

And some folks hold this up as a model to remake our heath care system after?
Edna Walkins, 71, who suffers from chronic lung disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, looked for a doctor for five years. Last month she heard a newly arrived physician was taking patients.

"I went to the office and the secretary asked me to fill out an application form. She was very friendly and I thought I was finally going to start getting treatment again," said Walkins.

"But when I called a few days later she told me I was rejected. She said I had too many problems. Imagine that. Isn't that why you go to see a doctor?"

Well, yeah, in the States at least.
Cherry picking by physicians raises the ire of many local physicians. Dr. David Paterson, president of the Essex County Medical Society, said until the way doctors are paid changes, it will continue.

"There's no incentive for doctors to take complicated patients, when they can get the same money for an earache. I'm personally against patients filling out applications because every legitimate patient should be seen," said Paterson. "There are ways to weed out drug seekers."

Dr. John Rapin, president of the Ontario Medical Association, said while doctors have a duty to look after patients, many are overloaded and burned out.

"It's a problem across the province. I work in ER and I see such patients all the time. It's a very severe problem but there aren't enough doctors."

Where there is no incentive, there is no action. Simple as that. But is this legal, in a system that is supposedly for the patients?
Kathryn Clarke, with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, said there are no guidelines, moral obligations or law against physicians selectively choosing patients.

"Doctors generally want a balance of well and chronic patients and the unfortunate reality today is that they have to say no to some," Clarke said.

Doctors have all the power in this system, and the patient has none. This is considered "compassionate"? When you pay your own way, you have the power. And when people shop around for where to spend their money, the competition that results generally lowers prices and increases quality.

(Psst, socialists. Communism failed for this very reason.)

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Marc of marcland and his wife Dawn have turned a corner, and it means that nothing will ever be the same again for he and his wife. Go on over there and congratulate him on the birth of his first; Willem Ronald.

Sincere congratulations and God's grace to you two.

It ain't over yet.
Massachusetts lawmaker issued what he called a five-count "indictment" against the state's highest judge, Margaret Marshall, on Tuesday, accusing her of conspiring with homosexual activists before ruling in favor of same-sex marriage last November.

Democrat state Rep. Emile J. Goguen wants Marshall ousted as chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The information he released Tuesday cites alleged violations of the state's Code of Judicial Conduct and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. However, Goguen's accusations do not represent formal charges against Marshall.


The criticism comes a little more than a month after reported about a speech Marshall gave to the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association in 1999. She was an associate justice at the time.

During that speech, Marshall praised her native South Africa's embrace of sexual orientation protections and the "growing body of gay-friendly international jurisprudence," according to a recap of the event from the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association.

Goguen said Marshall should have disqualified herself from the same-sex marriage case as a result of her 1999 appearance before the bar association. Oral arguments in the case, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health , were held March 4, 2003. It was decided Nov. 18, 2003.

At the time of Marshall's speech, the Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct stated, "A judge should disqualify himself in a proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned." The code was slightly modified last year to change "should" to "shall."

It sounds like, if this is true, the whole case is called into question. (To be honest, I don't know how the other justices voted.) And if true, shows that not only is it a case of the judiciary overriding the legislature, but in order to get it done there had to be a corrupt judge willing to ethically look the other way. Like I said, it ain't over yet.

I was dead wrong. Alexandra Polier, the intern that a Wesley Clarke aide, and later the Drudge Report, said had had an affair of some sort with John Kerry gives the step-by-step description of what she went through during the whole media handling of the story. While Drudge certainly took front and center when he posted the story, blame doesn't lay with him alone by any means. The article hits both new and old media (and some friends of Alexandra's) that all share culpability.

And in some small way it rubs off on me, since I wasn't entirely skeptical enough. I did, however, take her word for it when she denied it, so I hope that counts for something.

I apologize to both Polier and Kerry. I jumped the gun and got slapped back fair and square. I suppose that's easy for me, a miniscule voice in the blogosphere, but I think it's worth saying anyway.

UPDATE: Tim Blair is joining me in this.

Yesterday, on the way home, listening to the radio, Kim Peterson mentioned the Pizza Hut delivery guy who got fired for defending himself, so today's "Considerettes Radio" entry highlights my thoughts on the issue that I posted earlier.

"Considerettes Radio" on The Kim Peterson Show (WGST, Atlanta, GA) 6/1/2004 5:55pm EST (125K)

Took a peek at memeorandum yesterday evening, and saw that others had come to a similar conclusion about the win-win situation where the GOP is trying to decide between tax cuts and deficit reduction. Jonah Goldberg came to the same conclusion I did, only much earlier in the day.

