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Monday, February 28, 2005

One of the topics on "Bill Bennett's Morning in America" this morning was how to handle relations with China, where in spite of all the effort into economic engagement we've put in, human rights haven't changed much. I called to voice my concern that increased economic involvement would keep us from having the guts to hold their feet to the fire if the time were to come that we'd want to insist on improvement. How many business lobbyists would be there to defend their Chinese business connections over human rights violations? Good people that I respect have opinions on both sides of this issue, but I wonder if the ends can even be achieved by the means.

"Considerettes Radio" on Bill Bennett's Morning in America (WGKA, Atlanta, GA) 2/28/05 8:25am EST (310K)

What does this sound like?
When Bush confronted his Russian counterpart about the freedom of the press in Russia, Putin shot back with an attack of his own: "We didn't criticize you when you fired those reporters at CBS."

It's not clear how well Putin understands the controversy that led to the dismissal of four CBS journalists over the discredited report on Bush's National Guard service. Yet it's all too clear how Putin sees the relationship between Bush and the American media—just like his own. Bush's aides have long feared that former KGB officers in Putin's inner circle are painting a twisted picture of U.S. policy. So Bush explained how he had no power to fire American journalists. It made little difference. When the two presidents emerged for their joint press conference, one Russian reporter repeated Putin's language about journalists getting fired. Bush (already hot after an earlier question about his spying on U.S. citizens) asked the reporter if he felt free. "They obviously planted the question," said one of Bush's senior aides.

Sounds a lot to me about the old Soviet-era paranoia coming back in vogue. Or did it ever really leave?

The Blogger News Network has really taken off; the number of stories exploded last week, and the number of writers & contributors has increased. They're looking for more writers in general, but more from the liberal side to keep things balanced. If you're interested, give it a look.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The fifth Homespun Bloggers Radio program is on the air! This is a special edition edition of HBR on the topic of Social Security. Here's the list of contributors:
  • Jay has a couple of segments. One (representing his blog The Radical Centrist) notes that to have a reasonable and honest discussion about Social Security, we have to understand the program as it really is and how it was intended to be. Representing his other blog (The Bird's Eye View), he gives us a bird's eye view of the Homespun Bloggers group and reports on how some of us are covering this topic.
  • Derek (Weapon of Mass Distraction) asks how people lived before Social Security existed, and wonders if we dare consider how senior citizens managed before the New Deal?
  • Doug (Considerettes) gives the history of the politicization of this issue among Democrats who now say there is no crisis.

To listen, click here or on the "Homespun Bloggers Radio" button to the left. The current audio feed is a loop of shows #4 & #5. Also, you can click here to download a CD-quality version of the show. The 3 previous shows can also be heard by clicking here.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Another week of training to conduct, and thusly another week of light blogging.

However, within the next few hours I plan on releasing the next Homespun Bloggers Radio program. Show #5 will be a themed show, featuring commentary on the Social Security issue. When it's released, you can click on the HBR button to the left and listen to the audio stream. (You could click there now, of course, and hear the most recent program.)

Friday, February 18, 2005

The UN's negatives, as well as Kofi Annan's in particular, are growing.
Americans' opinion of the United Nations is sinking, with just 37 percent polled saying they are favorably inclined to the global body.

According to a poll by Rassmussen Reports, the favorability rate has declined from 44 percent in a November survey.

The poll also shows 37 percent of Americans believe U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan should resign. Just 26 percent said he should not resign and another 37 percent are undecided.

Among those polled who follow news coverage of Annan's troubles "very" or "somewhat" closely, which was 54 percent, 63 percent say Annan should call it quits. Twenty-eight percent say he should not.

The more you pay attention to the UN and Kofi, the more you realize what a mess they are both in.

For full disclosure:
Rassmussen Reports noted the current survey is not directly comparable to last November's results, because the current poll sampled American adults, whereas November's survey interviewed likely voters.

Nonetheless, a single datapoint of 37% is nothing to brag about.

The Gannon/Guckert issue, still a bigger issue to lefty bloggers than CNN or CBS, get the debunking treatment at WizBang. Stop there after you've read all the hand-wringing.

Lefty Blogger Eason Jordan Update: Jordan resigned one week ago today, and so this is the last day I'm going to check Kos, Marshall or Atrios on this. And that's a good thing for Atrios, because he slips in under the wire, leaving the "silent" categorization and move into "sort of". The only mention he did wind up giving it was an extended quote from Frank Rich of the NY Times, which itself was just a part of a larger gathering up of more Gannon news. Rich mentioned Jordan, but Atrios didn't have anything to say himself. So the best we can say is that Atrios has Eason's name on the page but he still can't bother to comment, other than to, by inclusion, agree with Rich that the Talon News Service is a bigger deal than CNN.

George Washington on religion & enlightenment:
Observe good faith & justice towds all Nations. Cultivate peace & harmony with all--Religion & morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a People always guided by an exalted justice & benevolence.

The religion and morality of a free and enlightened people will encourage them to observe good faith & justice to all nations, itself guided by an exalted justice.

Bill Maher, on the same subject (hat tip to Backcountry Conservative):
We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I do believe that. I think that religion stops people from thinking. I think it justifies crazies.

Maher represents a thinking in our nation today that is truly upside-down from that of the founding fathers. Liberals of his ilk have utterly lost their way, and have no idea that that they're wandering aimlessly. All the things he would acknowledge that have made this country great were instituted by religious folks who, contrary to Maher's insistence later on in the article, did believe in science and rationality. We still do. That may come as a surprise to him, but it shouldn't.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Christians in Philadelphia who protested outside of the homosexual gathering "Outfest" have been exhonorated.
In what is being hailed as a victory for free speech, a judge in Philadelphia today dismissed all criminal charges against four Christians who were arrested for evangelizing at an outdoor homosexual event.

Judge Pamela Dembe of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas dismissed the charges, saying that she found no basis whatsoever for any of them.

"We are one of the very few countries that protects unpopular speech," Dembe said after viewing a videotape of the arrests.

As WorldNetDaily reported, on Oct. 10, a group of 11 Christians was "preaching God's Word" to a crowd of people attending the Philadelphia "OutFest" event and displaying banners with biblical messages.

After a confrontation with a group called the Pink Angels, described by protesters as "a militant mob of homosexuals," the Christians were arrested and spent a night in jail.

Eight charges were filed: criminal conspiracy, possession of instruments of crime, reckless endangerment of another person, ethnic intimidation, riot, failure to disperse, disorderly conduct and obstructing highways.

None of the Pink Angels was cited or arrested.

That things went this far is a testament to how deep political correctness has permeated our society.
"The judge saw this case for what it is," Joe Infranco, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said in a statement. "This was the right response to an outrageous abuse of power to silence speech that some people didn't like.

"What took place here was a government crackdown on disfavored speech. The OutFest participants staged a national coming-out day on a public street using public funds, and then they tried to say it's a private event. That didn't make any sense, and neither did the actions of the police. …"

At least the judge wasn't fooled. Sounds like the police need some sensitivity training such that they're sensitive to both sides of the issue.

Professor Bainbridge takes on Joe Conason's assertion that the media reaction to the Gannon/Guckert is muted and that therefore put the lie to the charge of a liberal media. Kos quoted Conason, remarking "Exactly", and the comment section followed suit. Atrios mentioned it and simply added "Indeed". However, the Prof demonstrates (with numbers rather than one-word follow-ups) that Conason's got it wrong.
Since I have access to Lexis/Nexis, I went into Nexis' "News, Most Recent Two Years" database, which covers a wide swath of English language newspapers and magazines. I ran the following searches:

1. "Eason Jordan" with dates restricted to the last month: 151 hits
2. "Jeff Gannon" with dates restricted to the last month: 107 hits
3. "James Guckert" and "Jeff Gannon" with dates restricted to the last month: 42 hits

I then reran the same three searches in Nexis "Major Papers" database:

1. "Eason Jordan" with dates restricted to the last month: 40 hits
2. "Jeff Gannon" with dates restricted to the last month: 24 hits
3. "James Guckert" and "Jeff Gannon" with dates restricted to the last month: 12 hits

So the idea that the MSM isn't covering the story is absurd and has no basis in fact. While the lefty blogs may then take issue with the slight disparity in the amount of coverage of the two stories, the Prof echoes something I've been saying about this.
The story is being covered by the MSM, albeit at a lower rate than the Jordan story. Query, however, whether legitimate news judgment wouldn't regard Jordan as the bigger story?

To this I could say "Indeed" or "Exactly" myself. I've been chronicling the muted (or total lack) of notice three of the major left-leaning bloggers--Kos, Atrios & Marshall--have given to the Dan Rather, Eason Jordan, and "columnist payola" stories. You'd think, if you read only those Tier A blogs, that the Talon News Service was somehow a bigger deal than CBS or CNN, or that having a friendly reporter throwing softball questions is a bigger deal than passing off faked memos as real or accusing US troops of targeting journalists. Even if those 3 weren't the sum total of most folks blog-reading experiences, they still have a huge readership that, apparently, doesn't care that these stories are ignored or barely touched on, while suppositions about MSM coverage that aren't backed up by reality are trumpeted far and wide.