Kevin Drum
, however, seems to thing that allowing you to keep more of your money is, well, inconsequential to most of us. He has this to say:
In the past there has always been a natural feedback loop that kept conservatives and liberals in check. Conservatives, by supporting tax cuts and prudent fiscal policies, earned the support of millionaires and big business. Liberals, by supporting broad growth of popular federal programs, earned the support of the poor and middle class. Neither side had a permanent advantage.

So you see, if you got a bunch of your own money back from the government in the Bush tax cuts, then you are, by his definition, a millionaire or a business magnate. Well Kev, I hate to burst your bubble (well, OK, I don't really), but I got some badly needed tax relief and I'm nowhere near a millionaire, and most people who got tax breaks were in the middle class. What really goes on is that liberals, by supporting broad growth of popular federal programs, buy the support of the myriad special interests that is the Democratic Party. Note that I'm not saying conservatives buy support, because they're just trying to let me keep my money; that's not "buying". However, liberals are buying support because the hallmark of their programs is taking money from one person and giving it to another. The two are categorically different.

Further, Kevin sideswipes the idea (but doesn't quite make the connection) that new government programs are guaranteed to be money pits.
Jonah may like the idea of heaving a few cabinet agencies over the side, but people like Karl Rove and Tom DeLay know perfectly well that this would be electoral suicide. Even aside from the fact that most of Jonah's target agencies are quite popular with some key constituencies, everyone who looks seriously at federal spending for more than a few minutes knows perfectly well that the vast majority of spending goes to four things: Social Security, Medicare, national defense, and interest payments. Unless you propose large cuts in those programs, you just aren't serious about "small government."

And of course no one will ever propose serious cuts in those programs. Interest payments are untouchable for obvious reasons, and the other three are all highly successful and highly popular programs. Not only won't they be cut, but demographic and other pressures ensure that all of them will grow considerably over the next couple of decades and everyone knows it.

"Everybody knows" that these government programs will "grow considerably". Thank you for noticing that, and please keep that in mind the next time a Democrat proposes a new spending program. It's not just those you mention, but just about every government program does the same thing. This is not good news...for anybody.

I will admit that I've not been thrilled with how the Republicans have busted the budget further, and while I think part of that is playing politics, I also think a good portion of that is the fact that Bush does not have a veto-proof majority in Congress. If the Republicans had some of the same freedom to do what they want that the Democrats have had in the past, I think you'd see more seriousness about smaller government.

Here's a great story. You really do have to read the whole thing, but here's the summary.
Five years ago, Ronnie Jordan was at the lowest point in his life.

The lifelong peanut farmer, faced with year after year of losses, finally gave up. A 41-year-old single dad, Jordan sold his equipment and decided on a new path in life.

He was going back to school. He wanted to study law.

But a trip to West Africa two years after he started at Virginia Wesleyan College changed all that.

Now, he’s the founder of ROTA International – Reach Out To Africa – a company that specializes in organic cashew nuts grown by a network of small farmers in the tiny country of Guinea-Bissau , one of the world’s poorest nations.

Instead of hooking into the welfare state, Jordon picked himself up, went in one direction to make a new life for himself and his family, and wound up going in a completely unexpected direction, bringing prosperity to a war-torn African country.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

John Kerry has picked up a big endorsement (via The Command Post):
In the Vietnamese Communist War Remnants Museum (formerly known as the "War Crimes Museum") in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), a photograph of John Kerry hangs in a room dedicated to the anti-war activists who helped the Vietnamese Communists win the Vietnam War. The photograph shows then-Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry being greeted by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Comrade Do Muoi.

And they've got the picture to prove it.

Oh, now this I like.
Rachel Seymour, a college student from Portland, Oregon, has had her 2002 Kia Spectra serviced 12 times for a Check Engine light problem. Each time, she's forced to take it to a Kia dealership, where a technician hooks her car up to a computer, runs a battery of tests and charges her $120 to diagnose and repair the same problem: a loose gas cap.


A bill floating through Congress could help people like Seymour by forcing automakers to share diagnostic codes with car buyers and independent mechanics. The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act would give Seymour the means to determine whether the Check Engine light signaled another gas cap vagary or a major oil leak. The legislation would also allow Seymour to choose an independent -- and possibly cheaper -- repair shop instead of being forced to go to the dealership.

The secret decoder ring went out with Tom Mix (which was before my time, for the record). It's been a scam from the get-go and I hope this legislation gets legs. Automakers are trying to launch a pre-emptive move by putting up the codes on the net, but not everyone is contributing.

Actually, if the legislation doesn't pass, just the threat of it has brought about good results via the web site. Perhaps if folks buying cars based some of their decision on whether or not its codes were available, car makers would have to adapt to survive. An even better outcome; less government regulation, but better information for the consumer.