Again, you independents who don't like to be labelled, and who try to see both sides of the story, please keep this in mind. Generally speaking, on the major conservative blogs you'll hear about all of these stories. On liberal blogs, you won't, or you'll really have to go digging to find them. Who's being more intellectually honest with you? Who's more committed to the truth, even if it puts folks from their political stripe in a negative light? You can find examples both good and bad on both sides, but in the overall picture I think you'll find that conservatives are being far more upfront with you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Did a little surfing of the blogosphere this evening, and found these wonderful bits at SmarterCop. Good job Pietro.

In another example of Democrats doing a 180 on Social Security comes this quote:
Social Security's trustees reported in March that Social Security's tax income will fall short of Social Security's benefit payments beginning in 2016. Medicare's tax income will fall short of Medicare spending the same year. Social Security and Medicare's problems are related to the aging of the labor force. In the not-to-distant future, there will be too few workers in the workforce to maintain Social Security and Medicare as pay-as-you-go programs. These are not small problems.

In the case of Social Security, Congress will have to either reduce Social Security benefits, raise Social Security taxes, or find a third alternative.

Some of those on the left have noted that the "Save Social Security First" mantra that the Clintonites repeated was in vogue 7 years ago, and since then, from their (rather convenient) point of view, everything's fixed itself. Well apparently, that miracle of recovery actually happened in merely the last four years, since this quote, from John Kerry, is from May of 2001.

This is basically the same thing I've noted here before; that the view of the Democrats on any particular issue is primarly determined by the political party of the man warming the chair in the Oval Office. Pietro gives us yet another example of this in the arena of the environment.
QUICK QUIZ - Which Presidential candidate, past or present, proposed a law which would do the following: cut pollution from power plants by 70%, including sulfur dioxide and mercury; discourage lawsuits that prevent the enforcement of clean air standards; permanently cap emissions nationwide to a level that is 90% less than the amounts emitted in 1970; and require operators of old plants to modify their systems to add pollution controls to adhere to the 70% pollution reduction? Was it A) Al Gore, B) John Kerry, or C) George W. Bush?

The answer is actually both A and C; Al Gore and George W. Bush proposed the same environmental pollution reductions, yet the same Democrats who naturally applauded the Gore plan have given the Bush Administration nothing but grief, even though the National Research Council is fully behind it. Go figure, right?

No figuring required. It's simply a matter of the same people acting in the same way, even if that means contradicting themselves at a moment's notice.

This week's Homespun Bloggers Symposium question asks:
Do you believe there is a downside to encouraging nations to move toward being free societies? Can all nations benefit from the move from dicatorship to freedom, or are some cultures simply incapable of it and why? Might they end up worse off? Also, do you believe these shifts are always in America and the West's interests, or will we simply create democratic enemies that are worse for us than the dictators they replace?

First of all, I have to start in agreement with this country's founders when they said that all men are created equal, and are therefore equally given the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So in a sense I see this question as a no-brainer. I don't see a big-picture downside for a country to going from an oppressed to free society. Yes, there may be initial hurdles to clear and the changes may be painful at times, but in the end government of, by and for the people is better than if it's of, by and for the government.

While some cultures--the sum of a people group's traditions and values--may not be conducive to individual freedom, I don't think the people themselves are forever lost to it. While some anthropologists may not like the idea of changing a culture so that freedom is more acceptable (and believe me, there are those that would rather preserve cannibalistic, warlike cultures as museum pieces rather than see it changed), the freer a society is, the better life is for all involved. Again, I don't think that, in the long-run, they will be worse off, though the process of change can be difficult.

Given my position, then the question of whether or not the shifts in these societies to freedom is good for our interests is rather beside the point, although I find it more likely than not that should a society remain free and open, the more likely it is that they will be allies with us. Consider the world situation as it is now. We have our allies of the free nations of the world, but the more they tend toward socialism or oppression (France & Germany in the former case, Russia as it is becoming in the latter case), the less they see themselves on the same page as the U.S. While they may not be military powerhouses, the new democracies in Eastern Europe, who've seen the benefits of a free society, were very much with us in the Iraq war. The more oppression--Iran, North Korea, China--the more they see us as an enemy.

While I wouldn't discount entirely the chance that a democratically elected government might see us the same way, I believe that free societies lose the paranoia found under oppressive ones and are far less likely to consider us an enemy. That paranoia tends to come from those in power, and if it's found in the people it's because it came down from a dictator or government that only allows its positions to be known and doesn't allow for the free exchange of ideas. Again, free societies mean more information exchange and thus more education and a more realistic view of the world.

I just don't see a real downside to any of this. Freedom is transcendantly good.

Today's Odd Considerettes Search Phrase - "I want a play where I'm firing my employee for being late all the time" [#7 on Yahoo! Search, in company with Roger L. Simon (#2), Michael Moore (#3) and Dean's World (#5)]

One of the Homespun Bloggers, Robert Hayes Jr., has begun a project called the Blogger News Network. His idea is to have a common location where bloggers can write news and analysis. The sections currently include Politics, National/World News, Culture and Art, Editorials, Analysis, Humor, Sports, Human Interest, Local News, Short Notes and Science & Religion. (Weather's included, but for now it's just a search box for the Weather Channel site.) I've signed up as a reporter and have my first analysis up (a blog post from here about the lefty blogs ignoring big stories unfavorable to liberals).

Though Hayes' politics are "right-of-center/libertarian", he wants (and is getting) a true diversity of viewpoints on the staff, and he wants those viewpoints disclosed for all to see. The pages listing the editors and reporters have, at the bare minimum, political leaning or affiliation. Reporting on religious topics will require disclosure of religious affiliation and reporting on anything you have a financial interest in would also have to have that disclosed.

It's really just getting off the ground, but I love the concept, and wonder if perhaps this sort of thing is the future (if only the near future) of blogging journalism. It's worth a look.

Lefty Blog Rathergate Update: Josh Marshall has finally made a slight mention of this on Talking Points Memo today. After ignoring this for months, Marshall finally found something to say about it apparently only because it could be construed as conservative-bashing.
As Drudge says tonight, those three CBS execs whose resignations were requested -- they were never received. And why should they tender them? When you're hung out to dry, why go easily if the people hanging you out have dirty hangs too?

Were the highest level people at CBS really not deeply involved in the digging in of heels phase of that whole fiasco? Even after it was clear that the network's reputation was on the line? They didn't get involved? Hard to figure.

Understand that since the "myopic zeal" report came out, and indeed for months before that, Marshall hadn't a peep to say about the affair. He did deal with it months ago, but once he noted the memos were forgeries, the story fell off his radar entirely. If one assumes a liberal media (and the "myopic zeal" report is certainly one more piece of evidence added to the mounting heap), then a blind partisan wouldn't be inclined to touch the subject of Rathergate. Marshall hasn't.

Until now, of course. Now that some of the folks asked to resign are fighting it, Marshall deigns to bring up the subject. Why? Well apparently, any challenge to a report exposing liberal bias can only be a good thing in Marshall's world. Exposing that bias isn't worth a single word, but challenges to it are, as long as it all fits in with Marshall's pre-conceived notions. Honestly, do you think that if someone charged Fox News with conservative bias and came out with a report on it that Josh would stick to his Social Security mantra?

The answer is a resounding "No" because, honestly, Josh is just reciting...talking points.

ScrappleFace nails it again.
The U.S. Navy on Saturday will commission its newest nuclear-powered attack submarine, the Jimmy Carter, with many new features, including multiple-warhead Nerf missiles.

President Carter, who brought peace to the middle east, vigorously defended America's right to give away the Panama Canal and, in 1994, convinced North Korea to abandon talking about its nuclear weapons, said he's honored to have his name on "one of the most powerful peacemaking devices on earth."

I hadn't heard about this until Scott Ott's satire of it, but the Navy did in fact commission its newest nuclear-powered attack sub the "Jimmy Carter". This sentence from the linked news story just makes me chuckle.
As the most advanced submarine in the class, Jimmy Carter will have built-in flexibility and an array of new warfighting features that will enable it to prevail in any scenario, against any threat from beneath Artic ice to shallow water.

Jimmy Carter never really had many "warfighting features", so this sentence just reads rather funny. So does this one:
The [multimission platform] will enable Jimmy Carter to accommodate the advanced technology required to develop and test a new generation of weapons, sensors and undersea vehicles for naval special warfare, tactical surveillance and mine-warfare operations.

I get this vision of President Carter, as he took refuge in Jordan, "monitoring" the recent Iraqi election, with this huge platform mounted on his shoulders with missiles, antennae, and a mini-sub all attached. "Mr. President, I'd like to introduce you to...oh, uh, Mr. President, please don't get up."

Maybe it's just me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I love the latest Cox & Forkum cartoon. If you're a blogger, print it out and post it on the wall of your cubicle/bedroom/office...wherever you blog.

Lefty Blog Eason Update: Here's how the 3 bloggers--Kos, Marshall and Atrios--are doing today with respect to noting the Eason Jordan resignation:
  • Kos: Silent. (However, he's still big on the Gannon story. Apparently the Talon News Service is a much bigger fish in his world than CNN.)
  • Josh Marshall: Silent. (Preserving the brokenness of Social Security is still topic #1 over there, and currently there is no topic #2.)
  • Atrios: Silent. (Although he did come dangerously close to the topic here.)

Stay tuned.

I didn't like it when Democrats did it, and I still don't like it when Republicans do.
A recent vote in Congress endorsing standardized, electronically readable driver's licenses has raised fears about whether the proposal would usher in what amounts to a national ID card.