Is that why they're so cranky?
FRENCH intellectuals have taken up a new cause, which they describe as a defining issue for modern society. They are calling for more sleep.

Philosophers, authors and scientists have joined forces to campaign for the right to nod off, arguing that tiredness is one of the greatest threats to the developed world, particularly France.

The French are turning into insomniacs who have forgotten the joy of snoozing as they strive to lead what they mistakenly believe to be fulfilling, dynamic lives, they say.

Fatigue, loss of concentration, irascibility, depression and an inability to have fun are among the consequences.

This explains a lot, aside from being too funny.
Some of the more radical French thinkers describe sleep as a revolutionary activity that should be used as a weapon against the evils of capitalism.

Instead of striking, workers should take a nap, they say.

Or perhaps they should nap instead of fighting for the freedom of the Iraqis.

(Oh wait, they did that already.)

If anyone points fingers at the Republican party for it's infighting, they can only dream of this sort of posturing within the Democrat party:
At issue is whether this year's budget should put the brakes on the tax-cut drive that has been a hallmark of the Bush presidency, and instead put more muscle behind an old GOP orthodoxy: reducing the deficit.

Reducing taxes or reducing the deficit. Folks, this is a win-win situation if there ever was one. Yeah the liberals and the media [redundancy alert] will portray this as weakness, but either way we get fiscal responsibility that's sorely lacking among Democrats.

And frankly, you can have both, if you hold or decrease spending. Reagan proved that in the 1980s, but Congress would not hold down spending and thus the deficit ballooned. These two factions now can both get their way. So it's a win-win-win situation!

UPDATE: And in case you didn't think there was any infighting going on in the Democrat party, read Donald Lambro today.

For those of you still insisting that Bush is to blame for high gas prices, let the OPEC fellas set you straight.
OPEC would do "its best" to ensure crude supplies are adequate to meet global demand, Saudi Arabia's oil minister said Tuesday as prices surged after weekend terrorist attacks in his country.


The Beirut meeting is drawing intense attention in light of crude prices that have recently risen above $40 a barrel. Oil ministers and analysts alike have attributed this increase to unexpected strength in global demand and tensions in oil-rich parts of the Middle East.

The general increase is due to demand, and the prices bumped up on news of the terror attack in Saudi Arabia. And this is Bush's, exactly?

Good thing we invaded Iraq so that, as the "It's all about oil!" crowd insisted, we're awash in cheap oil. Or not.

Take responsibility for saving your own life, do nothing illegal, and get fired for it.
A pizza deliveryman won't face charges for fatally shooting a would-be robber several times when he was approached in a high-crime area, but his employer, Pizza Hut, has fired him for violating a company policy against carrying firearms.

Ronald B. Honeycutt, 38, who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, says he's been delivering pizzas for 20 years and has always packed heat on the job.

And now all the bad guys out there know that the Pizza Hut guy is, in all likelihood, an easy mark. Now that's looking out for your employees, eh?

The Cybercast News Service (CNS) is reporting more details on the story that Richard Clarke's recent comments about the Saudi flight from the US on 9/13/2001 not only contradict what he said before, but contradict Michael Moore's new film.

And this is the film that the Canne Film folks gave a 10-minute standing ovation to. Easily amused, that lot.

CNS is also reporting that some senators are having to eat some crow themselves over this new revelation.
As Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess, two senators may need to revise one of their harshest critiques about the Bush administration's actions in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, especially now that Bush critic Richard Clarke has contradicted one of his own key statements.

It turns out that President Bush and other top members of his administration had nothing to do with the decision to let members of Osama bin Laden's family depart the United States in the days immediately after 9/11, despite the suggestions of Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer of California and Charles Schumer of New York.

Keep an eye on these two to see how they handle this. Are they more interested in mean-spirited, false attacks on a Republican president, or are they truly interested in the truth?

A further look into the disarray that is al-Qaeda - CommanderJimC from the MSN group Pro-America/Pro-Conservative had this to say about my comments that Osama bin Laden might not be the biggest threat from that terrorist group anymore:
My friend and comrade in arms, a General USMC (ret.) has been to Afghanistan recently and says much the same as your mini essay of 28 May re: Osama bin Laden. All indications are that the al-Qaida terrorist network is fragmented and in a state of chaos and confusion but none the less dangerous to the west. Abu Musab al- Zarqawi may be more intent upon doing major damage to the free word than OBL!

There are some indications that OBL may be ill and unable to carry on as al-Qaida's leader, but as you indicated, unless we either capture or kill him, we are "losing the war on terrorism" in the eyes of the biased media!

But in this sound-bite-driven news media we have, I wonder if anyone would take the time to figure out if this was true or not. And if they did, would it ever be reported?