In a vote that largely divided along party lines, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a Republican-backed measure that would compel states to design their driver's licenses by 2008 to comply with federal antiterrorist standards. Federal employees would reject licenses or identity cards that don't comply, which could curb Americans' access to everything from airplanes to national parks and some courthouses.

The congressional maneuvering takes place as governments are growing more interested in implanting technology in ID cards to make them smarter and more secure. The U.S. State Department soon will begin issuing passports with radio frequency identification, or RFID, chips embedded in them, and Virginia may become the first state to glue RFID tags into all its driver's licenses.

Here in Georgia, having your fingerprint digitized on the back of your driver's license was pushed largely by state Democrats. I remember a local radio talk-show host who was a big supporter of Democrats express his dismay at one particular vote that went straight along party lines. To me, it was just business as usual; what I would have expected.

But now Republicans are doing the same thing at the federal level, and I'm just as against it now as I was then. This is pitting the "law and order" crowd against the "less intrusive government" crowd. Looks like the former group is winning in the Republican party. Yes, we are in a post-9/11 world, but the nature of government--especially its tendency to expand new programs and misuse data originally intended for a narrow purpose--has not changed. We need to balance both these facts so that we don't turn America into a nation where the phrase "Your papers, please" is common.

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - "'smoking in a car' clip". [#3 on Google Italy]

Monday, February 14, 2005

Back here I noted that a number of liberals who had been very vocal about their pessimism over the Iraq elections had gone strangely quiet once it went quite well. Well Jimmy Carter has, at least, finally said something about it, although he had to be pressed to even mention it at all.
HEMMER: I want to talk about Iraq now and the post-election phase at this point. Still waiting results, official results. Maybe we'll get them tomorrow, on Thursday, perhaps in the days after that.

I haven't heard you speak just yet in the aftermath of the elections. Many say this is history and this is progress for the Iraqi people and perhaps for the entire Middle East. Do you see it the same way?

CARTER: Yes, I think it was a very successful effort. And although the -- as you know, the Sunnis almost refused to participate and played a very small role in the most troubled and I'll say violent areas of Iraq, the Shiites and the Kurds turned out in surprising numbers. Now the question is, will this be a Shiite-dominated religious organization formed as the next government, or will it be a democratic secular one? And will there be some way to encourage the Sunnis to come back in and participate?

I hope that we'll have every success in Iraq. And that election, I think, was a surprisingly good step forward.

He offered up freely his criticism, but it took a public interview to get him to grudgingly admit that it went very well. I'm very glad to hear he finally acknowledged the truth about it, but why did it take so long, and why wasn't he as free with his congratulations as he was with his doom-saying? (Well, you can probably guess why. Always has to do with that chair in the Oval Office and who's sitting in it.)

"Blind partisanship" has reared its ugly head again.

Friday evening, Instapundit noted that Eason Jordan resigned over the uproar over his remarks at Davos, suggesting that journalists were targeted by American troops. The blogosphere had been all over this situation, which is one reason I didn't say much (read: anything) about it. I really didn't have anything new to say about it, and I was on the road the week before Jordan resigned, and really only had time for the ponderings required for my Social Security post below.

But today, after the deed's been done, I thought I'd take a peek at something related to this, and related to other issues that have come up in the blogosphere; the reaction of the liberal blogs to the downfall of a liberal (or assumed liberal). The lefty blogs were all over the downfall of Trent Lott, but then so were the righty ones. In fact, some suggested that the right-of-center ones were harder on him. Previously I've noted that Kos, Atrios and Josh Marshall were virtually silent on the whole Rather-gate story (Marshall literally, Kos & Atrios only slightly less so). So here's another major figure, who espouses liberal opinions, taken to task by the blogs over his remarks. Let's see how the big three have reacted thus far.

(Please note that, while most blogs, mine included, post little to nothing over the weekends, these big 3 liberal blogs are still very active then. They can't claim lack of opportunity to post, and especially since so many conservative blogs found time; see the Instapundit link.)

The Daily Kos: Silent
Josh Marshall: Silent
Atrios: Silent

As of this posting, none of these guys have mentioned "eason" or "cnn" since Friday. But all three (Kos, Marshall and Atrios) certainly had plenty to say about the Trent Lott comments at Strom Thurmond's birthday party. Both were considered "off the record" comments, and you could easily make the case for Lott that he was just trying to be polite at Thurmond's party, whereas there are no mitigating circumstances for Jordan's remarks.

So the big picture here is that you won't get the big picture from the high-traffic liberal blogs, but you can get it from the high-traffic conservative blogs. And again I'd say that, generally speaking, intellectual honesty will more likely be found from a conservative viewpoint than a liberal one. If you think Fox News leans conservative, then that's a good thing for fairness and balance. This is not to say you won't find intellectual honesty on the left nor blind partisanship on the right, but when 3 upper echelon liberal blogs won't touch--or will only give the shortest of shrift to--huge news stories that put folks with their ideology in a bad light, this doesn't speak well in general of that side of the spectrum.

Independent-minded people, who don't identify themselves with one or the other and who like to consider both sides, should take note. Who do you trust?

(Cross-posted at Comments welcome.)

UPDATE: Bryan Preston (in addition to linking to this points, for which I am grateful), notes that Jonah Goldberg at NRO has similar thoughts, including the downfall of Howell Raines. Goldberg acknowledges that the left can do just as well with this sort of story, but that the right has so much more "big game" in the "hunting preserve" on political issues. That is to say, the media truly is so liberal that there are more targets for conservatives than there are for liberals. The Jeff Gannon story (which liberal and conservative blogs hit) was small potatoes (did you even know there was a Talon News Service before you read about Gannon) but the liberals were hyping this up big time. And all the while, they ignored two major media stories; Rather and Jordan.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

As I'm watching Fox News right now, they're showing video of a surprise visit by Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld to Mosul, Iraq.

Keep an eye on Daily Kos. I wonder how long it'll take them to accuse Rummy of bringing fake Valentine's Day candies.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I put the post below (Dems doing a 180 on whether or not Social Security is in crisis) over on, and it's generated quite a discussion. It includes further quotes about saving Social Security from Democrats during 1999. Harry Reid himself said, "[M]ost of us have no problem with taking a small amount of the Social Security proceeds and putting it into the private sector." Well sure, but that was when the President was a Democrat, and partisan politics matter more to him.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I'm beginning to see a pattern here.

To show you what kind of pattern I'm seeing, let's start back in the year 1998. Starting at least as far back as that, and for at least 4 years, Democrats were noting that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction--the weapons themselves and the programs--had to be dealt with. They had to be diminished or removed. You've no doubt seen the web pages and perhaps the roving E-mails that enumerate these quotes from Democrats. (Click here to get a Google's worth of them.) A host of Democrats endorsed this idea; that Hussein had both weapons and active programs. Names include; Dianne Feinstein, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, Bill Clinton, Robert Byrd, Wesley Clark, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi. And that's just the start. There are more.

However, when someone wanted to act on those intentions, suddenly virtually all of these people shifted their stance and claimed that Hussein didn't, and never had, these WMDs. To prove it, they sent in weapons inspectors, who came out pretty much empty-handed. (Empty-handed in terms of physical evidence. There were a large number of weapons that Saddam was documented to have earlier, but did not document when the inspectors showed up, so there was no evidence of their use or destruction. So no physical evidence, but there was a sort of evidence by the lack of accounting for what was known to have existed.)

Now, whether you believe they were never there, or that they are there and are hidden, or if you think they were shipped off to Syria & Iran while we sat on our hands and debated, the point is that most of these folks turned around and, when the inspectors didn't find anything, said, "See, I told you so!". Which, of course, they hadn't. In fact, right up until George W. Bush started actually doing what he said he'd do, these folks didn't change their tune. (On those web sites, you'll see quotes as late as October, 2002.) It wasn't until Bush decided to take action based on this information--that everybody was talking about, not just Bush administration officials--that they turned around and said that Bush lied about it all. Again, even though what Bush said was entirely in line with what they had been saying for years.

But they won't own up to it. It's easier, and plays to your wingnut base, to just intone, "Bush LIED!" and not have to deal with the consequences of your words.

Here's another great example of this. Nancy Pelosi, on June 5th, 2004, said that Porter Goss was independent of political pressure and, should he be nominated for the head of the CIA, she's support him. Two months later, however, when he was nominated, she did a quick 180.
"But I will say what I said before is that there shouldn't - a person should not be the director of central intelligence who's acted in a very political way when we're dealing with the safety of the American people," she told CNN.

"Intelligence has to be the gathering and analysis and dissemination of information, of intelligence, without any political, any politics involved at all," Pelosi added.

She says, "I will say what I said before", and then goes on to say something completely different than what she said before. Very similar to saying "I told you so" about WMDs when, in fact, you didn't.

Which brings us to today. The big issue today is Social Security, and the Democrats are falling all over themselves insisting that this program is not in a financial crisis. But that's not what they've said in the past.

In 1998, here's what President Bill Clinton had to say about Social Security. "This fiscal crisis in Social Security affects every generation." (You can find more of that speech covered here, and you can find further Social Security crisis quotes from the former President here.) Crisis? Really? That's what he believed. And so he came up with a political slogan, "Save Social Security first", that was dutifully repeated and supported by a lot of names that you'll recognize, and which will give you a distinct sense of deja vu; Al Gore, Dick Gephardt, Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer.

I'm beginning to see a pattern here, and it's one that involves telling the Big Lie over and over until people believe you've always thought that, and hope they don't do their own research. This time around, though, it's aided and abetted by bloggers such as Joshua Micah Marshall who agrees that nothing need be done about a crisis that Bill Clinton noted 7 years ago. This is posturing and partisanship at its absolute worst.

But it's a pattern. Should we really be surprised?

Monday, February 07, 2005

FYI, light blogging this week. I'm conducting training classes this week, and time will be short. If any happens, it'll be later at night, so hold not thy breath. I am hoping to put together a medium-sized post on Social Security, and the reaction by Democrats to the word "crisis" being used.

In the meantime, there's plenty o' good reading on the blogroll, both in the normal one and the Homespun Bloggers. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Josh Marshall has been constantly ridiculing Bush's Social Security reform ideas as unworkable and suggesting they'll break the system. Well, how about we take a look at where it's already being implemented and see how that's going, eh?
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Wednesday that all 44 Senate Democrats were united against the president's plan to reform Social Security. Without knowing any details, Reid told reporters, "President Bush should forget about privatizing Social Security," adding, "It will not happen."

But privatized Social Security has been a fact of life for municipal employees in Galveston County, Texas, for nearly a quarter century. Local government workers voted overwhelmingly in 1981 to opt-out of Social Security in favor of a locally controlled system that has since been widely described as a phenomenal success.

Under federal law at the time, municipal workers had the option of not participating in the Social Security program, replacing it with private retirement accounts. The private system is subject to regular payroll deductions and employer matches, essentially mirroring Social Security tax withholding and employer match provisions.

So how well is it doing?
While the employee-employer funding formulas are nearly identical under both Social Security and the Galveston Alternate Plan, the results are very different.

The U.S. Treasury Bonds purchased with money from the Social Security "trust fund" pay approximately two percent. But for the period from 1982 through 1997 the rate of return on funds invested in the Galveston plan has averaged 8.6 percent, a return more than 400 percent greater than Social Security.

Data from First Financial Benefits, which administers the Galveston Alternate Plan, shows that county workers earning slightly more than $17,000 a year can retire at age 65 with a monthly payment of $1,285 compared with $782 a month under Social Security.

Due to having more money withheld and the effects of compounding interest, higher income employees in Galveston see even larger benefits under the Alternate Plan. Workers earning $51,263 a year could retire at 65 with a monthly benefit of $3,846, while the same worker participating in Social Security would receive $1,540 each month.

And this sort of success is what Democrats are against? Kinda puts the lie to the label "progressive".

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Via Dean's World, and for future reference, here is the PDF of the declaration of war that the Congress approved and which Bush used to go into Iraq. There are over a dozen reasons why we went into Iraq, just one of which was the WMDs that everyone (everyone) thought he had. Point is, it was not just about weapons. There were loads of other reasons as well.

Please keep that in mind.

Via Amy Ridenour's National Center Blog comes this suggested reading by a founder of the environmental group Greenpeace, Patrick Moore.
I am often asked why I broke ranks with Greenpeace after 15 years as a founder and full-time environmental activist. I had my personal reasons, but it was on issues of policy that I found it necessary to move on.

By the mid-1980s, the environmental movement had abandoned science and logic in favor of emotion and sensationalism. I became aware of the emerging concept of sustainable development: balancing environmental, social and economic priorities. Converted to the idea that win-win solutions could be found by bringing all interests together, I made the move from confrontation to consensus.

Since then, I have worked under the banner of Greenspirit to develop an environmental policy platform based on science, logic and the recognition that more than six billion people need to survive and prosper every day of the year. The environmental movement has lost its way, favoring political correctness over factual accuracy, stooping to scare tactics to garner support.

And it just gets better from there, with specific of why a six stances that Greenpeace makes are not based on logic and science. Definitely worth a read.

One wonders if this is also the affliction that has climate scientists so frantic about global warming.

Ah, the sound of silence.
Skeptics of President Bush's attempt to bring democracy to Iraq have been largely silent since Iraqis enthusiastically turned out for Sunday's elections.

Billionaire Bush-basher George Soros and left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore were among critics of the administration's Iraq policy who had no comment after millions of Iraqis went to the polls in their nation's first free elections in decades.

And before any cheap shots are taken, no, I'm not suggesting that these guys shouldn't be allowed to speak. It's just that when they do, it's mostly audio air pollution. Sunday's elections in Iraq further proved how wrong they have been. And they're not alone.
The Carter Center determined that the security situation in Iraq was going to be too dangerous to send election monitors, so the Atlanta-based human rights organization founded by former President Jimmy Carter posted its personnel in neighboring Jordan.

Despite widespread predictions of spectacular terrorist attacks on election day in Iraq, fewer than 50 were killed, and the 60 percent turnout for the elections was much higher than many predicted.

Asked whether the Carter Center had a comment on the election, spokeswoman Kay Torrance said: "We wouldn't have any 'yea' or 'nay' statement on Iraq."

Mr. Carter told NBC's "Today" show in September that he was confident the elections would not take place. "I personally do not believe they're going to be ready for the election in January ... because there's no security there," he said.

While I do take some enjoyment knowing what frustration must be going through their minds, you'd think they could muster some sort of approving comment about taking the first halting steps toward democracy. But nothing. They were a lot louder before, of course.
Mr. Soros, the Open Society Institute founder who contributed millions of dollars to groups seeking to prevent Mr. Bush's re-election, had denounced as a "sham" the administration's plans for a democratic Iraq.

"To claim that we are invading Iraq for the sake of establishing democracy is a sham, and the rest of the world sees it as such," Mr. Soros said in a Washington speech in March 2003, adding that "the trouble goes much deeper."

"It is not merely that the Bush administration's policies may be wrong, it is that they are wrong," Mr. Soros said in the speech. "Because we are unquestionably the most powerful, [the Bush administration claims] we have earned the right to impose our will on the rest of the world."

I don't think we imposed anything on 8 million voters; it looked to me and most of the world that they were enjoying their newly given freedom. The only people put upon were Hussein and the militant Islamists who have no use for democracy. Given their intent to actually impose their will on the populace, I'm surprised (or not) that Soros didn't have more to say about them.
Mr. Soros' Web site ( has no reference to the Iraqi elections. Its latest comments are in a Jan. 26 op-ed article on what Mr. Soros calls Mr. Bush's "ambitious" second inaugural address.

"Mr. Soros has not released any statements about the elections in Iraq," said Soros spokesman Michael Vachon. "He has been traveling since Sunday on various foundation projects and hasn't had occasion to comment."

Has he really been too busy to mention the first free election in a country in 50 years (a country central to the news of the past 2 years)? Seems like a convenient cop-out.

Soros called the plans for democracy a "sham", and they obviously weren't. No apologies? Nope. As Hugh Hewitt has noted, failure in these kinds of people--failure in their predictions and policies, over and over again--means nothing to those who listen to them.
There has been no comment since the Iraq elections from Mr. Moore, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker who characterized the Iraqi insurgents as "Minutemen," and predicted "they will win."

The last posting from Mr. Moore on his Web site ( is dated Jan. 10 and concerns "Fahrenheit 9/11" being named best dramatic movie in the People's Choice Awards. An e-mail to Mr. Moore requesting comment was not returned.

On the day before the elections, Mr. Moore featured a link to a column in the New York Times with the headline, "A Sinking Sensation of Parallels between Iraq and Vietnam." On the day after the elections, Mr. Moore linked to a story in the left-wing Nation magazine titled "Occupation Thwarts Democracy."

Moore is uncharacteristically tongue-tied these days, and the best he can muster are links to doom-and-gloom writers from the left. The man's positively rooting (if quietly) for the bad guys. No wonder he can't show his face when the man in the white hat rides into town. Some folks, however, are taking him to task., a site dedicated to countering the filmmaker's political statements, knocked Mr. Moore for "failing to acknowledge [the Iraqi people's] achievement."

"I find it telling that the man who has lamented such great concern for the kite-flying, tea-sipping Iraqi people featured in 'Fahrenheit 9/11' can't be bothered to string together a few words of admiration for those same people who braved the threat of death to cast their votes this past weekend," the anti-Moore Web site said. "It seems Moore only admires the Iraqi people when they validate his agenda of hating George Bush."

Of course, that's what it's all about anyway; hating George Bush. Moore and Carter sat next to each other at the Democratic National Convention, and now these bosom buddies can't be bothered to report good news solely because of who's sitting in the Oval Office.

However, there are signs that not all those on the left are incapable of a little introspection.
Some administration critics, however, saw the Iraqi elections as reason to revise their opinion of Mr. Bush.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown, who has consistently opposed Mr. Bush and the war in Iraq, wrote for yesterday's edition that "it's hard to swallow," but "what if it turns out Bush was right, and we were wrong?"

The Chicago columnist wrote that he was struck by "television coverage from Iraq that showed long lines of people risking their lives by turning out to vote, honest looks of joy on so many of their faces."

"If it turns out Bush was right all along, this is going to require some serious penance," Mr. Brown wrote.

It's not known if Messrs. Carter, Soros and Moore understand this concept.